Justin Scandals, Count How Many

skipping rhymes from Gen Z …


…with a nod to the 2019 Canadian Federal Election


I’VE BEEN UNDERCOVER IN MY SAILOR SUIT AND adorable Hudson’s Bay dress shorts (available only in polyester in Québec, due to the current shortage of “pure laine”), chatting about Dr Seuss and reminiscing about The Friendly Giant with unsuspecting school-age Gen Zed-ers as they go about their daily activities.

You remember the drill: Get to school, line up your Venus pencils in careful gradients and start coloring the edges of your maps if you’re a girl, or roll up some paper spitballs and practice farting noises if you’re a boy.

Or, if you’re a gay boy, line up your Venus pencils in careful gradients and watch all the other boys roll spitballs and practice their farting noises before they beat you up after gym class, thus laying the foundation for a truly world-class sexual fetish about a decade later.

Some traditions never change.

My mandate —which I had to give to myself after MacLean’s Magazine was so snarky about the pitch, thanks a bunch, Ms Barbara Lucrezia Borgia Gutenberg Amiel—was to find out how much political savvy these kids had absorbed in this age of 24/7 connectivity, deep fakes, and Hallowe’en nights when your mom and dad insist on driving you door to door so they can keep tabs, mooch your candy and spoil, to the very last iota, the fun of wearing your DIY handsewn Beyoncé costume.

Make no mistake: I was in constant danger of having my cover blown, and there was more than one occasion when I was eyed with suspicion by some chocolate-milk-mustached freckle-faced rascal of a boy, or prim, annoying little girl who’d just had her best party dress splashed with mud by some Grade Eight dude on a Canadian Tire mountain bike.

I tell you, looking authentic while trading prosciutto di Parma and Dijon mustard sliders on artisanal focaccia at lunch break, or fake-crying when it was time for yet another “milk and cookies power-nap,” stretched my humorous-blogger incognito reporting skills, and my already gossamer-thin patience, to the limit and beyond.

But I did net the following cultural gold: Non-traditional skipping rhymes, who knew, and I have to say these kids are the future.

And it’s off I go for another “Ankle-Biter” portion of chicken nuggets and French fries at Pickle Barrel or I’ll start to get cranky around four o’clock, which is typically when my ADHD kicks in.

Now, sit comfortably, close your eyes and travel back to when you and the Internet were young and hopeful together, chalk up the pavement, grab your rope and jump feet first into —

Well, no.

What I mean is—open your eyes so you can read, obviouslythen do all the other, imaginative stuff to do with traveling back in time.

Jeezus. Are you always this high-maintenance?


“OUT IN VICTORIA”

Out in Victoria
Real estate’s a bitch
“Hordes of Asians
Stinking rich

Racist Canadians
Cry, “What cheek!
How many condos
Bought
this week?

One condo
Two condos
Three condos
Four

Mandarin on
A red front door

Five condos
Six condos
Seven condos
Eight

White people want to
Speculate

Cut down trees
And pave the lawn

Now watch Chinese
Tai Chi at dawn!

—Traditional, West Coast.


justin scandals

Justin scandals
Count how many

one for blackface
How embarrassing

TWO for a
Journalist’s
Sexual harassing

three for India
Shoe toes curly
Wearin’ a sari
Lookin’ all girly

{It’s not made up
It’s not made up }

Justin scandals
Count how many

four for Jody
Attorney G
He broke her balls
Over SNC

FIVE for comrade
Castro, Fidel
He eulogized
So we gave him hell

Six is the pipeline
We don’t like
Tell Alberta
To take a hike

Paper Rocks
Scissors Socks

Feminist Faggot
Drama Teacher

Caught in the act
With the son of a preacher

{That’s made up
That’s made up
}

Justin scandals
Count how many

—Ottawa valley, possibly First Nations origins


when will scheer

When will Scheer
Let the news drop

One day, three?
Three weeks, Four?
Six months, a year?

How many abortions
Will he stop?

Rusty coat hanger
Dish soap mild
Jump off the table

And lose that child!

How will Scheer
Let the news drop

Friends of Dorothy
AIDS you’re dead
Three-legged dogs

In a marriage bed!

