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Like a psychotic docent in the wilderness,
I will not speak in perfect Ciceronian cadences.
I draw my voice from a much deeper cistern,
Preferring the jittery synaptic archive,
So sublimely unfiltered, random and profane.
And though I am sequestered now,
Confined within the walls of a gated, golf-coursed,
Over-55 lunatic asylum (for Active Seniors I am told),
I remain oddly puerile,
Remarkably refreshed and unfettered.  
My institutionalization self-imposed,
Purposed for my own serenity, and also the safety of others.
Yet I abide, surprisingly emancipated and frisky.
I may not have found the peace I seek,
But the quiet has mercifully come at last.

The nexus of inner and outer space is context for my story.
I was born either in Brooklyn, New York or Shungopavi, Arizona,
More of intervention divine than census data.
Shungopavi: a designated place for tribal statistical purposes.
Shungopavi: an ovine abbatoir and shaman’s cloister.
The Hopi: my mother’s people, a state of mind and grace,
Deftly landlocked, so cunningly circumscribed,
By both interior and outer Navajo boundaries.
The Navajo: a coyote trickster people; a nation of sheep thieves,
Hornswoggled and landlocked themselves,
Subsumed within three of the so-called Four Corners:
A 3/4ths compromise and covenant,
Pickled in firewater, swaddled in fine print,
A veritable swindle concocted back when the USA
Had Manifest Destiny & mayhem on its mind.

The United States: once a pubescent synthesis of blood and thunder,
A bold caboodle of trooper spit and polish, unwashed brawlers, Scouts and      
Pathfinders, mountain men, numb-nut ne'er-do-wells,
Buffalo Bills & big-balled individualists, infected, insane with greed.
According to the Gospel of His Holiness Saint Zinn,
A People’s’ History of the United States: essentially state-sponsored terrorism,
A LAND RUSH grabocracy, orchestrated, blessed and anointed,
By a succession of Potomac sharks, Great White Fascist Fathers,
Far-Away-on-the Bay, the Bay we call The Chesapeake.
All demented national patriarchs craving lebensraum for God and country.
The USA: a 50-state Leviathan today, a nation jury-rigged,
Out of railroad ties, steel rails and baling wire,
Forged by a litany of lies, rapaciousness and ******,
And jaw-torn chunks of terra firma,
Bites both large and small out of our well-****** Native American ***.

Or culo, as in va’a fare in culo (literally "go do it in the ***")
Which Italian Americans pronounce as fongool.
The language center of my brain,
My sub-cortical Broca’s region,
So fraught with such semantic misfires,
And autonomic linguistic seizures,
Compel acknowledgement of a father’s contribution,
To both the gene pool and the genocide.
Columbus Day:  a conspicuously absent holiday out here in Indian Country.
No festivals or Fifth Avenue parades.
No excuse for ethnic hoopla. No guinea feast. No cannoli. No tarantella.
No excuse to not get drunk and not **** your sister-in-law.
Emphatically a day for prayer and contemplation,
A day of infamy like Pearl Harbor and 9/11,
October 12, 1492: not a discovery; an invasion.

Growing up in Brooklyn, things were always different for me,
Different in some sort of redskin/****/****--
Choose Your Favorite Ethnic Slur-sort of way.
The American Way: dehumanization for fun and profit.
Melting *** anonymity and denial of complicity with evil.
But this is no time to bring up America’s sordid past,
Or, a personal pet peeve: Indian Sovereignty.
For Uncle Sam and his minions, an ever-widening, conveniently flexible concept,
Not a commandment or law,
Not really a treaty or a compact,
Or even a business deal.  Let’s get real:
It was not even much in the way of a guideline.
Just some kind of an advisory, a bulletin or newsletter,
Could it merely have been a free-floating suggestion?
Yes, that’s it exactly: a suggestion.

Over and under halcyon American skies,
Over and around those majestic purple mountain peaks,
Those trapped in poetic amber waves of wheat and oats,
Corn and barley, wheat shredded and puffed,
Corn flaked and milled, Wheat Chex and Wheaties, oats that are little Os;
Kix and Trix, Fiber One, and Kashi-Go-Lean, Lucky Charms and matso *****,
Kreplach and kishka,
Polenta and risotto.
Our cantaloupe and squash patch,
Our fruited prairie plain, our delicate ecological Eden,
In balance and harmony with nature, as Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce instructs:
“These white devils are not going to,
Stop ****** and killing, cheating and eating us,
Until they have the whole ******* enchilada.
I’m talking about ‘from sea to shining sea.’”

“I fight no more forever,” Babaloo.
So I must steer this clunky keelboat of discovery,
Back to the main channel of my sad and starry demented river.
My warpath is personal but not historical.
It is my brain’s own convoluted cognitive process I cannot saavy.
Whatever biochemical or—as I suspect more each day—
Whatever bio-mechanical protocols govern my identity,
My weltanschauung: my world-view, as sprechen by proto-Nazis;
Putz philosophers of the 17th, 18th & 19th century.
The German intelligentsia: what a cavalcade of maniacal *******!
Why is this Jew unsurprised these Zarathustra-fueled Übermenschen . . .
Be it the Kaiser--Caesar in Deutsch--Bismarck, ******, or,
Even that Euro-*****,  Angela Merkel . . . Why am I not surprised these Huns,
Get global grab-*** on the sauerbraten cabeza every few generations?
To be, or not to be the ***** bullgoose loony: GOTT.

