Archive for December, 2011

Rockproof twits and tires that roll

December 31, 2011

(…with tentative apologies to T.S. Eliot) 

Let us drive, then, you and I

when the morning spills out from suburban sky,

let us drive and let us now commute

from suburban grass to urban loot.

Let us crawl on shrubbish cul-de-sacs

where networked souls run tribal tracks

to lead us to an underwhelming question:

Just don’t ask us why it is

that engines purr and tired wheels whiz

while red lights come and green lights go

twitting tweets of decaprio.

 

The gray exhaust that rubs its back

upon our concrete ribbon track

slithers down and wanders up

through traffic jam with coffee cup;

we measure out our days in pixel spoons

with idling fumes and idol tunes,

while texting out the urgent news

that paris is yearning, wall street  has a short fuse.

On the cells girls come, and women go

tweeting of bieber and decaprio.

 

And indeed there is time at the traffic light

before red turns green and tweet turns trite,

to wonder “Do I dare?” and “How’s my hair?”

To think of debts but not to care–

and would it have been worth it after all

to call my prince, so cute, so tall?

while johny boy in the middle lane

dreams of bustin out and raisin cane.

But they all grow old, and faces fold;

they shall eat their pastries rolled.

 

We have lingered in the intersections of the game,

with idling pipes and spirits lame;

we wait to crawl,  mutating paws

o’er ancient seas with neo-claws.

Throughout our sprawl and tyrannies of the urgent

lurk restless souls that stir, insurgent.

But we do grow old, we grow less bold;

we shall wear our courage rolled,

while on the freeways we come and go

dreaming of Jeanie and Michelangelo.

Glass Chimera

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The Two Trees

December 24, 2011

I took just a few bites of it–
a few chapters–
and already I knew too much,
more than I can handle now.
To know the truth
if it is the truth
(for who can you believe?)
To know that terrible truth,
to hear the dark pinochet ricochet
even now
thirty years later–
that the so-called chicago boys
put those chile storm troopers up to it?
This knowledge is to terrible for me,
if it is knowledge,
And that sinister suharto shock
heard round the world
Am I supposed to feel
like responsible for this mess?
like I can do somethin about it?
Am I supposed to go out
and clean up all that shit
thats going down?
still going down?
Take up the jacobin club?
–start down that lenin road
that leads to the stalin road
the mao path–
cultural revolution, because of classified wikileaks
because of class-war hijinks
what kinda revolution do they have in mind
when the mob turns impatient
starts to turn
to occupy what? the human condition!
schmoccupy!
a fruit stand in Tunis?
a flaming vision of hell on utube.
There’s no end to that burning.

A plague upon your houses!
There must be a better way
than pissin in the ocean
or in the park.
There must be a better way
than jerkin’ cia strings
and coup d’etat blings.

I can eat no more from this tree now.

I just need to find something else
now,
because all my yankee hope
was sunk into that american dream
and if that dream of hard work bootstraps and get ahead of the game
turns nightmare behind the ugly scenes
with shock doctrine and torture,
i just cant…

I know now why the other tree
satisfies.
Its not too late for the other tree
the one that brings life
not guilt.
I’m not responsible for this stuff.

Come out of it my people.
Because of what Jesus did
I will eat from the other tree.
That’s a better choice than Abraham had,
and sure the hell better than Mohamet
or Mao.
That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.
Merry Christmas from the Garden,
Gethsemane, that is.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Equality, divinely inspired

December 18, 2011

About 27 centuries ago, a prophet named Isaiah lived in the Jewish home-city, Jerusalem. He spoke presciently to his  countrymen about the dire condition and future direction of their waning theocracy. Among the many figurative utterances that Isaiah spoke to his people during those turbulent times was this cataclysmic declaration:

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.”

Two and a half millenia later, the composer George Frideric Handel appropriated this mountainous prophecy for the the introductory elements of his classic musical oratorio, The Messiah.

In any venue where the piece is performed, Handel’s masterpiece of Messianic fervor begins with a dynamic, stringed baroque overture. Then, in clear, declarative recitative, the bold tenor voice announces that Jerusalem’s warfare is done, divine absolution is on the way, and now is the time to “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Since a highway requires some earth-moving preparatory work, the tenor’s exposition continues with Isaiah’s earth-shaking analogy that I mentioned above:

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.”

But there is much more going on here in the scriptural proclamation than a proposal for highway construction. Isaiah was enunciating a foundational principle of Jewish identity, and later Christian hope: Justice. And not just any old legal notion of justice, but a divinely-appointed equality among God’s people that is achieved when their societal field is providentially leveled and everyone has opportunity to live bountifully.