Will he be swift
Or will he lag

To make it cool
To kill a fag?


We’re now fairly skidding along the reinforced cotton gusset of life, aiming straight for Monday the 21st October, when the citizens of the People’s Republic of Libtardia head to the polls.

Ugh. I get sooooo tense about the “wrong” person getting into power, only made more tense by remembering that Canada has NO TERM LIMITS—that’s right. Andrew Scheer could be crowned PM, serve four years, be reinstated again, and again, and again, until we all died of Scheer tedium, while all the womenfolk were barefoot and pregnant, head to toe in cheerful yet modest calico, baking up huckleberry pies and taking axes to abortion clinics and the menfolk, in full garden gnome facial hair, fracked for oil and studied the prehistoric social code of their choice.

And it’s not just the Conservative Party that gives me what my fantasy step-mom, Dorothy Parker, would have called “the yips.” Yesterday I found out that Jagmeet Singh, NDP leader, has pledged to abolish the Senate if elected, calling it “undemocratic.”

Why do people miss the point about the Senate, every time? Our Senators are appointed, not elected, and now I’m going to do my annoying Socratic bit. Why is it important they are not elected? Correct, because then they have no electorate they are beholden to.

And why is that NOT undemocratic? Because the Senate is the “house of sober second thought.” The Senators—none of them career politicians, but all recommended and appointed as outstanding Canadians who have contributed in significant ways to the community in their respective fields of expertise—give second, non-partisan, readings to legislation, and they have the power to send that legislation back to the House of Commons if they see fit.

Which they did during the reign of terror of Stephen Harper, whose secretiveness and impatience had him trying to bypass even the Commons with his sinister, autocratic agenda. Trust me that the Senate saved us from the worst excesses of that awful, dispiriting regime.

Also, they are allocated proportionally:

The Senate of Canada (FrenchSénat du Canada) is the upper house of the Parliament of Canada, along with the House of Commons and the monarch (represented by the governor general). The Senate is modelled after the British House of Lords and consists of 105 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister.[1] Seats are assigned on a regional basis: four regions—defined as OntarioQuebec, the Maritime provinces, and the Western provinces—each receives 24 seats, with the last nine seats allocated to the remaining portions of the country: six to Newfoundland and Labrador and one each to the three northern territories. Senators may serve until they reach the age of 75.

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, October 18). Senate of Canada. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:04, October 19, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Senate_of_Canada&oldid=921902174

That’s two very good reasons, life-or-death reasons, not to abolish the Senate. Democracy is not just a numbers game; it is about human rights and ensuring that minorities are afforded the same protections as the majority.

Jagmeet, your Sikh headgear is to me as beautiful as the gold lamé turban Joan Crawford wore while scrubbing the bathroom tiles, it is the official beanie of multiculturalism, but your policy of abolishing the Senate has filled me with doubt about your judgment and made me tense.

And I’m fed up with all the tension, you know? So I’m going to relax about a lot of things this election. I mean, ever since that morning way back in 2016 when I awoke to people on the street screaming, “Holy fuck, Trump!” I’ve discovered that the worst can happen and we don’t implode. Things are, in fact, working as they should, down in the ol’ United States of Meltdownia.

Common sense is waking up from its gee-d out trance, weeping a little bit with the memory of what it got up to when it was high—how it got hate-banged by Mendacity even though it kept murmuring, “Stop!” and “Why would they make up a story like that?” and Mendacity just kept banging away, banging away, until common sense was lying unconscious in a pool of its own body fluids.

Please. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

The Trump thing has become so bad, even Republicans, die-hard Republicans, like Lindsey Graham, have censured him for withdrawing American troops from North Syria without warning, leaving their Kurdish allies at the mercy of Turkish forces. So even Republicans have come to their senses. They’ve had to.

Well, when I say “come to their senses,” I don’t mean actually come to their senses in the sense of caring about economic inequality, or racism, or women having access to effective birth control or safe abortion, or anyone having any sort of affordable healthcare, or anything that would indicate they had, you know, come to their senses.

