Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Only once

For clarity, I think I will write this only once.

I do not write confessional poetry, and I do not write things down as a form of therapy. I write because I have something unique to say in a unique sort of way, a way that I think is universal in an analogous manner, not as any sort of literal or digital telling of the truth.  I trowel spackle onto pages with a edged blade, I don’t paint aging widows with a brush.

 (My soul has been psychedelicized, but this shit’s not about me.)

It comes in this form – that this relates to that, in this way – A form that I think illustrates things that are too true to be looked at straight on – personal truths that are usually discovered through interactions with other people – truths that are often relational, unreliable and subject to the weavings and debris of human beings. Truths that sneak out and become a miraculous surprise of insight – like a Zen master hitting you on the head with a baseball bat at just the right time.

I don’t think I’m the only one that thinks or feels this way. I think people are only capable of seeing themselves honestly from the angles they find themselves in as they interact with other people. We are usually too well defended to see the truth about ourselves – we must get fooled into it from something outside ourselves, and usually that something's a person. Only through misdirection and compassion are we tricked into seeing any glimpse of what’s true in ourselves -- that only from the corner of an eye do we get to see the changing of the stage between acts. We aren’t actors on a stage – we are the fucking stage.

(This doesn’t count for seeing the truth in other people – that’s usually astoundingly easy.)

My rule is that in the small you find the large, and that universal truths come from being aware of individuals as they share pieces of themselves – like watching the parts that fall off and start careening out of control. It’s not about the words, you need to watch for the patterns and the movement, and maybe the reactions of the things they bounce off. When I write about me, I’m writing about you – it’s my way of trying.

I sometimes think that you can’t trust anything but speed and direction – that most of what’s left in day to day life is just one big bumper to launch crap off of – just another entry on the list of self-made distractions that you use to keep from dealing with the pain of being human.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Jingo is as Jingo does

After I avoided watching that Zany new program, ‘Homeland’ on TV today, I told Mary:

“Someday when we as a nation are down and out and struggling for a bit of understanding and mercy our new overlords will pull out a show like Homeland and say, “this is when you had a chance to change things.”

The things that we do, and the attitudes we take while doing them, will all be used against us on the way down, and everyone goes down eventually.  The barbarians will have their scribes repeat our own words to us and then say them out loud to our children as they do the things to us that we have done to them.

We are so powerful that we cannot see anything from anyone else’s point of view, and if we could, it would hold no value to us. Just as we now think that one American life is worth 60 Iraqis, our eventual fall will reflect a different changing math game of attitudes that our educational system has ill prepared us for. We will also become confused because all the words coming out of their mouths will be harsh and foreign because we never thought to learn any of  it other than, 'How much for the woman?'

We don’t respect other cultures – we are powerful and just run other cultures over with our proxies and corporations. We make Disney versions of all we touch, we cheapen their religions and mores, and when that stops working, we piss on them from the plane’s door as we’re taking off. Everything we touch gets remade in our image and sold back for profit that we then take home with us to but cool stuff.

We talk about American exceptionalism, and the innate goodness of our system of government and I think that’s about right and true, but what I think isn’t the point. I also think we have every right and obligation to protect ourselves from others that would harm us, but maybe so do they. I just think that we are being short sided in not seeing the fact that billions of people don’t see things the same way as we do, and that this way of thinking will do us harm in the long run, however long that is.

What we do to others, others will do to us – just as soon as they can.

Although it occurs to me that maybe I have this all wrong, that maybe we understand them too well. Perhaps if we take our foot off their necks for even a minute to try to understand what they are saying they would kill us all. Maybe our government isn’t lying to us and the trillions of dollars we spend to defend ourselves are well spent and perhaps they are right that it is really not even enough? Maybe the government’s credibility problem comes from the left wing radical truths of the paid fact finders and not from the repeated accounts of history?


I just think we should but ourselves in other people’s shoes before we fuck with them. It’s called empathy – look it up, it might come in handy if we lose or come in second place.

Wedding and Funeral


Went to a wedding and a funeral this weekend with Mary. Sacramento, Santa Rosa, then home– a whirlwind trip through weekend bay area traffic. The traffic was horrible – life changing horrible, but not unusual.

As with most things, it’s a balance of an the unnamed terror and an easy chair in a padded room that rocks. 

The wedding was delightful, part of an interconnected strong woman’s club that marries off their daughters to provably weaker men. And so, the cycle continues, but the company was nice and I’m too old to wonder at the process anymore.

The funeral was for another interconnected strong woman, who, by hinkey or dinky, was a scary woman that I used to work with as a nurse. She would have been surprised that I outlived her, much as Charles the cat was. Please pay attention out there – this is how life works.

(To be fair, she didn’t put up with shit and I liked to throw handfuls of it around as if I were Christ standing on the back of a broken piƱata heaving candy cigarettes to the unwashed.)

At the Catholic church, I came to a couple of decisions about services to be requested upon my death.

I don’t mind the church thing, but the mass has to be in Latin. I love the rituals of Catholicism, but almost every English word they say during mass make me angry. The whole thing is stupid and I can no longer support it or encourage others to listen to it –  It's not a choice if it's just wrong. I’m too old, and it’s too criminally stupid to even pretend that it's reasonable anymore.

