IS JUST BEING SMART AN INSULT?

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Does just being smart insult others?

Unfortunately, yes.

Why do you think the word “mansplaining” exists?

And why do you think when any large group of people feel the same way about something, that “something” is always the epitome of ignorance, close-mindedness and bad taste?

Yes. To be smart, by itself, is an insult to others.

So now we have to ask why.

Why does society hate the smart person?

Smart is undoubtedly a good quality and it helps everyone. Why is it rejected?

Why do stupid people have tons of friends? And smart people none?

Why is this?

When we find out, we will be much smarter—and hated for it. Are you ready?  Do you dare read on?

To be smart, is to know stuff, and to know stuff is to find out stuff.

That’s the first important thing to understand. Smart is not just a passive horde of knowledge—smart is a constant finding out, a constant seeking.  Smart is not just a sack of knowledge—it is a seeing, inquiring eye.

Now the second important thing. Knowledge is advantage—and this advantage applies to everyone at once. The advantage of knowing does not have an abstract existence—it pertains to you and your friends, and everyone, ultimately, all the way up to celebrities, who exist in a rarefied manner, but are still connected by a chain to a very real and substantial social reality, which reflects human interaction and consciousness at large.

Smart equals very real advantages to the smart one—at your expense.

Smart, then, means two unspoken, but very real, things: superiority, not just in the abstract, but superiority over you—for the purpose of a very real advantage over you—since society does not exist on some abstract plane, but in the constant interaction, competition and win/lose, praise/insult insult of everybody. Secondly, smart is an ongoing and smart eye which can spy on you and detect your inferiority, which you automatically feel the instant you feel annoyed by a person exhibiting smarts in an unguarded, or explicit, manner.

Nothing insults like insult, and nothing can insult like smart can. Smart not only knows, but it sees you. And what it sees and knows you don’t see and know, which makes you even more uncomfortable.

What is God, more than anything else, but the “all-seeing?” And isn’t it natural, as the power of religious belief fades, to relax, and forget our sins? For after all, we think, there is no power of seeing which sees all.  That’s just a myth. And in our scientific certainty, we smile.

But wait. What about the smart person? Curses. They see. They know. We would be off the hook, except for this damned smart person.

So this is how it works. This is why smart is the same thing as insult in so many people’s minds. This is why the antithesis of smart—the stupid—is embraced by so many people.  The many, fearing the smart, are escaping insult.

Smart does insult by its very nature.

This is why “mansplaining” caught on so quickly and is currently embraced by so many.

Because it’s so stupid.

So men, who hit and rape, and do all number of stupid and horrible things, should be socially punished for explaining things?

This is progress?  For women?

Men explain things to each other all the time. In an act of equality, they include women in the habit, and are slapped down.

This has nothing to do with gender, but illustrates how smart—or the attempt to be smart, by reveling in explanations—is, by its very existence, threatening.

This also illustrates how, unfortunately, fear and stupidity grows.

Insult, in the social realm, is, more than anything else, the chief preoccupation of humanity.

A people will let themselves be occupied and enslaved before they will allow themselves, as a group, to be insulted.

This is why smart is feared, and why, if you have read this essay to its conclusion, and understood it, you probably have no friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THIS TRAIN

Image result for train car where people read books

My office is this train,

Squealing into Pittsburgh, again, and again.

I began my Ph.D.

When she stopped loving me.

We had an affair; we rode the train,

And hid in parks, kissing again, and again.

When I get to work I turn my computer on

To  begin my work: the green lawn

Where once we lay

May stir my memory for the better part of a day.

I write poems when the boss is away.

I don’t care if I earn a degree.

I’m a scholar in why she stopped loving me.

Nothing is methodical except as it pertains

To my poetry, as the rest of the world strains.

ANGRY AND FAT

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You once loved with all your being

A guy who loved you,

And all that guy was seeing

Was everything that guy knew,

And what he was seeing was you.

When we really love, the love tries to go through

The other person, to a purity beyond—

But that purity is only narcissus above the pond.

You have to be looked at by another, the flesh adored,

And if the physical is no longer a bond,

Even the poet gets bored.

Fake spirituality ruins everything.

Wisdom makes love a flop.

You forgot to relax. You forgot to sing.

Love continues, though you try to make it stop.

Are you angry?  Are you fat?

I’m a gentleman—I would never describe you like that.

 

LOVE

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When I asked what love was, I heard this reply:

“Love is someone better who makes us cry.

Love is the end before the end—the end in which we die.

Love is the intensity of the melody of the song

So we don’t guess the madness of the lyric is wrong.

Before we die, we sicken, so we have no place to go;

Love is the sick bed for the broken hero.

Love is more than a sore toe,

Love is the soft, deathly, passivity of one,

Once tall and cunning and singing in the sun.”

And the reply went on,

“Love is the good father who is suddenly no more,

His wife a mourner, honorable and poor,

Living in the house of the obedient daughter—

Balancing work, life, poems and horror

Of secret shame—her husband doesn’t love her.

And her handsome father is gone forever;

Hold me mama! I am afraid.

Where is love for the loving maid?

Why is love a jittery drama?

An insult? An ugly trauma?

Does all love begin in ecstatic madness, and end in sorrow?

What can love be, if it dreads tomorrow?”

Tomorrow I will travel to the valley of the bones and ask the Sphinx

What love is. I wonder what she thinks?

 

 

 

TAPASYA

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I’m not doing this right.

While I meditate, I see your lips,

Hungry for a kiss.

I sat perfectly still for three hours last night

Telling myself to let the bliss

Of the calm universe

Infuse slowly each part of my willing soul.

What I tell to go away, I miss.

So I make no commands.

Every part, by nature, is unhappy.

Unless part combines with part in the whole,

And this, every part understands.

So your lips should not entice mine.

I have my own lips, and perfectly,

Every human creature is complete;

Except when that great army,

Swelling to take each fertile valley

And the sun, other armies defeat,

And rule their women, and loss

Goes into consciousness—imbalance becomes dire,

Inflaming races to fight and capture;

Culture introduced to culture fans desire,

Competition and hate

Infuses the one world; my peace runs after,

My meditation is too late.

I want your race to be my own,

All that’s different I want to consume,

My whole beautiful being is not enough.

I shake in my meditation. I want love.

 

 

 

CIGARETTE BEFORE THE COMMUTE HOME

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One puff was particularly good.

Smoke poured into my lungs like a flood.

One scent, which dies away

Can make the garden appear to stay.

In this moment, out of the corner of my eye,

A lover almost is. And why?

Once, I stood on a mountain top.

But here, the seasons drop.

I remember the last kiss was divine

When my soul tasted her soul tasting mine.

In this life, which I cannot grasp,

A single memory makes me gasp.

The tired and bored afternoon

Is suddenly fighting with a far off tune.

The day ending crawls into commuters’ eyes,

Alive with shadows. The sunlight sighs.

The dust covering the window of the train

Reminds me of jealousy. Its happy pain.

The scattered drops of evening are fusing,

As if melancholy could be amusing.

The stretched clouds seem near and far,

As the sun begins to set in my railroad car.

Once there was moonlight and lilies as we walked

In the quiet of the evening, and we talked.

I notice the paused train’s hum.

The filthiness of the seats. A crumb.

The train announcements whine.

The sky at sunset threatens to be fine.

The simplest repetition gives pleasure.

The measurement of measure.

The day wants to begin again,

In the sighing of this routine end.

The fluttering of the costly day

Spills gems. Valued, since it goes away.

Who cares if I don’t know your name?

I will never see you again.

 

 

 

THE HONEST TRUTH ABOUT MEN

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One cannot discuss the subject, men, without discussing everything.

A discussion of one gender will always be dishonest and ridiculous.

Nor can we forget society and nature when discussing men.

The truth about one thing must include the truth of everything, which is why very few are able to comprehend, much less say anything intelligent, on the topic of men and women. The “click bait” articles on genders, dating, sexuality, and so forth, are usually dangerous by their partial understanding; the whole truth must be understood; one is more ignorant after swallowing clever half-truths; loneliness, confusion, and heartbreak only increase among those who desperately research topics on “men and women.”

Here, then, is the whole truth: the number one problem society faces is the rapacious sexual nature of men (even if it only remains in their head, where it makes them selfish and stupid).

There is only one way to channel this potential destruction (and whoever denies this problem is creating a diversion): parenthood.

Not fatherhood.

Parenthood—men and women proudly sharing in the joint effort of creating, raising and nurturing children, whether doing this in actual practice (one does not have to actually have children) or creating the climate in which this can best occur.

A long, innocent childhood of deep reflection is the most profound measure of any society.

Everything else which diverts, or prevents, men and women from achieving a safe space for happy, innocent, children, will feed destruction, loneliness, and heartbreak.

Women should never push men away from this purpose, and men should never push women away from this purpose.

To do so will ruin paradise every single time.

It’s that simple.

As we all know, this practice is sometimes followed, and sometimes not—and quite often, not—and when not followed, creates sad, deluded, twisted, confused, and unhappy creatures—as fit punishment.  The unhappy creatures who read “How To Get Laid” articles. The unhappy creatures who condemn an entire gender, using “history” to support their claim. Those creatures.

But reform can be achieved. Instantaneously.

When the principle just explained is understood and followed, happiness will be immediately possible, and there is no excuse for not following this principle, which conforms to nature, and reality.

The uncompromising nature of this truth does not preclude forgiveness for genuine mistakes—mistakes, and difficulties, and shades of understanding and accomplishment: in this realm of forgiveness the slightly unhappy make poetry, music, art, humor, and legislation; and every good idea or material thing a person creates is joy which surrounds, protects and nourishes the sweet innocence of the child—taking his or her first hesitant steps towards immortality.

THE WHOLE WORLD WILL NEVER LOVE YOU

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The whole world will never love you

Or pretend to love you,

Even though simple pretending

Would make you happy,

Give you a happy ending.

Vast distances and indifference

Will trouble you the most,

Or hate from one person you hate,

Or, a little worse, one you perhaps, love,

Because once, or twice, they were not indifferent.

The hate is easy. But love? You might struggle to know what it meant.

You will probably try to know it until the end,

When, at last, you glimpse the truth.

Love cannot, but will, if it wants, pretend.

 

 

 

THE FIRST HOUR

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I found pleasure without addiction,

Shrugging off debilitating love and desire,

In a green, shadowy forest, which last year

Was already gone, with the same green fire.

No need to heap up leaves

With poems of polite, sighing, words.

I have already sent my love ahead,

To be picked apart by the birds.

Perfumes touch me in idleness.

I find pleasure in small perfumed flowers,

Spreading their small perfumes,

As I hold—and am held by—sleeping green hours,

Happy in their drowsiness, in no hour remaining,

The first hour, one forgotten flower, the fled hour staining.

 

DOES ART

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Does art capture what’s already there?

Or do you change the person with your stare?

