December 21, 2013

Freedom

In West Virginia en-route to a play in NYC that never was.
God I feel good. I get up every day whenever I want and for the first time in my life do whatever I want. I live in nearly complete silence except for the sound of water boiling for my coffee, the ruum of the heater and huum of the refrigerator, and little else. No radio, television, CD player or DVD, no music, and no knock on the door disturbs me. I have plenty of books from the modern streamlined Las Vegas library and an abundance of Bic pens and composition notebooks to write in.

For the first time in my life I feel no obligation to anyone. If my son in the unlikely event showed up from his hideout in the East and knocked on my door I am not sure that I would let him in. My friends countable on one hand, Marc, Gary, Richard, Anna and Joe, are welcome anytime but the likelihood of their visits is the same as the likelihood of the man in the moon waving hello. My old friend Abe from 50 years ago in the Marine Corps lives a mile away and he is welcome anytime. Other than that, nobody. People I meet on the street get a hello and goodbye forever. I sometimes talk to people I will never see again at bus stops. There is my social life along with a few remarks on Facebook.

Me & my hero.


It is almost like heaven to be living alone in this small studio apartment that I can just afford on my pittance of a monthly Social Security check, without bothersome intrusions, without relationships, without the desire for women or friendship or work or anything except a computer, which sooner of later will come my way. The utility bill bearable now is sure to eat me alive in summertime but I plan to live without air conditioning with the windows open like I did growing up in torrid Louisiana.

I have food in the cupboard: coffee and sugar (most important!), eggs, pancake and cornbread mix, milk, cereal, rice, beans, carrots, jalapeno peppers and some spices. A clean bathroom where I can shower anytime and an electric clipper to keep my beard and hair trimmed. I sleep when I'm tired and if I awake at 3 a.m. I get up and start work reading and writing. I thank god every day that I don't have to get up before dawn anymore and trudge off to some job where I have to swing a paint brush or hammer all day for some greedy capitalist fuck. For the first time in 50 years I am without a vehicle and don't miss the convenience or expense. Las Vegas has a great bus system and I get an old man's pass for $35 a month to ride anywhere anytime.
On the sidewalk outside The Dakota where John Lennon lived.


Finally I can read what I want and concentrate on it for a change. I'm reading the things I always wanted to read but didn't have time because of the toil and exhaustion afterward, mostly the Greek and Roman classics. I am studying Italian from three books. I am devouring Camus again with a new and more mature understanding, and I am re-reading the things I liked from Bertrand Russell. I am nearly finished with Donald Kagan's "The Origins of War." I go through about five books a week and make notes on index cards. I am still working on the novel that has been taking shape in my head for 15 years. Maybe I will finish it or maybe I won't. The fun is in the learning how to do it right and imagining that if it ever gets published it will blow somebody's mind. I will be damned if I will churn out mediocre crap that I can publish all shiny and self-important on the internet like one guy I know. This blog is the closest I'll get to it and yeah, I admit it, I use it to vent sometimes. But so what? It is free and I can delete it and destroy the evidence!

The only thing I miss is the music and words of Bob Dylan. But I already have so much of it in my head that I can do without for awhile.
For 3 years I wrote by the lower left window.


For the first time since 1968 I feel no obligation or duty to lend my presence or voice to any protest against war or anything else. Someone has to do it and I already did and it didn't do a damned bit of good, so let someone else do it. I'll lodge my protests in writing as I have always done without anyone's notice, comments, or results. I don't expect praise and I repel all blame for the wars and other injustices of dumb-assed lazy-minded cowardly man-and-womankind. As far as I'm concerned they can go on forever as they always have. "It's never been my duty to re-make the world at large/Nor is it my intention to sound the battle charge..." (Dylan)

To hell with Medicare and Obamacare too, I have free medicine and even eyeglasses from the wonderful VA.

