December 11, 2013

The Fives: Guitar Tunings


  1. E B E G# B E
  2. D G D G B D
  3. D A D G A D
  4. C G C G C E
  5. B B D# F# B D#

October 23, 2013

The Fives: Quarterbacks

Since I moved most of my short form blogging to tumblr., this site has slowed to a crawl.  Just to kind of keep things moving, I will post a list of five things every so often.  This recurring nightmare will be called "The Fives".


  1. Tom Brady
  2. Peyton Manning
  3. Drew Brees
  4. Aaron Rodgers
  5. Andrew Luck

September 17, 2013

Stanley Wright's Lousy Attention Span

. . . has created another blog. We may never see the end of "The Weed Fairy of Greater Metro Louisville", but there's this. If you are interested in what goes on here, Diary of a Bad Capitalist is worth a follow.

September 11, 2013

TONY WOOLLARD BAT SIGNAL!


Tony: when you see this message, please comment on the post with a number I can reach you at and a time I can call.  I won't publish the comment, so no one will see it.  If I need an alternate time, I will comment on the post for you, and we can make other arrangements.

Talk to you soon.

August 31, 2013

Eileen Myles (REVISED)

There might be one or two of you out there who give a shit about how I edit.  "Eileen Myles" was originally written in a notebook, then shaped from the notes into the poem that I posted.  After letting it rest for a day or two, I decided it wasn't too bad, but needed just a little help.  The form/style of the poem is pretty loose, so I didn't get as obsessive about editing as usual.  Here is the poem, and I imagine that it will remain in this form, with maybe very minor changes, since this pretty much gets to the core of the idea.  There's nothing here that would lead me to the obsessive fussing I used to do over some poems.

for DWP

Turns out they were wrong, all those years ago.
It's space I need, not a voice. Eileen Myles
hacking through underbrush, and how does one
wield a machete at once casually and with
resolution?

Wait. I, in fact, have been granted space, as has 
Eileen Myles. It is the space itself that is the problem, 
in both our cases. Seems I'm king of the whole 
goddamn world, thank you very much, 
while Eileen is . . . something else. At least, 
they all told her that, and she sez we're
all, Kennedys, we're all normal, I'm the most
beautiful poet in the universe, I'm the only
one in the room with bleeding gums tonight,
I'm the only homosexual in the room tonight,
I'm really stepping off the flag now. Eileen Myles
Betsy Rossed the whole fucking thing. The flag is
hers now. The space is hers now.

I am no more interested in literary tourism now
than when I had Bukowski foisted upon me. Even
more, I have no fucks to give for New York, and
one fuck less to give for Boston. I'm drinking cheap
scotch, and it's a piss poor replacement for decent
bourbon. This Ravel is on my last nerve. I'm
jumping around - Wagner, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky,
Shostakovich, even Tim Hecker - and nothing
can quiet the vibrations in my head. Nothing
can quiet the stabbing displacement behind my
eyes. Nothing can still the disgust that convulses
my hand. This private fiasco is looking for a center,
looking for a steadying hand, looking for a glass of
good bourbon.

In the meantime, Eileen Myles has given up
writing a great poem, given up birthing an art
bigger than everybody else's, an art that makes
everybody feel alone. I, on the other hand, am
a fucking idiot. I will try to destroy humanity,
I will try to write a great poem. Resting safe
in the knowledge, imparted to me by Eileen Myles,
that I never will. To be left with one final task,
to draw nobility onto failure. To take failure back,
to make it something else, to send it along 
another path.

* * * * *

There is defiance in the machete work. That is easy
to latch onto. THIS IS THE GROUND UPON WHICH
WE MEET. The ground is hers, the battles are won
and lost, it's the fight that counts.

Eileen Myles has her shit to deal with. I have mine.
She's a lesbian and her teeth are falling out. I have
cheap shitty scotch, and Ravel is pissing me off.
"It's all in the struggle" they say, and it is, but
what the fuck does that mean anyway?

Eileen Myles finds love. I find soda water for the scotch.
Eileen Myles sees a dentist, Debussy follows Ravel.
Love is immanent. Cheap scotch with soda still makes
a decent drink.

Eileen Myles never wrote a poem so big
that everyone felt alone. She's tried, but she failed.
I've tried, but I've failed. Time to celebrate.

August 20, 2013

Eileen Myles

          for DWP

Turns out they were wrong, all those years ago.
It's space I need, not a voice. Eileen Myles
hacking through underbrush, and how does one
wield a machete at once casually and with
resolution?