They just got interrupted as they were preparing to make themselves look all butch in northern Syria, then remembered that Trump has the current events knowledge of a grade-school student who’s been in a vegetative state for the past eight years and yelled at him for making them look bad in front of the Ukraine.

That kind of coming to your senses.

Anyway, if Scheer is elected, it will be bad, but probably not nearly as bad as down south. And if it’s really bad, we’ll get rid of him. Chillax, Canadians!

I’ve grown tired of acting like everyone who votes for the PC’s is a piece of ignorant trash and their vote doesn’t count, almost that they’re not “real Canadians.”

Andrew Scheer is the legitimate idiot leader of a legitimate asshole irrelevant political party run by old white guys, and if you want to vote for him, you have every right to.

Really! You do!

This is a free country and a democracy and you get to vote for anyone you want. Go ahead! Throw away everything we’ve gained in the past four years, including the envy of most of the world because we are the only remaining unashamedly progressive nation, anywhere!

Go ahead! Make their envious heads shake, just because you can’t stand that Justin is from our most famous political dynasty, that his father was Pierre and he’s already in the history books, whereas Scheer and Jason Kenney and Faith Goldy are just sad losers, blinded by bigotry and incapable of coherent thinking, who will just be footnotes, if that.

You’re pissed off that Justin is getting accolades from the United States, whose butt cheeks now have Scheer-shaped indentations, and you’re extra jealous that Justin is prettier than all of you put together, even in blackface, though we do wish he would cool it with the costume parties.

So there, fellow progressives! What are you scared of? That you’ll have to do a little participating? Protest a bit? Make your voice heard?

Thing is, just between you and me, it goes in cycles, if you haven’t noticed. We’re probably due for a change for the worse, now that the Atlantic Monthly has called us “the most successful progressive government in the world,” now that child poverty is lower than it has ever been, economic growth is up and, well, Trudeau has Canadian values, and kept ninety-five percent of his promises.

So naturally we’ll throw him out and vote in the doltish, aww-shucks, thin-lipped Christian who wants a tax rebate in every pot and a finger in every womb.

He’ll slash the services we want, we’ll go, “Oh my GOODNESS, but I didn’t think you meant THAT!” and we’ll protest and complain and rail against the stupid PC’s that we voted for when we could have continued to be the envy of the world and continued the progress. There’s a concept!

But no. We’ll buy the stupid rhetoric of the old disgruntled white guys, a.k.a. str8-tards, and for some reason we’ll forget that being Prime Minister is not like being the CEO of a company: In fact, it is a public office where you’re supposed to make decisions in the public interest, not for profit. You’re supposed to listen to the people who elected you, but also listen to the people who didn’t elect you, because you’re PM of everyone.

Balance the budget! Of course, but at the expense of…? It’s a fake goal, a chimera. It SOUNDS good, like something you should do. But it’s not the only thing you should do, and it’s ultimately not the purpose of government. Sure, be responsible, be prudent, be transparent…but if that’s the limit of your vision, go be an accountant. What kind of society do you want to grow? What future do you want for the next generation? Will pinching pennies now achieve that future?

Don’t take a rebate cheque for a couple hundred bucks that will evaporate from your hands over the course of a weekend, and lose child care, or reduced waiting times at the hospital, or pharmacare or decent roads, or decent schools. Real long-lasting change for the public good—that is the real purpose of government.

Don’t be short-sighted, Think what you’re doing. And in the end, if you vote for Scheer? All power to you. I’m not the guy who gets to say you’re wrong.

Now, Maxime Bernier, that’s another story. If you vote for Maxime Bernier, you’re a bona fide piece of shit on a stick in a coulis of snot and I despise having even to stand on the same continent as you, lest I accidentally inhale a single molecule of oxygen that could have brushed up against your alveoli, you pathetic white supremacist moron.

Seriously. You have to draw the line somewhere.


Someone in the NDP said something stupid or shitty or wrong in 2012, and I say: “Fiddlesticks and fuddle-duddle! Who gives a flying Tesla!”

The rest of the world gets its fifteen minutes of fame; Canadian party leaders, in the run up to the election, have to have their fifteen minutes of shame. Racist shame, or misogynist shame or sex shame or whatever.

