Monday, November 16, 2015

1. Human beings, by and large, are pretty terrible. If by terrible one means self-interested, self-preserving, suspicious of outsiders, territorial. Another, simpler, way to state it is to state what we all know--human beings are animals.

2. Accepting this premise, we must also accept that human beings, being animals, will do things--again and again--that we enlightened 21st century types can look upon and deem "terrible," "evil," and the like.

3. Human beings, like all animals, do not require a belief system to act on their natural instincts to be selfish and territorial.

4. Human beings, though, unlike other animals have the ability to read, write, and reason in a way that other animals do not. This is not to say that other higher mammals are incapable of reason, but so far, none have really succeeded in communicating with humans and explaining that reasoning.

5. Fair enough. Maybe animals have the concept of religion and we just lack the ability to discuss it with them. Maybe they have other "high" concepts. But still--we're all animals, we operate according to instinct. Biologically, the drive to protect one's people, one's tribe, and so forth, makes sense.

6. Religion is a term that describes a system of beliefs arranged around the presumed existence of a higher power, or a higher order that prescribes and polices certain human behaviors. There are many reasons, historically speaking, that the formation of human religions was useful, helpful, necessary to the preservation of "ancient" tribes of people.

7. Human beings have been fighting and killing one another, wiping out and enslaving other tribes since before language and writing and thus, religion, existed. It's human, i.e. animal, nature. It's what we do.

8. To claim, in whatever fashion, that religion is the cause of most suffering, pain, terror, and bloodshed in the world, is extremely lazy thinking. Human beings cause these things.

9. Religion, then, can be and often has been used as a justification for bloodshed and terror. It did not cause these things. Human beings did not exist in peace and brotherhood for countless millenia, sans bloodshed, until one day, someone decided that there was a God.

10. If you want to blame people for hiding behind religion to justify shitty (i.e. human) behavior, please do so. To blame the concept of religion itself, to blame its Holy Books, to blame adherents of a faith who manage not to commit terrible acts simply because they follow a religion is lazy thinking. It's not thinking at all.

11. Opponents of religion find themselves in a comfortable position to criticize religion precisely because they know that the results of the following thought experiment will never come to pass: What would happen if suddenly, overnight, all religion, all concept of God or holy scriptures were to disappear completely? Would mankind live in peace? Mr. Dawkins can't answer than and he doesn't have to. Neither can anyone who blames a belief system for shitty human behavior. We all know the answer to that question. But we'll never have to answer it.

12. To sum up, people do shitty things because people are shitty. It's hard-wired behavior. It's true that people often use their religious beliefs to justify their shitty behavior. It's very useful in that way. People, on a large scale, do not commit shitty behavior *because* of religion. They use religion to explain their shitty behavior. I understand this distinction may be lost on some. So be it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A man sits in a room from which he has erased himself.

He has erased himself from his own life or plans to erase life from himself
and he has reasons.

A man is in his mid-40s and is chubby. His face has grown more sullen and unremarkable.

He has removed himself from his own memories and he is in the process of removing himself from his young daughter's memories.

A man is sepia-toned and vulgar.

He tries to be cold-hearted as he breaks the small bones of the finch, inclining his brow slightly toward the lens.


We are called to this world by fierce longing and this is crass. A horrible muddle of "decisions"
traveling between parallel paint lines.

One side says "Yield" and the other, "Careful."

A man took care and takes care of his own needs, albeit sloppily.

He has been drunk for fifteen years, more or less.

A man's daughter has been alive for nearly seven years, more or less.

On mountains there are carvings of busts which mean more men and their heads and shoulders
that look out over things like skies and cumulus clouds and cirrus clouds and orange cats.

A man is inert. On notepads there are etchings etched by a man who, twice removed, can't open
a jar or open a portal or sleep at nights.

For the inert man, the night is a freight car with frequent stops.

A man sees children out the open door of the train and they look like paper doves hanging,
framed against a rain-streaked windowless sky.


A man arises at the same time every morning and takes his coffee with sugar and cream.

Six and a half years ago, a man, the same man, rose at the same time every morning and took
his coffee with extra sugar and extra half-and-half.