Wait. Back up just a minute. I, in fact, have been
granted space, as has Eileen Myles. It is the space
itself that is the problem, in both our cases. Seems
I'm king of the whole goddamn world, thank you
very much, while Eileen is . . . something else.
At least, they all told her that, and she sez we're
all, Kennedys, we're all normal, I'm the most
beautiful poet in the universe, I'm the only
one in the room with bleeding gums tonight,
I'm the only homosexual in the room tonight,
I'm really stepping off the flag now. Eileen Myles
Betsy Rossed the whole fucking thing. The flag is
hers now. The space is hers now. She fought
for it, she won it.

    *the space, btw, is not political . . .
     the action - the attainment of the space,
     what happens within the space, the
     continuing saga of the space (its
     definition, its day-to-day life) is
     the political . . .

I am no more interested in literary tourism now
than when I had Bukowski foisted upon me. Even
more, I have no fucks to give for New York, and
one fuck less to give for Boston. I'm drinking cheap
scotch, and it's a piss poor replacement for decent
bourbon. This Ravel is on my last nerve. I'm
jumping around - Wagner, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky,
Shostakovich, even Tim Hecker - and nothing
can quiet the vibrations in my head. Nothing
can quiet the stabbing displacement behind my
eyes. Nothing can still the disgust that convulses
my hand. This private fiasco is looking for a center,
looking for a steadying hand, looking for a glass of
good bourbon.

In the meantime, Eileen Myles has given up
writing a great poem, given up birthing an art
bigger than everybody else's, an art that makes
everybody feel alone. I, on the other hand, am
a fucking idiot. I will try to destroy humanity,
I will try to write a great poem. Resting safe
in the knowledge, imparted to me by Eileen Myles,
that I never will. To be left with one final task,
to draw nobility onto failure. To take failure back,
to make it something else, to send it along another
path.

* * * * *

I love Eileen Myles, even if not in the specific.
I love Eileen Myles, without qualification, without
reservation. Not that she needs it, but she's
got it.

There is defiance in the machete work. That is easy
to latch onto. THIS IS THE GROUND UPON WHICH
WE MEET. The ground is hers, the battles are won
and lost, it's the fight that counts.

    *and it is the struggle that is political
     (obviously), the public struggle for public
     space . . . well, that's the political matter,
     what? haven't you been paying attention . . .

Eileen Myles has her shit to deal with. I have mine.
She's a lesbian and her teeth are falling out. I have
cheap shitty scotch, and Ravel is pissing me off.
"It's all in the struggle" they say, and it is, but they
wouldn't fucking know. Sometimes I don't fucking
know.

Eileen Myles finds love. I find soda water for the scotch.
Eileen Myles sees a dentist, Debussy follows Ravel.
Love is immanent. Cheap scotch with soda still makes
a decent drink.

Eileen Myles never wrote a poem so big
that everyone felt alone. She's tried, but she failed.
I've tried, but I've failed. Time to celebrate
that failure.

Lake Leelanau 8/20/2013

July 6, 2013

The King of Fashion

Against judgement
he proposed electricity
lightning
cruelty
brutal insomnia
and combat.

Against the judges
he proposed judgement –
   That he judged himself          
   was his zenith.

The pale criminal
equal to the thing
once done
shrinks in horror
from the image of the thing . . .
always running,
one step ahead,
chasing ghosts


He is given a name, and that name is judgement
“It is you who say I am . . .”

(flash and madness
dreams ricochet through darkness)

I AM THE WIND THAT BLOWS ILL
I AM EVOLUTION ACCELERATED
I AM REVOLUTION
I AM THE KING OF FASHION

(the king pronounces:)

“You dreamers, you jailers,
you cartographers, you debtors . . .
I owe you less than nothing.
Your maps mean nothing to me.
Your truth
means nothing to me.

If there are truths, they are negotiated.
If there are truths, they are earned.

Can you face
the falsity of your dreams
in the darkness of your night?

Can you be done with unicorns & Jung
& fascist bastards
who slice your body
into meek organs of reprisal
and dancing gods of debt?

Can you face me,
the surface of your nightmares,
knowing that your resolve is meaningless
because, tomorrow,
I become other?
Because yesterday,
today,
tomorrow,
I will always be other?

Can you live with me
knowing that
as surely as I can destroy myself
You can never harm me?

Can you understand
that you will never hold me?

June 23, 2013

Schizophrenia

you are building your own cosmology
out of broken tinker toys
assassinated meanings and logics
shells assembled from broken words

meaning for you is private
and that is a problem

you are a self disappearing
            behind a kabuki mask of anguish
defiant in your personal finitude

waiting

there is the gravel shore of a grey lake
with no horizon
the water blends to the sky

and you’re out there in a rowboat
screaming
but there is no sound
no movement

and we’re waiting here for you

to come back in

June 13, 2013

Marathon Pacers 2013 Post-Mortem


The season started with the P needing George Hill heroics to eke out a win over the lowly Raptors.  The season ended with a sadly familiar disappearing act in Miami.  In between, a lot of stuff happened.  It was either a disappointment, a pretty good season, or a great season, depending on your perspective.  The general consensus is that it was pretty good, and I'm down with that.  Just don't expect David West to get all gushy over it.