I’m not down with racism or misogyny or abuse, but honestly, Murgatroyd! I don’t think I would exactly come off as St Teresa of Avila were my every word and every act to be examined from my teen years to now.

I think I might have had a few moments, or even months, of shame and I would be apologizing so much my eyes would be bulging out of my head on stalks, like a praying mantis in her startle pose, so grievously involved would my apologizing be.

I would have to scare off reporters from The Sun by opening my moth wings whose markings look like the head of a John Kenneth Galbraith. I can only do that once, right after I emerge from my chrysalis, so I honestly would prefer to save it up for real emergencies.

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh—they’ve all had their moment in the shadow. Can we just agree that everyone says shit sometimes, especially politicians, accept their apologies and move on? Because it’s not about your mistake, it’s how you acknowledge and handle your mistake.

Now, if you’re Trump, you write a letter to the Turkish President that is so bizarre, the White House staff think it’s a spoof.

That is how Trump handles mistakes: by committing an even bigger and more juicy mistake to attempt to draw focus away from the original mistake.

Which, of course, is nonsense. Trump is blithely unaware of having made any mistakes, ever. Even his telephone call to the President of Ukraine was “perfect;” he really has no concept of good and bad, right or wrong. He is entirely without moral direction. If he did it, it’s OK.

Good and evil, right and wrong, just and unjust: These are concepts that have no meaning for a sociopath or even a narcissistic personality, because they require an awareness of how our actions might affect others.

Meaningful work, priorities, duties, happiness, success, even our life’s purpose: Once you start thinking about other people, everything unravels.

֍

Canada, whatever you do:

VOTE

in the Federal Election

MONDAY

October 21st

֍

A convenient hero…

… and a broken promise.


Frederick Douglass, from a speech delivered in Rochester, N.Y., 1852.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, A BLACK MAN who escaped from slavery in the state of Maryland and through monumental efforts of self-education and determination became one of the most celebrated abolitionists, activists, writers, orators and statesmen of the nineteenth-century, is celebrated as an American hero.

This astonishes me, though not because he doesn’t deserve his heroic status. His achievements would have been exceptional had he been a white man; but he was black, a former slave, and what he achieved required infinitely greater courage, persistence and faith. Together with his personal qualities—intelligence, ambition, above all, charisma—he was the abolitionists’ living proof that slavery was not natural law, that slaves were not “savages” undeserving of full citizenship.

His transformation, when it occurred, was effected by the simple act of crossing a state boundary, but behind that act lay everyday miracles of self-will. The obstacles Douglass overcame were intractable; the small acts of kindness shown to him, usually by the wives of his owners—a proper bed, a decent meal, the illusion of family— so rare he remembered each occasion from boyhood to the end of his life.

(How much I resist using the word “owner” in this context, resist admitting the appalling reality that, as a slave, he was property, a beast of burden, less than human.)

He was born in 1818 into slavery, taken from his mother, the common practice, and put to work; through his childhood and as a young man he was bought and sold and traded by one owner after another as casually as you would buy and sell and trade livestock, until he ended up in the service of an owner known as a “slave-breaker.”

(He needed to be broken because word had got out that he had been teaching himself to read, and then, as his fellow slaves learned of his accomplishment, teaching as many as forty of them at a time in impromptu gatherings.)

The slave-breaker’s preferred method of control was whipping. Whippings meted out daily, the fresh marks on top of those from the previous days, which would not yet have had a chance to heal. Whippings, Douglass said later, that indeed broke him, body, mind and spirit, until one day he stood up and fought back so fiercely his owner never whipped him, or even approached him, again.

You have seen, he wrote in his autobiography before describing that incident, how a man becomes a slave.

Now you will see how a slave becomes a man.

No, I’m astonished at his being considered a hero in contemporary America because Douglass was not a compliant, docile, forgiving man. He was not nice. He held people accountable. He did not think everything would be all right, at least, not passively, not without a struggle. His advice late in his life to a young black activist was: “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”

Agitate! In other words: Stir things up. Make people uncomfortable. Don’t let them off the hook. Don’t smile at the camera, scowl; don’t be the happy slave. Don’t play into the stereotype, refuse it. Don’t speak gently to the white women of Rochester.

