Friday, September 30, 2011

Moonbeam

Leave your fingernails
at the door
my dear.

Exchange them
for precious jewels
Rubies, Diamonds
Emeralds
Enough to fill it all
up to the top
end-to-end
everyday
until I return
with a moonbeam
to tie them up
in a million-mile string.

Hash them out
in electric coils
flashing from
dark to dawn
Time was a point
till then
the waves squares the line
and the sky
is on fire
with my love.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

100% Recycled

My eyes
roll in the wave
of the wheatfield.

My ears
crack in the thunder
over the lake.

My tongue
sizzles in the heat
up from the pavement.

Breathe me.
I am diesel
corn syrup
gasoline
patchouli
sweet sweet
perfume
for flies
don't set the meat out
in the sun
unless you
like the way
maggots crunch
when you bite them.

Nutty
like sea-foam
appetizers
a thousand miles
from the beach
or a strawberry
or a blackberry.

It's not getting smaller
just
the litter
makes it seem that way.
Go for a Great Pacific Ocean
Patch Kid
100% recycled.

Go back to your sea-foam
sirens.
Tell ASCAP
I won't pay
Download it
to me tube.

I'll be the bad boy
Pirate
Cold-cash cop
you can't play
cause you don't pay
no fair
anyway.

Go back to your sea-foam
cups, Sirens.

100% recycled.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Infinity

This time
has no clock.

This space
has no map.

This matter
has no mind.

This motion is false.
This faith is not devotion.

This time has no end
This place is not frozen.
This light is ever lost
in the ever deepening ocean.

Dream on, dreamer.
Push past petals
falling in dark showers.

You are forever
laid fast
across the even ink sky
even now, writ large
with a billion bacteria
per square life lost.

We carry almost nothing
but baggage.
Stride, silent sherpas
for the hosts
of microbes waging war
like Gilgamesh in our gut.

Feeding vast armies
in the fecal field
we will not live
without them.

Vishnu is no god
no sage from a
chariot of fire,
a mere companion
to the genes
of a billion gods
each pure
infinite
in their instant death.

Outrun by zygotes
splitting and marching
up to the front
for easy slaughter
Vishnu sees
the terrible conflict only
when the assembled armies
are so deep and vast
he feels them pouring in
charged, alight, electric and hot
fissures of blood
open and run red
to remind
the God of
that is all he is
and is not.

Death is not just
for the infinitely small.

Vishnu strains at the dark
eyes lost
as the lights go out
weeping,
one by one.

Valery

Her name
Her being is
Strength itself, though the clay
is not yet set.

She continues to press
and stretch
and mold
her shape is her will
flexible
still seeking shape
as in a mother's
willing hands.

I lean on her now
as never before
I draw her up to new heights
Kissing her goodbye
Wrapping her fragrance
in my arms.

She leaves her fingerprints
deep in the clay
that is my heart
She slips and joins it
patching the fear
leaving a smooth
shaped soul.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Oh Lord, won't you buy me...?

The stock market was down again today.

Both readers are doubtless wondering why I would care, let alone write about this seemingly trivial and certainly temporal fact.  Having resolved some time ago not to wrestle with the quotidian events of life because such musings are out-of-date as soon as they are in print, this observation comes not without some considerable resistance on my part.  Yet I am obliged, I feel, to comment.

Having lived in the shadow of the Great Depression most of my life, I am keenly aware that this Great Recession was coming.  Actually, the shadow was Lynda's, and it was another Depression (not its poor uncle, Recession) that she predicted.

Naturally, I never questioned this reasoning, in the same way that certain children of Dixie never questioned their elders when told that the South would rise again.  It was something given.  A fact of life.  The economy, according to Lynda, was just a figment of the collective imagination, and I have to say, in the course of my life I've never seen any evidence to the contrary.  Now, although the US economy might have been on the rise all my life and most of hers, Lynda predicted with absolute certainty that it would go down again.

Certain, as in, not if, but when.

This assertion is a common characteristic of the Depression generation.  It went something like this:  "Hey!  Save that ______.  Do not throw that piece of _______ (fill in the blank: paper, glass, foil, plastic, steel, wood, food) away!  You never know when you might need it!"

Ok, Mom. I got it.  Even today I cannot throw a piece of foil or plastic away without a certain amount of guilt, and that's even when I put it in the recycling stream!  I know resources are limited, and that shortages will come again some day.  Or will they?

I mean, if it's just a figment of our imagination, why can't we imagine a better economy?  Why, all of the sudden, are investors so damn nervous?

A better question might be:  Just who are all these nervous investors?  Don't they have lives?  Don't they understand that what goes up must comes down and vice-versa?  I mean, if we little people--those whom the 'job providers' have decided to 'go on strike' against recently, presumably to punish us for our insatiable greed and constant need--are expected to stay calm, why can't the wealthy investors?

What causes these wealthy 'investors' to go screaming off the deck of the ship the moment it turns towards the rocks?  Is it pure selfishness or simple fear?  I think it's the latter; it seems that the wealthy simply have a lower threshold of fear than the rest of us.  To carry forward with the metaphor, not having been buffeted by real winds of change, the moment the breeze picks up, the wealthy run below decks, fearful that the wind of change is the precursor of a hurricane that will strip them of their goods.