A man does this in memory of some mornings. The man's girl-child was an infant then.

A man types this 18 inches left of a small plastic rectangular tub of pill bottles.

In the bottles, the orange bottles approximately the color of the fake-wood grain
facade of the desk at which the man sits, are drugs.

The drugs are there to keep him normal.

He isn't normal due to glucose and bad brain synapse firings and an inability
with all things child-proof.


A man meditates on failure and self-actualization but doesn't really know what this means.

A man wears a grey hoodie emblazoned, upper chest, with the word "Oregon" in green.

He stole it years ago from his daughter's mother and he wore it in the photograph
his mother loves, the one in which he squats, smiling on the kitchen floor of his then-girlfriend's
tiny student house on a gravel-paved alley during one of the fiercest Oregon winters in recent
history which means "not very fierce" but it was nice to have a bit of snow, and there was a black dog, too.

A man tries to function outside of syntax and sometimes, as a result, he places things.

A man tries his hand at fiction from time to time but always remembers that it's all
been made up already, even the true stuff he's trying to unmake right now.

When the man's daughter was four years old, she said, "What's only useful when broken? An egg!"

A man has broken things; a man is a broken thing; a man is finally good at something but not useful.



I meant to watch the super blood red eclipse moon last night, and I meant to take inadequate photographs of the spectacular famous moon, but I got really sleepy after dinner, so I took a long nap instead.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On Scandal

On Scandal or The Moral Logic of Assholism

To use mass transit is to engage
in anthropological fieldwork--

some version of a weapon I employ
can be transfigured here into

the body of someone with something
vital to say. No saviors on the bus

though no reminders in the tunnel
past the transom over which rats

drag slices of pizza & we die slow
happy interferences

crossing this book on a ferry bound
for hell & transference. Blurred

magicians are no more magic
than WEs and THOUs.

Would love to have a coffee but I can't
manage having anything

that doesn't take anything
away from you.

on S. Alexie's inclusion of that bad poem by that one guy

A journal I used to co-edit made a concerted effort to seek out and publish outstanding poetry by female poets--we sought to achieve or strive for gender parity in our editorial choices and we made no bones about it. Come to think of it, I don't recall any of us issuing any formal public statements about it, but it was a principle by which we operated.

Does this mean we gave perhaps more attention to work of female writers? Sure. Is this a good or bad thing? Was the editorial staff all female? No. Had it been, would someone have said of us that we were practicing "gender nepotism" or some nonsense? Of course not.
Some have expressed disappointment in Sherman Alexie's use of the term "racial nepotism" in the statement he issued yesterday concerning the process he used in determining which poems would end up in BAP 2015. I, for one, have no problem with the term, though I understand those who may claim that it gives ammunition to angry white males who can say "see! I told you so!" and so on.

The truth is, the truth that we ALL KNOW and IMPLICITLY (at least) accept is that the editorial process is rarely or ever completely blind, that is governed by taste and not some objective notion of what "good" or "best" is or should be. As tastes and personal aesthetics differ, so do criteria for determining what may land in a particular editor's "zone," that is to say, that which he or she finds more interesting or more valuable than other work on the basis, at least partway, of values and identifiers outside the work itself. Will a certain editor pay more attention to POC or a particular ethnic background based on his or her own personal experiences, preferences, and agenda? Sure. Will some editors strive for parity in gender representation? Of course. Will some editors find more to like in the poetry of their friends and former students than in the slushpile of unknown? Absolutely.

I've never found anything wrong with this. At all. These are all instances of an editorial preference being played out in actual editorial process.

I think what Alexie did was brave because I think many of us, though we know editing is subective, like to pretend that publishing is a meritocracy--ideally--and that admitting to what Alexie calls "racial nepotism" is to admit that maybe angry white literary America might feel chuffed about the "fact" that the non-white editor "admits" that he looks for and gives special consideration to poems he believes to be by non-white writers. This is not wrong to admit. This is how taste works. This is how editing works. To claim that we sit down at our editor's desk without prejudice, preference, or bias is disingenuous at best, and outright bullshit at worst.