Now, what I’m wondering is: Will this God-sanctioned hope for justice on earth be accomplished through the Almighty’s soverign mandate upon his people,  or do we, as God’s people (if you count yourself among that group as I do) need to get busy and make the righteous vision happen?

If Isaiah’s echoing, metaphorical call to level the playing field resonates in your soul– if you can glean from his prophetic vision a possibility that someday the lowly will be raised up, and the high and mighty humbled–if you can catch a glimpse of a coming kingdom in which  mercy and grace obliterates oppression and injustice–then you may someday be singing that Hallelujah chorus with Isaiah and Handel in the Messiah’s  grand finale.

I Hope to see you there.

Trouble

December 17, 2011

Trouble I’m scared
of what gonna happen
Just give me democracy
I want it now
not aristocracy
cant handle no meritocracy
gotta slide to mediocrity
gotta save my middle classity
keep my couch potata rutabaga raava
dis the inequality
cant balance the frugality
cant handle no fragility
cant locate my ability
dam the ram idolotry
I’m crying for veracity
but findin  volatility
Just give me liberty
or give me debt–
debtitudinal longitudinal polarizational globalizational hesitational
notional value unfathomable oceanal
debt!
need seratonin give me oxytocin
with comfort  lotion potion notion ocean
no emphatic static
no radical shmadicals
to hell with chaos pathos loss and dross.
I see a cross.
Forgive them.

The Nature of the Beast

December 12, 2011

Since I am a 1973 grad of Louisiana State University, which has a football team presently destined to, once again, soon earn the title of National Champion, I’m thinking about the LSU Tigers.

That legendary squad of coonass athletes, for as long as my sixty years will allow me to remember, has been a hallowed institution in my original hometown, Baton Rouge. The great gridiron squad, and the venerable institution of higher learning from which it had sprung, represented for my daddy, my mama, me, my brother, neices, nephews and sisters (all alumni), and every other crawfish-chompin citoyen  in the bayou state, the paragon of football excellence. And the team carried that elevated status even before the rest of football nation ever acknowledged our unique mastery of the game by bowing to  tigerly domination that had manifested in ages past, such as  in 1958, along with contemporary victories as exhibited in this  present season and, and no doubt, the striped future.

And since I was thinking about them thar tigers (as we say in the Appalachian mountains where I now live), I decided to open up your awareness to  a plotly development  from my second novel, Glass Chimera, because the scene involves a Tiger, which is the mascot at LSU.

Remembering that I spent freshman year in North Stadium dormitory, right there in the Death Valley stadium of old, and across an oak-lined street from Mike the Tiger’s cage, I post herewith this uncommon incident from chapter 6 of Glass Chimera. It depicts, long story short, a tiger who is hanging out in the untigerly environment of a New Orleans boulevard (don’t ask), and feeling a little bit out of place:…

“Ha.  She’s having second thoughts about the escape, wondering if it was the right decision.” They chuckled.

“She’s definitely out of her comfort zone,” said Nao.

“And yet she seems so utterly comfortable,” Robby observed. “What’s  strange is. . .she could make one hell of a ruckus if she wanted to.  She could turn this place upside down with confusion if she chose to.” He thought for a moment.  “I wonder what her genetic inclinations are. I wonder if the years of captivity have conditioned her beyond her wild, natural response to what could be a dangerous setting.”

“The human world, a dangerous setting,” said Rosa, with a hint of irony.

“Definitely dangerous for her, if she’s not in a cage.”

Case in point.

The sedated, somewhat surreal stillness of Napolean Avenue at that moment was  interrupted by the sudden, though stealthy, approach of a  stalker, skilled in this sort of thing.  Gray/white/black camouflage occluded his  purposed arrival upon the scene.  He had a rifle in his arms, and it was poised in the ready position.  Not yet aiming, but ready.  The hunter, whoever he was, was looking steadily at the cat.  He was speaking to her in his mind.  He knew her mind.  He had hunted her in the far reaches of the savannah, in Africa. Not her, however. But one like her.  He knew about wild animals. He knew what they were capable of.

He knew about wild animals.

Calcutta took notice of her stalker’s arrival by rising from the position of rest that she had assumed,  rousing from her uninvited survey of the boulevard below, with its manufactured menagerie of  streetlight-streaked mechanical beasts having paws of rubber and snouts of chrome.

She growled. She is, after all, a tiger. And she didn’t like this one bit. Her instinct was demanding a response. She howled.  She’s  savage, not tech-savvy, not aware of the power of projectiles and triggers.

She leaped.

If this encounter bites into your curiosity at all, you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens before and after it.  Otherwise, I’ll leave you with this declaration:

Go Tigers!

Scumpeter’s “creative destruction”!