If, at the start of the season, you told me the Pacers would go to the playoffs, dispatch the Hawks and Knicks with reasonable efficiency, then take the Heat to seven games in the conference final, I would have been very happy with that result.  A conference final, and playing the Heat close to even in the finals, would have been considered the next step the Pacers had to take in the rebuilding process . . . and they got it done.

On the other hand, they should have won the series against Miami.  When they were playing "Pacer ball", they controlled the series. Unfortunately, they pulled their infamous disappearing act, an act that was as likely to show up against the Milwaukee Bucks (split 2-2 in the season series) as it was Miami (split 5-5, including the playoffs).  They controlled vast stretches of most of the Miami playoff games, and they were able to dictate their own game most of the time: only in games 3 and 7 were the Heat totally in control.  They had a golden opportunity to go to the finals, and no matter how bright the future looks for this team, there are no guarantees that fate won't up and slap you back down (in the form of injuries, losses on the free agent market, etc.).  These opportunities are fleeting, and the Pacers blew a golden opportunity.  From that perspective, the season was a disappointment . . . and hopefully, that's how they see it.  One look at David West, and you know he's feeling it.  At the end of the day, the Pacers have evolved into a good team, though probably not as good as Miami made them look.  The Heat are still (at this point) a better team than the Pacers by a fairly wide margin, even if the Pacers will always play them close.  They are still not quite at the "contender" level.*

*          *          *          *          *

Don't get me wrong, the news is plenty good for this Pacers team.  They took the first definitive step to the finals by establishing a rock-solid identity: they are going to be a brutal, defense-first team** able to dictate the terms of any game they are in.  With the exception of David West and Danny Granger, they are ridiculously young and ridiculously athletic.  Unlike the last Pacer team to emerge as a contender (O'Neal, Artest World Peace, Jackson, Tinsley, Miller), they are emotionally stable and mature (with the possible exception of Lance Stephenson, who nonetheless works really hard at stability and dependability, and has plenty of emotional ballast from his team mates to count on). For the first time since Reggie Miller's retirement, it looks like they have a legitimate future*** superstar in Paul George.  They have an anchor in the middle in Roy Hibbert.  They have top-notch veteran leadership with David West.  They have a whole lot of very good pieces.  And, since they're in the East, they get a steady diet of cupcakes to help keep their record well into the black for playoff seeding.  In short, this team has pretty much everything they need to be in the mix for an NBA championship for the first time since the meltdown at Auburn Hills.



Their weaknesses?  Yes, they have a few.  The bench is pretty bad: they actually took a step up in the playoffs from "abominable" to "weak".  Besides that special kind of psychosis that Tyler Hansbrough brings into the game, there isn't much there.  D. J. Augustine provided some good minutes in the playoffs, including some really big-time shooting that helped the P steal game 1 in the New York series; but he isn't that far removed from the days when he was replaced as the back-up point by Ben Hansbrough.  Ben Hansbrough.  Love Ben's game, but he's got European/Turkish/Israeli/Chinese league written all over him. Let Ben travel, for the love of god!  But, back to D. J., you can't be comfortable with a guy who can't even keep Ben Hansbrough off the court.  And then we have Gerald Green, one of the top five dunkers in the league, a 2 guard who can bang his sternum on the rim . . . but who can't, apparently, play basketball.  Sam Young has a great defensive attitude, and he seems to be a keeper, but still tends to break down at very inopportune times: for all the talk about Vogel's benching of Hibbert at the end of game 1 in Miami, for all of the Vogel apologists who blame Paul George for over-playing James on defense, almost nobody pointed to Sam Young's slow defensive rotation as part of the problem (Young should have been there at least soon enough to foul LeBron and make him earn his points at the free throw line).  Ian Mahinmi looked lost most of the time, but he demonstrates enough athleticism to convince me that he will someday become a reasonable time-killer for Hibbert, at least on the defensive end.  Other than that . . .

So, going forward, how do you fix the bench?  Well, the team did well this year without Danny Granger, who up until this season was generally considered to be their best player.  That makes the answer obvious to most of the talking heads: move Granger, his repaired knee, and his big contract for some help off the bench.  Maybe you could find a good player, just starting to head into the downside of his career.  If you are lucky, you can find a guy who was an all-star, maybe a guy who led his team in scoring, and if you are really lucky, a guy who was a demon on the defensive end as well.  And while the sky is the limit, maybe that guy was a leader in the locker room and an asset in the community.  Maybe what you need is a guy like . . . wait for it . . . DANNY GRANGER!!!  Yes, trading Granger for help off the bench is a little like trading David West to get more size under the basket.  I think Granger has a small enough ego to accept the "first guy off the bench" role, especially if he takes the same "instant offense" role that James Harden had with OKC.  The unfortunate ball-stopping tendencies that Danny was showing on the offensive end in 2011-2012 aren't a problem if he's coming off the bench, because who's he going to bother passing the ball to?  Sam Young?  Ian Mahinmi?  Please.  He can hog the ball as much as he wants, because he's the only one who can score.  And bonus points for allowing Tyler Hansbrough to concentrate solely on offensive rebounding and drawing fouls, since that's really the only offense that Psycho T can generate consistently.