I could drop dead writing this and I don't care. I am not afraid to die, in fact I want to welcome it with great curiosity. I don't need anyone with a tearful countenance sitting by my deathbed holding my hand and going boo hoo when I exit this life. Just shoot me up with the morphine if  possible. Death has got to be the best part of life because it comes last.
Finally the White Light
Seventy two years old and free at last, that is how I feel. Liberated from the fire of American hell and the demons and torturers of my youth and later life. Liberated from the ones who made demands imposed expectations and hounded me through my life with snarls and bites and stings and upturned noses when I complained that it hurt. Freed from the hypocritical judges and punishers who condemned me to loneliness and poverty and pariah-hood for innocent and guilty mistakes. Freed from the ones whose expectations I could never satisfy, the would-be artists and spiritual guides who could not guide themselves from their own amused and supposed superiority. The one with the incredible unforgiving bitch of a wife who withheld forgiveness for something that I never said and busted up a relationship that I valued highly more than once. From the one who sits like a great fat Buddha on Staten Island silent unresponsive and too wise for his own ego. From the vengeful ex-brother-in-law who badmouthed me for decades and poisoned my son, from the bitter passive-aggressive former wife, from the confused pampered and over-educated son seething with misplaced anger, and from the undeserved hatred of a manipulative old bitch of a mother-in-law 90 years old and still trying to have it her way, totally unconscious of what she did to me. Free from the self-righteous mean bastard of an uncle in Texas and his pretentious asshole of a daughter, and from the condemnation of an obese elder sister who put me in jail for nothing and then gorged herself to diabetes and blindness, and from others I could name but won't, not because I fear a libel suit, because I have nothing to sue for, but because of my innate gentle Irish courtesy, an unexpected gift from my sweet tragic mother, and not because I forgive them because I don't. I will never forgive them. Forgiveness is not my strong suit and I don't give a damn to get it either. Here is my answer to their lifelong oppression: The Finger.
It isn't bad having a borderline personality disorder.
I saved seven cents in September and two dollars and forty cents in October. It is four days to Social Security payday (Christmas) and I have been broke for four days, but I have tobacco and coffee AND SUGAR and I am as happy as hell! For the first time in my surprisingly long life I am physically and mentally healthy, and happy! I hereby express my gratitude to whatever gods there are. I know without evidence that they are. It is better by far than believing in nothing.

As G.K. Chesterton wrote: "When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing. He believes in anything."

That's not my problem. Maybe my problem is that I believe in everything.




December 20, 2013

Jesus Christ King of the Slaves




I'm not saying that this Jesus Christ was wrong, get me? I think in fact he was a good fellow and that he truly existed and died on a Roman cross. I even give it that he was a spiritual, even a mystical being. But spirituality is accessible to anyone rich or poor, educated or not. Mysticism is something else. But in the end he was only a man. Not a god. No man no matter how extraordinary can be a god except to other men (and women by implication). No, he was a teacher who jerked everybody's head out of the cesspool they were living in, stuck in like today in fact. He told them that they didn't have to live that way. They didn't need to be cruel to one another. It was so bad living in those times that they didn't even realize how bad until he came along and told them what they already knew but couldn't say. He was articulate and clever. He was a blast and they couldn't get enough of him. Plus he was strong and manly, not this wimp that the later Christians portrayed. He took a whip to the merchants in the temple which had become only a bank where the graven images of money was god. And it still is. People worship money and long for what it can do for them. That's why they play the lottery. They are trying to bribe god.

He told them to be like him and have faith in the real unknowable god. Today he might call it a higher power but I don't think so. He was up close and personal and people were already accustomed to thinking of the gods as super men. The Greeks the Romans all of them had a host of gods that looked like men and women and acted just as unreasonably as they did. As Schiller said, "When the gods were more like men, men were more divine."

For me, whatever you believe in is okay if it makes you less selfish and by implication happy. But this Jesus took it to an extreme and actually conspired in his own death, his own gory sacrifice, to make a point. He sacrificed himself for the poor. That's a fact. It was spectacular even for those times when death was sudden and awful. They say he was a carpenter and that he even constructed some of those crosses. Now, making a cross is not all that hard so he must have turned out a bunch of them. He must have had a lot of time to think about what he was doing, and after all he was poor himself and most everybody around him were too. I mean, imagine it, most Jews were poor as hell.

The rich ones they called Pharisees and the poor ones were publicans. The Pharisees lived high on the hog and the poor ones lived in the dirt, just like today. There was this class hatred thing going on then just as now. When Jesus had dinner with a Pharisee the publicans accused him of selling out. When he had dinner with the poor the Pharisees asked why he was hanging out with such low types. But Jesus was clever and crafty. He always had an answer and he would answer a question with a question just like Socrates. They couldn't trap him with words so they framed him for something that he didn't do and nailed him up. They murdered him in public to set an example about public protest. But it worked only for a little while because his followers were fanatics by then, always running and hiding from the Romans and their own people the Jews. He taught them how to do what he was doing but they weren't as good at it as he was. But still they spread the word, and in no time at all the subversion got to Rome and then all hell broke loose.