Embarrassment began with the camera

To a very high degree.

She gazed with love at the camera.

But doesn’t she love me?

The camera courted her, and soon she couldn’t tell

Love from the object very well.

What we have to love and what we have to sell

Became mixed in everybody’s mind.

My mother left the room. Even she was unkind.

My father had been thinking of the camera all day,

But his argument faltered, the minute others had their say.

Like my father, I had arguments to make,

But I would not hear them, for my mother’s sake.

I went off alone, to read books

Which laughed at the camera—and everybody’s looks.

STUCK IN THE HELL OF LIKING YOU

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There’s a reason why those who suffer, survive.
You exist because, in the past, someone, despite great pain, remained alive.
Do you see that star?
Because of all the pain, life is experienced from afar.
The universe is stretched out, because a star’s fire would hurt—
Like too much talk in a room. yeah you stupid flirt.
Admiration from a distance is the best we can do.
I’m sensitive, but staring, stuck in the hell of liking you.
You are one of many, and the many are more beautiful than you could be—
They all love me in the orgy of my fantasy!
You, irritated and ordinary and full of care,
Can you love me, can you love this poem, a lurid feast, inspired by Baudelaire?

YOU REALLY ARE ALONE

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There is an uncomfortable truth which sometimes arises when we contemplate how lonely we are. The uncomfortable truth is this: we are not alone some of the time—we are, in fact, truly alone all of the time.

There is a kind of cheap, personality type, wisdom, which sells the comfortable lie that we are not really alone, by presenting the false scale of introvert versus extrovert: the implicit idea is that there is a ladder which can be climbed to get closer to people—the extreme introvert hides, and, as we move along the scale, we reach the extreme extrovert, who is energized by making contact with others.

But the path from alone to less alone is illusionary—an introvert is just an extrovert who hates small talk.

And why does the introvert hate small talk? Because they’d rather be alone with their own thoughts than have a superficial conversation with someone.

And this goes right to the heart of the matter.

The scale is not from “introvert” to “extrovert,” or from “alone” to “with someone.” These are actually false dichotomies, or scales. The true scale is the lonely one: superficial to profound.

The brain functions in such a way that all outside stimulation competes with what is happening in our brains, and when the outside stimulation takes precedence, we are having a superficial experience, and when the activity in our own brains is of uppermost importance, we are having a profound experience.

When we are having a great conversation, we are really conversing with ourselves, for within our brains, the back and forth, the inner revisions, the actual creativity and discovery–the thinking itself, is occurring at the speed of light.

But speaking to another can travel no faster than the speed of sound.

Speaking to ourselves—“two people speaking” is literally what thought is—does not find us in a place where we are “really” with “another,” but this is no matter, since we are truly beyond whether we are “alone,” or not. The true dichotomy is shallow versus profound.

So the bad news is, we are alone. And the good new is, yes, and so what?

The most profound utterances we experience are when we hear a composer’s masterpiece, and experience it as such, (some are too shallow for this experience—we weep, they are stone).

Harmony—in music, or anything—is the essence of “togetherness” of anyone or anything. No instrument playing, no harmonizing note, knows it is sitting beside another. So if any two objects (speaking humans or not) are “together,” it is of importance only if they “harmonize,” and so the harmony is crucial. When does harmony occur? By script. Harmony occurs without the objects or people having any say in it. Objects harmonize better than people. People reciting/singing a script in a play, or a musical composition, are turning themselves into objects, serving the instructions of the “dead” playwright or composer. The harmonizing influence originates in the brain of the lone creator, unless objects in nature, non-human objects unaware of themselves, are luckily situated in a natural landscape. A belief that dead things can intentionally harmonize is a belief in God.

The scale from “alone” to “with someone” is a false concept, like extrovert and introvert, though it just so happens that alone, or introversion, is where the genius lives—as they attempt to harmonize within themselves.

Another false trail which deludes us into thinking that being alone is an unwanted, undesirable or depressing state: people assume the genius often has few, or no, close friends, because the genius doesn’t get along with people. We falsely assume that it is a matter of personality. It is not. The genius itself is the reason for any estrangement, not social attributes—which belong to the illusionary world in which people are assumed to interact. They actually do not. We are talking to ourselves, literally. The better we talk, the more we are creating speech in the loneliness of our brains—which is not a bad thing. The genius, the great poet, thinks up those great things alone. Idle chatter can bump up against anyone. It doesn’t matter who it is. If someone makes us laugh, the jokes they offer could make anyone laugh. The conversation does not belong uniquely to you and another.

Likewise in love and sex: We are most in love, most comfortable, when we are alone in such a manner that we are not self-conscious, not worrying about being judged.  So it is really more appropriate to say that divine love is when the loneliness, even the complete solipsism of two people, appear to touch. “Mutual” love is an illusion. Two people masterbating (with) each other is, in fact, what is happening in the most intense form of excited, romantic love. Yes, of course, X is kissing Y, but X is kissing—and this is the true act, and X could be kissing anyone, and it would still be kissing, it would still be love. As soon as we concede this, it follows that we are alone, even in love.

Agape, or the highest form of spiritual love, all charitable acts, all divine love in which we “go out of ourselves” to help others, springs from the good person—and where is this goodness?  Not in some abstract place, or group reality; this goodness resides deep in the individual person.  Why isn’t the unkind person charitable? Because they cannot find it within themselves to be so.

Being happily alone is what fully realizes you and your deepest thoughts, and nowhere does this cease to operate. It is always true. This truth ensures that you are never really with another when you are realized as yourself. You are with them, but accidentally.