Seriously, though, there are some really good reasons to keep Granger: one, he completes a second five (Augustine, Young, Granger, Hansbrough, and Mahinmi) that would actually be pretty respectable defensively (remember, team identity!), even if Augustine is a liability, and Hansbrough is often overmatched in the post.  And speaking of defense, how cool would it be to have a George/Granger/Stephenson/Young defensive rotation to guard those high-scoring wings?  It would be brutal, I tell you: four good-to-great wing defenders, 24 fouls to give. But, the main reason to keep Granger is actually very simple: there is no way, given his contract and the uncertainty following his knee surgery, that you will get value back for him.  While it may be useful to get his contract off the books, the team will be better with him on the court.  He was once an all-star player, and had the look of a good second option on a top-level team.  He was always a great team mate and a great person.  He could be an indispensable piece of a championship team . . . and that's what we're talking about here, right?

The other big problem for the Pacers is the aforementioned tendency to disappear.  It happened way too often during the season, and it happened against bad teams as much as good teams.  The reasons?  1.) TURNOVERS.  2.)  The inability to properly trigger the offense.  A small part of that has to do with the callow youth that characterizes this Pacers team.  Another small part of it has to do with the fact that, with the possible exception of Augustine, nobody on the Pacers has a very good handle.  But primarily, as Reggie Miller pointed out while killing television time during the game 7 blowout, the Pacers are working without a true starting point guard.  George Hill guards the point as well as just about anybody, but he's only average as a point at the offensive end.  His handle is only so-so, and he doesn't do a particularly good job at triggering the offense.  He does much better offensively as a 2, where he can take the ball after the offense is already in motion, where his lack of a handle or explosive quickness doesn't really hurt him.  George Hill has the potential to be a scoring machine as a two guard, given his usually reliable jumper paired with his ability to finish at the rim in traffic, but the problem is that the Pacers are stacked at the two guard, and have no points.  Hill manages to be a middle of the pack point guard, even if the two is his natural position.  So, by default, he is the Pacers point guard.

So, how do you solve this problem?  Well, given the log jam at the two guard, maybe you move one of them for a point.  Or you move Danny Granger for a point.  Problem is, I don't see any scenario that gives the Pacers an upgrade at the point position for what they are willing to move.  Granger doesn't buy you an upgrade over Hill.  Neither does Stephenson. If Hill's contract were more attractive (i.e., if he were undervalued, which he is not, since he just signed an extension last summer), you might be able to trade him straight up for a point, but that won't happen.  And there's no way in hell they're trading George.  The fact of the matter is that an upgrade over Hill would have to be Mike Conley level or better, and there's no way the Pacers can make that move without disrupting the team they have built.  At the end of the day, even though Hill is playing out of position, he's not a terrible point guard.  The price of the upgrade would be too high.  The best option, though it goes against every fiber of the NBA GM DNA, is to just hold tight and hope that Hill learns to be a better point guard.

Besides, Hill is an Indianapolis native with a map of the state of Indiana tattooed on his freaking torso.  You can't trade the guy for that reason alone.


And therein lies the theme of the Pacers' offseason:  keep calm, stand pat, don't panic.  For the first time in a long time, it seems like growth is the best option for the Pacers' roster.  The 2013 Pacers demonstrated a rare chemistry, and front office mucking around is more likely to do harm than good.  Obviously, tweaking the bench is a good idea, but moving any big parts to do so (including Granger) is a bad idea.  Find a way to resign David West without breaking the bank, and you go into next year with a very good lineup.