Again, these are my wishes – do whatever you want, even if I'm dead I probably won’t self-combust if you don't. Really, there is nothing wrong with taking comfort where you find it and, as a Baptist preacher once said to me, “What’s wrong with a crutch if you need it?” I find religion suffocating and rigidly stupid, but maybe you don’t. Religion is like smoking to me -- get it?

As an aside, I used to think the United States offered, ‘freedom from religion,’ but realized later in life, to my horror, that it only said, ‘freedom OF religion.”

Pick one because, apparently, the shame of unbelief is what’s in the real take home doggy bag.

(In Akron, the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church has a weekly Latin Mass. There are probably others as well.)

Really, any language will work if you keep in mind that the more incomprehensible the better. God works through the rituals of faith – science, truth and words only fuck it up.

At my funeral I want stories, only stories. I want people to tell stories about me that make them laugh or whatever, and then I want to go away.







Sunday, March 19, 2017

How do I know when I'm done?


I left a message on Facebook for someone I care about that ended with the words, “one won”. I did it just because I thought was funny. That led to a whimsical discovery that I no longer had to place a period at the end of my sentences – in fact to do so would be rude and identify myself as an old person. 

It seems that, for online use anyway, a period has become a loud shout -- a purposeful exclamation point useful only in drawing unnecessary attention, or as a way of making an angry burp of anti-social angst. Sentences no longer end, they gently back out a side door when no one is looking -- they’ve become bars without a jail, or that angry driver just ahead of you who hesitates before moving through an intersection just to make a point of how stupid you are.

Since a period is no longer an end to a thought, its new function has evidentially become nothing but a stuffy ritual of formality that writers can now use to mark up or down generalized feeling of huffiness, or perhaps a way to strike a vaguely passive-aggressive note of semi-displeasure. It’s like when you are pissed off at a person, but afraid they might hit you over the head with a stick of sensibility if you complain directly in their direction.

(As an aside --I think kids today are afraid that Canadians are going to come down south whenever the weather gets cold and bash their brains out with clubs, en masse, for both sport and their imagined fur.)

Toots magoo says I; Finest kind -- and since this new paradigm fits nicely into my generalized life goal of avoiding finality in any guise or pretense, it’s nice to see it becoming more mainstream. Or, it might just be kids today are lazy and don’t want to take the time to mark an end to a complete thought.

Without an ending a sentence is just a bunch of words in a row, much like life is without death.


Kids are kind of squishy with paragraphs too, now that I think of it.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hard Knox

Hard Knox

 As a small child, it was clear to me that I was fundamentally flawed to the core, and that this fundamental flaw was a forever thing that I needed to get used to. It was also clear that I was going to have some explaining to do down the road in order to survive. Eventually the time came when I began to think this basic flaw as my burden -- my original-sin starter pack conveniently stapled to my inner child at birth -- kind of tramp stamped on the way out.  The very best I could do over time was to continually beg for forgiveness and then to accept it, with conditions, if offered. All else in my life was to be a waiting -- just fodder evidenced by a malevolent tilting at windmills and willful acts of self-abuse and abasement.

 And that only through grace – that spontaneous gift from God -- that generous, free and both unexpected and undeserved gift, would there be any kind of relief from my crime of being made of meat like a common barnyard animal.

Like most of the things I was taught in life, I took the wrong message from this.

But enough of the past --at this point I have sinned too much to be forgiven by anything other than a major god with big time powers. I’ve done horrible things to many people, places and things – some well documented and others squashed down so deep as to be unrecognizable. I remember everything, but sometimes forget the context of it. 

I’ve been a bad, bad boy and need to be punished. Accept this, in fact I've fetishized it.

That being said, you do what you can as a simple man struggling to figure things out in a non-intuitive world, which is, either accept the grace of god as offered, or not. I choose not. Without science things are much simpler and more flexible.

Without a god, I’ve done the best I can. AA did help, all they asked was that I believe that I’m not god – very doable. I remember making several lists of my misdeeds, and with guidance, making things as right as possible in both word and deed to those touched by my malevolence.  That helped, well it helped me anyway, but like a reformed smoker, I now look at other people and think, ‘Geese, they’re worse than me,’ and then get angry at them for being such shits.  This leads to many bad thoughts when driving, or at work, or just about anywhere with other people. People are really awful – and any good deed I see or read about seems to be less about the feeling of empathy and more about a self-reverential kind of sympathy that others put upon the less fortunate. It’s like dropping cartons of trash off at the Goodwill at night so you don’t have to pay the dump fees or look in the mirror during daylight.


For these reasons and an irritable nature, I now measure others against a written list the bad things that I’ve done and thought. And yes, much of my badness is in unexpressed thoughts, as many have expected. As bad as I am, most people are worse. I’m thinking of working this into an app for others to use – look for it on iTunes, of inquire from any group of Presbyterians – they are pretty organized about stuff like this. They can certainly help with your list.

So -- I’m a sinner, but they are much worse sinners all around me and I’m here to help them accept that fact. I am of the elect because I say so, and without science I can apparently do that.

But really, bottom line -- some bad things are just bad and you have to learn to live with them while trying to fight the constant urge do them again and again. It helps to pay attention to things around and outside of you, and to remember -- even if there were a god he wouldn’t give a shit about the you.