Biomechanical protocols govern my identity and are implanted while I sleep.
My brain--my weak and weary CPU--is replenished, my discs defragmented.
A suite of magnetic and optical white rooms, cleansed free of contaminants,
Gun mounts & lifeboat stations manned and ready,
Standing at attention and saluting British snap-style,
Snap-to and heel click, ramrod straight and cheerful: “Ready for duty, Sir.”
My mind is ravenous, lusting for something, anything to process.
Any memory or image, lyric or construct,
Be they short-term dailies or deeply imprinted.
Fixations archived one and all in deep storage time and space.
Memories, some subconscious, most vaporous;
Others--the scary ones—eidetic: frighteningly detailed and extraordinarily vivid.
Precise cognitive transcripts; recollected so richly rife and fresh.
Visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory reloads:
Queued up and increasingly re-experienced.

The bio-data of six decades: it’s all there.
People, countless, places and things cataloged.
Every event, joy and trauma enveloped from within or,
Accessed externally from biomechanical storage devices.
The random access memory of a lifetime,
Read and recollected from cerebral repositories and vaults,
All the while the entire greedy process overseen,
Over-driven by that all-subservient British bat-man,
Rummaging through the data in batches small and large,
Internal and external drives working in seamless syncopation,
Self-referential, at times paradoxical or infinitely looped.
“Cogito ergo sum."
Descartes stripped it down to the basics but there’s more to the story:
Thinking about thinking.
A curse and minefield for the cerebral:  metacognition.

No, it is not the fact that thought exists,
Or even the thoughts themselves.
But the information technology of thought that baffles me,
As adaptive and profound as any evolution posited by Darwin,
Beyond the wetware in my skull, an entirely new operating system.
My mental and cultural landscape are becoming one.
Machines are connecting the two.
It’s what I am and what I am becoming.
Once more for emphasis:
It is the information technology of who I am.
It is the operating system of my mental and cultural landscape.
It is the machinery connecting the two.
This is the central point of this narrative:
Metacognition--your superego’s yenta Cassandra,
Screaming, screaming in your psychic ear, your good ear:

“LISTEN:  The machines are taking over, taking you over.
Your identity and train of thought are repeatedly hijacked,
Switched off the main line onto spurs and tangents,
Only marginally connected or not at all.
(Incoming TEXT from my editor: “Lighten Up, Giuseppi!”)
Reminding me again that most in my audience,
Rarely get past the comic page. All righty then: think Calvin & Hobbes.
John Calvin, a precocious and adventurous six-year old boy,
Subject to flights of 16th Century French theological fancy.
Thomas Hobbes, a sardonic anthropomorphic tiger from 17th Century England,
Mumbling about life being “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Taken together--their antics and shenanigans--their relationship to each other,
Remind us of our dual nature; explore for us broad issues like public education;
The economy, environmentalism & the Global ****** Thermometer;
Not to mention the numerous flaws of opinion polls.



And again my editor TEXTS me, reminds me again: “LIGHTEN UP!”
Consoling me:  “Even Shakespeare had to play to the groundlings.”
The groundlings, AKA: The Rabble.
Yes. Even the ******* Bard, even Willie the Shake,
Had to contend with a decidedly lowbrow copse of carrion.
Oh yes, the groundlings, a carrion herd, a flying flock of carrion seagulls,
Carrion crow, carrion-feeders one and all,
And let’s throw Sheryl Crow into the mix while we’re at it:
“Hit it! This ain't no disco. And it ain't no country club either, this is L.A.”  

                  Send "All I Wanna Do" Ringtone to your Cell              

Once more, I digress.
The Rabble:  an amorphous, gelatinous Jabba the Hutt of commonality.
The Rabble: drunk, debauched & lawless.
Too *****-delicious to stop Bill & Hilary from thinking about tomorrow;
Too Paul McCartney My Love Does it Good to think twice.

The Roman Saturnalia: a weeklong **** fest.
The Saturnalia: originally a pagan kink-fest in honor of the deity Saturn.
Dovetailing nicely with the advent of the Christian era,
With a project started by Il Capo di Tutti Capi,
One of the early popes, co-opting the Roman calendar between 17 and 25 December,
Putting the finishing touches on the Jesus myth.
For Brooklyn Hopi-***-Jew baby boomers like me,
Saturnalia manifested itself as Disco Fever,
Unpleasant years of electrolysis, scrunched ***** in tight polyester
For Roman plebeians, for the great unwashed citizenry of Rome,
Saturnalia was just a great big Italian wedding:
A true family blowout and once-in-a-lifetime ego-trip for Dad,
The father of the bride, Vito Corleone, Don for A Day:
“Some think the world is made for fun and frolic,
And so do I! Funicula, Funiculi!”

America: love it or leave it; my country right or wrong.
Sure, we were citizens of Rome,
But any Joe Josephus spending the night under a Tiber bridge,
Or sleeping off a three day drunk some afternoon,
Up in the Coliseum bleachers, the cheap seats, out beyond the monuments,
The original three monuments in the old stadium,
Standing out in fair territory out in center field,
Those three stone slabs honoring Gehrig, Huggins, and Babe.
Yes, in the house that Ruth built--Home of the Bronx Bombers--***?
Any Joe Josephus knows:  Roman citizenship doesn’t do too much for you,
Except get you paxed, taxed & drafted into the Legion.
For us the Roman lifestyle was HIND-*** humble.
We plebeians drew our grandeur by association with Empire.
Very few Romans and certainly only those of the patrician class lived high,
High on the hog, enjoying a worldly extravaganza, like—whom do we both know?

