Friday, September 11, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

There is no horizon; everything is oatmeal, but without any positive connotations. It ain't gonna warm you up, keep you full, sit like lead in your stomach. No, man. This oatmeal air is gonna strip the paint of your car, poison your lungs, make your eyes burn so you look stoned all the time. But you don't feel stoned. You feel anxious and trapped and pissed off and stupid. 

This air is gonna get inside you and sit there for years. 

You ever look outside in the morning and wonder if you're getting cancer? You ever think, aah, smells like premature death and chronic lung problems this morning. Want to hit the beach? And it's like we're punching ourselves in the face because we still fucking live here. Maybe we should bail this smoking ruin and move to a part of the country more dominated by hate?

Our fuckhead president won't even acknowledge what's going on. That we watched our friends lose the house they poured their heart into. That kids are wheezing while their stressed parents are putting together boxes full of birth certificates and baby pictures and grandma's jewelry. That folks are trying to stay safe while some of our fellow Americans are all, "yeah, but it's just California. Fucking commies." Good luck getting along without California, you fucking idiots. Good luck. I'm sure y'all will start growing your own produce. 

The left side of the country is on fire. That's it. It's not like you don't know, even if the Prez ain't talking about it. You see it. It's there. And if you care, you care. If you don't, I don't give a shit. I'm done trying to explain it. 

There's not enough air.


  1. California has a higher population and larger economy than the entire country of Canada. Not sure why I'm saying that. But you are our Left Coast neighbours/neighbors, and we have more in common than with those places that think we're godless commie heathens. The fires are scary; those people are scarier. Be safe, brother, though I suspect no one will be safe again.

    1. It's unbelievable how inept and heartless your president is. He's even worse than our so-called leader and that's saying something. I can only hope that he and his party are voted out this year. And then you'll have hope and some cause for optimism.

  2. To Break the Light of the Sun

    “That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; that until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; that until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes; that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.” — Haile Selassie

    Standing like the ancient poet, watching the clarity fill with vague, listening for the falconer, wondering when the gyre will widen or why it will, I shun the history of words. These thoughts so old they’ve stamped themselves as platitudes. This lurch so new its suddenness has staggered me from the surety of my wide-legged gait, tipped me slow-thighed into a dalliance with doom. Have they won? The worst, I mean? Are we on that darkling plain? Encountering fear within a handful of dust? Is the third who walks beside us visible at last?

    Amandine. Delphine. My gemstone girls. Unfurl the red, gold, and green. Sing of Haile Selassie and dance with Marley’s ghost. Unleash the burning spear, let it set alight the world, whose boundless reservoirs of tears won’t even suffice.

    What impediments remain for the unfathomable?

    "But there are things which you have said to me which I do not like. They are not sweet like sugar but bitter like gourds. You said that you wanted to put us upon a reservation, to build us houses and make us medicine lodges. I do not want them. I was born upon the prairie, where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures and everything drew a free breath. I want to die there and not within walls." — Ten Bears, of the Yamparika Comanches.

    Do we yet wish to wish these things? The atrocities have returned in hordes and taken on human form. The lies of the elder skies have come as burnt ocher veils of choking ash. The children are betrayed. The great seas boil.

    Make my eyes unsee, excavate my tongue, and lance my ears with spikes; rend my garments then my limbs. But first obstruct all exits and compel me to be witness to this endgame, this dark unholy codicil—me, the last player on the stage when even the audience has exhaled its ghost into the great dome, and I alone am desiccated, woebegone, phantom-swollen with the stillbirth of this calamity, the dreadful pitiful scale of this crime.

    “Teach us to care and not to care
    Teach us to sit still.”

    Blood a hot torrent down my aching throat, I try yet cannot speak my final words. I will them to issue from the ruin of my gorge, but my ebbing wits, shorting and buzzing, only think them, sheer diaphanous wings buoyed by the last silken breath of a mind already passed:

    “Shantih shantih shantih…”

    1. I'm awestruck by your writing, as I so very often am. You've captured something prophetic or biblical in your voice's tone here. You write with such depth and clarity and a grim resolution.

    2. I'm standing on the shoulders of many giants for this one, Mark. Aside from the quoted sections, I'm referencing TS Eliot, WB Yeats, and Matthew Arnold, among others. It's my English lit nerd coming out, lol. But oddly, too, I was talking to someone the other day, and I said something like, "My latest piece of writing went full Old Testament!" Ha ha!

    3. Yep. I got some and missed some. This is astoundingly deep and complex. It does read like religion, like faith, like betrayal. It does touch on truth and ugliness. The words are ornate and the message is simple. I'd go to church if it was like this. ;)

  3. The spotlight swung to the third person. The first two stood back, making space for him to speak. There was no conflict here, not in this room.

    “I come from across the sea,” the newcomer said, his voice light at first. “I come from another place, a world like yours. It is filled with inequity and greed, discontent, and anger, all of these brought to a boil by our leaders. They stand up and insult us to our faces, mocking us, blaming us for the dilemma they have brought upon us. They accept no responsibility for their actions. None at all. And all the time they lie, and they cheat their people, taking money away with one hand and freedom with the other. They reinvent history. They hide the truth. They reconfigure the facts, shifting timescales and figures until they become propaganda and emptiness, bolstering the arguments they make. They do this and they do it with a sneer on their faces, patronising us with soundbites and slogans as though we were children. We are too low to understand, we are barely cattle to these people, we are unfit to be anything but the glue which squeezes out from beneath the soles of their shoes. They have no need for us, they can outsource everything we do, replacing our artisans and artists with inferior imitations, enslaving nameless foreign children, condemning them to hard labour, giving them nothing but the absolute minimum that they need to survive. Not that they care if they die, of course. There will always be more. Life is like that; it always provides if you’ve a need.”

    And then the speaker swayed, drawing another breath. He looked out beyond the light. He saw others, just like him, anonymous shapes lost in the dark. He imagined them to be people just like him, people with lives and responsibilities. People who deserved to be heard. People needing a voice. People who had been alienated and swindled, deprived of hope and aspirations. People who had been born and then left alone to die. An encumbrance, an impediment, a burden to be shrugged aside. Liabilities raised with the expectations that they would be valued and treated with the honour they deserved. People like him. People who had been abandoned by the overarching regime based on greed.

    “We each have a responsibility,” the speaker said, steadying himself. “We have to stand up, speak up, refuse to be pushed aside. We are many and they are few. Every one of us has a voice and if we speak together, all as one, we will be heard.”

    1. Through this character, you encapsulate it so well. I love the flow of the language, a kind of oratory we rarely hear anymore.

    2. Agreed. I did this type of engagement. When you take current issues and place them in a new time, place, character you can examine them in a new, more objective way. Cool technique and so well written.


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