I know nothing about the middle-aged white hoosier poet who pretended to be a fake, possibly female, possibly Chinese-American poet, other than what I've read in these comment boxes. I know nothing of his motivation, nor whether or to what degree there is truth to his story of 50 rejections, his "detailed records" or what-have-you. My gut feeling is that he's an entitled douche playing a game that he thinks is funny. I don't think he really believes that it's "hard out there for the white man." I think he's just a dick. (Will his parlor game give ammunition to other angry white men? I doubt it--they don't need ammunition, they're not losing. Yet.)

Here's what else--he wrote a poem that an editor, in this case, Alexie, liked well enough to include in a smallish anthology. Out of thousands he read, he liked this poem and decided to include it--he had the agency, the sound mind, the aesthetic acumen to make a decision. Now he is standing by that decision. I see nothing at all wrong with that. To those who believe Alexie should have pulled the poem, so be it.
In the long run, in the annals of recent poetic history, in our FB news cycle, this incident will probably not be remembered (if it's remembered at all past, oh, the end of this month) as the time a white guy committed a racist act and was handled inappropriately by an editor or editors. If remembered at all, it'll be, oh, yeah, that one time that that white guy did that one thing that pissed a lot of people off during a slow news weekend. Yi-Fen Chou is not Ern Malley is not Ossian is not Yasusada is not Alvaro de Campos is not I could go on. Not even close. And Sherman Alexie is doing just fine, as I imagine that White Hoosier Poet is as well.

more autobiographical nonsense

I began writing seriously (take "seriously" with a grain of salt here, depending on how you define it) rather later than most.
I didn't take a poetry class or start writing poems until I was 26 years old. Lots of millennial poets these days have a couple of books by then.
Anyway, I was quite naive and believed the writing and the poetry world in general was a safe place, free of petty politics and bickering and social climbing. Seriously. I seriously thought that. For real.

One of the thing that interests me about the most recent Po-Kerfuffle is what I will call "identity policing." In a post this week, Cathy Hong commented to the effect that even Asian poets "perform yellowface" because that's what's acceptable. This struck a nerve.

So here I am, sitting in my professor's office, going over a poem I've recently written. At this point in my baby poet development, nobody had ever sat me down to discuss "acceptable" and "unacceptable" subject matter or modes of writerly performance and how race, class, and various other identifiers affected what is and is not "acceptable." Anyway, I don't remember all that much about the poem but it was, for me, a longish piece about growing up as a Mexican-American in mostly white surroundings and the slow realization of difference, and the bewilderment this caused me. Something like that. As I said, this was many years ago and it wasn't a very good poem.

My prof did the usual prof thing--praised some things she liked, helped me wrangle the meter and form (it was for a class on forms), but saved her most serious point for the end of our session.
"Tony," she asked, "What this poem is missing, what it needs, is *anger*. Why don't I see the anger here?" I was seriously confounded, nonplussed. "Come again?"
She went on to explain that a poem about race, about ethnicity, about marginalized identity (whatever that was--I didn't fully understand at the time) must have, as a vital component, anger. Because, you know, black and brown and Asian and Native peoples should be angry. The poem, without anger, no matter how complex the emotions are are, basically, lacks authenticity.

By the way, for those keeping track, this wasn't a white woman telling me this.

I tried my hand at a few more poems of ethnic introspection, and in fact won a prize with one of them (though, really, the only ethnic bits of that poem were the occasional Spanish words and phrases peppered throughout). I soon gave up, though. To quote another poetry friend, Amish Trivedi, I didn't write poems that dealt with race or ethnicity for a simple reason: I didn't feel like it. I mostly still don't.
A couple years later, a dubiously endowed "Distinguished Professor" (yeah, the one whose name I will withhold but who looks like a walrus) told me that my problem was that I was "white identified" and that's (among other things) was keeping me from writing good poems. By this, he meant "Chicano poems" and handed me a book to underscore his point. He passed this book to me, the first and only book of a recently deceased Chicano poet, and said, making prolonged eye contact--"you know what you have to do."