Of course the Jews weren't having any of it because their religion said no graven images. They expected a messiah to come along but they weren't in a hurry for it and still aren't. A messiah could upset the whole ball game and might even get in the temple-bank with a whip again. Waiting for a messiah, well that's where the pleasure is, especially if he (or she) never gets here. So it is the waiting and the vague hope that is important to the Jews. Meanwhile they are making money and getting it together and partying and building armies. If god himself came down and made himself fifty stories high and spat fire out of his mouth and melted the pyramids they'd just call it a miracle and shrug and go back to doing business. And the Jews are scholars, see? That is an endless business believe me. Once you get started on acquiring knowledge you have embarked on a ship that will never reach port. The pleasure is in the journey, and it will never end because there is always something else out there to be learned. That is how the Jews are, and that is how it is for anybody else who buys a ticket on that ship.

But all this stuff about Jesus being a god or the son of god, all that came later. Much later. The early Christians I don't know if they believed it or not. People have always had fancy ideas about gods, them actually being some kind of super humans who are nevertheless just as petty and mean as we are. It wasn't a stretch for them to believe that Jesus was a god. Or at least the son of god, sort of a gentle non-violent Hercules, who if you remember was a half-god that had been born out of the thigh of Zeus. So Jesus being a son, the only son of god was a half-god too. Not as powerful as his old man. And this stuff about Jesus being part of a trinity and actually a god, well the Romans made that up at a council somewhere about 500 years later. There is no evidence among the extant literature that the early Christians believed it.

But like I said Jesus was a teacher first and last. He always had a point to make and he didn't waste any time. He was hypnotic to those poor bastards who had never seen a show like him. They knew he was going to end up on a cross and they followed him like some people followed the Grateful Dead. But his main teaching I think was for people to be self-less, that is to be less selfish. He said if you really wanted to do something and be pure you had to drop everything, all your possessions and family too and be like him, and serve the poor. That was a pretty hard thing to grasp because most of his adorers were poor, and the only thing they had if they had anything at all were their jobs and their families.

So when they saw what happened to Jesus most of them just said fuck that and went back to what they were doing, that is, making a living and keeping their mouth shut just like they do today. Jesus said love one another. That's fine and they tried it for awhile. When they got too public and obnoxious about it the Romans stopped crucifying them and started feeding them to the lions. People paid to see this. What a show! A spectacle. There had never been anything like it. Everybody loved it except the Christians. Some of them put on a pretty good show. One fellow knelt and prayed so hard that even the lion was impressed and refused to tear him apart.

Word of this and other things got around and so many poor people became Christians that after awhile even the emperor got into it and became a Christian too. Then he started rewriting the book about Jesus and after awhile the emperor was having the last supper every Friday night with twelve disciples at the table. Many books were written about Jesus and the ones that got it right were burned. The important thing about Jesus was not so much what he said as what he did not say. He said for people to love but he did not say not to hate. Because hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. Hate is almost the same as love. It is passionate like love. Indifference is neutral and gray. It is blah who cares? But hate is tear your tongue out cut off your penis and stuff it in your throat. That is what hate is. Hate is victory or death. Love has nothing to do with it. If you win then you can love. I saw this in Nicaragua when the Sandinista Revolution was being consolidated, the Sandinista men and women, exhausted from fighting Somoza and still enduring the ongoing trouble of fighting Ronald Reagan, and pausing to get some loving between battles, lovers were everywhere deeply in love with the romance of it all, and the major song wafting from the windows was Stevie Wonder's, "I Just Called To Say I Love You." It was so obvious and symbolic for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.



Human beings hate. It is part of their nature to hate. Nobody hates better than the Christians because they hide it with a message of love. Nobody hates better than the Christians, Jews, and Muslims, I should say, because they all in their different ways hate anybody who disagrees with them, hate them like hell. The Muslims who do it right out in the open and preach hate, well they might as well be Jews and vice-versa, because their thing about no graven images and not eating pork and a lot of other things are the same. They even have the same grandfather, Abraham. Jews are much more subtle than Muslims though.

