Thursday, January 28, 2010

State of DisUnion

've done it, Folx. The Powers-That-Be—and by that I mean the cabal that uses its wealth & influence to keep the Rest-Of-Us at a perpetual disadvantage—have almost finished dismantling the very systems which kept Them in check. Granted, it doesn't help that They've already done an excellent job sowing the seeds of discord that keep the Rest-Of-Us fighting amongst ourselves instead of focusing in the slow expansion of Their power over us. As such, my fellow Americans, our state of disunion is strong and growing stronger every day.

The plan was simple, almost effortless. Find ways to pit the populace against itself, and they won't even notice as we grab the reigns and tighten them. The poor are easy; so many ways to divide them. Race is a good one. Make some feel inferior, and when you're finally forced to treat them as equals, make them fight each other for the same, menial jobs while continuing to sow distrust and fear. Once they're psychologically segregated, you can set them against themselves. ¿Come on, are you really surprised at the rate of black-on-black homicide? I bet you They're not. It benefits Them. As long as the rage that develops from generations of having less and having little to look forward to is aimed mostly on our own, we won't aim it at Them.

Then, pit the poor against the so-called intellectual elite. Those folx could afford the best (left-leaning) colleges & universities. ¿What would they know about the plight of the poor and middle class? They merely want to promote a liberal agenda to place the reigns of power firmly in the hands of government. They don't truly care about the poor, and will simply continue to over-tax the middle class. Add to that an ongoing series of lies and half-truths with a splash of fear-mongering believable enough to the less educated segments of the populace (be it Death Panels or terrorist threats) and you have a great recipe for discord.

Now all you need is to find ways to divide everyone again, but this time on moral grounds. Life v. Choice. Creationism v. Evolution. Sex Education v. Abstinence preaching. Marriage equality v. homophobia. Don't think for one minute that They allied with the Religious Right because They care anything about these so-called morality issues. They did it because it expanded Their base of power long enough to for Them to deregulate EVERYTHING to make it all more profitable for Them. They used the bible thumpers like they use everyone else, like they use us.

¡Keep dividing! Let's make them all afraid of these foreigners seeping into society in search of the same American Dream. They're already the second biggest minority, now. If we don't do anything now, we'll all be speaking Spanish soon enough. I haven't even touched on dividing by religion (This is a CHRISTIAN nation) and even gender (¡Damned FemiNazis!).

¿What's left? How about stacking the Supreme Court, our last line of defense against Them, and use the concept of Free Speech to justify the use of Their nearly limitless wealth to maintain this sick status quo that they've contrived. Now, not only can They buy as much of anything They want and sell it back to us at any price They see fit, but now, after last week's Supreme Court decision, They can spend as much as they want to continue to convince us all that it's going to be okay, as long as the fights are amongst ourselves and not against Them.

So keep hating. Keep hating the wrong people for the wrong reasons and ignore the real threat hanging over all of our heads—a reality where we are nothing but a commodity, a nameless, faceless mass earning (slaving for) just enough of Their capital just so we can give it right back to Them to feed (¿poison?), clothe & shelter ourselves—oh, let's not forget, to keep paying back the money They loan us to make our lives just a little more interesting, a little ore livable. And television, because if we can be distracted enough, we won't even realize what's really going on. Yes Folx, let's keep hating, and the State of Our Disunion will soon enough become invincible. Like trained elephants, we won't need chains. Mental manacles are more powerful than real restraints. If you have no hope of escape, why bother trying?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Geek Orthodoxy

Another from the archives...

Geek Orthodoxy

It is religion after all
although we worship
different things
like Sky Blue
Sno-balls or the Big Kahuna
or Lucy & Ricky
before they broke
up or Quantum Physics
or polyhedrons
or Mean Green Dirty-Gened
Killer Kangaroos.
Some of us have even been known
to worship Impossible Dreams
as long as they were artificially
flavored Banana.

All through the almond-colored pages
of a slide rule bible.

We wear our glasses
because we’d rather let our vision
trickle away & go
blind than give
in to our sexual

We seek salvation
through masturbation.

Our pocket protectors serve
as shields, a fort
of pens & pencils
to protect our flimsy
hearts from the whims
of adolescent vixens
looking to turn screws.

The very same girls once broke
our Holy Crayolas.

We vow ourselves
to silence because to speak
meant to spread our words like cold
butter on thin white bread,
hard & chunky & all
torn up.

Amongst ourselves we can speak
in our twisted tongues.

None of us practice
long; we all slowly trade
in our plaid & courdoroy,
our Dippity Do & our dandruff goo,
our floodpants & our jogging shoes,
our argyle socks & comic books
for a taste of the mundane.

Except for the few true, dedicated ones
who stick out the persecution long enough
to outlive our Protean deficiencies
& reach that Nerd Nirvana some call
Avant Garde

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My Night ( A Poem)

This poem was inspired by the myth of Nüt & Geb, a personal favorite.