December 5, 2011

Several centuries ago, capitalism germinated out of the decomposing European feudalism that preceded it.
Because capitalism became so prolific in its unprecedented capacity for creating wealth, it was simultaneously destructive of the pokey old way of doing things in the feudal world.
.
Creative destruction is not just an operative dynamism of capitalism’s beginnings; it is a working principle by which wealth-generating capitalist enterprises compete with each other. Just as any team on an athletic field strives to build up its own score while destroying the opponent’s defenses, so does the successful capitalist enterprise hone its productivity and efficiency in order to build its own market share, while at the same time destroying its competitors’ efforts to do the same thing…

while expanding more, more, and more, until what began as free-market entrepreneurial wealth creation has morphed into monopolistic constriction that stifles new enterprise.

Ironically, the creative dynamism of capitalism’s modus operandi is the very same thing that ultimately sets the stage for its own obsolescence and…demise.
Will Capitalism, in the long run, work itself out of a job, and gobble up fledgling entrepreneurs to the point of snuffing out the very entrepreneurial spirit that give birth to it? Might capitalism shoot itself in the foot, and maybe even, by its own “creative destruction,” someday destroys itself?

Suffocate itself with layers and layers of derivatives and  credit default swaps? Maybe, or maybe not. We shall see, perhaps in our generation.

Joseph A. Schumpeter, a Moravian/American economist of the 20th century, very cleverly coined a phrase, “creative destruction,” to identify this fatalistic tendency of capitalism. Here are a few quotes that I pondered from his 1942 book,  Can Capitalism Survive?, which is part of a larger treatise, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.

~”It is true that the facts of industrial concentration do not quite live up to the ideas the public is being taught to entertain about it.”

~”The capitalist process pushes into the background all those institutions, the institutions of property and free contracting in particular, that expressed the needs and ways of the truly ‘private’ economic activity.”

~”The capitalist process, by substituting a mere parcel of shares for the walls of and the machines of a factory, takes the life out of the idea of property. It loosens the grip that once was so strong–the grip in the sense of the legal right and the actual ability to do as one pleases with one’s own.”

~”Unlike any othe type of society, capitalism inevitably, and by virtue of the very logic of its civilization, creates, educates and subsidizes a vested interest in social unrest.”

Tonight, Monday night, I was considering these points from Joseph Schumpeter’s seventy-years-ago observation, and how he thought that capitalism’s ruthless opportunism might ultimately become its demise. Then the ravenic trepidations of another writer, one who had lived a century before Joseph Schumpeter, crossed my mind, and…
“while I nodded, nearly napping,
suddenly there came a tapping,
as of someone gently rapping,
rapping at my chamber door…”

quoth the Capital, More, more, more!

How much more is there?

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Shades of things to come

December 4, 2011

It might have been seventy million years ago that a large asteroid hit the earth somewhere near Cancun.  And it might have been that the big space-tossed boulder would have thrown such a cloud of dust and disturbance into the earth’s atmosphere that it probably  altered the pecking order of biological  kingdoms for thousands or even millions of years thereafter.

Earth shaking events.  They happen.

It might have been that the severe rearrangement of earth’s biomes had put a major crimp on the old dinosaurs.  Maybe they became like DOS after Microsoft, just slipping down into the dark hidden recesses of the new program, relegated to subterranean, hydrocarbon pools of potential energy, their giant-generating introns and exons having been unraveled and liquefied like the assets of international  corpuses and cartels that would later profit from their demise.  It might have been that the superbad, supermad totally-rad reptile kings and queens of the jungle could no longer compete with the smaller, sleeker, smarter, uppity mammals who  were in the ascendancy and currently favored by the committee for Natural Selection.  It might have happened that way. And maybe the superbad supermad totally rad reptile kings and queens of the jungle found themselves faltering, over the next few eons, losing their command of the playing field, becoming more and more baffled  at their waning ability to throw their weight around any more, until finally they just, maybe, gave up the ghost and conceded their diminished reptile role to those miniscule, dust-lickin’ mutated cousins who would  later distill all that serpentine angst  and alienation into a venomous infusion of death—inflictible  on those new-kid-on-the-block mammals who were ruining the neighborhood. Equipped with  the ugliest, hissingest triangulated  head that God ever allowed on a breathin’ creature, these slitherin’ peabrains  could nevertheless still proudly carry on, simply by opening their mouths, the dominance and intimidation of their ancestors. Speak of the devil……

“Watch out for the damn snake!” yelled Simon.

from chapter 19 of Glass Chimera

And this just in, Cen0zoically speaking…from Ezekiel, at the River Chebar, among the diasporas:

” Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you about, and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords–”

“…Persia, Ethiopia, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet, Gomer with all its troops…”

Stay tune for more planetary updates on the continuing crisis of Darwinian survival of the fittest on the third rock from the sun.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress