Life when you taste it…

Life when you taste it,

It’s handsome and fatal,

A tall, dark stranger at every corner table,

Something whispered, a woman with a flower

On her shoulder, her nipples like living ice.

Life, certainly a romantic word,

When you taste it, Robin Hood, oak tree,

Dark-faced like a big river,

Laser lights before dying.

Life, a white napkin. But then dark, dangerous.

The taste of it.

A granite body with blood vessels,

Black meat and herbs.

Life as you live it. Carefully, leveling.

Taste life. It’s acorn water…

 

–Jarkko Laine

translated from the Finnish by SK

It’s when you read to yourself a true voice comes…

Not spoken

A rehearsal and a what if,

A talking back to your mother

Things you’d say

Running off

And won’t be forgot

But embellished,

Mrs. Havisham’s house

Was your childhood home

(There must have been a cake

With spiders, windows

Never opened)

All this under your tongue

Which insists

Like a cat prowling

Through grass

Page after page

There is a kind of future.

 

When “The Donald” Doubles Down

When you’re young it’s hard to understand how strong the muscle of state repression is.

Pop culture, whether in the 60’s or the 21st century insists, over and over, sexily, temper and performative exaggerations are enough to bring about freedom. Maybe you won’t shoot the sheriff or bring down the temples of Babylon but for a moment, a moment which sometimes lasts years, you think it’s possible.

Then one day when you’re middle aged, weakened by responsibility, you watch as a democrat (small d) like Bill Clinton, destroys the social safety net for the poor, effectively completing Reagan’s work, while proclaiming a new era of prosperity for all. Later you watch as successive presidents, Republican and Democratic, promote perpetual war. Finally you just live long enough to see an authentic fascist sympathizer take the reins of government. The songs you loved didn’t help. That poetry reading you attended where all the writers joined hands and aimed to levitate the pentagon didn’t work.

Of course it didn’t work. The world ain’t what you think it is, it’s just what it is. The line is from the folk singer Greg Brown.

I’m old. Politics are as ugly as ever. Watching today as Donald Trump doubled down on his rebarbative and shriveled opinion that there are two sides at fault when it comes to neo-nazi extremism and terror reminded me the world is never what I think it is, until it is.

Periods of progress come and go. History tells us this. Even American history. But there’s never been enough progress for people of color. Not for native Americans.  Not enough for women. Gays? Don’t make me laugh. The disabled? Many remain locked up in institutions against their wills.

Trump is working the fascist-neo-lib dial, hoping to make Nazis customary—in his version of the United States all you have to do is say they have a point, just like those people who are repulsed. God forbid you should say a fascist might deserve a punch in the mouth after shouting expletives about the jews.

“What is wrong with 45?” people keep saying. Nothing. He’s a dyed in the wool racist who won an election. He cannot lead. He can only fan the flames of discontent. That’s what his electoral base wants. They’re getting it. Don’t confuse “The Donald” with a man who feels genuine sorrow or outrage for as long as he can fan the mob’s rage he’s getting his version of the job done.

But I Can’t

Some mornings I need tenderness, tendre—just to make clear: “soft, easily injured,” early 13c., from Old French tendre “soft, delicate; young” (11c.), from Latin tenerem (nominative tener) “soft, delicate; of tender age, youthful,” from a derivative of PIE root *ten- “to stretch,” on the notion of “stretched,” hence “thin,” hence “weak” or “young.” Compare Sanskrit tarunah “young, tender,” Greek teren “tender, delicate,” Armenian t’arm “young, fresh, green.”

Meaning “kind, affectionate, loving” first recorded early 14c. Meaning “having the delicacy of youth, immature” is attested in English from early 14c. Related: Tenderly; tenderness. Tender-hearted first recorded 1530s. 

See http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=Tenderness

**

Early today I required Auden:

“But I Can’t”

Time will say nothing but I told you so,

Time only knows the price we have to pay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,

If we should stumble when musicians play,

Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,

Because I love you more than I can say,

If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,

There must be reasons why the leaves decay;

Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,

The vision seriously intends to stay;

If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,

And all the brooks and soldiers run away;

Will Time say nothing but I told you so?

If I could tell you I would let you know.

October 1940

Excerpt From: “Selected Poems.” iBooks.

**

When a human soul is bruised but not yet crushed, a man, woman, or child often senses a green bleed beneath the skin of mind, as if a coin has fallen through blood with its promise of luck deferred. Oh we didn’t receive our due, but “the vision seriously intends to stay”—life works just this way. If I could tell you I would let you know.

Nice People, Disability, and the Neoliberal Campus

“Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.”

― Naomi Shulman

As a disabled person I’ve never had luck with “nice people” since they tend to employ saccharine batting—their spun candy—as a shield of manners the aim of which is suffocation of cripples. One knows the type: a school administrator who, seeing a child with a wheelchair says: “We’re so lucky to have you here,” and then, two weeks later, tries to prevent that child from bringing her service dog to school.

You learn to get around it, fashioning your own brand of insistence, arguing for the rights of the blind, deaf, non-speaking, mobility challenged, neurodiversity inclusion—yes, though you despise the word “inclusion” since you know it comes from the 17th century by way of Latin inclusio(n-), from includere ‘shut in.’ In general one distrusts nouns  descending from verbs. Meanwhile “inclusion” is a choice word for neoliberals as it advertises “a place at the table” while it reinforces the system of separations embedded in the old verb. The “nice people” continue chattering. The university adopts inaccessible software for all it’s employees. Refuses to admit it. Gets pushed and pushed to fix the problem. Fixes the problem and publishes a news story about how they were interested in full inclusivity from the very start. Everyone is so nice nice. BTW: if there’s a word I dislike more than “includere” it’s “inclusivity” which has about it the whiff of the country club. ‘Inclusivity” means, “we’ve let you in, an we deserve some damn good press for having done it grudgingly.”

As I say, I’ve not had much luck with the nice folks. They reveal themselves. They flat out don’t like disability, the disabled, the lame and halt, and in their tricked out neoliberal meeting they’ll use disability as metaphor just as quickly as a vicious shop owner who doesn’t want your business because you have one of those damned disability dogs.

In university circles the myth is that the disabled are “complicated” or expensive. Forget the cripples pay as much for college as the apparently unencumbered. Forget that the disabled and their families have been estimated to have over 70 billion in discretionary income. (Oh dear, am I slipping from nice? I swear I’m trying to use the language of neoliberalism…) The cripples are complicated because they won’t stay “includere” and while we talk of inclusion we don’t want to make a habit of it.

And that’s the thing: neoliberal administrators at America’s colleges and universities think the world will “go back” to a former time if they just strangle the people and resources of the agora. We will “nice them to death” and get rid of faculty, problematic students, the humanities, the arts, oh, and disability services. We’ll do it by degrees. Because we’re nice. We’re incredibly nice.

 

Micro Memoir #90

Larch, I’m going sad like a toy

In an occupied country.

I am a doll faced thing.

You can tell I was burned

For awhile. Don’t

Fool yourself

I got here by choice

Having believed too much

In others. How

Could they not

Fall in love with me—

& of course

They were simply running for their lives…

 

Micro Memoir #89

I wanted a name so I went to the birch

Yes and I wept when Allen Ginsberg died

Of course I wanted the greenest of skins

& in the asylum’s garden

I read poems by Rimbaud

 

Many facts make for a life

& the capricious hours

Do their best

To turn us

From what matters