Agitate!

I’m astonished because I have no doubt that if Douglass were alive today, agitating today, he would be reviled. Because, literally or metaphorically, he’d be kneeling during the National Anthem, and that would be the mildest of his agitations.

Douglass’ house in Rochester was destroyed by fire in 1872; his daughter, her husband and their children barely escaped with their lives. This was without question an arsonist’s attack. What mysterious or public disaster, I wonder, would be visited on him today, for his agitation?

White people in the North had trouble believing that Douglass had once been a slave, so thoroughly, so greedily had he educated himself, so eloquently did he speak. What fakery would he be accused of today? What scandals cooked up, what smear campaigns? What would the memes look like?

How a slave becomes a man: By fighting back so fiercely your torturer never touches you again.

Agitate!

֍

It’s easy for white people to think of Douglass as a hero, because he’s dead and can no longer cause a ruckus with his activism; because he can’t respond to the white men who use his speeches to “prove” that, because literal slavery no longer exists, because the blacks have had the school busing and the Selma March and can even claim their very own martyr, because of the thirteenth and fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, America is post-racial, color-blind.

What the hell are they complaining about now, for pete’s sake?

Not content with the grudging concession that people of color have, say, the right to vote, now they have the nerve to object just because Republicans do a little creative redrawing of the county lines.

People of color apparently aren’t content with the cheap, lumpy sofa of human rights, the basic IKEA model that sort of looks OK but that you secretly wish was from West Elm. They want the West Elm sofa plus the throw cushions and the Berber carpet.

And every so often the exasperation and impatience of white people bubbles up, in the affronted, aggrieved tones of someone whose thoughtful gift has been rejected.

If you don’t like it here, you’re free to leave! Do you ever see that online?* The assumption here is that if you’re not white you’re here on sufferance, you’re enjoying a probationary period—but complain too much, be a difficult, demanding, unappreciative guest, and whammo! Privileges revoked!

If you don’t like it here, you’re free to leave”? And I say to the petulant white guys and gals: So are you. You’ve got the money and the privilege, so how about returning to, say, Great Britain, where you will be better appreciated? I’m one hundred percent certain Boris Johnson will kiss you full on the mouth.

Douglass’s most famous speech, an excerpt of which is quoted below, was given to—the name reeks of white gentility—the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, N.Y., on July 5, 1852, nearly nine years before the Civil War began.

“…your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages…”

Frederick Douglass, 1852 (excerpt)

Read his words: However nobly phrased, they are also withering, bitter, enraged. He blazes like an Old Testament prophet. Apparently nineteenth-century American women were not the wilting violets of cliché Victorian femininity. They could, as we say, “take it.”

Fast forward a century and a half. Colin Kaepernick uses his celebrity to draw attention to systemic racism in America, not with inflammatory words or disruptive protest. He simply kneels during the National Anthem before the game. All hell breaks loose. For this he is denounced as a traitor, when he should be celebrated for exercising his right to protest.

Cory Booker travels to the centers where refugees are being held in third-world conditions. He reports on what he sees; he helps five women obtain asylum, following the accepted legal process.

A woman on Twitter tells him he should be charged with treason. Treason, if you’ve forgotten, is punishable by the death penalty in the United States of America.

The average American in 2019, then, is less robust than the abolitionist women in 1852 Rochester, who could listen to the fiery oratory of a former slave. Who invited Douglass to speak to them.

Perhaps it’s Trump’s unapologetic supporters, the MAGA-hatters, the new breed of Republicans, who need smelling salts, or even tincture of laudanum. What they are suffering from used to be called hysteria, or “an attack of the vapours.”

֍

Those seeking asylum from the violence and miserable poverty of their lives in the country that promises new beginnings and freedom are caged like animals in overcrowded facilities. Children are separated from parents and denied the most basic care. All are demonized as “illegals.”

Some are so desperate, they die in the attempt. But seeking asylum is a legal act and the U.S. has a duty under international law to admit them.

Illegal is a label, a construct, a way of dehumanizing in order to justify inhumane treatment. Illegal is, in today’s jargon, performative: what you say is what you get.