But the Christians are the best at hating because they hide it so well, and after all they have made war and conquered most of the world. Hiding your hate with love, well that is a good trick. It works on the poor especially because they are exhausted and most of them don't have time to think and are ready to grab at anything for a break. The poor are walking wrecks because most of them are the descendants of slaves. I mean, that's a fact. There have always been slaves going as far back in human history as you can go. And the slaves have never stopped breeding. That is why there are so many poor people. Most poor people are the direct descendants of slaves although some of them like to imagine that their ancestors were princes and even kings and philosophers and statesmen who got run out of town.

Even after the rich people supposedly set them free, slaves were encouraged or let go to breed more slaves. The rich always need workers to die in the mines, and even a surplus of slaves to keep the costs of labor down when the slaves start organizing and demanding higher pay. That besides the heavy lifting and other kinds of servitude was and is their main function. To breed more slaves hungry for work who are now called workers out of politeness. Now it is out of control of course and there are too many slaves. But slaves can identify with the underdog because that is what they are. Under the dogs.

Human beings hate. It is part of their nature to hate because fear is an instinct to survive and to fear is to hate and to hate is to fear. I know it sounds crazy but I believe that is how it really is. I can hear the great lovers and modern dancers and effete queers and educated spiritual hypocrites scoffing and snorting and pitying my ignorance already. Their problem is that they have too much money and too much time on their hands. Let them go out and stand in a Labor Ready line at 3 in the morning to wait with a bunch of drunken violent Indians for a smoky office  no bigger than a walk-in closet that opens at seven and then go out and dig a fourteen foot ditch eight feet deep and four feet wide through frozen dirt and tangled roots in 22 degree weather with no gloves and no lunch and then get paid $35 at the end of the day with a check that they have to cash with torn up cracked hands in the company store for a $5 fee and they will get my point. They will hate the son of a bitch who set it up.

Slaves hate their masters and love them too. It is a paradox that I can't figure out, but to me hate is a natural thing. It is almost unnatural not to hate, and I think maybe that is why Jesus fascinates people. Hate is fear and fear is hate. Of course the masters hate them back and fear that they will get out of control, as they sometimes do. But the slaves sometimes get the message of love and put their X on the dotted line. But still they hate and it confuses them. How can you love and hate at the same time? They can't help hating the son of a bitch who is keeping them down and beating them up. So they try to hide their hate. And ancient instinct tells them to go with the winner so they end up cooperating in their oppression, even voting if they vote at all for the very ones who are keeping them down. On the other hand they want to bust loose and kill their masters, rape their daughters and wives, and pillage their stores and banks. The rich people know this, and that and the necessity to keep the balance of power between slave owners is basically why we have hydrogen bombs and standing armies. The rich know what class they belong to, and they make entrance to the dinner party so expensive that no slave can ever hope to sit at the table unless they bring him in to be a clown or a jester for their own amusement.

I don't see how it can be any other way except to hate if you are going to fight a real war.  You cannot love the people that you set out to kill. Nobody proved this more than the Vietnamese. They instructed their people and their soldiers to hate their enemies. But that is another story altogether. I think that if Jesus were still around he probably would agree with me. He never said not to hate. At least there is no record of it. Sure he said love your enemies, but maybe he meant after you have done them in.

December 18, 2013

Remorse

Aw, there I go again.
Sorry about that.
It's my combative personality.
I'm only a threat to myself.
You can call off the guards.
I'll put back the commas.
Don't take it personally.

Regret

I didn't mean to ruffle your ego.
Didn't mean to imply
that your words are worth less than mine.
I only wanted
an inter-library loan.
I wanted to read the last book
that Lee Harvey Oswald read:
The Shark & the Sardines.
What?
I'm disqualified from reading that?
Amazing.
Sorry about that.
But why do I have to identify myself again?

Shame

Why can't I shut up?
Sidney warned me about it
many years ago.
"Mike, someday your big fat mouth
is going to get you
in a lot of trouble."
Sigh.
What insight.
He came back from war with Hitler
a mustang captain
of brave combat engineers,
with hardly a scratch
and never mentioned that
or the Silver Stars.
I have been such a disappointment to myself.
I'm glad he never saw
the accuracy
of his prognostication.
And now I have offended
another librarian.

Amelioration

The loneliness
of the long-distance scholar.
The necessity
to stanch
the bleeding of my wounded ego
where a narcissistic wound
made me arm myself with verbal spears.
I have a sharp tongue.
A razor.
I yam what I yam.
Not sorry about that.
I never shed the blood I might have.
It's good that you didn't hear
what I said to you
 later,
when I was alone as usual.
My spears would sink a thousand ships.
You should hear me
cracking up at my own wit.
But I laugh quietly,
so as not to disturb my neighbors.