This is not to reduce the importance of the other—they are just like you, and are realized, just like you, in themselves, profoundly, just the same.

None of this is bad news. Though it is a little sad, we will admit. (If you think it is very bad news, you have not understood this essay, and you are probably either a shallow chatterer, or chronically depressed.)

But yes, it is true. We are alone.

 

 

 

 

FOUR POEMS OF DAN SOCIU

The world needs the poems of Dan Sociu. It probably doesn’t make any sense to talk like this, but we might speak of Sociu as a combination of Bukowski and Rilke. Confessions of real life, with classical rigor—the best of both, and, in combination, better, at times, than either. This seems too easy to say, which is why we qualified it above in strong terms: it “doesn’t make sense.” But surely this slyly advertises, to a certain degree, what we are saying: there is something about the poems below (translated from the Romanian by Ana-Maria Tone) plainly uncanny—odd and strange from the ease of their honesty; matter-of-factly profound from a depth of patient understanding—as in the portrait of the cat, which reminds us of Rilke’s “The Panther'” beyond the mere feline similarity; the time traveling visit to anxious school; the masterpiece of love poet not loved; and finally, a love poem that documents, it seems, almost everything. Nicer than Bukowski, more approachable than Rilke, Dan Sociu is, with or without this comparison, an important poet. Enjoy.

 

SI FRUMOS E CÎND

How sad and beautiful man is when he’s wrong

about the world (and maybe he’ll never

know), like the cat driven mad

by the shining of a knife on the wall.

It forgets about everything else and it flies

into a rage directly to the playful spot

of light—and every time

it falls flat on its face and every time,

without hesitation, it throws itself

on that glow which is actually

nothing, doesn’t mean anything, is

useless. Indeed, if it disappears, it lies

still at the wall and waits,

with trembling whiskers, for it to return.

 

PARE UN VIS UNIVERSAL

It seems to be a universal dream. I’ve heard it

being told by others as well, the first part

is the same at least, the rest depends:

I’m at school, we are given

a test paper and as usual I haven’t studied

anything. I’m afraid and I’m ashamed then

I suddenly realize I finished school

a long time ago, I am an adult and they cannot

do anything to me anymore. I lie back and stretch

my legs on the bench, I look at my classmates

pitifully, how little and clumsy they are, caught

in the anxiety like a fly in a curtain—

don’t you already know that we were born in death

and that all cares are already over?

 

NIMIC NU MAI E POSIBIL

Nothing is possible anymore between me

And a nineteen year old girl, just as nothing

was possible when I was nineteen

years old. I listened to them carefully, they ruffled my hair,

they’d gently reject my touches, no, Dan,

you are not like this, you are a poet. They came

to me for therapy, they’d come with their eyes in tears

to the poet. I was a poet and everyone was in love

around the poet and none with him.

The poet would go out every evening

quaking like a tectonic wave and

in the morning he’d come back humiliated

in his heart—the quakes moving

for nothing, under uninhabited regions.

 

 

BECAUSE WE LISTENED TOFETHER TO THE HEART OF THE LITTLE GYMNAST BEATING IN THE CORNER OF THE HUGE MAT (PENTRU CA AM ASCULTAT)

First there was that beautiful gesture of yours in the bus

when you caressed with your fingers in the paper the photo

of a writer who died at 27.

 

I had seen girls doing that to celebrities’ faces before

and your gesture, very short and sensuous, on the features

of a dead young man, of a stranger,

moved me like a hundred obituaries.

 

Poor dear, you said.

 

I sensed you then, through your whole disguise

beyond your nice PR persona

I perceived the little girl who struggled to grab

a flower on the lower branch of a cherry tree.

 

Then there was a Sunday afternoon in the subway to the railway station.

We were talking about kids and I said that I didn’t want any more kids,

that I didn’t feel up to it. And that it would be unfair to my daughter.

 

In the station you kept trying to get out by the other door,

the one that leads to the disgusting abyss between the tracks

and you hid your eyes so I wouldn’t see you crying.

 

You once told me—I’m not beautiful, not in the classical sense.

And I told you—I know, I mean at first I knew,

now I don’t care anymore.

 

Some other time you told me you weren’t conceived out of love

and I wondered where you got all your love from.

 

So what if your parents didn’t want you.

I wanted you.

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE FORBIDS LOVE

Coffee makes me sleepy,

Love forbids love,

And can I add discretely

War has been using the symbol of the dove?

The education path I travel makes me increasingly wise

But I see myself returning, burdened by names and faces,

Saying, “oh God, after all my research, there’s been a few lies.”

I have to revisit some of those places.

“Go, now, into that house you would never dare to go.

Get good and humiliated. Forget what you know.”

 

 

 

IF WE BELIEVE

If we believe, as the whole truth, what is true

Ninety-nine percent of the time—that one

Percent will make a wise person a piece of shit.

They know the tangled knots of a life

Can only be untied by you. That’s right.

So we are lonely every night.

You will never see the one percent.

How it contradicts. Or what it meant.

There is no science of who you are.

—Uncomfortable extrovert?

Or were you really an introvert?—

The genuine crumbles off from the star.

It’s not polite to be happy, or saved.

Happiness involves one hundred percent

Faith, unwavering, which makes you crazy,

Instantly!

Ha ha ha,

Loving me.

 

WHAT I WANT IN A ROBOT

Image result for robot in a store display

A certain emotional distance. A response

To my feelings, at once,

But tempered by a kind of reserve,

Charming in the centripetal curve,

Which hates and loves the straight line,

With common sense especially fine.