*          *          *          *          *

So, what has to happen next year for the Pacers to be a top contender for a title?  We here at TDOE would need to see most (or maybe all) of these things happen to put them on the level with the Heat, the Spurs, and the Thunder:

  1. A full season's worth of the 2013 playoffs version of  Roy Hibbert.  Hibbert is not the best player on the Pacers, but he has the rarest set of skills, so he may be the most important.  Roy took the biggest step in his development during the season: he learned to maintain his presence as the best rim protector in the league**** without always getting into foul trouble.  In the playoffs, he stepped up his game offensively as well . . . and for all the (justified) comments about his taking advantage of the Heat's weakness in the middle, it needs to be pointed out that Roy also dominated Tyson Chandler, the player that most people pick as the second best true center in the league.  If Roy becomes a 17/10 guy next year, then the Pacers will be a very good team.  Likelihood: Hibbert will remain a force on the defensive end, but is prone to lose his confidence on offense.  Ultimately, this will be one of Frank Vogel's primary coaching challenges: keeping his mercurial big man near the top of his game.
  2. Re-sign David West.  West's size and tenacity can be replaced.  Everything else he gives to the team can not.  He is the leader of these young Pacers, and needs to be here for a couple more years as the youngsters mature.  Without him, the rebuilding is set back a couple seasons.  Likelihood:  Both parties want to get this done, so it seems like it will get done.
  3. George Hill get better at running the offense.  There are ways to cover Hill's weaknesses . . . I especially like it when Paul George and Lance Stephenson take turns triggering the offense just so defenses trying to stop the ball at the point can't focus too much on Hill . . . but, as pointed out above, the team's inability to get cleanly into its offense is one of the biggest problems they have.  Unlike George and Stephenson, I think Hill is pretty close to his ceiling as a player, so any improvements will likely be incremental, which is okay: a little improvement will go a long way.  Likelihood: Hill is not going to wake up one morning with an extra step, or with a God Shamgod handle, so most of the improvement will be mental (recognition, improved reaction time, etc.).  Hill is a serious, conscientious player, so you know he'll put in the time.  Problem is that sometimes a player gets it, sometimes he doesn't.  Fingers crossed on this one.
  4. The continued emergence of Paul George.  George has all the tools to be a very special player.  He has frequently played at a level that makes him not just an All-Star, but a potential All-Pro.  Next season, he needs to make the step from good player to franchise player.  To do that, he needs to be able to take over games AT WILL (as opposed to just whenever he happens to get into the flow, which is what happens now).  For years, the question has always been "Can the small-market Pacers ever attract a big star?"  Well, now they just may have one without having to go shopping.  Likelihood: Again, George has all the tools, but the final step to dominance is the most difficult; and for every Bryant, James, Wade, and Durant, there's an Artest World Peace, Boozer, Joe Johnson (and yes, Danny Granger) who can't quite take the step to the next level.  George is close, very very close, but there are no guarantees that he will ever become the guy who can take over any game whenever he wants to.
  5. The return of Danny Granger, and setting a shooting guard/small forward rotation that will work without hurting team chemistry.  As noted above, the return of a fully healthy Danny Granger goes a long way to fixing the bench (even if he starts and Stephenson comes off the bench), but it also has potentially troubling issues for team chemistry.  If the average observer were to list the primary strengths of this team, it would probably start with size, youth, and athleticism.  Chemistry, however, needs to be at the top of that list: it is the unique chemistry of this team that allows them to be as resilient as they've been all season, it is chemistry that allows them to get into each other's faces without hurting each other's feelings.  It is chemistry which keeps everyone focused, and helps minimize the damage that mood swings (primarily from Hibbert and Stephenson) do to the team.  The problem is this: between Granger and Stephenson, who starts?  Stephenson started all year, and has shown himself to be an important piece of the team, so he's not going to be happy about sitting.  Add to that the fact that, as much as he's matured, he's still emotional and has a hair trigger.  Granger, for his part, doesn't have a big ego, but it will be hard to finish one season as your team's best player, miss a season due to injury, and then be asked to come off the bench.  I prefer Granger off the bench for the reasons above, but anyway it pans out, Vogel has a hard job selling everybody on the plan.  Likelihood: For one year at least, I think Vogel can keep everyone on board.  At that point it will be clear that either Stephenson or Granger deserves to start.  If both are starting caliber players, then one obviously will have to go . . . with Stephenson being the most likely in that case, since he is more likely to bring back full value than Granger.
There are a few other things, like the continued improvement of Lance Stephenson and the development of a couple bench players, that would help, but this is the main agenda.

There are, of course, a lot of factors which change the landscape of the NBA (like, I'm still waiting for Minnesota to blow up).  Among other things, it is very possible to buy a title in this league (see: Heat, Miami, and Celtics, Boston), and with at least one game-changer available in the form of Chris Paul*****, the one thing that you can guarantee is change.  For the Pacers, though, it's time to hold: the future looks very bright for this team as constituted.  

So yes, it was a good season.  A very, very good season.



____________________
*  Though they are a hell of a lot closer than such media darling "contenders" as the Knicks and the Clippers.

**  Frank Vogel has made a few comments about tinkering with a zone defense over the summer break.  This should be startling news to the rest of the league: it means he believes that the Pacers, who almost never resort to zones outside of inbounds plays, can get even better on defense, even though they are already the best defensive team (as well as the best man-to-man defenders) in the NBA.  Or, is he preparing to add an offensive-positive defense-negative piece to the lineup, and making advance plans to cover for him on the defensive end?  Either way, I can't wait to see this new wrinkle.