Later that week, I sent in my letter of intent to leave the program

on a couple of VM records

Of Van Morrison's great early records, aside from Veedon Fleece, the one least-mentioned, least-lauded by those in the know (critics, super-fans) is "His Band and the Street Choir." I imagine that's because this record has little-to-none of his "mystical" bent but is mostly straight R&B and bluesy stuff, up until the album closer, "Street Choir," which actually aspires to a different kind of height, a semi-veiled paean to immigrant experience and disillusionment, wrapped in the well-worn tropes of lost love. But I wonder how many casual listeners make it to the final track.

Tupelo Honey is similarly rootsy, this time with a feel the kids these days would call "Americana." I jokingly refer to it as Van's Country Album, and if His Band and the Street Choir was a celebration of American music, of urban life, Tupelo Honey is the other side of that American dream, a rough pastoral, an ode to country living, not an ounce of Irish Mysticism present. But there's the soaring beauty of the lengthy title track that lifts it out of the backwoods, and elevates the lowly magic of the rest of the music here.

one from the ether, OR sometime in the late 1990s

Willamette Valley, 1979

In a shed out back:
putty-colored cherries
lined in Mason jars:
dusty from this wait.
This weight:
graphite leavings:
precise parabola--
lime-green engineer's pad.

poem for the season by Joseph Ceravolo


A dog disappears
across a small lake.
It waits for me.
It goes where I want to go.
Beings to wake up the lowers.
So leave us alone.
Because no freedom can choose
between faces and
hours as destroyed as moving,
or cold water in the
sun. I can go out
now and measure
the flies that swing around trees
like doctors around a woman
full of bars and beauties
you could never make free;
Not even if the
flowers turn to moss and
lose sensations for their stems.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Favorite Spanish Dishes

New po-biz controversy on the book of faces this weekend. It's a rather mild affair so far, I'm guessing, because of the holiday. By Monday, maybe this small story, that had it broke mid-week would cause a flurry of righteous indignation, will be more of a footnote than a headline. We'll see.

In any case, my take on it is that it's complicated. When I posted on FB that I find it "interesting" (inadequate word, I know) I had two responses--the first simply asked a question that I took as rhetorical, implying that it is not at all interesting. The second response asked if its potential for interest outweighed its offensiveness.

I haven't made further comment on FB because that forum is too easily given over to petty fighting that is less about the issue at hand and more about "winning" and garnering "likes." At least that's been my experience. And if it doesn't start that way, that's how it usually ends.

So, I'd say that it is obviously interesting for a LOT of reasons, not all of which I'll unpack here. The fact that it's interesting is attested to by the FB posts I've been seeing in my feed, almost all of which express what is, at this point, mild outrage that a white man would dare publish a poem using a pseudonym that implies he is of Chinese heritage. This is offensive, they say. How could he? WTF!? That is NOT okay. And so on.

It is also interesting that the vast majority of FB commenters and posters find that the ONLY interesting thing about the whole situation is that it's supposedly offensive. I'd offer here that what is most interesting about something is almost never whether or how offensive something is. It's very popular these days to dismiss potentially valuable sites of discussion, of entry points into intellectually valuable discourse by saying that one finds it offensive. What does offensive mean, really? It means "I don't like this." It is not a neutral term, not a subjective term--it carries a tinge of the tarnished, of the shameful, shades of meaning that intimate one who does not find offense at this or that is not only not one of the in group, but is somehow an enemy of all that is right and proper, and as such, is also an offensive person, an oppressive person.

This sort of logic is employed by Scientologists too.

The fact is, though, that something may be offensive without being oppressive. I am offended by a few things, but none of them (that I can think of at the moment) are particularly oppressive. The conflation of these terms can cause a lot of confusion. Not liking something is not the same as something causing you harm.


In the BAP case currently being discussed, what I find offensive, at least slightly, is the poet's slightly crass, slightly smug, self-congratulatory and accompanied with a little wink and smile contributor's note. It's as if he is saying "Haha, politically correct literary gatekeepers, I got one over on you!" This is, I believe more childish than patently offensive, but I see how it may offend some. The guy's kind of an asshole. I get that.

But is doing what he did--writing a poem under an ethnically-identified pseudonym and submitting said poem and having poem published in a literary journal--is THAT offensive? If so, I'm not seeing exactly how so. Pseudonyms and heteronyms and the like are nothing new. The "crime" here is that he is donning "yellow face" or masquerading as something he is not. I'm not sure that's what's going on here, though.