A horror of sitting close to others

With their noises and their smells;

A love of embarrassed laughter;

No matter how sad, the ability to laugh about it after.

Appreciates poetry which references cisterns and wells.

Has little wasted movement, but what

There is walks, but does not strut.

Smiles at every little offense, judgment

Living in the smile, but not with the intent

To smile cruelly—that kind of smile

Is reserved, in jest, for me, every once in a while.

I want that one. That one on the wall

With a curvy body. Is she awake?  She’ll make me feel small.

 

 

 

 

 

FIVE POEMS BY BRENNAN FITZGERALD

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ALPINIST THRILL

White wigs made by Persian thieves
Hung on the rig where the end of time sits
A rock made of ornery stilettos
Don’t talk breathe write take note
of hides that live here in the thrushes of quiet.
Breath ceases in slick silence
And then fog dispels to air and to elk dust
and wings of blossom perfume.
RAPT ATTENTION: 80,000 90,000 400,000 FEET!
Out of the corner a white unicorn made of ice appears
And time is now rippling, a fabric lost
And cut into ice and rocks of tiny shapes
Mirrors; made of never ending mystery and mood.

 

RED

The color signifies smoke, sutures and glory,
A Mozart script, your eyes safe in the midst of types,
Posing pink long dip dyed,
Tangled in flutter strains of ocean blue
Strangled by yellow ideas and suicide, painful oak,
Chloroform hope is for otters
You are playful which can be poisonous
The idea of porcelain,
You were contagious.
You were not a part of me,
But I wanted it,
Like fire feeding water to the hungry at the very same time.

 

ALIVE

If there is smoke running down the mountain,
I would be the one sitting sideways on a train.
When there is rain stumbling down,
The life is bringing tubes and whiffs of green grass on people’s dinner plates,
Throwing carrots at winners and hoping that you find love in an olive.
When there is sadness and flatness, the towels are wet,
Some of us will drag,
Over plan the day in notebooks and meetings,
Bored,
Tumbled,
Scared
of even the faintest emotion that feels like a vibe for decades.
The vivant, nah, he is day,
He is cool,
Speeding, swinging an airplane through joy, winged life.
When one is walking and placing mind on the complexity of the sidewalk,
The jolted one is placing arrows into loaded guns,
Reminding people to take a breath of steel,
To pity orphans,
To wear blue and pink underwear
To dance topless
To hate anything ordinary,
To thrust Sundays and to lift a tongue to the pink twilight.

 

REDUCTION GEOMETRY AND JAZZ, HOPELESS SUNDAYS

Lines are everywhere and you are the rhythm
It’s like breathing and swimming and walking all at once
Hell, hold on to me,
Diamonds are dancing in this prime time perfume
And holding on to a slippery step at the end of the ocean
The rock is telling me which way to go,
Wet it sings and tells me I need to slip, and let go!
If ash is weight,
you don’t have any of it,
me neither.
Damn fool, this is hard.
Please tell me.
It tells you that you are thirsty as your dreams, which tells me a whole lot of nothing
Shit, again really?
Prime in web contortions,
The coffee is earth, coffee is god, ok?
GOD brother.
And the mind—it–
If there is something we hate, we analyze it
Love is worse, it’s like a cornea made of iron kernels.
It is a bag of glitter stuck in a rock,
The days are spent jumping and bobbing between computers and lines,
Masses of freedom and mixed signs sorted in ancient piety,
I am a ghost of click rooms,
Watching inside the dash of a fate
Made of love fume and green juices deep inside the hollow of pretty day,
Blue skin, tarred feathers and rock.
Scar me, rip me up, I am ready and need it.

 

TO THE MAN IN A KUFI

Why did you leave that cucumber lime water sitting there?
After you so carefully ate your omelet,
Lovingly touching those avocados in thought
You were so real in your frizz curls,
So true,
You left nothing on your plate,
You put down the fork like a mother laid to rest in white roses,
Are you a scientist? Or a stealth piece of history?
But you left that eight dollar water just sitting there,
Really?
Is that for me?

 

We met Brennan Fitzgerald in a novel writing class in the Boston area many years ago, and we lost touch—but recently we said hello on Facebook. She now lives in California. Autobiographical novels in progress are usually beautiful and sad, and we remember hers being especially so: vivid, limpid, heart-breaking.  These 5 poems she was kind enough to send are by the novelist I remember: sensitivity overwhelmed by experience, defending itself bravely with understated humor, anxious yet sweet. “the faintest emotion that feels like a vibe for decades” and “hoping that you find love in an olive”

Henry James had a theory that literature should not be judged by theory, but only by what is interesting, and while we recognize the danger of this—we ourselves are crazed formalists believing actual things get actual results—the work of Ms. Fitzgerald would certainly satisfy the acumen of Mr. James—the sensitive, interesting person is poet enough and that is all you need to know on earth, etc.  Have we been beguiled, because we are acquainted with Ms. Fitzgerald?  We hope not. There are formalist beauties here. We imagine you will enjoy each of these poems as poems, and as poetry. There is so little time to read novels these days. Or so we were led to believe. 

—the Editors, Cambridge July 11, 2017

WHAT I WROTE

Image result for cleopatra's fans

What I wrote ten seconds ago

I no longer believe.

What I said ten years ago

Is no longer true.

I no longer love you.

I furnished maps and plans

For my mind and planned to build

Here. This poem had pretty fans,

Fancy perfumes—which gray rhetoric killed.

I had to make the poem end

With a sad note, since life

Ends sadly, unless, unless… it bend

Down in love

To child, dignity, wife.

I could not bring myself to make

Life sad. The fans were pretty. We swam in the sexy lake.

YOUR POEM IS A PERSON

Related image

Your poem is a person,

Or so this poem thinks.

What is a person?

A creature who stares and blinks.

A creature who’s there, but isn’t.

I was hurt so I want to hurt.

I was loved so I want to love.

A person may really seem pleasant,

But they would rather love a dog.

They are not really going to love you.

They will treat you like a thing.

They will try to manage the marriage,

And see what “it” can bring.

And poets, too, are not able to understand.

The truth is, a person is the measure,

And poems cannot hide

Their poet. Poems are flights where people land.

A poem is a person, and you can see

How loving he is by his poetry.

 

BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW I LOVE YOU

Because you don’t know I love you, I love you more.

I wait, and the waiting makes me love,

Because waiting is wanting, and love is what wanting is for.

When the secret is out, my love will have a chance

To be returned—and that’s a difficult dance.

That will involve analysis turned back on me

And the material trappings of everything love and judgement see.

My love for you is hungry—love is best when hungry, and blind.

Love is hungry to know, too, but knowing is usually unkind.

I don’t want love’s unkindness. I don’t want love to go.

I love you more than you can imagine—that’s why you’ll never know.

 

IF YOU WERE LIKE ME

Image result for a distant star

If you were like me,

The world would be okay—

I’ve never done anything wrong—

Though what the world would be like,

It is difficult to say.

If the world were too wise and calm,

It would not be like itself at all,

And then I might not be around, to be good,

Or different from the rest; I wouldn’t exist at all.

So we cannot judge the world based on who we are.

But the good, which I am, still pleases me.

It pleases me. It exists. Like that far star.

 

 

 

 

I HATE THE ORDINARY

Image result for albino woman with sunglasses

I hate the ordinary,

And you know that’s true.

Because I’m not ordinary.

What do you want to do?

“I am on the 6:05 train,”

Types the albino woman with sunglasses.

I see it. Let’s think about that for awhile.

We hurtle into Lynn, listening to Ravel.

Not really. I said that to sound interesting.

I’m saying all of this to sound like I have style.

That’s all the poets have left these days.

I think she’s British.

The albino. Don’t ask her if it’s true.

I’m really alone. Though I think I’m on this train with you.

 

NOW YOU SEE (SONG)

Image result for chet baker

Now you see

My poetry

Brought you nothing.

Now you see

My poetry

Was only for me.

I thought you were the one,

I thought you were the sun,

But you were just a cloud that floated away.

Those sad songs we used to listen to?

Their sadness came true.

Those sad songs we used to listen to?

Their sadness took me away from you.

Now you see

My poetry

Brought you nothing.

Now you see

My poetry

Was only for me.

 

 

 

KATE READS KEATS

Kate reads Keats in the blooming garden—

This morning, fainting, with its own delirious perfume,

And the furry bees, circling, come—

There’s already a bee lost and buzzing near the bed in Kate’s room—

It is this massive love of Keats which she most loves,

Keats’ words kissed is what Kate does well.

How much Kate loves me, the bees

Know—populations buzzing with speculation on disease

Is a hearty recommendation of poetry, actually,

And nothing of his demise, the crumbling well,

The breaking of other things gets to be told.

Sometimes smoke coming out of a smokestack

Is just smoke coming out of a smokestack.

Sometimes a dead white male is just a male who’s dead.

The days are getting shorter now, and Kate is getting old.

I would like to point out, thanks to Kate, I am healthy,

And everything’s going my way, as if I had been blessed by God,

Though I’m a helpless atheist, and addicted to Kate, so isn’t that odd?

Ah, doubts and fears—I’ve learned to let them be.

In the garden Kate is reading Keats aloud to me.

 

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, USA

“Rap isn’t music. Music is infinite. Language is not.” —Jerry Garcia

“I had a terrible time. Nobody gets loose. They’re too cerebral” —Janis Joplin, on her European tour

“Horrible” —Mick Jagger watching video of a Hells Angel, hired to protect the Rolling Stones, killing Meredith Hunter in the free Altamont concert in California.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Happy Birthday, America. You are still the center of everything.

People from all over the world still want to come here.

Hatred for America, and within America, is deep—even as America remains strong and democratic, and boasts a glorious past, the chief event of that past defeating the British Empire.

Nations are necessary, and worth defending against the sophistical perturbations of Empire; hatred of the United States flows from the borderless calculations of empire.

Americans can still celebrate July 4 with pride.

As a Facebook poet, I have made friends all over the world; as a student of the internet, I have learned bright and dark secrets, without having to travel by car or plane.

I am not defending America as a jingoistic fortress; the “nation” is a necessary step backwards as a means of moving forward to help “the world.” Strong, independent nations are good for the world; empire seeks the destruction of nations, and always will. Seen in this context, the informed American conservative is progressive, not reactionary.

The necessary “step backwards” is the way the conservative, the true progressive, moves forward—while remaining true to “backwards” nature (underpinning, material, common sense).

Without material common sense, which keeps the individual safe, sane, cautious, and grounded, the overreach of mad intellectuality leans its ears to propaganda sirens, and wrecks itself upon the rocks.

“Progressive,” America-hating rhetoric is widespread—it seeks to chip away at American independence and drag it back into colonial status; the strategy of America-hating is simple; pretending beneficence, divide American citizens from each other through embarrassment, humiliation, vanity, innuendo and half-truth.

For instance: one of the material truths of America is its inheritance of conditions produced by the British slave trade—this “Empire” reality is suppressed, and made to look like it is entirely America’s fault, and somehow the fault of American conservatives. Further, this shift of blame is increasingly made to look recent, with every disadvantage suffered by blacks, no matter what the cause, laid at the feet of conservatives. This strategy of divisive blame belongs to those passing themselves off as “progressive.”

And this, in a nutshell, is the strategy: Extract, in a fussy, indignant, distracting manner, the rhetoric on any topic from its underlying material reality and then focus on “the wrong” and the “blame” which needs fixing in an anecdote-driven, ahistorical present.

The Empire, by its advantageous material situation (it being an empire) can weather almost any storm, and this is why it seeks to “create storms” wherever its authority is threatened, and war (and blame) is a great way to create storms. Wars between nations are inevitably the result of empire spies (traitors)—but “progressives” blame the existence of war on the greed of nations.

Empires, which rule other nations, inevitably do so with the help of spies—and so empires learn to mimic other cultures if they are not creating, or conquering other cultures, outright.

Natural differences based on geography and climate are overcome by the advance of technology; war produces, almost by necessity, a great deal of engineering innovation, consolidation of wealth, and muscle-building, so that an empire may emerge from destruction and trauma—an empire is destruction and trauma—this emergence a geopolitical Darwinism with sometimes amazing  and beneficent results. Greece fostered Rome which, when it fell, ushered in the Dark Ages and the Black Death, with Christianity and Platonism surviving beneath the upheaval; the British emerged as a powerful empire in the wake of its sword-and-spy-sharpening Catholic versus Protestant bloodbath; America grew stronger following the slaughter of its Civil War, and grew much stronger following its participation in World War Two. Richard Burton, a 19th century British spy, was the only westerner to penetrate the holiest inner circle of Islam; by contrast, the British nation simply walked into the Hindu world and made itself at home, stamping India with an English identity forever. And is it any accident that, America, emerging from the British Empire, has now turned into it? Just as Russia, with its Francophone identity, became victim of a revolution at least as disorienting as France’s, 200 years apart?

As America celebrates its Fourth of July in 2017 as the new British Empire—embodied by the CIA Deep State and its European and Mainstream Media allies, with Donald Trump as its chief executive—the latest vulgar leader after grotesque, weak, stupid, and despicable presidents like LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Bush, and Clinton—it is perhaps time to glance back at recent U.S. history—we named former recent presidents to instantaneously put things in perspective—the Democrat LBJ dropping napalm on women and children, just one example—to give the Trump-haters pause for a moment, these Trump-haters now in the throes of desperate and vengeful insanity, despite the fact that Trump hates Middle-East-destroying Bush and Middle-East-destroying-Hillary. (Divisions which make no sense are a good indication that the empire is fucking with our heads.)  But maybe Trump is just like them. We can never be sure. The press and the people must be eternally vigilant.

My friend in Tehran, prisoner of the CIA installed 1979 regime there, finds her intellectual path out of that “hard-line Islam” nightmare to be the “American progressive” one, as it translates into Trump-hating in the United States. She currently fears a U.S./Saudi Arabia attack against Iran—her home, which she loves, but with reservations, as a Persian free-thinker and secularist. I ask her: who would be Iran’s ally in such a conflict—surely Russia. But she cannot bring herself to say anything good about Russia, given the intellectual path which she feels is her only escape—the current “progressive” one in the United States—every crazy Trump-hater feeling compelled to hate Russia. My friend knows the Democrat Jimmy Carter’s role in the 1979 takeover of her country, but “progressive” rhetoric still dogs her, as she cannot fully accept the bad news—the CIA Deep State, as personified by John McCain and Hillary Clinton, is just another nation-destroying brick in the wall of her “progressive” beliefs. But she learns about my country from American TV—the center of the “progressive” entertainment industry. This is probably the chief reason why so many foreigners who learn English from American TV and are interested in America, and who eventually come to America, are leftist. My friend in Iran says there is no racism in her country, and she’s proud of that, but because she watches American TV, she is sure racism bursts from every pore of America. I live here, and I know better. I’m quite certain the vast majority of Americans, no matter what color they are, are not infected with the disease of racism. But I know how the cynical nature of politics works. Trump replaces Obama. And so naturally everyone who is a Democrat feels in their partisan, indignant heart that half the country is “racist.” Fluidity of crazy belief is unfortunately real, and vigilance and common sense are necessary at all times. No one said democracy was easy. But the alternative is much worse.

My friend in Iran is highly educated—just as my FB friends from British-divided-India-and-Pakistan are highly educated secularists, and enlightened secularism seeks peace and understanding between Muslims and Hindus. Secularism can be religious—but is primarily educated and peaceful, in spite of religion. Down with zealots—who inevitably work for empire.

Enlightened secularism is what America represents, too. We are not a religious state, like Iran, but to pretend that Christianity does not inform what America is, to some extent, is just silly. And yet, this might be America’s greatest asset—its separation of Church and State. Despite the fact that millions of conservatives believe abortion is murder, American law says otherwise, and precisely because we are not a religious state, that law is obeyed. Religious differences are exploited by empire to foster war and division, and all of us must be aware of this, as we set off fireworks and grill cows.

Why do the 1960s musician quotes introduce our article?

Recent history. To understand America, one has to understand the cultural phenomenon known as the Sixties, which ended, rather neatly, in December, 1969, with the “British Invasion” band the Rolling Stones performing in California.

Historically, America belongs to two phases.

