First published on Dandelion Salad in 2008. Originally published in 2005.
Do not call them “heroes”
if they have done your killing for you.
Say that they have done your bidding;
say they were your “soldiers.”
Say that you have trained them well:
They are the oiled machinations of war,
performing as expected.
“One Law for Lion and Ox is Oppression.” –William Blake
“Where is the place of understanding? Where is wisdom to be found?” —The Book of Job
Info coming at us at the speed of light—gigabytes per nano-sec—and our horse-and-buggy bio-chem brains struggle with ancient grammars, syntaxes and texts! Even our metaphors are now wretchedly overwrought: Not, “how to connect the dots,” but how to perceive, measure, record and duck the shot-gunned info-pellets rushing at our faces! Continue reading
Last week, Barbara “wah-wah” Walters—thank you, Gilda Radner!—was trotted in front of ABC’s Evening News cameras to assure those familes still chowing down that the brutal, disgusting, illegal, savage beating, sodomization and execution of Libyan “dictator” Gaddafi was… understandable… because, he was “crazy.”
He hoisted her a little higher on his back. …
If only Mother had followed Sister’s counsel about the pumice stone—or had allowed Sister to use the stone on her (and to trim her long toenails, as well!)—her calloused heels would not be chafing his ribs and hips through the thin fabric of his summer yukata.
But, she had always been a stubborn, proud woman; and in her youth she had been considered a bijin—a beauty—who had held her head high among the courtesans—the first wife of the Lord’s First Minister, with her own retinue of servants in the apartments near the Daimyo’s own.
“Farewell the tranquil mind! Farewell content!
Farewell the plumed troops and the big wars
That make ambition virtue!” — William Shakespeare (Othello)
“It would be supererogatory for me to list those areas in which thoughtful Americans feel that collapse is coming.” — Anthony Burgess, “Is America Falling Apart?” (1971)
The people of Somalia are not like us.
Their skin is black and gray and parched by sun.
They carry their babies on bony hips,
Walking for miles for a little water.
Even their babies are resigned to death,
Hollow-eyed, fly-covered, without the strength
To cry, without the will to endure.
Among the nostrums I was taught as an English Lit under-grad, and then a grad student, was the idea that biography had no place in Criticism. This notion arrived with the “New Critics” of the 1930s—some pretty bright lights, actually, who—as the best of us are wont to do—were in rebellion… in their case against the schmaltzy kind of newspaper “criticism” and reviews—especially of poetry—that preceded them. That schmaltzy stuff was all about praising the poet’s “sentiment” or good-heartedness, and it was more often than not aimed at women—the main writers and readers of “sentimental” novels and all-too-flowery and rhymy “verse.”
First, some aphoristic opals:
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” — Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), abolitionist, orator and columnist for The Liberator.
“Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ’d.” — William Blake
1. The Garden of Eden
Yo! A-man! Evie? Where U at?—G-D
Behind the bushes, Big Guy!—E.
What the? U hiding?—G-D
We’re naked, Lord!—A.
Whoa! Who tole u u were naked?—G-D
Duh! I thought u knew everything?—E.
“What’s in a name?”
Most people are unaware of the larger picture developing over the past seven or eight decades, or have been willing to ignore it. This still-developing image portrays matters requiring knowledge of world history, a degree of self-education and a global perspective to recognize and decipher.
“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’?”)
This one—tack-witted, sharp of tongue—
thinks he’ll die soon, and so,
smokes on (although he loves his wife).
He has made peace at 62 (my age)
with demons, destiny, and even
the C.O.P.D. that will
kick him in.
RAINBOW PIE: A Redneck Memoir, by Joe Bageant
Scribe Publications, Melbourne, 2010 (U.S. edition, 2011). 310 pp.
Reviewed by Gary Corseri
Lose all your troubles, kick up some sand
And follow me, buddy, to the Promised Land.
I’m here to tell you, and I wouldn’t lie,
You’ll wear ten-dollar shoes and eat rainbow pie. –“The Sugar Dumpling Line,” American hobo song.
“Today, almost nobody in the social sciences seems willing to touch the subject of America’s large white underclass,” writes Joe Bageant on page 2 of his second book, RAINBOW PIE.