Okay, let’s say Laurence Olivier as Crassus in Spartacus.
Come on, you saw Spartacus fifteen ******* times.
Remember Crassus?
Crassus: that ***** twisted **** trying to get his freak on with,
Tony Curtis in a sunken marble tub?
We plebes led lives of quiet *****-scratching desperation,
A bunch of would-be legionnaires, diseased half the time,
Paid in salt tablets or baccala, salted codfish soaked yellow in olive oil.
Stiffs we used to call them on New Year’s Eve in Brooklyn.
Let’s face it: we were hyenas eating someone else’s ****,
Stage-door jackals, Juvenal-come-late-lies, a mob of moronic mook boneheads
Bought off with bread & circuses and Reality TV.
Each night, dished up a wide variety of lowbrow Elizabethan-era entertainments.  
We contemplate an evening on the town, downtown—
(cue Petula Clark/Send "Downtown" Ringtone to your Cell)

On any given London night, to wit:  mummers, jugglers, bear & bull baiters.
How about dog & **** fighters, quoits & skittles, alehouses & brothels?
In short, somewhere, anywhere else,
Anywhere other than down along the Thames,
At Bankside in Southwark, down in the Globe Theater mosh pit,
Slugging it out with the groundlings whose only interest,
In the performance is the choreography of swordplay and stale ****** puns.
Meanwhile, Hugh Fennyman--probably a fellow Jew,
An English Renaissance Bugsy Siegel or Mickey Cohen—
Meanwhile Fennyman, the local mob boss is getting his ya-yas,
Roasting the feet of my text-messaging editor, Philip Henslowe.
Poor and pathetic Henslowe, works on commission, always scrounging,
But a true patron of my craft, a gentleman of infinite jest and patience,
Spiritual subsistence, and every now and then a good meal at some,
Sawdust joint with oyster shells, and a Prufrockian silk purse of T.S. Eliot gold.

Poor, pathetic Henslowe, trussed up by Fennyman,
His editorial feet in what looks like a Japanese hibachi.
Henslowe’s feet to the fire--feet to the fire—get it?
A catchy phrase whose derivation conjures up,
A grotesque yet vivid image of torture,
An exquisite insight into how such phrases ingress the idiom,
Not to mention a scene once witnessed at a secret Romanian CIA prison,
I’d been ordered to Bucharest not long after 9/11,
Handling the rendition and torture of Habib Ghazzawy,

An entirely innocent falafel maker from Steinway Street, Astoria, Queens.
Shock the Monkey: it’s what we do. GOTO:
Peter Gabriel - Shock the Monkey/
(HQ music video) - YouTube//
www.youtube.com/
Poor, pathetic, ******-on Henslowe.


Fennyman :  (his avarice is whet by something Philly screams out about a new script)  "A play takes time. Find actors; Rehearsals. Let's say open in three weeks. That's--what--five hundred groundlings at tuppence each, in addition four hundred groundlings tuppence each, in addition four hundred backsides at three pence--a penny extra for a cushion, call it two hundred cushions, say two performances for safety how much is that Mr. Frees?"
Jacobean Tweet, John (1580-1684) Webster:  “I saw him kissing her bubbies.”

It’s Geoffrey Rush, channeling Henslowe again,
My editor, a singed smoking madman now,
Feet in an ice bucket, instructing me once more:
“Lighten things up, you know . . .
Comedy, love and a bit with a dog.”
I digress again and return to Hopi Land, back to my shaman-monastic abattoir,
That Zen Center in downtown Shungopavi.
At the Tribal Enrolment Office I make my case for a Certificate of Indian Blood,
Called a CIB by the Natives and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The BIA:  representing gold & uranium miners, cattle and sheep ranchers,
Sodbusters & homesteaders; railroaders and dam builders since 1824.
Just in time for Andrew Jackson, another false friend of Native America,
Just before Old Hickory, one of many Democratic Party hypocrites and scoundrels,
Gives the FONGOOL, up the CULO go ahead.
Hey Andy, I’ve got your Jacksonian democracy: Hanging!
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) mission is to:   "… enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives. What’s that in the fine print?  Uncle Sammy holds “the trust assets of American Indians.”

Here’s a ******* tip, Geronimo: if he trusted you,
It would ALL belong to you.
To you and The People.
But it’s all fork-tongued white *******.
If true, Indian sovereignty would cease to be a sick one-liner,
Cease to be a blunt force punch line, more of,
King Leopold’s 19th Century stand-up comedy schtick,
Leo Presents: The **** of the Congo.
La Belgique mission civilisatrice—
That’s what French speakers called Uncle Leo’s imperial public policy,
Bringing the gift of civilization to central Africa.
Like Manifest Destiny in America, it had a nice colonial ring to it.
“Our manifest destiny [is] to overspread the continent,
Allotted by Providence for the free development,
Of our yearly multiplying millions.”  John L. O'Sullivan, 1845

Our civilizing mission or manifest destiny:
Either/or, a catchy turn of phrase;
Not unlike another ironic euphemism and semantic subterfuge:
The Pacification of the West; Pacification?
Hardly: decidedly not too peaceful for Cochise & Tonto.
Meanwhile, Madonna is cash rich but disrespected Evita poor,
To wit: A ****** on the Rocks (throwing in a byte or 2 of Da Vinci Code).
Meanwhile, Miss Ciccone denied her golden totem *****.
They snubbed that little guinea ****, didn’t they?
Snubbed her, robbed her rotten.
Evita, her magnum opus, right up there with . . .
Her SNL Wayne’s World skit:
“Get a load of the unit on that guy.”
Or, that infamous MTV Music Video Awards stunt,
That classic ***** Lip-Lock with Britney Spears.