I was educated in a fairly enlightened liberal environment that encouraged claiming one's identity. Your identity is what you decide it is and to question that is at best crass, and at worst, unacceptable. The recent Rachel Dolezal controversy has given the lie to that notion, however. It apparently IS important to claim an identity--up to a point. I don't believe that this poet, this white male poet, was trying to "authentically" (whatever that means) claim a Chinese or Chinese-American identity. I think he was playing a parlor game. Is that crass? Perhaps. Is it offensive? To some. Does it do any real damage, cause any harm to anybody anywhere? I'm not inclined to believe so. If anything, it's cast a harsh spotlight on this kind of maneuver and engendered some discussion. On social media, however, the discussion so far (now only a day or so old) is almost entirely one-sided. This isn't the kind of discussion I want to have.

It should be a suprise (or no suprise) that most of this outrage is coming from career academics or people somehow engaged in academic pursuits or who have been so at some point in their lives, and who are, apparently, concerned about poetry. Most of these people have taught rhetoric or freshman composition or have at least taken these classes which are supposed to encourage critical thinking, careful examination of issues, and thoughtful discourse. So far, and it's still early, I'm not seeing much of that here.


Of course there are several attendant issues I haven't even touched here. If the poet under fire is guilty of something--being offensive, being oppressive, or simply being a douchebag--are series editor David Lehman, and this year's editor Sherman Alexie, equally culpable? If the contributor's note mentioned nothing of the pseudonymous nature of the work would this be an issue at all? If not, then isn't the real offense here the claiming responsibility for the "scam"?

One could also discuss our current culture's obsessiveness about "keeping it real." First we're told that we can claim an identity. The other side of this is we should "keep it real." This is especially true in popular music and poetry. Why, in this late age, is this such an important concern?


Finally, I know several poets, all POC, who have changed their given anglo names to publish under more "ethnic" names which more accurately portray their personal cultural heritage. How should this be viewed? Is it an offense at all? If so, is it a lesser offense?

This "incident" raises a lot of questions, many of which I think, if discussed by a group of open-minded and respectful individuals, could result in some greater understanding about how we think about literature and identity, among other things. I am not hopeful, though, that this will happen. A lot of poets will continue to take offense. Some will be militant, others merely dismissive or disgusted. A very few folks will call for a more nuanced discussion and they will undoubtedly be shouted down. Those who do call for this discussion will undoubtedly be middle-aged white folks. And the people on the other side will be, largely, middle-aged white folks.

Business as usual.

Monday, August 3, 2015


I am connecting a treehouse to a house
said a man on TV. I watched it for a little while;
I like to watch things on TV. But I also like
to watch birds, who also have houses
& nests & smaller birds in the nests
they feed with vomit & small fresh-pulled
delicate worms. When you think about it,
most birdhouses are treehouses & some
of them are connected to groundhouses
which is what we call houses for people
in my country. In my country we like white
people better than black people and brown
people & about as much as we like birds.
But the thing is--we are all equal because
we have things in common. We all have
houses for example. Er, I mean. Nevermind.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Forgotten daybook entry from 2013

It's a summer of discomfiture, of comfortable furniture, of cardboard-windowed ACed spare rooms. A handful of tarnished tokens of a particularly unspectacular year of early middle age.

A mercury bulb, a novena, daisy chains & lazy railroad workers.

Grief peels off like sheets & we measure our days in day-glo gelatin, & the lakes like lilac cubes are everywhere, JA. Your prospect of flowers is my self-correcting tar pit.



"Postmodernism" is one of those words like "hipster," used by frustrated people to displace anger at something they don't like or understand. Don't like this art? Must be postmodern. Don't like that guy over there? Don't like his glasses? Don't like that he's younger than you? Probably a hipster.

Somewhere in adolescence, we begin to formulate, assess, process, absorb, reject, and self-actualize about what "cool" is and what it means to "be cool." Even if we don't call it such, that's what we do. Being "cool" or rejecting prevailing notions of "cool" is an ongoing exercise in aesthetic formation that begins to calcify by our early 20s. After age 30 or so, further developments of cool, contemporary ideas of cool, start to look foreign and backward to most of us. You know, that moment of horror-cum-relief when you realize that you might be turning into your parents, and well, you're more or less ok with that. You are no longer cool. That which *is* cool is now worthy of ridicule.