Refugees are not immigrants. They are seeking refuge, obviously, from acute crises: persecution by their own governments; natural disasters, lawlessness, civil war or discrimination so terrible that to return them to their country of origin is certain death. They aren’t making a calm, considered, career decision to change their country of residence or citizenship. They are in some manner escaping a war being waged against them.

Canada admitted tens of thousands of refugees from Syria in 2015; This was our response to an emergency, a humanitarian crisis.

Canada also has a multi-faceted immigration program that reflects our values. Programs include pilot projects encouraging immigration to the north and to the Atlantic provinces, sponsoring family members, express programs for skilled workers and opportunities for caregivers, artists and sports persons. As part of our immigration program we encourage applications for refugee status from those seeking protection from repression and discrimination in their home countries.

The two classes—immigrants and refugees— have become synonymous in the public’s mind because of Trump’s insistence that everyone who is not white and who sets foot on U.S. soil is a “rapist,” “gang member,” part of a planned “invasion.”

Some day we will have to have the conversation about a borderless world. We can’t continue to build metaphorical walls and shut out that part of humanity which hasn’t won the lottery and been born in a developed and democratic country.

It’s also impossible to view the plight of refugees from Guatemala and other Central American countries as having occurred in a vacuum, when U.S. policies have directly targeted those countries with disastrous results.

In the short term, human beings are morally bound to help others if they possibly can, and to do so in a compassionate way that recognizes their inherent dignity and equality—our common humanity.

֍

Trump co-opts the Fourth of July celebrations and turns them into a tinpot dictator’s preposterous military parade; makes the Fourth of July all about him, in other words. Is anyone surprised?

Serial sexual abuser, criminal, pathological liar: Has a more ridiculous or contemptible impostor ever held public office in a democracy, anywhere?

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“The New Colossus”

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus ( (1849–1887)

“The New Colossus” was written by a young Jewish woman, Emma Lazarus, as part of the effort to raise money for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, and who, dying in only her thirty-eighth year, would never know how the final five lines would enter American mythology.

“Give me your tired, your poor….” Give me. Not just acceptance, but an invitation. An active embrace by the mother of exiles.

Wretched refuse: Refuse is what you discard. Less politely, garbage. However rejected you have been, we will embrace you. Liberty as mother, blind to race, color, creed. What a mother, infinitely more than a father, creates is home and family.

This is the promise.

I can’t read these words without my voice breaking with emotion; yet on reflection, measured against reality, I see Lazarus’ idealism as irrevocably tainted. I see what has become an unfortunate American propensity to indulge in pompous self-regard and fine-sounding, empty rhetoric, boasts about shining cities on hills that shine only for that tiny minority gifted with the right time and place of birth, those who have never wanted for anything, struggled, gone hungry or lived in fear. Unholy license.

And how dark the world has become now that the mother of exiles has extinguished her lamp, slammed shut the golden door.

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* I wrote this post before Trump’s now infamous suggestion to “the Squad;” it wasn’t meant ironically. I can probably now assume that you’ve all heard this at least once, online.
24 July 19

One-night stand

I had blitzed your sectors
completely
But all this time you’ve survived
discretely

Interred in my one-terabyte drive:

Knight jonesing for escape, five fingers
dismissing
Passion, fondling my door handle,
kissing

Goodbye our too-easy improvisation.

I conjure desperate devious
strategies:
Charms, supplications, jammed connections,
elegies,

Viral replications, heartfelt blackmail.

Impatient, lover? Hanging in the
delusion
Of my blue-screened doorway, our fungible
collusion

Of dull bruises, ragged tears?

Confusion, lust and memory
conceived
Phantom on phantom, our names elusive,
retrieved

By one for another. Here’s what sinks me:

Your face.

Its invisible
weight.

֍

Jazz for insomniacs

for James H.