Tragedy

I will die,
alone in a room,
leaving miles of words
that someone 
will toss in a garbage can.
All my obsessive work for nothing
except my own knowing
that I tried
and gave it my best.
The indexed notes arduously scribbled,
The books attracted like iron filings
to my curious magnet.
The piles of composition spiral notebooks.
The untouched gigabytes.
You have no idea.
I'm okay with that.
I guess.

December 15, 2013

Defiance

I'm a writer against my will. I wanted to be a musician. A drummer. A jazz musician. A piano player. One thing or another worked against it. I tried the guitar. Three guitars. Then the piano. Two uprights and a $400 keyboard I had to hock and couldn't get out. I never got to the drums though I have perfect rhythm. The others are percussive too. Where I failed was not looking for instruction. I always believed I could learn things on my own because I had to most of the time. I finally found a composer in San Francisco who taught me something about the structure of the blues and to fundamentally read music. I had to let it slide because there was always the necessity of working for a living and I did not want to be bum.

I played the ironing board as a teenager. You never saw anybody play the ironing board? I was the first and probably the last. I sat on a bar stool in front of my dad's old console H.H. Scott radio with a pair of sticks and a mirror at the end to watch my style and drove my mother nuts. He'd been dead for months, run over by a car. I played along to jazz and early rock and roll of the fifties. Then I went in the Marine Corps at 17 and almost forgot that I wanted to be a musician. Having to express myself from surviving in a world of pain I became a writer instead. It took me years to become one. But I never tried to publish anything. Nothing seemed right. None of it matched what I thought was good writing. Hemingway. Camus. Sartre. Faulkner. Flannery O'Connor. Annie Dillard. Isak Dinesen. Simone de Beauvoir. Shakespeare. Joyce. Cormac McCarthy. Others. Maybe I set my standard too high. I published a lot of newspaper articles in the sixties and seventies but it was nothing like good writing. Materialistic and pretentious Establishment doofuses sucking up to politicians and editors. Half-truths inaccuracies shallow articles lacking anyalysis and reeking with false objectivity or strangling in pure subjectivity. Bah. Took me 20 years to purge my brain of Associated Press style.

Yet I kept at it. Why? It was compulsive and necessary and I had to do something to express myself that made me believe that I was not a loser. I'd made too many mistakes. I became grandiose and unreal. I was going to save the world while writing the world's best literature. I lived in confusion. Darkness. All the authorities contradicted each other. I became my own authority. I became an auto-didact. I still could not get a diploma from any university or any job that depended on a university education. No diploma I had not been socialized. All those formally educated people recognize each other speak the same lingo trade the same jargon and can recognize an outsider in a minute. But I read three hundred fifty thousand and forty eight and a half books. Disprove it.

But I wrote is no exaggeration at least a couple of million words. Nothing ever went anywhere. Nothing ever seemed to end. There was always something else to say. I worked on five things at a time. I still do. I stubbornly refuse to reach a conclusion. There is always more evidence out there and I could be wrong. I keep my options open until a gun is in my face All I can do is decide on a temporary resolution so I won't be paralyzed and kept from acting. I didn't want to publish because I did not want to add something mediocre to all the crap on the library shelves. I still don't. I don't want my name on it. All I have is my name and guess what it is not even mine.

Have you looked in the library recently? Five full shelves for Danielle Steele, three for that hack Robert Ludlum, and two for that pretentious Tom Clancy with diarrhea of the keyboard. And I thought this blog was bad.

Finally I learned to isolate myself from distractions. I had written in bars and bowling alleys for decades. Music was always blaring. Some dummy was always watching a football game and hooting and hollering. I was not concentrating and did not know it. Now I live in utter silence except for the refrigerator and heater. No music and certainly no television. Peace at last peace at last peace at last thank god almighty peace at last. It is addictive.

I know that I could have published and truthfully I could have used the money and still could but what the hell I am 72 years old now and used to being unknown. I wonder if I am afraid of failure or of success. I don't know. At least I learned to devise my own punctuation and to rid the page of cluttering commas. I don't care what the grammarians think. I even dump most quotation marks and other useless things like the semicolon and hyphen. Occasionally I let a comma in but not often. I want my stuff to read like a runaway train. Catch it if you can. I just write it now and let it fly. There's no time left to do it any other way. Get an editor? Don't make me laugh. No editor would touch this stuff.