(I get this. I do this all the time. I don't understand most pop music these days. I also understand that I haven't *tried* to understand it; I feel I have better things to do. Note that I don't run around screaming about how today's music sucks. I just don't happen to be in a position or desire to be in a position to consider it thoughtfully and critically.)

Wrestling with this anxiety (which we often express through dismissal) is difficult, and we find it easier to simply label this or that thing we don't like as "hipster." This is just one example, using a term which still seems to have a bit of cultural currency--there are dozens of others and this is hardly a new phenomenon. Argh! Everything is changing and I'm staying the same! This must be what dying feels like. It *is* what dying feels like, and well, that's the way it should be.


I don't particularly like the term "postmodern" for the same reason I dislike the term "hipster"--it's often applied haphazardly to that which we don't like. Neither of these terms has a particularly stable meaning. Both make it easy to generalize.

Of course the test for this is simple--next time somebody decries "postmodernism" or "hipsterism" ask them to define clearly and concisely what they mean.

This is not to say there are not legitimate uses of "postmodern" (I'm less sure about legitimate uses of "hipster") but most use it badly, which is to say with hazy intent.

Hulk Smash! --Hulk
"This Earth concept of 'wuv' confuses and enrages me!" --Lrrr, Ruler of Omicron Persei 8


Detractors of postmodernism often think that supporters of postmodernism (the distinction between these camps is made by whoever is making the accusation) imagine themselves as "cooler" than the non-postmodern types.


The other laughable charge against "postmodernists" is that they are literary nihilists, that they believe in nothing, that nothing means anything to these guys! Well, I suppose that depends on which "these guys" you're talking about. I'd argue that the average alleged postmodernist believes the contrary--everything is meaning! It's all over the place! It's too much, maybe! You don't have to be post-modern to appreciate the surfeit of meaning in language. You could be Gertrude Stein. You could be Don Draper. You could be anyone you imagine.


What the detractors really mean is "I feel threatened in some way." The irony here is that these detractors always have held the firm ground, the higher ground, higher not in a moral sense, but in a warfare sense. To use a musical analogy here, Americans haven't suddenly turned away from Toby Keith and Maroon 5 and toward Brian Eno or Yoko Ono. Just ain't happenin', kid.

I'm pretty damn sure that Philip Levine and Billy Collins sell more books than Charles Bernstein. If we remove a primarily academic audience from the equation, the gulf widens considerably.


It's a kind of benign bullying, this thing we do to each other.


The hipster is, most likely, going through a phase. The "postmodernist" is lying. Or I imagine that's the thinking.


The defender of literary tradition, the whistle-blower, the bulwark against postmodernism, is deeply reactionary and deeply wedded to old notions of "appropriate" and "inappropriate" art. He is a mannered fellow who would have us believe that he's a populist. He's no hipster. He's no THEORIST. He's just a regular guy.


"Why are you doing that thing?"
"Because I'm making something."
"Stop making that!"
The Red School

Monday, July 6, 2015


About to take a ride on the bus
to the nearby city with a shiny font
a new font, where all is adjacent
to the polluted city center fountain
and pigeons and starlings have struck
a tentative friendship based on mutual
ancestry because windows are shuttered
and so many brethren have fallen
slain like waxwings against that azure
pane and it's on days like these
I feel like Herve Villachaize
on my bus with the vinyl seats
where love is an addendum to an appendix
in the operating manual on flying machines

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

half a poem from VERSE

Rosa Maria Jauregui, June 13, 1953. Age 4. Oakridge.

