Akhmatova

It was a long day, blazoned with hints from cumulous,

Forebodings—blackness in my wrists,

A fancy concerning self-harm—

As if customary sky may purchase

Or sell a life, in this case mine.

I’ve questions and no one to ask,

This static American business,

Bleaching yourself clear in public,

Being silent, a green chill

For a tongue. I was powerless

Today, strung across

My thirst with no one

To tell—correction—

The sun as strong as always.

 

 

Homage to Krip-Hop Nation

Yesterday I watched a Youtube video of disability activist and poet Leroy Moore. Mr. Moore is the founder of Sins Invalid—an arts program by and for the disabled and which promotes engagement with disability and black identity among other intersections. He is also the inventor of Krip-Hop, a poetics of spoken word poetry with powerful rhythms—a poetry of urgency and truth.

I’m just a white blind dude. I’m a white blind dude poet and nonfiction writer. Me? I’ve got broad interests. More than a few of my concerns have to do with trans-progressivism, which is to say I believe that oppression isn’t identical across diversity intersections but many of its mechanism are the same.

Here is Mr. Moore, reciting a poem after a black man with a prosthetic leg was brutally  wrestled to the ground by police in San Francisco. Here’s to Krip-Hop Nation.

 

The Ploughman

A ploughman comes to me in my dream—synesthesia—his odor is of wine, the taste of wine, ripened cherries and earth and when he speaks I hear only syllables as I do not know his language. Even in dreams there’s something of the ironist, the upper hand of the subconscious, and I know this is a Finno-Ugrian tongue, Altaic and not calibrated to contemporary joy. Each sound is sorrow. We meet on a plain of losses and the sun is amber like Russian tea in a glass and soon it will be gone and the ploughman says things I do not understand but in my dream-like way I take to mean: sun-sorrow; course-sorrow; child-loss; deep-hunger; long shadows.

On Blindness, Animal Pelts, and Revery…

If on some nameless island Captain Schmidt

Sees a new animal and captures it,

And if, a little later, Captain Smith

Brings back a skin, that island is no myth.

—John Shade, Pale Fire

 

Facts are produced by violence and are almost never the product of contentment. Artifacts are the spoils of empire. Even laboratories are places of conquest for every experiment aims to overturn the past.

Now I stand on a street corner. There is the traffic violence. There is also the hurried violence of passersby who race the clock.

Often I think of blindness as liberating, not because it is fact-less or non-violent, but because its more imbued with reverie than is commonly supposed. There are in fact whole moments when one must pause, listen, reflect, imagine, and let go of assumptions. One may say this is a romanticized version of vision loss, that its incompatible with reality, for there are aggressive and angry blind people and surely this is so, but let’s say its more likely a man or woman can have a brief moment of intellectual acquisitiveness when relieved of the visual impulse to grab or skin what’s before them. Romantic or not, blindness is a form of emotional intelligence.

Of course I’ve been put in mind of this conceit by virtue of the most often asked question thrown at the blind by sighted people—it has variants, but it goes like this: “Will your guide dog protect you if you’re attacked?” Or: “Aren’t you afraid of the dangerous streets?”

The answer to both is “no” but really the more interesting thing is the question itself for its predicated by the assumption that functioning eyes will protect you. Moreover its further based on the idea that although the world is violent, the eyes are a fetish. They are inherently magical.

Imagine believing such a thing, you sighted people! Hahaha! How can you ever hope for revery with your eyes open? Your hungry eyes that long to capture the animals and skin them. Perhaps some reader will prove me wrong, but I know of no blind person who’s house is filled with animal pelts.

 

Why I Can’t Forgive John Lennon

When the Beatles were new John Lennon made fun of the cripples seated down front of whatever theater—he’d do a retard act. I’ve never forgotten this nor can I find it in myself to forgive him. I was a disabled kid and now I’m a disabled man. I have to enact patience and forgiveness daily. Ableist behavior is legion. I make it through by means of small dispensations, little pardons, absolving the bus driver who resents me, willing beneficence, handing out invisible coins of absolution to the cab driver who refuses me a ride. Lovingkindness is the Christian word for this. I try to love my oppressors.

