“Beware of these eyes. … I’m the devil in disguise.”
“Take all you can get… and give as little as possible.” — Mae West (in “I’m No Angel”)
Dear William and Kate,
A thousand apologies for this tardy response to your late-arriving invitation! (I must confess, after my first question, “Why me—a humble-as-kippers American poet?,” my second question was: “In this era of girdle-tightening austerity, why the gilded note; would some churls think that ‘bad form’?”)
The fact is, I am rather certain this invitation is a mistake; that it was, in fact, meant for Gregory Corso, a renowned “Beat” poet with whom I’ve been confused for decades, thanks, no doubt, to similar assonance and consonance in our names. If it was so intended, that would also be a mistake, since Gregory is no longer whinnying with us.
Frankly, I wonder why you’d bother to invite any sort of “literary type” at all—especially a pariah type like me? Why not stick with the safer bets: a Thomas Friedman, say, worth some $50,000,000 of married-into loot–a bloviating bloke who thinks your flat little world just fine?
Why me? Did I win some sort of lottery? Each day I’m deluged with news from Nigeria, Liberia and Malaria, congratulating me for winning billions in lotteries I had no idea I’d entered. To claim my prizes, I merely must send my birth certificate, finger prints, foot prints and certified eye scans. (Obama-type birth certificates will not do.)
And now, as I have declined the lottery invites, I must also decline your kind invitation.
The fact is: I don’t know you. What I’ve seen of you on the inescapable mass media—the covers of magazines spying on me as I check out my Raisin Bran, the flashy images on CNN ad nauseum–quite honestly, I do not like. William is far too toothy, seems a bit serpentine, and Kate is too pretty to be with him–except for all that loot!
I mean: What did that guy do to deserve such luchre? (What does anyone do to “deserve” it?) Cause, you see, it’s getting kind of tight around here—and where you are, too—and a lot of us peasants are beginning to think: there’s an inverse proportion between money and democracy. The bigger the palace, the greater the malice!
I think it was Balzac who said, Behind every great fortune, there’s a crime. Thomas Paine went even further: he showed how the fortunes of the monarchies were based on the accumulated spoils of war; or taxing peasants into penury; outright theft from other “nobles,” and on and on. Why grovel before such ciminals? he wondered.
So, in 1776 and 1789, in 1848 and 1914, in 1948 and 1959—in America, in France, all over Europe, in Russia, China, Cuba, and at other times and in other places around this hurting world, we’ve thrown your kind into the sea or under the guillotines, or stood you before firing squads—to make you stop! Stop the thievery, stop the lies, stop the wars that line your bottomless pockets. (Okay. … Sometimes, as in Russia, we’ve gone over the top. No need ever to hurt children! If only your side felt the same way! Because you’re hurting children exponentially worse—all the time!)
Every time we think we’re done with you, you come back like radish indigestion, repeating some unpleasant taste, worse each time belched up.
Sharing the tabloid covers with you in recent weeks: British-born Liz Taylor. A fair actress blessed with physical beauty in her 20s and 30s and increasingly unpleasant to look at from her 50s on when her bad habits caught up with her. It’s said she died a billionaire. (A lot of innumerate Americans don’t actually “get” that that’s a thousand millionaires’ worth of dough!) It’s said she gave generously of her time to causes like AIDS, that she raised millions of dollars for AIDS. I wonder: if she was so “generous,” how did she manage to amass a billion? Let’s get this straight: It’s obscene to be a billionaire in a world where children starve! Nobody needs a thousand million dollars! Let’s start drawing some lines and figure out what kind of differentials might make sense. (Absolute equality doesn’t seem to work: humans just aren’t that good! So what will work? It’s a question evaded for centuries!) Liz Taylor managed to convince a lot of people who had less than she—many far less—to give proportionately much more than she. People in the “upper brackets” call this “philanthropy.” Christ called it hypocrisy. Somehow I don’t think Liz Taylor will make it through the eye of a needle any easier than a camel!