One basic problem, I believe, is that these days, the question of who is wealthy and who is not has not been answered truthfully.  This failure to make a real distinction between the classes has poisoned the debate by allowing people who make too much to be middle class to nonetheless claim that they are poorer than they actually are.  This is nonsense.  It's time to draw a line.

I believe that people who make more than $250K per year are rich.  There, I said it.

I'll be even more specific.  To all the doctors, attorneys and professional administrators who are earning at least four times the amount of the average middle class family ($60K) and still consider themselves middle class, I say bullshit.  They are rich.  They are not bad people, just richer than they claim to be.

Now, they may not feel rich because they spend four times the average on their too-large houses, their too-many cars, their too-expensive designer clothes and their too-trendy brand-name 'ilectronics'.  They spend all their cash on Louis Vuitton bags and iPads, they avoid paying taxes by keeping their 'real' income tied up in 'real estate' and/or 'investments', and then they claim to be 'just one of the guys'.

Well, I have news.  They are not one of the guys.  They are one of those guys.

Of course, these days, those rich guys have a good reason to be nervous.  All that stuff just makes rich people nervous and afraid.  After all, when the economy goes down, they stand to lose all their stuff...and more.  They have all those investments to worry about.

We commoners are lucky, I guess.  We don't have McMansions, BMWs and Hummers or the latest 88 inch LED HD TVs to worry about.  Most of us are worried about simply keeping our houses, let alone all the stuff inside.  And we don't have investments to frighten us into sleepless nights.  The thought of losing one's job is sufficient for that.

Oh Lord, Janis had it right.  The lovely irony is that nothing has changed in forty years.  Today, if I wish for anything, it's not that the stock market will go up, it's that the whiny scared rich babies that have 'invested' in that Ponzi scheme will lose enough to force them to get back to work.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Of Mice and Me

There was death on the doorstep this morning.

Neither reader--knowing, as they do, of our seven cats--will be surprised by this statement.  Nor was I, having been the recipient of more than one newly or nearly dead small creature at the door in the morning.

Often this 'gift' is only half of said small creature, leaving me curious to understand why.  I mean, which half has been presented as an offering and which half was simply too tasty to leave uneaten?

I am not terribly grossed out by having to dispose of an unwanted half a creature first thing in the morning, and it's not the worst thing I have found on the doorstep.  The carcass (or half thereof) of a small creature is less likely to turn my stomach than discovering a pile of freshly chewed and still-warm-from-the-stomach cat puke.

But this morning, my 'gift' was not upchuck, or newly dead or even half-dead.  It was mouse, and very much alive.

To be perfectly clear, this was not a rat.  Admittedly, I've not dealt with a lot of rats in my day.  The actual number of rats that I've seen with my own eyes numbers around two.  But I have seen rats.

This was not a rat.  It was a mouse.

It was rather large mouse, about six inches long, nose to tail.  It had a light brown coat with a white belly and two very black eyes.  Although it wasn't injured, it was very frightened, likely the result of having been chased by one of the aforementioned septuplet of felines who reside in and around our environs.

None of the cats was present at the door when I opened it, however.  Just the mouse.

And I didn't even see it until after I went out, picked up the cat bowls and opened the screen door to go back in.  That's when I saw it, wriggling under the door and making it's way into the house.

Now, lots of people hate snakes.  And spiders.  Not me.  I don't exactly love snakes, but I won't go out of my way to kill one, and spiders, well, haven't you read Charlotte's Web?  I love spiders.  They eat mosquitoes, and that's just the start.  But this was a rodent.

I hate rodents.

Well, ok, hate is a hard word.  And, to be fair, like many people, what I really hate are rats.  I don't hate them because they caused the Black Death--although that would be a pretty good reason to despise them, I think.  Some say the Plague wasn't actually their fault, they were just carrying the fleas, but I'm not buying it.  I'm no fan of fleas, mind you, but rats are just bigger and nastier and must consequently bear an inordinate share of the blame.

I'm sure this position will not offend many, as the collective opinion of rats is (fortunately) very low.  Not so the general opinion of other rodents, though I doubt we'd find many people who actually like mice, either.  The misperception of mice as cute pink and wiggly creatures that is such a deep disservice to many has been fostered by the proliferation of the little white lab mouse--Algernon, anyone?

Size and furriness notwithstanding, I think that there are very few people over the age of ten who actually find mice adorable.  The same could be said of gerbils and hamsters.  Even though I confess to having had a number of hamsters in my youth, I never liked mice, especially after I saw them being fed to a snake in a pet store once when I was about seven.  Later, when I lived in the country (see my adventures on Maufrais Lane) I saw my first field mouse.  Cute--admittedly--but still a rodent.

So, though I might have written the script differently with more time to think and act, in the spur of the moment, the rodent on my doorstep this morning was destined to die.  Alas.

When I first spotted it, although it was still breathing, it looked like it's heart was about to explode.  It dipped and whipped and jumped around in front of me in response to my whoops and swoops with the cat bowls.  Somehow, I managed to turn him around and head him back out the front door.