Most of the time I didn't know how I felt or what to think. I griped a lot. Nobody listened and the ones who did just got pissed at me. It took me years to learn to hold it in. It almost gave me an ulcer. I still have trouble with that. Anyway I kept going. But I tossed most of it. All of the early stuff. All of the middle stuff. Now I am near the end and I still have 25 composition notebooks two unfinished novels and I forget how many plays and screenplays and 12 gigabytes of documents. I don't even know what's in there I have been without a computer for so long. If I live to a hundred and ever get another computer depending whether I can save more than fourteen cents a month maybe I will get it all together. Until then I am hiding the evidence.

One other thing and I suppose this is a gripe. Another dimwit trying to save or convert me said don't live in the past. I've heard it so much I went off on her. O for godsakes I said everybody's living in the past. This is the past. See that print blouse you're wearing? Where did you get it? In the past. But it's still on you isn't it? See that refrigerator? Hear it humming? Where is it? I snapped my fingers. In the past. But it's still here humming isn't it? Those ideas you have? Same place. The past is still here. It's in your brain when you cross the street and shows up in your dreams like a mirror in a fun house. The present is composed of the past. There is no future because it will never get here. You think you live in the present but you live in the past. What do you think memories are made of? How could you speak the English language unless you learned it in the past? Don't give me anymore of that stuff about living in the past. Anyway I like the past better. The fifties the sixties they are right here in my head. The past is never gone. It is your constant companion and you can't live without it. The only way you will ever lose it is to get a lobotomy. My head is full of Herodotus and Lee Harvey Oswald today. Yesterday it was full of Brian Haig who wrote those fine popular novels in the past. The past is here and all I have to do is breathe. I can't get away from it and neither can you.

December 14, 2013

A Bonus

I picked up the three in my taxi some time in the early eighties in Manhattan for a swift ride to La Guardia airport. Dressed in nice suits with conservative ties and as clean cut as a Hollywood lawn. They talked in low tones and I sensed an air of glumness and depression. I perceived in my helpful gregarious way that I could cheer them up. I can have that effect on total strangers and even now and then on the friends that I can count with one hand.

At about the Willis Avenue turnoff for the Triboro Bridge I started. So how are you guys today I asked with a cheerful air. I like talking with strangers especially when they are captives.

Okay fine fine they answered. And you?

O I'm fine too. You guys sound a little down. Not too happy back there.

Yes well we have a little problem said one.

Tell me about it I encouraged. Maybe I can help you out since I can be objective about it since it's not my problem. What sort of work do you do?

We are in public relations in Los Angeles said another. We deal with ideas.

I was in the public relations department of an advertising company in Rhode Island I offered. What's the problem? I have ideas.

A taxi driver with ideas they must have reasoned being nice. Why not?

We are trying to come up with a name for a new health insurance company that is starting up.

What is the name now I inquired.

Amalgamated Federated Health Insurance of North America (or something like that) he answered.

Let me think about it a minute. About ten seconds later I said I got it.

What is it?

Health First.

I like it. How about First Health said another.

People always say health first I said.

You're right. You ought to be doing what we're doing.

I know it I said suddenly feeling slightly depressed about my tiring and breakeven job.

Why aren't you?

Complicated question with a complicated answer I said. I have to think about it. They let me think until I got to the top of the long bridge and started the three-mile run to La Guardia.

Growing up in the Deep Fucking South I answered.

They chuckled like they knew what that meant but I knew they did not.

It is a good name one said. We'll run it by our boss.

If it flies send me a bonus. They chuckled and agreed but nobody was copying my name and hack number from the visible hack license up front.

I dropped them and unloaded their bags and they tipped me ten dollars for a twenty dollar ride, a good tip then.

I never saw the name but I never read advertisements unless I am looking for something. I still don't have health insurance. I have the VA because I served my country for four years in the Marine Corps and for another forty years in the antiwar movement.

My bonus. Unrepentant satisfaction. Ten seconds of thought and fifty years of frustration and disgust.