***  Per the discussions that attended his performance in the playoffs: I think it's clear he has all the tools, and he's made giant strides this year in confidence and basketball intelligence.  He's not quite there yet, however.  He occasionally takes over games, but he doesn't seem to be able to do it at will like true superstars can.  Right now, he's about equal to Granger at his peak, but he's got the potential to go much higher.

**** He is one of the few players who really change things in the lane.

***** I will not grant Dwight Howard game-changer status.  He has not earned that.



May 23, 2013

from The Original Text of The Ethics (2)


The original texts of The Ethics.

The Ethics, Continued



the essence of things
that cracks open under the weight of a thousand questions
like daggers in the dark[3]-
bright blue day of confidence
turns out
to be a shadow of something else . . .
that something else is behind a screen,
and we’ve created the blue, or the screen,
or both
or everything
or[4] nothing

“There is a proof for that”
sez Spinoza
“and it goes like this[5]:
Jesus died for your sins;
but there are no sins,
no death,
and no Jesus.
There’s a red wheelbarrow,
and maybe Billie the Kid
but fuck that taxonomy, anyway
more or less depends on them
than you’ve been led to believe.[6] [7]

I awake to a cold bright day
and understand that I am alone[8]
and what is left
is to breathe deep the air
and begin again,
always again[9]
There is another way,
there is always another way.[10]

*           *           *           *           *

Spinoza clears his throat:[11]
“What the masses learned to accept without reason
reason cannot refute.
And pretty baubles and grand gestures
trip the light and sell the rabble[12] [13]
while logic becomes dressed as witchcraft
and is danced
from fear
to shame,
and returns,
hollowed out,
as sham and excuse.[14]
My beautiful mathematics require commitment most find beyond the pale:
Fascists bully words to their own purpose,
while Capitalists simply purchase meaning.
The rest lack all vision.[15]
I sit here in the corpse-colored twilight,
tallow candle a-sputter,
and commit truth to the page
against all odds.”





(Spinoza doesn’t write poetry by the light of day.)


*          *           *          *          *

PART ONE[16]

“There are truths
and they are self-evident.”

Spinoza emerges into a cold dawn
candle extinguished, sheaves of parchment falling from his table,
drifting snow,
flesh snow[17]
“or, as they should be, at least.
Everything follows inexorably,[18] [19]
a calculus of the real,
a shape of what is.
Only fools question the otherwise,
for here is here.”
There is a wave and a shuffle
Spinoza turns his face to the cold sun.
“Your investments mean nothing to me.
Your lineage[20] means nothing to me.
Your rights, your culture,
that house of straw
that you defend with your dying breath?
It means nothing to me.
The essence of mankind
does not involve
the necessary existence of mankind;
this sun cares not that you caper below it.[21] [22]
You are, that’s all.” [23] [24]
Spinoza scrambles off,
rocks spraying from his feet,
then turns for a last salvo:

“The order of things
is the order of thought.
The mind is nothing not constituted by idea.
Idea is the thing,
idea is the flow
mind the machine
buckling down and locking in to the flow.[25]

The idea creates the mind
the mind delimits the idea
and its all connected,
virtually the same . . .
bodies in respect to bodies
machines in respect to machines
bodies assembled
and bodies inscrutable
machines and flows inextricable
from what wellspring?
to what ocean?”

He turned abruptly
to the stone path rising above him
and was gone in a clatter.[26]  [27]

*          *          *          *          *

A word can’t mean two things
it can mean one thing, then another
Or it can mean everything,
or the nothing at the core of everything.[28] [29]





[1] as to him alone does existence appertain
[2] PROP. XXV.  God is the efficient cause not only of the existence of things, but also of their essence.
[3] everything
[4] intellect in function     finite      infinite     will
[5] PROP. XXXII. Will cannot be called a free cause, but only a necessary cause.
[6] eternity
[7] imperfection in God
[8] concerning created things
[9] truth
[10] I assume a starting point
[11] they only look for knowledge of the final causes of events
[12] anxious
[13] reduction, not to the impossible, but to ignorance
[14] such persons know that, with the removal of ignorance, the wonder which forms their only available means for approving and preserving their authority would vanish also.
[15] is things corrupt to the point of putridity, loathsome
[16] V.  We feel and perceive no particular things, save bodies and modes of thought
[17] power of God the free will
[18] knowledge of the cause
[19] effect
[20] things are said to exist
[21] PROP. XI.  The first element, which constitutes the actual being of the human mind, is the idea of some particular thing actually existing.
[22] modes of the attributes
[23] We thus comprehend, not only that the human mind is united to the body, but also the nature of the union between mind and body.
[24] nature of our body
[25] large superfices
[26] the human body is affected in a
[27] external body     presence
[28] one possible explanation
[29] I am very far from the truth

April 13, 2013

A Theft and Recasting of a Line by Zarathustra (Nietzsche)


What the masses learned to accept without reason
reason cannot refute
and the pretty baubles and grand gestures
trip the light and sell the rabble
while logic becomes dressed as witchcraft
and is danced from fear to shame
and returns, hollowed out,
as sham and excuse

April 5, 2013

Moving Into Lent



the wind sweeps in from out
crow’s wing brushes whisper across the forehead
they’re falling now
                                    a couple more
            funneled into sluice gates and caught
            before a finality is realized –
every so often you feel the wing brushing close
like a scythe whistling through the air
you wonder what gets harvested
            what blackness
            or searing light
            who the dark becomes
            blinding whiteout     
            and why

is it time
and is all this collateral
or is this a target

a morning is cruel, or it is not
a night is harrowing, or it is not
the world is pain, or it is not
the is and is not of wildly intersecting planes
flashing crazed like the eye blinks

March 31, 2013

Easter 2003 Revisited

This is an updated and expanded version of a post I put up recently on my tumblr.

"Easter 2003", is not a good poem, but it was an important one to me.  It was written in the desert outside Tucson that year, during our annual Easter trip out west to the Yaqui Holy Week ceremonies.

As I moved away from my Christian upbringing, the last few vestiges of spectacle that maintained any psychic hold on me resided entirely in the Easter season, from Ash Wednesday ("The Existentialist's Holiday"; also the last church service I attended completely of my own volition) to the Holy Week.  Matt, another lapsed Catholic, had encountered stories of the Yaqui Easter ceremonies out in the west; and, with Tony along for the ride, started making annual Easter pilgrimages out to Tucson.  I started tagging along occasionally not too long after.  It became a more or less annual trip for the posse.

Ten years ago, on a Tuesday, I piled into a rented Impala with Matt and Tony to drive straight through from Louisville out to Tucson with the ostensible purpose of hanging out at those Yaqui ceremonies.  After driving through the afternoon and night and ending up in Roswell, New Mexico, by the light of the rising sun, I picked up a paper to find that the US had invaded Iraq.  We had, of course, seen this coming, but things are very different when there are "boots on the ground" . . . i.e., you think that it's not real until it really happens.

At the same time, I had chosen not to attend the funeral of my cousin Theresa, which was going on the same day.  She was from southern Indiana, down by the White River, and she may as well have been from the hills of Kentucky, Tennessee, or West Virginia . . . the popular media image is the same.  Theresa had a rough life, and she was a victim of what many of us from more monied and/or educated backgrounds tend to dismiss as simple ignorance instead of the collateral damage of capitalism that it really is.  Anyway, Theresa had gotten pregnant at a very young age, but she was blessed with loving parents who not only refused to turn their backs on her, but agreed to raise Theresa's son as their own.  For her part, Theresa, after several rough years, had started to get her life together and become a "stable" person for the first time.  

The job she finally got, the job that she was able to hold onto and to some degree defined her, was as a prison guard.  She liked the job, and she held on to it for several years.  Unfortunately, old demons reared their heads: at some point, she met an inmate that she fell for.  She had reservations about this man; after all, he was in for abusing his girlfriend (actually hurting her quite seriously), and had a long history of assault and abuse, quite a bit of it against women.  But she was charmed; and he, for his part, apparently fell for her quite hard.

When he got out, they connected, but Theresa began to have reservations.  She was trying to turn around her life and live for her son, and she knew that this guy was bad news, intellectually if not emotionally.  So she tried to break it off, and what happened next was all too predictable.

They found her body in her Pontiac Sunbird, which had been lit on fire on a deserted county road in Monroe County.  It was completely torched, and her body was burned to the point that dental records were needed to identify her.  One of the complications early in the investigation was that they couldn't charge anyone with murder because they couldn't determine the cause of death.  Eventually, the man confessed, and by all accounts showed real remorse, since he deeply "loved" Theresa.

About seven years later, I was back around Bedford for the funeral of her son.  He was angry, he was always angry . . . he had been in and out of jail, and he never really got over the death of his mother, in spite of the love of his grandparents.  He died of an overdose.  The most memorable thing about the funeral was that one of my cousins had to grab me and one of my brothers to clear out the parking lot when some kids decided to act up.  It's taking everything in me not to call them rednecks or white trash . . . but they were refuse.  Capitalism's refuse.  Just like my cousin and her son.