What’s the “royal family” worth—$50,000,000,000 (I like to write out the numbers!)? There’s Balmoral Castle with its 40,000 acres!–and Buckingham Palace and holdings in Ireland and God knows what else. Rolls Royces and hunting lodges… and meanwhile half a million Brits show up to protest the “austerity” measures of kiss-ass Cameron…, but William and Kate are looking cutesy and planning their nuptials. Charles and Camilla were caught in the last ruckus and you can see the disdain on their royal pusses. (They ought to call those “austerity” measures “asperity” measures because it feels like the people are being rubbed raw with a rasp!).
To be fair, we have our royal asses here as well. We’ve learned from you. We’ve got money to cut taxes for our super-rich—top 1 or 2 percent–, but no money to pay teachers in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey—you name it. A mere three years ago, we had plenty of tax-payer money to bail out bankers and Wall Street fatcat-fast-talkers; but now: no money for schools; or to repair our roads and bridges; no money for health care. No money to replace our aging fleet of torn-up aircraft, opening up like cans of sardines! Money to keep the endless wars going, to plunder the oil. Money for nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs; money for mediocre actresses and trumped up candidates like, er, Trump—and Gingrich, Obama, et. al.; but no money to educate the masses about the meaning, power, responsibility and beauty of real, down-home democracy. We’ve got money to burn—so long as G.E. is making that money. They can build faulty nuke reactors at Fukushima and across the U.S., make $14,000,000,000+ in profits and get a $3,500,000,000 tax credit to boot! We’ve got plenty of dough to send up the smokestacks, but not enough for mental health programs to get to a guy like Loughner before he gets to a US Congresswoman and a 9-year old kid.
A couple of months ago I heard that 20% of American adults are suffering from mental illness! Which raises a chicken-or-egg question: Did a crazy populace create this inane government/society… or was it the other way around?
The late, great Joe Bageant saw modern America as a “simulacrum”—a false image of reality; or a hologram—something projected. We’ve been living with these projections for as long as I can remember—and I imagine the Greeks, Romans, ancient Isreaelites, Egyptians and Persians did plenty of projecting, too. I guess it’s in our DNA to want out of our own skins; to project onto a screen or a sky images of gods and goddesses, heroes and villains, archetypes of evil or goodness—a Christ or a Satan.
It occurs to me that maybe you’re both just dumb and you really don’t know what’s cooking. Maybe you’re that insulated in your bubble universe—or maybe you just don’t give a damn. (Tell me: Do you shit gold bricks?) Here’s a few items you really shouldn’t miss:
That’s by the formidable truth-warrior James Petras, at one of your UK sites, reflecting on the 1210 billionaires who run the world, who are running this world into a putrid grave. Here’s another one that my writer-friend, Emily Spence, sent me:
You’ll find info like this therein: “Mass extinction, rainforests rapidly disappearing, clouds of pollution spreading across the globe and whopping carbon footprints are only a few of the incredible environmental quandaries we’re facing today, and the numbers will blow your mind. We produce enough trash to circle the globe hundreds and hundreds of times, and the amount of money wasted on the Iraq war could have solved many of the world’s problems. It’s not all bad news, though: we’ve got thousands of years worth of geothermal power at our fingertips, and the potential of renewable energy is amazing indeed. Here are 15 of the most mind-boggling green facts and statistics. …
“Oxygen-starved dead zones [in the oceans] that cannot sustain life now cover an area roughly the size of the state of Oregon.
“1% of Australia’s untapped geothermal power potential could provide enough energy to last 26,000 years.
“Only 1% of China’s 560 million city residents breathe air that is considered safe by the European Union.
“The Wall Street bailout is costing taxpayers around $700 billion and growing. Yet, just 4% of the Wall Street bailout could end world hunger.
“Less than 1% of the world’s freshwater is readily available for human use. Despite these problems, many people… are wasting water as if it will always be plentiful. … The average American household uses 300 gallons of water daily, with many wasting thousands of gallons every year on lawn irrigation.
“Every day in the U.S., we produce enough trash to equal the weight of the Empire State Building.