How could I not see that Oscar snubola as prime evidence?
It was just another stunning case of American anti-Italian racial animus.
Anyone familiar with Noam Chomsky would see it,
Must view it in the same context as the Sacco & Vanzetti case,
Or, that arbitrary lynching of 9 Italian-Americans in New Orleans in 1891,
To cite just two instances of anti-Italian judicial reach & mob violence,
Much like what happened to my cousin Dominic,
Gang-***** by the Harlem Globetrotters, in their locker room during halftime,
While he working for Abe Saperstein back in 1952.
Dom was doing advance for Abe, supporting creation of The Washington Generals:
A permanent stable of hoop dream patsies and foils,
Named for the ever freewheeling, glad-handing, backslapping,
Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (SCAEF), himself,
Namely General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the man they liked,
And called IKE: quite possibly a crypto Jew from Abilene.

Of course, Harry Truman was my first Great White Fascist Father,
Back in 1946, when I first opened my eyes, hung up there,
High above, looking down from the adobe wall.
Surveying the entire circular kiva,
I had the best seat in the house.
Don’t let it be said my Spider Grandmother or Hopi Corn Mother,
Did not want me looking around at things,
Discovering what made me special.
Didn’t divine intervention play a significant part of my creation?
Knowing Mamma Mia and Nonna were Deities,
Gave me an edge later on the streets of Brooklyn.
The Cradleboard: was there ever a more divinely inspired gift to human curiosity? The Cradleboard: a perfect vantage point, an infant’s early grasp,
Of life harmonious, suspended between Mother Earth and Father Sky.
Simply put: the Hopi should be running our ******* public schools.

But it was IKE with whom I first associated,
Associated with the concept 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I liked IKE. Who didn’t?
What was not to like?
He won the ******* war, didn’t he?
And he wasn’t one of those crazy **** John Birchers,
Way out there, on the far right lunatic Republican fringe,
Was he? (It seems odd and nearly impossible to believe in 2013,
That there was once a time in our Boomer lives,
When the extreme right wing of the Republican Party
Was viewed by the FBI as an actual threat to American democracy.)
Understand: it was at a time when The FBI,
Had little ideological baggage,
But a great appetite for secrets,
The insuppressible Jay Edgar doing his thang.

IKE: of whom we grew so, oh-so Fifties fond.
Good old reliable, Nathan Shaking IKE:
He’d been fixed, hadn’t he? Had had the psychic snip.
Snipped as a West Point cadet & parade ground martinet.
Which made IKE a good man to have in a pinch,
Especially when crucial policy direction was way above his pay grade.
Cousin Dom was Saperstein’s bagman, bribing out the opposition,
Which came mainly from religious and patriotic organizations,
Viewing the bogus white sports franchise as obscene.
The Washington Generals, Saperstein’s new team would have but one opponent,
And one sole mission: to serve as the **** of endless jokes and sight gags for—
Negroes.  To play the chronic fools of--
Negroes.  To be chronically humiliated and insulted by—
Negroes.  To run up and down the boards all night, being outran by—
Negroes.  Not to mention having to wear baggy silk shorts.



Meadowlark Lemon:  “Yeah, Charlie, we ***** that grease-ball Dominic; we shagged his guinea mouth and culo rotten.”  

(interviewed in his Scottsdale, AZ winter residence in 2003 by former ESPN commentator Charlie Steiner, Malverne High School, Class of ’67.)
                                                        
  ­                                                                 ­                 
IKE, briefed on the issue by higher-ups, quickly got behind the idea.
The Harlem Globetrotters were to exist, and continue to exist,
Are sustained financially by Illuminati sponsors,
For one reason and one reason only:
To serve elite interests that the ***** be kept down and subservient,
That the minstrel show be perpetuated,
A policy surviving the elaborate window dressing of the civil rights movement, Affirmative action, and our first Uncle Tom president.
Case in point:  Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman & Metta World Peace Artest.
Cha-cha-cha changing again:  I am Robert Allen Zimmermann,
A whiny, skinny Jew, ****** and rolling in from Minnesota,
Arrested, obviously a vagrant, caught strolling around his tony Jersey enclave,
Having moved on up the list, the A-list, a special invitation-only,
Yom Kippur Passover Seder:  Next Year in Jerusalem, Babaloo!

I take ownership of all my autonomic and conditioned reflexes;
Each personal neural arc and pathway,
All shenanigans & shellackings,
Or blunt force cognitive traumas.
It’s all percolating nicely now, thank you,
In kitchen counter earthen crockery:
Random access memory: a slow-cook crockpot,
Bubbling through my psychic sieve.
My memories seem only remotely familiar,
Distant and vague, at times unreal:
An alien hybrid databank accessed accidently on purpose;
Flaky science sustains and monitors my nervous system.
And leads us to an overwhelming question:
Is it true that John Dillinger’s ******* is in the Smithsonian Museum?
Enquiring minds want to know, Kemosabe!