*          *          *          *          *

After hitting Roswell at sun up, we took a detour to the Anasazi ruins in New Mexico.  Tony and Matt, who had been sleeping while I had been driving, walked the ruins and occasionally let out strains of melody on home made flutes they were carrying.  I, who had been driving for almost 20 straight hours and was of a somewhat less spiritual bent, found a nice warm rock in the morning sun and stole a short nap.  After an hour at the ruins, we grabbed some coffee and were back on the road.

The whole way, it was paranoia and weirdness, all apocalypse culture and giddy aggression.  It is important to remember just how little opposition there was to the war when it started (or, for that matter, how shamefully little opposition there was up until almost the final withdrawal).  Every car had flags, every truck had a "My Country, Right or Wrong" sticker, every traveler in every rest stop and gas station all giddy over war.  It was a J.G. Ballard landscape come to life.

Friday was at the Yaqui compound in Tucson.  It was always an intense ceremony (the one at the Yaqui camp on the outskirts of town Saturday was pastoral by comparison), and often the ceremonies had a palpable urban edge provided by sirens and police helicopters sweeping spotlights over the neighborhood.  Sometimes the ceremonies were short and explosive, sometimes they ground on forever like a boot heel digging into bruised muscle and flesh.  This one was a long one.  The Chapayekas slogged on, all harmelodic flutes, polyrhythmic castanets, and chattering shells; many fell to be quickly surrounded and protected by a Chapayeka guard.

Everything felt like raw doom then.  It doesn't now.  The thing that sucks almost as much as death and war is getting used to death and war.





Easter 2003


morning

7 am Tucson the 
sun turns the 
tent to an oven the
sun bright over another deathtrip

in another desert 
on a gravel road in a Pontiac he

  doused her in gasoline & lit her & ran 


1.

Chillin’ in a tent in the desert
the sun barely up
biding time with Edward Albee
cowboy stories surrounded 
by flags, flags, flags
everyday is flag day everywhere these days

cross our 
star spangled land
on a patriotic, god-fearing bender
& the stars -n- stripes 
is the geometry of war

somewhere, out there,
some George Washington crosses a Delaware
he doesn't know, and
the mother of all bombs
won't douse hate
attracted to the Tikrit triangle
like metal shavings over a magnet

or
the desperation of the already dead
on a gravel lane somewhere outside Bloomington

and, this is it: Theresa’s dead.
She's blood
whistling past the graveyard . . .

the distant rumble in the background
the thunderhead on the horizon
always on the horizon
it's death, man,
among the flying flags
and burning cars.


2.

  the highway intersects
a Wednesday morning funeral
 deep in the heart of New Mexico
Tony & Matt fluting the ruins

and going back . . .  

become the darkness in Little Rock
shed your skin in the dawn of Roswell
Arkansas, Oklahoma, & Texas a howling tunnel of other

shades & delineations of nothing
Oklahoma City, Erick, Amarillo
Tikrit, Bagdad
Elletsville, Bedford, Bloomington

& how do we explain to the dead
that there was nothing there
how do we explain to the living 
that there is never anything there
and that drinking tequila in the desert won't kill it
and that drinking whiskey in Louisville Kentucky won't kill it
and that drinking Bud Light in Bedford Indiana won't kill it
and that bowing to the east won't kill it
the horror creeping like a virus
exploding into  murder  fire  jihad
& poets digging into the closets
of horrible darkness won't kill it

&

she was probably dead when he set her on fire
’cause you don’t just douse people in gasoline 
& set them on fire
& burn them up in their cars –
he's charged with arson
’cause he burned her up
but not with murder
’cause she may have been dead already

  &

we all die a little more every
hellbent day of this backward millennium . . .

guns in Baghdad
somewhere east of
the center of chaos

Southern Indiana deathtrip
swooping like a crow


3.

the dead lay where they are
the living lay where they are
the flutes & drums of the Yaqui try to raise them
sacred ash and mariachi trills try to raise them
Easter Saturday on the rez by the casino

choking dust, burning masks,
purification by fire

a Pontiac burning on a Monroe County road
chapayeka drag burning under the Easter cross
a car bomb just outside the green zone,
another minister assassinated
another body for the dust

and, the choking dust of New Pascua
celebrates the resurrection
while the dead lie where they lay
in Iraq
in Bloomington 
the funeral
goes on
without me



4.

. . . and there are flags, flags, everywhere flags
yellow ribbons, red bumperstickers
the highway awash with patriotism
every SUV with a petrol-drunk V-8
every broke-down Ford with Tennessee plates

a crazy fool with delusions grand
again deals the penultimate hand
death reigns in another foreign land

and, in the cactus-scarred slopes of Arizona
and, in the inbred back roads of Indiana

another flag waves
another innocent dies

and, I’m here, another shot of whiskey,
another


5.


morning

7 am Tucson the
sun turns the
tent to an oven the
sun bright over another deathtrip