A few notes on governing. (daybook day 3, jun 23)

Nationality is an outmoded concept.
Identity is flawed idea.
Smiling is overrated.
Dark skin isn't as pretty as other skin.
White fences keep out bad neighbors.
Countries don't exist in my country.
Dragons be there. And there. In that country.
Dragon skin is scaly and beautifully tinted.
There are no ideas in my nation.
Individuality is based on a popular misconception.
The border around my town is a wall.
The wall around my town is there for a reason.
The moat around the wall around my town helps to keep out the Philistines.
There are no gays in my nation.
There are too many gays in the principalities to the west.
Beauty is a silly idea, and outdated reliance.
A relationship requires concordance or discord.
The chords to this song are C-G-D.
This song is simple so we may bring our words to the Lords.
The Lords who run this town don't want old people here.
In the village to the east, everyone is under 30 years of age.
Everyone is beautiful, which is too bad because it's outmoded.
Socialism is better when it's a spectacle.
In this way it's not much different than fascism.
In this country, nationhood is more than badges, flags, and emblems.
Identity is based on difference. Please don't be diffferent.
Be yourself! Write what you know!
Don't write about yourself in the Town Square.
Start your own country with a book you bought from Loompanics.
Play hip-hop to prove your relevance but not in this country.
Keep your states to yourself. Keep your rights to yourself.
Impose your rights on others but colonize them gently.
Soldiers in your pocket can be pressed into multi-purpose.
Only kill a few.
Only eat a few.
Only eat as much as you can kill.
Raise the children in your country like it's all one big village.
Tribal norms will keep us together.
Love is all you need. Love is all around.
In our country pop music is used for propaganda.
Don't get pregnant.
Identity is malleable.
Please stop talking about fluidity already; everyone knows that's a load of hooey.
I asked Madeline Mary about the immaculate conception.
The birth rate in your country is declining.
This is the way it's supposed to be.
It goes like this.
Eat your peas and gravy, my boy.
Patrol the borders and stay awhile.
When it's all over, the sun will still set in the west,
the moon will still climb the sky,
and everything will still be available
for a limited time.

daybook poem day 2 (6/22/15)

Why I hate American History
has nothing to do with having
or not having or guns or flags
or powdered wigs or movies
with Edward Norton.It has no
thing to do with cigar store
Indians, Harriet Tubman on
the ten or the twenty & very
little to do with Andrew Johnson
who I was recently informed
is the only president to have
been impeached which is clearly
not the case because William
Jefferson Clinton was also
impeached, just not removed
from the Oval Office of the Blue Dress
& this is not why I hate American
History. The square office I sit in now
on this Day of Our Lord, June 22, 2015
is "lonely and austere" & has nothing
to do with love despite the black
& white photos sitting on the scanner
& anyway this is not about love
of History or the Nazi Channel
which I admit to watching too much
of, meaning I am now Middle Aged
but not middle-aged enough
to watch golf on television yet, which,
according to the dead American
George Carlin, is "like watching flies fuck."
I don't hate American History because
today, 6/22/15 anno domini, was
the day in 1992 that the "Teflon Don"
John Gotti was sentenced to die. I don't
even hate the America that sentenced
Sacco & Vanzetti to perish, or because
Abraham Lincoln wrote "shall not perish
from the earth," and so far has been correct.
This is all part of American History
but it is not America and I don't hate it.
I don't hate that you left me & took
what I most loved, I don't confuse you with
America, or her history, or other things
I do not hate. What I hate are the long
silences & the gap between this life
and the next, the self that continues
to slowly erase itself, the self that erodes
in small-town America. The life
that I don't hate but can't bear to live inside
but live inside anyway. I don't hate
Margaret Mitchell or racist novels but I
don't understand racism. I don't hate
racists, but I don't understand their
America. I'm trying to put together
a version of history that includes
harmless things like coffee mugs & tomes
of verse & children who don't have
the sort of life that prompts them to say
"why are White people so mean?" & children
who have never seen--or heard of a gun--
this is not the America I live in, neither is it
Whitman's America, or Thoreau's. I don't hate
dead white mean, bearded or not. I think American
History is a thing--incapable of thought or action,
thus not something to hate. This is why I
like the song American Girl by the still very
much living American Tom Petty. I don't
hate American History. I wish our America
could exist in small ways, like this photo I found
of little Rosa Jauregui, age four and a half,
sitting in front of tract housing, adjacent
to a railroad track in 1953. I don't hate
American History. I just don't like Americans
all that much sometimes. But this is not why
I hate American History. I keep trying to breathe.