First was America’s sober phase: the Great War of Independence, writing the Constitution, the building of a nation, a nation ruled by laws, not men. Exceptional figures made early America great, such as Ben Franklin and Edgar Poe—supreme architects of nation building, with science at the center. Not swanky, sexy, or conquering. Scientific, purposeful, focused.

We are now in our drunk phase—the 1960s was a particularly wild time of drunkeness. America’s drunk phase probably began during the Empire building which began during the Spanish American War. And America is still drunk.

But we may be coming out of it, and not necessarily because our 45th president, and Russia’s Putin, don’t drink.

“Make America great again” is actually a humble request.

It is a concession that America can no longer make the world great.

Since World War Two ended, the America that was thrust into the world as the great superpower was quickly turned into another version of the (apparently undying) British Empire—British spies joined American spies to undo Iran, in 1953 and 1979, the British supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the British Empire examples of “divide to conquer” and “opium war free trade” globalism have been the Deep State, guiding animus of the new American Empire.

The 1960s saw a radical attempt to completely undermine the U.S. The attempt was so radical, that it made conservatism—frightened by radicalism—stronger.

What we see in the world now—and hasn’t this always been the case?—is a division between the sober and the drunk. What is Islam but the expression of sobriety—traditions which keep fluid behavior in check, stemming the tide against the hedonism of powerful, drunk America?

Here is the Muslim religious appeal: sober citizens, who are free of the intoxicating nature of sex and drugs. Here is the division: “But this sobriety is backwards and oppressive!” And Empire, to keep people divided against each other, does the rest.

America, the great experiment, survives, even thrives, by miraculously keeping Empire-instigated divisions in check, by a mad devotion to, and a practical understanding of, democracy and law. America threatens to unravel every now and then—it is a divided nation in all sorts of ways—but holds together in a mix of understanding and compromise, as hatred fumes and boils away.

War and trauma can make a country stronger. The Deep State, the Empire, will never finally prosper. Empire overreaches, finally, and makes the narrow, non-global, good smarter and stronger. For it is finally the local life, the individual life, which is the measure of common sense, intelligence and happiness.

When one views an interview of Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead musician at the center of 1960s social experimentation, veteran of a thousand acid trips, one hears a highly articulate and highly intellectual, professor speaking. And listen to the music of the Grateful Dead: traditional, 4/4, bluesy country rock music, as simple, entertaining, and plain as can be. Garcia survived. Jim Morrison, the true embodiment of Dionysius, died. And Morrison’s biggest fan was Janis Joplin, who also was a Dionysius figure, and she died young.  Her remark on the Dick Cavet show is telling: She wasn’t loved in Europe. But they probably did like her—they just didn’t show it in a way she expected; it’s a glimpse of how sad and defensive the dionysian figure actually is. American, 1960s dionysiansim was real and it was crazy—Janis Joplin traveled in Europe—she was fortunate to visit that beautiful and historical place. But the dionysian rock star didn’t appreciate it.

Radicalism, when viewed up close, is never really as radical or as interesting as we think it is. The impact always has much more to do with what the young and naive think, and believe, it is. This is not to play down the dangers of what can happen when the naive and the Dionysian come together. But the pied piper himself is inevitably a fraud—a boring sociology professor, or a highly defensive and insecure person.

Underneath the pomp and the noise, life is plain and mundane.

Empire, however, does need brave soldiers to do their dirty work, and the British officer willing to travel to places like India and settle there and rule, was highly valued. Empire needs a certain amount of bravery to go with its practices of fraud, rule, deception and division.

The Rolling Stones are survivors, and the hell that was unleashed at Altamont could have killed them. But they bravely (foolishly?) played there, anyway. (Brian Jones, their founder, had been dumped, and died months earlier).

But despite the power of Dionysius and the bravery of Empire spies, the wisdom of (sane) nature (which punishes radical human behavior) keeps re-asserting itself. Common sense prevails over fanatical intellectualism.

The horrors resulting from empire’s dividing tactics and wars are too numerous to mention.

But good things are out there. And good things happen. In ways we might not predict, or expect.

The United States of America—just a nation, enduring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AS SUNG BY MORRISSEY

Image result for the duke of cavendish vogue magazine

We left that stuffy place,

Where we climbed footstools to reach high canopied beds;

The Cavendish history was all around, in an over-decorated, lovely room.

Today the famous duchess is a movie duchess,

Played by an actress—razor thin, who also sells perfume.

A duchess, however, is still real, and can be read about

(She collapsed in a heavily nostalgic photo shoot)

In fabulous fashion magazines, where immense wealth sits

Lavishly beside left-wing commentary.

The fury of the snob is unending, and feels as real as you do.

You can bet it is an actual gold knife which tortures you.

Don’t give her advice (morals no longer apply).

Surrenders are kept secret.

I live in Salem, Mass,

Where a bunch of Salem merchants out-foxed the British, but let that pass.

 

 

GREAT INTIMACY WITHOUT WORDS

My piano! Like Satie I pressed you

Into sounds a moaning lover makes,

Where harmony needs only a sigh.

We had to talk to reach that place

Where: Talk, can you go?

Kissing makes no mistakes.

To kiss, talk must die.

Death of talk lived kindly in the face,

And everywhere below.

But pianos have to be bought

And conversations have to be made

With painful logic fraught,

Before the bright talk can stoop to the shade.

We’ll use less words tomorrow,

Breathing in a Renaissance painting,

In a scene that resembles porn,

In a plot without memory or sorrow,

Where composition is born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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