Ableism, taken nominally, is insufficient to highlight real circumstances. Those who think themselves superior to a woman in a wheelchair or a man who walks with a stick are exceptionalists and if they’re not educable they become tacit eugenicists for social Darwinism lurks behind most disability discrimination. The fascist wants to make the world clean, wishes for a sanitized sameness in the population, argues passionately against expenditures for the care and rehabilitation of those who require assistance. Meantime the disabled muster some forbearance and get on with it. The taxi that refused you will likely be followed by one that accepts you. Yet the message is clear: disabled, you’re a problem on the street, in the airport, in the classroom, the supermarket, the hotel, health club, doctor’s office, college campus, the theater, symphony hall, and all workplaces.

“Problem” is not the right word of course—problems are solvable or at least they’re invitations to find a solution, or what I like to call “solvation” much as Jamaican people say “no problem mon!” True ableism requires an antipathy to finding disability solutions and it depends on a willful lack of irony individually and collectively. The singular ableist is someone like the junior high school principal who says “no” when a 12 year old girl with cerebral palsy wants to bring her authentic service dog to school. Collective ableism is the school board behind the principal. They say: “of course we cannot have a service dog in the classroom! Think of the children who will somehow be ruined by this!”

In order to think this you must be an inherent exceptionalist who despises intellectual and bodily difference. Such people believe not in solvation but in segregation, deportation, and even annihilation.

Lovingkindness is the hardest thing in my life. I know I’m working daily with college faculty and administrators who resent the disabled. I try thinking of how damaged they are—that they’ve been made to accept compulsory normalcy by means of many cruelties. They were always racing to get one step ahead. For them disability represents the thing they fear most: the loss of distinction, both intellectually and performatively. At the big conference cocktail party where faculty are first anointed they must “present” as having just arrived from the gym.

I find I can’t forgive John Lennon. Later he wrote a song called “Crippled Inside” which is just as offensive as his youthful face pulling. And I can’t forgive the social Darwinists around me. I’m a little worn out from all the forgiving I have to do in the customary street to forgive those whose educations and talents should prevent them from outrageous bigotry.

But I Can’t

Disability says nothing but I told you so,
 Disability only knows the price you have to pay.
 If I could tell you I would let you know.
 I’d let you know how to rest,
 Sing a song of buoyant life.
 Disability says nothing but I told you so.
 It only knows the price you have to pay.
 Suppose all the clouds came down low,
 And the wilderness suddenly had words,
 Would silent lonely nature let us in?
 Would trees dismiss, say I told you so?
 If I could tell you I would let you know.
 If I could tell you I would let you know.
 
 
 
 
 
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Micro Memoir: the Moon and Edith Sodergran

There is something about the childlike face of the little dog, trust and appetite, he’s in the game no matter what. If a ball comes his way he’ll scoop it up. If you scratch his ears he will smile as dogs do—that sidelong open grin of the half accommodated predator who still recalls where he came from. I love him for not being me. He is not gifted musically. He’s not cynical like the birds flitting from branch to branch.

**

All that shines are the flowers from last night’s dream. Irises. Blue as flame on a cake.

**

So many rags and masks in my imagination’s closet. And the wind today blowing darkness against my chin.

**

Yes water and light are furnishings. Imagine that house, eh Mr. Aalto?

**

When Heraclitus invented lyric time he also created reality.

**

Dreamt the green reception of the sea—that first plunge—you can carry it with you.

**

The grey flock of academic colleagues, hunching along sidewalks. They know, inwardly, they’re custodians.

**

I write hastily, without expectation of thanks, very lonely, as always.

**

Quick story: I spent a winter reading Edith Sodergran, alone in the far north—Helsinki. One night, the moon, at my window, reached in, and searched my pockets.