IF WE WERE POSSIBLE—
Christ, what a thought! —
it would have to be 
in some other continuum
strung out in time 
between Lost In Space
and Planet of the Apes

the original, not the remake—

where my love like giant
Noma bulbs leaks
Red Green Blue
pure Christmas colors
onto snow;
it would have to be 

suspended in aspic 
somewhere in affect
between Keir Dullea (lusciously preserved in the vacuum jar of his Paco Rabanne space suit
in Kubrick’s ground-breaking 2001)

and Kate Hepburn (magnificent!) shocking the children
with jewelry hung from her nipples
teeth clenched, then through a narrow slit
launching the swift arrows of her repartee
in the ’68 screenplay of
Lion in Winter.

And while we’re on the subject of me, 
Have I ever told you
I hate being a venomous frog?
It is so frightfully inconvenient at times!
Like now, when you say

(standing marooned in my bog, drowning in your MacIntosh, squashed hat bobbing with corks)

“I mustn’t leave my guest too long—”

(Meaning
I must dance the hootchy-cootchy
elsewhere, baby)

And I outlash with a crack of my bull-whip tongue 

(That very same bullwhip tongue seen in slow unfurling motion,
eternal trope, in the seven o’clock reruns of Animal Kingdom
whose subject is the tranquility of nature) 

“No we wouldn’t want that, would we?”

not want —would no — would that—oui oui — ?

Oh mon enfant.
Blathering’s a lonely task
The daily struggle to be astoundingly original so — cliché. 

I don’t get your surprise, 
any more than I get your stiff malodorous socks. 
Just for me? Such tendresse!

Waiter, gimme the soup doo jour!
And that Entray of the day! 
And a little disgust, on the side
just enough to whet the appetite!

Your sunken totem face no longer worrisome since they
took AIDS off the list of
acceptable romantic endings

Your muzzy teeth a craft project
tombstones glamorous in fake fur
rammed haphazardly into the rim of your jaw, 
as though to commemorate—
what?

Recess? Mass burial?

Gimme a break!
This coffee's cold!

Your lips are white and pasty, darling.
Grams of guilt-ridden chems,
Seasons of serendipity!
Avail yourself, please do, of some Colgate
and my handy multi-tool travel brush!

And your pubes! Mon dieu! The rusty 
steel wool pads I use to attack, to scrub and scrape the
cast iron pan would more sweetly accommodate
my shameless kiss, the nuzzly nestling of my cheek!

Your reek of ether, sour sweat, defeat
Your much-vaunted Apollonian line astray,
your plump-loaded historical brushes uncontained.

Your staining of me bleeds.

You are my wizened future, Apparition,
Ancient Mariner asthmatic, baying at the festooned threshold,

Alone alone, all all alone! 

I’m the bride, the groom,
I’m Eleanor of Aquitane!—is nothing beyond me?—
I’m the unseen wedding room all a-quiver, stinking with white lilacs,

Alone on the wide wide sea!

Gimme that old college try! Gimme that opium dream,
And a prolonged attack of the vapours!
That's the spirit, honey! Now that's what I call poetry!

Hungry out of habit,
I’ll rise to your bait, I’ll take a bite,
But you are no more
lust-slaking than a blackened pan of chocolate cake
mixed at three A.M. with my old man hands, and baked,

then picked over with impatient fingers,
black cake scalding, steaming,
crumbling out of the black pan
wolfed down in close-up,
kitchen lights catching all my best angles
as I suck in blasts of soothing frigid air
to guard the vault of my mouth

against another assault
oftoo-much !

֍

A Satori

 

If seedlings are waking up in clay pots on my balcony, 
if there are tiny, fragile seedlings 
that despite their tininess and fragility
still manage to express their true nature,
just as distant stars express theirs;

If this expression of stars and seedlings
is inevitable, yet innocent;

And if a seedling, a wisp of green, a mere tendril, 
can heave aside a boulder, its opponent,
which is a crumb of earth, 
And the crumb can’t resist —

If the will to life and its expression are that powerful;

if the force of life animates everything and 
everything will continue in its path 
without regard to me or my existence—

Then I know I am, and will be, safe; 

I know that I need only do the next right thing
and that the next right thing will present itself
and I will recognize it.

And I need only do this next right thing 
as completely 
and with as much sense of inevitability 
and with the same innocence
as do the seedlings in the ground or the distant stars.

This is what I understand we are talking about 

when we talk about god.