December 13, 2013

Crying in the Wind

I'm standing on the bus
groceries on a shelf
waiting at a light
looking out the window
at an obese old woman
sitting on a sandy knoll
bare legs exposed
to the cold Las Vegas wind
wool cap on her head
old black coat unbuttoned
talking to her ghosts
toothless abandoned and damned broke
she sees me looking
says something I can't hear
the bus pulls away
I blow her a kiss
she blows one back
with a rare toothless smile
infuriated I turn
but nobody saw
all are indifferent
guarded bored and damned;
selfish like me
I want to return
give her my groceries
but I'd be hungry soon
momentarily I earnestly
want to kill someone
bash in some heads
drown them in blood
whoever is responsible for this crime
but I know
it would do no good
I can't even weep
I want to inquire
My dear,
why are you out here
weeping in the cold wind?
did your husband beat you
are you paying for forgotten crime
why are you a prisoner
of this place and time?
a mere mile from here
thousands of losers pull levers
press buttons on rigged video poker machines
hypnotically building Las Vegas
losing millions every day
to a mob that never sleeps
in a city built by losers
that spreads like an underground fire
sprouting stuccoed palaces
over the exhausted desert
Nellis Air Force Base
launches jets night and every damned day
their fine-tuned engines
whispering multi-million-dollar warnings
between the regular roars of helicopters
doing who knows what
going who knows where
as regular as trucks
vibrating over this city of losers
vulgar is their sound
from highways of the sky
over this neon lit city
where few are in heaven
many are in hell
and most struggle upward
in purgatory paying
for barely-remembered errors and crimes
crying in the wind
crying in the cold wind
I walk home
heavy-hearted and grim
unpack my groceries
turn up the heat
considering my own complicated crimes
for which I have no more excuses
I must have done my time
for whatever crime
I'm not sitting near a curb
crying in the wind
but loving my silence
peacefully writing and reading and eating and hardly sleeping
roof over my head
refrigerator purring
like a cat full of food
no hypnotic mind-killing
television brainwashing me
plenty of coffee and sugar
72 and feeling fine
what did I do
to deserve this sudden happiness?
I spent decades my friend
crying in the wind
I feel no guilt
I feel no shame
I assign no blame
where it does not belong.


December 11, 2013

The War in Greece

What's going on in Greece is fascinating. To me it is a continuance of an ancient and noble struggle historically passionate and often violent but Grecian and necessary. No one has given more to the world than the Greeks. Today we witness an increasingly vicious struggle between fascists and anarchists. In that squalid but hallowed and nearly unrecognizable lump of modern Athens is a seething contest against robotic soldiers in modern armor cracking the heads and breaking the bones of men and women who believe they are fighting for democracy. But their war is the same for prosperity and power that the poor have waged against the rich unceasingly for uncountable centuries. It is heartbreaking but inspiring to serious students of history and manners and of governments and anarchism. Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism are only different economic systems and none will disappear as long as ideas remain but they are only subtexts in the great history being scribbled before the bewildered witness of the masses. The true story is invisible to the confused oracles of Media, who are mere modern Sophists concerned only with materialism. They are blinded by the smoke of disinformation and the evil of outright lies. Beneath the masks of their hidden masters there are indifferent monsters whose existence is undeniable and whose fate is anyone's guess. Where are the noble Euripides and Aristophanes who can stage this ongoing drama for our edification and amusement? Come forth! I have not the knowledge skill or time left to write it myself.

December 7, 2013

Not the Hokey Pokey

Of course she thinks of me. How can she not? They all do. Because I do. I know how it is. Not that she thinks of me as much as I think of her. Only now and then I am sure. She has her life. I can't imagine how it is with her, how she has changed, what she has done, what she has become. The same is true of her if she thinks of me at all. She can't imagine. I have changed. Maybe I have become what she wanted me to be. She can't know. Neither can I. I know how I have changed since knowing her, know how knowing her changed me. I have never stopped thinking of her. I know that she thinks of me too, even if she hates me. Especially if she hates me. We remember what we want to forget and forget what we want to remember. I remember so much and so many people that I have known. Especially the ones that I hate. Yes I hate. I surely do. Perhaps it is wrong. I don't know. It is human. A sure way to remember is to hate. Hitler has nearly gained immortality because so many hate him. I hate him. I hate everybody like him. I hate bullies. But I have been one too. I confess. I don't know how anyone not perverse could love Hitler, but I suppose there are some.

I wonder about Hitler's memories. He must have had a good memory because he evidently hated so much and so many. But I am not Hitler and don't want to be. Yet I hate. Is it a burden? Yes. But isn't nearly everything? Even love must be a burden. I wouldn't know. I love nature and that is about all. I cannot think of any people that I love though I used to think so. I was wrong. I didn't love any of them. I never loved myself either. It seemed vain and useless. I confess. What if Hitler's hate was a variety of love? What if he loved those Jews and communists that he murdered? Is it possible? Nearly everything is possible, I'm told, except invisibility and men bearing children. Perhaps even that is possible. I hope not. Invisibility would be nice though. What better security, what better power?