“The Iraq War has cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 trillion. … A website called 3trillion.org lets you go on a shopping spree with that money, and EarthFirst.com found that we could have spent that money on all of the following and much more: universal health care for every American, switching all of the U.S. to run on solar power, building a national rapid transit system, cleaning up pollution in major cities, achieving universal literacy, repairing the damage done by Hurricane Katrina, providing non-violent leadership training for 10 million leaders across the world and buying new clothing, shoes, coats and school supplies for 10 million. …
“Within 10 years, wind power could provide 20% of America’s power. as T. Boone Pickens points out, ‘If the government commits to modernizing our nation’s power grid in the same fashion that we modernized our highways, we can make some serious progress in a relatively short time.’
“Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil, 4,100 kilowatts of energy, 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space and 60 pounds of air pollution.”
Kate and Willian: How many tons of paper will your nuptials generate? Not just the gilded invitations…, but the reams of periodicals? A tsunami of wasteful confetti!
Here’s a little more to ponder:
“The human population on earth has grown more in the last 50 years than it did in the previous 4 million.
“One in four mammals is at risk of extinction.
“At least 50 million acres of rainforest are lost every year, totaling an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland combined.
“Average temperatures will increase by as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current pace.
“If the entire world lived like the average American, we’d need 5 planets to provide enough resources.”
Now, with all this going on in the world, Kate and Bill, is it really fair that you Europeans have dragged the world’s policeman—yeah, US—into a neo-colonial, neo-liberal war in Africa? It’s not enough that we’re fighting our own imperialist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and helping Israel for decades to fight its wars of occupation and expansion–now you want us to save your oily asses in Libya? To “save civilians”?
That reminds me: I’m having a bit of trouble getting my next book of poems published. The esteemed publishing houses here suggest that I should change the title. It’s now called:
BOMB THE BILLIONAIRES! F*CK THE CELEBRITIES! SAVE THE CIVILIANS!
What do you think? Should I leave the “u” out, or put it back in?
Look, guys, I really don’t mean to come down so hard on you. You’re probably just a couple of spoiled kids and you’re probably no worse than ten million other spoiled kids in this gaga world… but that’s the problem. We can no longer afford to indulge you. We’re sick of your moats and your draw-bridges and your gated communities while our unspoiled kids are digging in the dung heaps looking for a few scraps of KFC chicken wings.
The fact is, Bill… I liked your mama. She not only looked good, but all the pomp and circumstance and all the attempts of the royal family to keep her caged could not disguise the fact that she had a heart, could relate to “commoners”–who genuinely liked her. Mostly I liked her because she had guts. She walked through a minefield to spotlight the danger of such unexploded ordnance—especially to children (who are still getting crippled or killed by such every year in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc.) I’d still like to know what really happened to your mom on that fateful night in the Paris tunnel.
Well, I’d like to know about a lot of things: the Kennedy assassinations, MLK’s, Malcom’s, 9-11, the BP oil spill, HAARP and so forth. It seems the more I know, the less I know. I’m only sure of my ignorance.
And maybe this: This is my home. … I live here with 7,000,000,000 other souls… and there are only 1210 of your kind here. This is my home… and you and your kind have been messing it up and strutting around like you own it since the pharaohs, since Angra Mainyu, since the time of Huang Ti. …
This is our home, all that we have—all 7,000,000,000 of us… and you… you are the guests in our home, and not the other way around!
That scientist-poet Carl Sagan said it as well as anyone:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
William and Kate: Get over yourselves! This culture of excess must end… or we shall all end soon “on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
Gary Corseri‘s poems, fiction, and dramas have appeared at hundreds of online and hard-copy venues, including, Dandelion Salad, Thomas Paine’s Corner, The New York Times, CounterPunch, Hollywood Progressive, Dissident Voice, Village Voice, and CommonDreams. He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. He has published two novels (including, Holy Grail, Holy Grail), a literary anthology, two collections of poems; and his dramas have been performed on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere. He can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.