My Night
¿How can I
stay away
when You wrap
so tightly
about Me,
protecting Me
from Everything,
leaving room
for Nothing
else but the feel
of You wrapped
tight about me
like wet rice

¿What else
can I do
Sister Sky—
Heaven full
of stars,—
but grind
inside You
until My mountains
are raw
& My rivers
boil beneath
Your pressure,
Your pleasure,
Your gravity?

¿So what
if there is room
for naught—
nothing but
us, no space
for other Gods
to roam between
Us, to breathe?

The feel
of Your breath
is all I need.

Let Them separate
Us if they must—
make room
for Creation,
for Life,
for Other
than Our bond.

¿Could we expect
Them to continue
Existence smothered
between Us?

It matters
not, my Nüt—
They can keep
Us apart—
divided for only
so long
before Night
once again wraps
itself around Me—
the Sun hides
You fall
& I rise
to meet

the time will come
when the Sun
abandons its
task & We can
again join
in perpetuity,
when You & I,
and nothing else
will reign
Our Love,
Eternal Lust,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Olive Juice

Love you—”

My ear catches it flitting through the air like a miniscule moth, almost imperceptible, but undeniable just as I’m about to hang up the phone. Curious, I quickly put the phone back to my ear. “Excuse me?”

Silence, but I can tell she’s still there. “What?” Nicole finally asks, hesitantly, probably curious as to what I heard.

“I thought I heard you say something as I was hanging up.” I know it was a mistake, she probably had just gotten off the phone with a lover or family member, and it slipped out, but I want to play this out. I like to play. That’s just the way I am.

“Oh… nothing… it was nothing.”

But it wasn’t nothing; it was much more than nothing. The way I see it, the phrase I love you, in all its eternal possibilities lives somewhere where nothing is not allowed. I love you precludes the possibility of nothing.

When I was in junior high the prettiest girl in the eighth grade sat on the opposite end of the room from me during Algebra, the last class of the day. I sat in the front with the rest of the geeks who always wanted to impress the teacher. She sat in the back near a window. I could always catch her staring out, as if she expected one of the passing cars to pull over and take her away.

I was nothing—as always, the smallest kid in my grade, insignificant to everyone unless I was being used as entertainment, whether that meant being jammed into a locker or being dangled from a basketball hoop inside a gym bag. She, Audra, aside from being the prettiest girl in the school, was everything to everyone—friendly and open, popular amongst every clique, but belonging to none.

Sometimes she would catch me watching her vigil. For those moments, her eyes would be mine, trapped by my eyes—at least that’s what I like to imagine for the brief amount of time before she finally looked away nervously. But sometimes she would offer just the slightest bit of a smile before drifting back to her vigil. Just that would be enough to thrill me and carry me through to dismissal.

Once, as a dare or a joke, I don’t remember which, when she caught my eyes I mouthed the words olive juice. Her face instantly twisted, and her shoulders hunched subtly. I knew she was irritated. When the bell rang she stormed out quickly. Audra was waiting for me as I came out of the school. She grabbed hold of the hood of my sweatshirt and yanked me back near the door.

“What the hell did you say to me?” she asked in an angry whisper.

I was suddenly scared. I could feel the blood pulsing in my scalp and the sweat trickling from my underarms down the sides of my chest. I had never intended to piss her off, and if she beat my ass in front of everybody in school I would be less than nothing. I was perfectly happy with my nothing status, thank you very much.

But what really scared me was being this close to her for the first time. From here I could see that her eyes weren’t blue, they was pure crystal—reflecting the color of the sky. I could even smell her hair, strawberries and cream with just a hint of cigarette smoke. I could hear the full tone of her voice, not just the meekness she offered in class. I realized than that olive juice was no joke.

“Ol—olive juice,” I stammered, “ All I said was olive juice. It was just a joke.”

“Olive Juice?” she asked, and her face softened. “Olive juice… that’s pretty funny.”

My heart softened.

We ended up walking home together, laughing children oblivious to the world around us. When she laughed it made me giddy. So I did everything I could think of to make her laugh, and she laughed at everything I did. Halfway through Patterson Park we were holding hands.

At the west edge of the park towers a Chinese pagoda. It was donated to the city, as legend goes, to honor Canton, the Baltimore neighborhood that shared its name (albeit different pronunciation) with the Chinese province. We called it the Kissing Castle because young couples would stop to make out under its shadow or in the topiaries around it on their way home from school. When we got there no one was around, almost as if the world understood the significance of what was happening.

Kissing her, I was reminded of the taste and consistency of olive juice—vinegary, yet fruity. Thick.

The next day carried with it the electric anticipation of a lightning storm. Every hour was an hour less that I had to wait to see Audra. Every corner I turned in the halls and stairwells was an opportunity to bump into her. By the time I finally did see her, in Algebra last period, I felt like one of those plasma lamps ready to shoot my charge right through the glass. After ten minutes I was grounded, my charge dissipated.