“Any last words, *******?” TWEETS Adam Smith.
Postmortem cyber-graffiti, an epitaph carved in space;
Last words, so singular and simple,
Across the universal great divide,
Frisbee-d, like a Pleistocene Kubrick bone,
Tossed randomly into space,
Morphing into a gyroscopic space station.
Mr. Smith, a calypso capitalist, and me,
Me, the Poet Laureate of the United States and Adam;
Who, I didn’t know from Adam.
But we tripped the light fantastic,
We boogied the Protestant Work Ethic,
To the tune of that old Scotch-Presbyterian favorite,
Variations of a 5-point Calvinist theme: Total Depravity; Election; Particular Redemption; Irresistible Grace; & Perseverance of the Saints.

Mr. Smith, the author of An Inquiry into the Nature
& Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776),
One of the best-known, intellectual rationales for:
Free trade, capitalism, and libertarianism,
The latter term a euphemism for Social Darwinism.
Prior to 1764, Calvinists in France were called Huguenots,
A persecuted religious majority . . . is that possible?
A persecuted majority of Edict of Nantes repute.
Adam Smith, likely of French Huguenot Jewish ancestry himself,
Reminds me that it is my principal plus interest giving me my daily gluten.
And don’t think the irony escapes me now,
A realization that it has taken me nearly all my life to see again,
What I once saw so vividly as a child, way back when.
Before I put away childish things, including the following sentiment:
“All I need is the air that I breathe.”

  Send "The Air That I Breathe" Ringtone to your Cell  

The Hippies were right, of course.
The Hollies had it all figured out.
With the answer, as usual, right there in the lyrics.
But you were lucky if you were listening.
There was a time before I embraced,
The other “legendary” economists:
The inexorable Marx,
The savage society of Veblen,
The heresies we know so well of Keynes.
I was a child.
And when I was a child, I spake as a child—
Grazie mille, King James—
I understood as a child; I thought as a child.
But when I became a man I jumped on the bus with the band,
Hopped on the irresistible bandwagon of Adam Smith.

Smith:  “Any last words, *******?”
Okay, you were right: man is rationally self-interested.
Grazie tanto, Scotch Enlightenment,
An intellectual movement driven by,
An alliance of Calvinists and Illuminati,
Freemasons and Johnny Walker Black.
Talk about an irresistible bandwagon:
Smith, the gloomy Malthus, and David Ricardo,
Another Jew boy born in London, England,
Third of 17 children of a Sephardic family of Portuguese origin,
Who had recently relocated from the Dutch Republic.
******* Jews!
Like everything shrewd, sane and practical in this world,
WE also invented the concept:  FOLLOW THE MONEY.

The lyrics: if you were really listening, you’d get it:
Respiration keeps one sufficiently busy,
Just breathing free can be a full-time job,
Especially when--borrowing a phrase from British cricketers—,
One contemplates the sorry state of the wicket.
Now that I am gainfully superannuated,
Pensioned off the employment radar screen.
Oft I go there into the wild ebon yonder,
Wandering the brain cloud at will.
My journey indulges curiosity, creativity and deceit.
I free range the sticky wicket,
I have no particular place to go.
Snagging some random fact or factoid,
A stop & go rural postal route,
Jumping on and off the brain cloud.

Just sampling really,
But every now and then, gorging myself,
At some information super smorgasbord,
At a Good Samaritan Rest Stop,
I ponder my own frazzled neurology,
When I was a child—
Before I learned the grim economic facts of life and Judaism,
Before I learned Hebrew,
Before my laissez-faire Bar Mitzvah lessons,
Under the rabbinical tutelage of Rebbe Kahane--
I knew what every clever child knows about life:
The surfing itself is the destination.
Accessing RAM--random access memory—
On a strictly need to know basis.
RAM:  a pretty good name for consciousness these days.

If I were an Asimov or Sir Arthur (Sri Lankabhimanya) Clarke,
I’d get freaky now, riffing on Terminators, Time Travel and Cyborgs.
But this is truth not science fiction.
Nevertheless, someone had better,
Come up with another name for cyborg.
Some other name for a critter,
Composed of both biological and artificial parts?
Parts-is-parts--be they electronic, mechanical or robotic.
But after a lifetime of science fiction media,
After a steady media diet, rife with dystopian technology nightmares,
Is anyone likely to admit to being a cyborg?
Since I always give credit where credit is due,
I acknowledge that cyborg was a term coined in 1960,
By Manfred Clynes & Nathan S. Kline and,
Used to identify a self-regulating human-machine system in outer space.

Five years later D. S. Halacy's: Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman,
Featured an introduction, which spoke of:  “… a new frontier, that was not,
Merely space, but more profoundly, the relationship between inner space,
And outer space; a bridge, i.e., between mind and matter.”
So, by definition, a cyborg defined is an organism with,
Technology-enhanced abilities: an antenna array,
Replacing what was once sentient and human.
My glands, once in control of metabolism and emotions,
Have been replaced by several servomechanisms.
I am biomechanical and gluttonous.
Soaking up and breathing out the atmosphere,
My Baby Boom experience of six decades,
Homogenized and homespun, feedback looped,
Endlessly networked through predigested mass media,
Culture as demographically targeted content.

This must have something to do with my own metamorphosis.
I think of Gregor Samsa, a Kafkaesque character if there ever was one.
And though we share common traits,
My evolutionary progress surpasses and transcends his.
Samsa--Phylum and Class--was, after all, an insect.
Nonetheless, I remain a changeling.
Have I not seen many stages of growth?
Each a painful metamorphic cycle,
From exquisite first egg,
Through caterpillar’s appetite & squirm.
To phlegmatic bliss and pupa quietude,
I unfold my wings in a rush of Van Gogh palette,
Color, texture, movement and grace, lift off, flapping in flight.
My eyes have witnessed wondrous transformations,
My experience, nouveau riche and distinctly self-referential;
For the most part unspecific & longitudinally pedestrian.

Yes, something has happened to me along the way.
I am no longer certain of my identity as a human being.
Time and technology has altered my basic wiring diagram.
I suspect the sophisticated gadgets and tools,
I’ve been using to shape & make sense of my environment,
Have reared up and turned around on me.
My tools have reshaped my brain & central nervous system.
Remaking me as something simultaneously more and less human.
The electronic toys and tools I once so lovingly embraced,
Have turned unpredictable and rabid,
Their bite penetrating my skin and septic now, a cluster of implanted sensors,
Content: currency made increasingly more valuable as time passes,
Served up by and serving the interests of a pervasively predatory 1%.
And the rest of us: the so-called 99%?
No longer human; simply put by both Howards--Beale & Zinn--

Humanoid.
Edna Sweetlove Aug 2015
"SNOGGO And The Giant Sea Beast" (Another Egregious SNOGGO Adventure)

written by
Edna Sweetlove
on behalf of
the one and only
SNOGGO*


  The shore lay peaceful in the warmth of the sun, a seemingly idyllic picture. The beach was completely empty even though it was high summer. The whole town was void of visitors: usually at this time of the year it was crawling with tourists: fat white slobs ready to absorb maximum sunshine and sunburn before going back to the city with their ugly kids, back to their humdrum and drab lives of sedentary drudge. But not today, today they were nowhere to be ******* seen.

  Glum shopkeepers stared glumly out at the glum, empty streets, knowing they faced ruin unless the terror which had engulfed their town and which would bring calamity to their traditional summer occupation of fleecing the tourists could be sorted out. And only I, the wonderfully brave and intrepid SNOGGO, could save the town.  They knew it and I knew it. It was an established fact. Q.E.D.

  As I drove my specially designed truck down the main street to the seafront, people cheered, calling out 'God bless you, dearest, gallant SNOGGO' as I went by.  I was so ******* proud that everyone knew who the great SNOGGO was. I cautiously inched onto the sands as people watched from behind their curtains, hoping against hope that I would be able to save them from looming disaster. I motored down to the water's edge and carefully turned the vehicle round so that its rear pointed out to sea.  The tarpaulin on the back of the specially constructed SNOGGOMOBILE flapped in the wind. What was under the tarpaulin?

  I dragged a steamer trunk from under the tarpaulin, opened it and hauled out the stinking carcase of Geoffrey, my neighbour's Rottweiler who had inexplicably gone missing last week.  Or it may have been Gerald, Geoffrey's twin brother.  Next I hauled Gerald's corpse out of the trunk (or it may have been Geoffrey's, the two mutts were identical and repellent in death, just as they had been identical and repellent in life).  The pong was something awful.  Nearly gagging with the rancid and stomach-churning stench, I dragged the two dead dogs down to the shoreline and, grabbing each by its hind legs, hurled them out to sea as far as my mighty strength would permit.  About five yards, as it happened.

  I returned to the SNOGGOMOBILE and drew back the tarpaulin to reveal what lay underneath; my secret weapon, whose secret only I knew. I made my preparations carefully but rapidly; I knew I had no more than five or six minutes’ leeway. And sure enough, after precisely five and a half minutes, I heard the sound I was expecting and I saw the sight I was expecting.

  The mighty fin of the dreadful fish cut through the water with a dreadful whoosh.  And Geoffrey disappeared beneath the waves (or it might have been Gerald, who cares).  The other dog would be next: such a mighty shark as the one enjoying dog tartare in the bay would not be sated by a single Rotweiler.

  I climbed onto the back of the SNOGGOMOBILE, and leaped gracefully into the seat behind my secret weapon.  I aimed quickly at the focal point of the blood-stained thrashing waters, pressed the red button (marked "Fire" for ease of reference) and WHAM!, what a Hell of a big bang, and off went my thermo-nuclear torpedo, whizzing down the beach and SPLASH! into the water, then WALLOP! as it hit the shark amidships and BOOM! as it went off, blowing the shark into ******* smithereens.  Myriad bits of shark (mixed with bits of Geoffrey and Gerald) rained down on the beach; how fortunate that I had thought to put up my extra-size golf-umbrella (complete with colourful SNOGGO logo) to deal with this eventuality and no lumps hit me.

  The enormous shark (wittily nicknamed “that ******* great ******* shark” by the locals) which had terrorised the entire coast for some time, gobbling up paddling kiddies whole, chewing off the limbs of dozens of swimmers, and generally being a major pain the ****, was no more. It was mincemeat. The whole promenade was alive with cheering townsfolk, as I smiled in happiness and pride at my wonderful achievement. They started singing my favourite song: “We love SNOGGO, SNOGGO the brave” which brought ******* tears to my eyes.

  Now SNOGGO's reward beckoned: ten thousand lovely wallet-warmers (plus expenses) plus a night of unbridled lust with the mayor's buxom wife Shirley and his sister Deidre too, as previously arranged. Yes, SNOGGO the famous shark killer (and ******* fan) had killed yet another predator of the deep stone ******* dead.

THE END
~~~~~~~~
Gaffer Oct 2015
I put a deposit down on a house.
Great, whereabouts.
Mars.
Is that the name of the new estate we passed yesterday, when can we move in.
Eight or ten years.
What, who the hell’s building it, the seven dwarfs.
It’s on the planet Mars.
You bought a house on planet Mars, did you put a deposit down.
Yeah, ten thousand pounds.
My mother was right about you, twenty four carat *****, did you buy the Tower of london as well, maybe the Statue of liberty as an ornament.
Don’t be silly.
You’re calling me silly, I’ll be a laughing stock when my friends find out about this. I can hear them now, that’s Sally, her husband bought her a house on Mars. I should have married Geoffrey, he lives in a big house, and he’s sane.
He’s also gay.
I don’t care, I would have straightened him.
You really can be melodramatic at times.
Melodramatic, that’s it, you’re so dumped.
Right then, I’m going.
Great, if you hurry you’ll catch the 65 doing the planets run.
Phone rings, It’s mummy.
Hi honey how you doing.
Terrible mum, I’ve just thrown Paul out.
You should have done it years ago, the boys a *****.
I know, I’ll not tell you what he did.
Knowing him, it’ll be something spectacular, have you seen the news.
No I’m depressed enough.
You wouldn’t believe this, that estate agent up the high st was selling plots of land on Mars, they were going like hot cakes, they sold out in minutes.
That's why I threw him out mum, the idiot bought one.


The House Part 2

Oh darling, get him back, they tripled in price after ten minutes, they were saying they could be worth a million pounds in ten years time.
What, are you sure.
Yes, check the news.
Phone call to you know who.
Hi Paul where are you, sorry about throwing a wobbler, you sort of caught me on the hop.
Geoffrey’s putting me up.
What, did anybody see you going in.
Why.
You know why.
I don’t know why.
Never mind, when are you coming home.
Don’t know, Geoffrey says I can stay as long as I want.
Just say the word bike shed to Geoffrey.
Okay, Right he’s went a strange colour, think I’m coming home now.
Home.
Listen Paul I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great to start a family on Mars, or even keep it as an investment.
No, I've been thinking too, and you were right, it was a dumb idea, I sold it back to the estate agent.
What, how much for.
The same, ten thousand.
My mother was wrong about you, you’re a forty eight carat *****, do you know how much they plots are worth.
So it was just about the money.
Yes, you done one right thing in your life, then you undone it.
It’s only money Sally, we just put the deposit down on that new estate.
You put the money down yourself, I’ve decided to redump you.
Wow, I’ve never been redumped before.
Get used to it loser.
Next day - Phone call from the estate agent, Sally answers.
Just a message for Paul, that’s the gold taps installed, when would he like to see them.
What do you mean gold taps, he only put down a deposit.
No, he bought the house outright, three hundred thousand pounds.
Phone call to you know who.
Paul, Paul, I love you.
You are speaking to the answer machine of Paul, please leave a message after the splash of the Jacuzzi, though I may not hear you over the noise of the ladies netball team.
Song one
This is a song about tarzanic love
That subsisted some years ago,
As a love duel between an English girl and an African ogre,
There was an English girl hailing along the banks of river Thames
She had stubbornly refused all offers for marriage,
From all the local English boys, both rich and poor
tall and short, weak or strong, ugly and comely in the eye,
the girl had refused and sternly refused the treats for love,
She was disciplined to her callous pursuit of her dream
to marry a mysterious,fantastic,lively,original and extra-ordinary man,
That no other woman in history of human marriage ever married,
She came from London, near the banks of river Thames,
Her name was Victoria Goodhamlet Lovehill, daughter of a peasant,
She came from a humble English family, which hustled often
For food, clothing, and other calls that make one an ordinary British,
She grew up without a local boy friend, anywhere in the English world,
She is the first English girl to knock the age of forty five while a ******,
She never got deflowered in her teens as other English girls usually do
She preserved her purse with maximal carefulness in her wait for a black man,
Her father, of course a peasant, his trade was human barber and horse shearer,
Often asked her what she wants in life before her marriage, which man she really wanted,
Her specification was an open eyesore to her father; no blinkers could stave the father’s pale
For she wanted a black tall man, strong and ruggedly dark in the skin, must own a kingdom,
Fables taken to her from Africa were that such an African man was only one but none else,
His glorious name was Akhatembete kho bwibo khakhalikha no bwoya,
When the English girl heard the chimerical name of her potential husband,
She felt a super bliss in her spine; she yearned for the day of her rendezvous,
She crashed into desperate burning for true English love
With a man with a wonderful name like Akhatembete kho bwibo khakhalikha no bwoya.


Song two

Rumours of this English despair and dilemma for love reached Africa, in the wrong ears,
Not the human ears, but unfortunately the ears of the ogres, seasoned in the evil art,
It was received and treated as classified information among the African ogress,
They prevented this news to leak to African humans at all at all
Lest humans enjoy their human status and enjoy most