I lost a lot of people to death. Some of them were friends. Most were not. So probably have you. I don't know how it could be another way. I am here, they are gone. It happened. Afterward everything seems inevitable. It happened. They died. Nations vanished. Except from old documents and maps. They will disappear too. Everything does. We say it was inevitable. That such and such is no more and so and so was supposed to die. Who can argue with that? Nothing can change it. We can lie about it and take drugs and get drunk to forget but it happened. It was inevitable. But the future is not inevitable. There is no future, so how can it be inevitable? There is no evidence of it just as there is no evidence of life after death or of the existence of a soul or of angels or devils. We believe what we want to believe and hope there is a god that cares about us but there is no evidence of it. The future does not exist, it never arrives. Only the past leaves evidence and the present is composed of the past. The past is always here even though it is gone. We live in the past whether we admit it or not.

We want to believe in god and hope there is one. But there might be many gods. We don't know. We can claim that there is no god and rage against it and whatever but we believe deep down that there is one, or many. How else explain this mystery of existence? Perhaps there are many gods. Why not? I would like to believe that there are, but my conditioning has habituated me to believe that there is only one. Yet I wonder. I strain against my conditioning. Most of it was false instructions. My teachers were ignorant and I am ignorant too. We live in a fog of superstition. We struggle against it but it is there. Ignorance. Let us assume that there are many gods. Power mad. Struggling against one another for control of a portion of the vast universe. Controlling stars and planets and the beings upon them. I like to think that there are. It is more interesting than one unknowable god that refuses to tell us anything about what we are and why we are here and what we are supposed to do.

Our minds and conditioning tell us that there are universal laws. We can see that there are. Stars are born and burn billions of years then explode or implode. Planets circle them in regular order. Sometimes they get knocked about. Everything dies as far as we know. Rocks crumble to dust or become sand. Water washes it into finer particles. Things disappear and become something else. There must be laws to govern these processes so we strive to discover them. Often we are wrong and have to revise everything.We think we have it figured out but if we have why do we go on questing? Looking for more knowledge and more. Sending rockets to outer space with cameras and sensitive equipment to tell us what is out there. It is our nature to seek knowledge but what for? To know. Perhaps we enjoy the pain that knowledge brings. Maybe we are a masochistic species. Even pain we believe is better than death. Because non-existence is our worst fear.

If we believed in god and a heaven and a better afterlife it seems we would hasten toward death as the fanatic Muslims do. But we do not. According to the vast majority of unbelievers those Muslims are crazy to be blowing themselves up. But the religions of our forebears are false too. If we believed in their afterlife we would try to be moral and good so that we could get there but most people do not. We would have no fear of death but we do. Pain hurts but we prefer pain to death until the pain becomes so bad we long for it. Pain hurts but no fancy stone tomb can substitute for the wonder and even temporary joys of life or even its suffering.

The greatest joy is matched by an equal measure of despair. Only the Buddhists and Taoists seem to have an answer. Kill desire. Expect nothing. Live in the present and ignore praise and blame. You won't be disappointed if you expect nothing and are affected by nothing. Forget every minute. Make your mind a blank slate if you will have peace. Get rid of your ego. Don't do the hokey pokey. Don't even think of it. Think of nothing.

Aha! I caught you thinking. Is it a joke? Is life and universe a cosmic comedy to entertain the impossible god? Is it a fantastic dance of the gods? Then let us dance. Isn't it pleasant to think so? Isn't it better than the horror movie outside? Than the shame and degradation we see around and within us? It is.

What if she thinks of me as much or more than I think of her? If she really hates me she does but I don't hate any of them. I don't love them either.

Let us dance. Not the hokey pokey. That's a phony dance created to dull your mind. Let us dance a lovely waltz. A tango. The old soft shoe. Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it fine? A modernist waving of arms and legs and movement of hips. Sexy dance. A careless shaking and trembling of limbs, a frenetic rocking and rolling. Whatever. Let us dance and forget. Rock and roll. Alone if nothing else. In your room. Even without music. Let's dance until we die.

But for god's sake say something worth the listening. Don't yap ceaselessly. Think before you yap. It drives me crazy, your endless meaningless words. Your television addiction. Your football brain.