During the fifty minutes of class she looked at me exactly once and looked away quickly. That day I could not capture her eyes. She avoided me and rushed out quickly when the bell rang. After school I was the one snatching her up looking for answers. She didn’t want to talk near school, but reluctantly agreed to walk through the park with me. She didn’t say much and refused to hold my hand. I knew what was coming. I’d been through it enough by then.

Audra finally admits what’s bothering her about halfway through the park. “Look, I like you. You’re cute and so fucking funny, but I don’t think I could get used to dating someone shorter than me. I’m sorry.”

She wasn’t even that much taller, maybe three or four inches. But that was the story of my youth: cute, short, sorry. Most of the time it wasn’t so much that they thought it, but that their friends thought it. Either that, or they were afraid to be mocked. Like the previous day, we walked to the Pagoda together, this time in silence, before going our separate ways.

Occasionally, in class, when I would catch her eyes I would mouth the words, and we would share a momentary smile. The joke now was that I was actually mouthing I love you.

So I have this girl on the phone, and she knows I heard her say something, but she’s not sure what. But she’s curious because she has yet to hang up, and we just met. We’ve known each other for all of five minutes, if you can count taking someone’s order over the phone as knowing someone. Nicole orders books for a small chain of bookstores, and I take orders for a publishing company. I was taking her order, and although there was a bit of banter, I don’t recognize her voice from the hundreds of voices I hear over the phone every week. All I said at the end of our conversation was, “Thank you. Have a nice day.”

I anted, she raised, but I know she’s bluffing. I finesse my hand to the table. “Oh… I thought I heard you say, ‘Love you.’”

At this point, she could have folded. She could have said, No, you heard wrong, and hung up. She doesn’t. She says, “Yeah, well I just got off the phone with my boyfriend, and I’m used to saying that before hanging up with him. I probably just got confused. It doesn’t mean anything.”

She’s all-in, but it’s time to let her off the hook, at least for the time being. “Well, don’t you think your boyfriend should know how you feel about me?” I can’t let her off too easy. We both laugh away the awkwardness of the situation and say goodbye—a second time.

A few weeks pass before we talk again, but it doesn’t take any time for us to recognize each other. “Excuse me a moment,” I chide, “but isn’t this the love of my life?” We giggle our way through the whole book order. After a while, if she doesn’t get me when she calls, she asks to be transferred to my desk. We gradually develop a rapport that builds into a sort of sight unseen friendship.

Every phone call with Nicole ends up lasting an extra five to ten minutes because we always end up chatting. We talk bout the movie that just came out. We talk about the difference between Baltimore’s weather compared to Cleveland, where she lives, even though they’re so close. Sometimes I listen to her talk about how much she hates how mundane her job is.

After a while, my supervisor points out that I’m taking too much time with certain calls, and tells me to be aware of how much time I needlessly spend with customers. Nicole and I decide to keep our calls strictly business, but agree to call each other during lunch breaks.

We discuss our quirky families. I compare my reclusive uncle Marco, who does nothing except play chess by himself in his bedroom until my grandmother forces him to come out for meals, to her loopy aunt Gloria who has a house full of never-read books, and a never-off television. I was there to console her when her boyfriend broke up with her, and she encouraged me when I told her I had decided to go back to school.

It’s December 9th, memorable because it’s unusually warm, and I decide to wear a light jacket to work. At this point, I’ve known Nicole for a little over a year. Besides our twice a week lunch conversations we email each other daily, and on occasion, chat on Facebook. There’s an email waiting for me as soon as I turn my computer on. There’s a number for me to call. She says it’s urgent. The brevity of the message makes me think she’s frantic. I leave for lunch five minutes early and immediately dial the number she gave me.

Nicole answers in tears. She’s a mix of anger, frustration and bruised ego. The number is her mother’s phone. She’s upset because she’s been fired. Her job had recorded a personal call to me using a company phone and found out that it wasn’t the first time she’d done it. She only used their phones when she had forgotten her cell phone or when she was close to her minute limit. “I didn’t think they’d notice.” she sobs, “I’m so damned stupid.”

“No you’re not,” I shouted at her, “don’t stay that! I know you well enough to know you’re nowhere near stupid. A little careless at times, but that’s at least three degrees away from straight out stupid.”



I assure her that everything will be alright, that she’ll find a new job in no time, and that until then, all calls can be on my dime. Eventually, the conversation drifts to more normal topics. Once I feel she’s calm enough, an hour and a half later, I let her know that I should get back to my desk.

“Jeez!” she says, realizing the time, “I’m going to end up getting you fired, too.”

“Nah!” I tell her, “Didn’t I ever tell you? My godfather owns this company. Not that it matters—I would have done it anyway. I lo—”

“What?” she asks.

I wait a moment, thinking.

“Nothing,” I say, finally.

“Right, nothing,” she agrees.

Nothing has never been so full of possibility.