In the back of my mind was the thought that I had just summoned the cats for their breakfast.  They were coming--as I turned back to the door a moment earlier,  I had seen three of the four older cats slowly making their way to the deck.

Fortunately for the mouse, my idly approaching hunters were still unaware of the potential to supplement their usual early morning cat crunchies with a bit of blood.  For my part, I sure didn't want to see this mouse get eaten right before my eyes, but I also didn't want it in the house.  So, honestly, I felt no angst about pushing it toward the hungry predators assembling on the porch.  Luckily for me (but not the mouse), things unfolded so fast that I really didn't have time to think much more about it.

As the mouse made his made along the edge of the house where it meets the deck, he was being pursued from behind, not just by me, but also by Jolie, who had jumped up from the side flower bed.  As I pushed the mouse forward, hoping he'd make it to the edge and wriggle under the deck, we came to the corner of the house.  The mouse turned the corner.  I turned the corner.

And there was Bitty.  Our oldest, and possibly most toothless cat.  In a flash--and I'm not exaggerating, it was a blur--she pounced, delivering a classic death blow to the neck of the fast-but-not-fast-enough mouse.

Lord knows that must feel really good to a cat, especially an old one like Bitty, who hasn't the energy to chase her prey much any more.  It actually looked merciful to me.  The mouse went limp instantly and Bitty raced off, head held high with her prize.

Moments later, she abandoned it, of course, in exchange for her 'proper' breakfast.  Later as I got in to the car to go to work, I saw one of the kittens playing with the corpse, tossing it up and batting it around.  I doubt he had any desire to eat it, leaving it instead for our one true blood lusting cat, Diablo, who was perched nearby.

I was a little perturbed by this turn of events, but as I've thought more about it, I am not upset by the death of the mouse.  I believe that all rodents, including rats and their smaller cousins, the mice, are inherently dirty and potentially lethal carriers of disease. That includes squirrels, who make it worse by being cute.  And even though they are not technically rodents, I reserve a special place in hell for  pigeons, who are just flying feathered rats by their nature.  Cf. Tom Lehrer, Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.

So sorry little (erm..semi-big) mouse.  But it's the Law of the Jungle.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fire!

Fire!

Apparently, this is what one should yell if immediate assistance is required from people who do not know you.  Yelling "help" is like setting off a car alarm at three in the morning--no one hears it and even if they do, it's regarded as an annoyance (those damn kids!) rather than an emergency.

But yelling "fire" is something that will always get your attention.  Why?

To begin with, fire is ruthless and indiscriminate.  Everyone knows that it does not matter how rich you are, where you live or how much insurance you have.  Fire doesn't care whose house it is burning.  The fear of having one's house burned down to the ground is a deep-seated, primal fear that we all have built right into us, regardless of whether we live in a hut or a palace, in a desert or a tropical paradise.

Fear of fire is as basic as it gets, but fear of what fire will do to our possessions comes pretty close.  After all, to have one's house burn down is to experience denial of one of our most basic needs.  Like dying of hunger or exposure, the fear of dying in a fire is primal.  But why?  What are we afraid of, exactly?

What is in our homes--besides life: people and the animals--that is so incredibly important?  Is it our money?  Our jewelry?  Photographs, furniture or clothing?  Food?  Art?  What do we value most?  Given the limiting constraints of pressing time and minimal space, what will we choose to save?

Is there anything in our houses that we would not trade for our lives or the lives of our loved ones or animals?

I don't think so.  It's a cliche to say something like, "material things don't matter.  What's important are the lives of my family and our animals." It sounds hollow, especially on TV with a camera pointed a some poor person who's just lost everything.  At the heart of every cliche however, there is some truth, and the truth of the matter is that we're all happy to make the deal of a lifetime:  If we may live, the fire may have it all.

Oh, and it will.  The fire can and will have all the possessions, the acquisitions, all the inheritances and every bit of stuff that it chooses.  It can have all the tangible bits of flotsam and jetsam that comprise our lives outside of our minds and experiences.  Fire will take all that is mere detritus, just the barnacles on a hull, living with us but not for us.

Fire can actually be a cleansing, a removal of the waste that surrounds us.

After all, things themselves are here only to break our hearts.  Lost, stolen or destroyed, all things eventually fall from our grasp.  Why then do we reach for them in the first place?  What gives us the idea that we may claim ownership of any bit of matter in the universe other than the atoms and molecules that comprise ours cells?

Remember, we are all but renters in the Big City of Life.  Our quarters, however luxurious or spare they may be are but temporary abodes, a small set of things assembled briefly at a set of coordinates in Cartesian time and Quantum space.

Those things are meaningless outside of the context that binds them together--us.

Like pearls on a string, things are someday to be undone.  Some day the knot will break. All those things that seemed so tightly and permanently bound together in our lives will fall and scatter.  Some we will catch and save, but some will roll out the door and into the gutter and thence to the sewer.  Still others will be spotted and claimed by other Magpies, delighted by the shininess and roundness of their being.

Life is a sieve.  Only those bits that are small enough to pass will remain.