The love in the offing from the English girl,
They thus swiftly plotted and ployed
To lure and win the ******
From royal land;
England.




Song three

Firstly, the African ogres recruited one of their own
The most handsome middle aged male ogre, more handsome than all in humanity,
And of course African ogres are beautiful and handsome than African humans, no match,
The ogres are more gifted in stature, physique, eugenics and general overtures
They always outplay African humans on matters of intelligence, they are shrewder,
Ogres are aggressive and swashbuckling in manners; fear is none of their domain
Craft and slyness is their breakfast, super is the result; success, whether pyrrhic or Byronic,
Is their sweetest dish, they then schemed to get the English girl at whatever cost,
They made a move to name one of their fellow ogres the name of dream man;
Akhatembete khobwibo khakhalikha no bwoya,
Which an English girl wanted,
By viciously naming one of their handsome middle-aged man this name.

Song four

Then they set off 0n foot, from Congo moving to the north towards Europe abode England,
Where the beautiful girl of the times, Victoria Goodhamlet Lovehill hail,
They were three of them, walking funnily in cyclopic steps of African ogres,
Keeping themselves humorously high by feigning how they will dupe the girl,
How they will slyly decoy the English village pumpkin of the girl in to their trap,
And effortlessly make her walk on foot from England to Africa, in pursuit of love
On this muse and sweet wistfulness they broke out into loud gewgaws of laughter,
In such emotional bliss they now jump up wildly forgetting about their tails
Which they initially stuffed inside white long trousers, tails now wag and flag crazily,
Feats of such wild emotions gave the ogres superhuman synergy to walk cyclopically,
A couple of their strides made them to cross Uganda, Kenya, Somali, Ethiopia and Egypt
Just but in few days, as sometimes they ran in violent stampedes
Singing in a cryptic language the funny ogres songs;

Dada wu ndolelee!
Dada wu ndolelee!
Kuyuni kwa mnja
Sa kwingile khundilila !

Ehe kuyuni Mulie!
Ehe kuyuni mulie!
Omukhana oyo
Kaloba khuja lilia !
They then laughed loudly, farted cacophonously and jumped wildly, as if possessed,
They used happiness and raucous joy as a strategy to walk miles and miles
Which you cover when moving on foot from Congo to England,
They finally crossed Morocco and walked into Europe,
They by-passed Italy and Spain walking piecemeal
into England, native land of the beautiful girl.

Song  five

When the three ogres reached England, they were all surprised
Every woman and man was white; people of England walked slowly and gently
They made minimum noise, no shouting publicly on the street,
a stark contrast to human behaviour and ogre culture in Africa, very rambunctious,
Before they acclimatized to disorderly life in England, an over-sighted upset befell them
Piling and piling menace of pressure to ****,
Gripped all the three ogre brothers the same time,
None of them had knowledge of municipal utilities,
They all wanted to micturated openly
Had it not been beautiful English girls
Ceaselessly thronging the streets.



Song six

They persevered and moved on in expectation of coming to the end,
Out-skirt of the strange English town so that they can get a woodlot,
From where they could hide behind to do open defecation
All was in vain; they never came to any end of the English town,
Neither did they come by a tumbled-down house
No cul de sac was in sight, only endless highway,
Sandwiched between tall skyscraping buildings,
One of the ogres came up with an idea, to drip the ****
Drop by drop in their *******, as they walk to their destiny,
They all laughed but not loudly, in controlled giggles
And executed the idea minus haste.

Song seven

They finally came down to the banks of river Thames,
Identified the home of Victoria Goodhamlet Lovehill
The home had neither main gate nor metallic doors,
They entered the home walking in humble majesty,
Typical of racketeering ogre, in a swindling act,
The home was silent, no one in sight to talk to
The ogres nudged one another, repressing the mirth,
Hunchbacked English lass surfaced, suddenly materialized
Looking with a sparkle in the eye, talking pristine English,
Like that one written by Geoffrey Chaucer, her words were as piffling
As speech of a mad woman at the fish market, ogres looked at her in askance.

Song eight

An ogre with name Akhatembete khobwibo khakhalikha nobwoya opened to talk,
Asked the girl where could be the latrine pits, for micturation only,
The hunchbacked lass gave them a direction to the toilets inside the house,
She did it in a full dint of English elegance and gentility,
But all the ogres were discombobulated to their peak
about the English latrine pit inside the house,
they all went into the toilet at the same time,
to the chagrin of the hunchbacked lass
she had never seen such in England
she struggled a lot
to repress her mirth
as the English
never get amused
at folly.




Song nine

It is a tradition among the ogres to ****,
Whenever they are ******* in the African bush,
But now the ogres are in a fix, a beautiful fix of their life
If at all they ****, the flatulent cacophony will be heard outside
By the curious eavesdroppers under the eaves of the house,
They murmured among themselves to tighten their **** muscles
So that they can micturated without usual African accomplice; the tweeee!
All succeeded to manage , other than Akhatembete khobwibo khakhalikha nobwoya,
Who urinated but with a low tziiiiiiii sound from his ***, they didn’t laugh
Ogres walked out of privities relaxed like a catholic faithful swallowing a sacrament,
The hunchback girl ushered them to where they were to sit, in the common room
They all sat with air of calm on their face, Akhatembete Khobwibo khakhalikha nobwoya,
led the conversation, by announcing to the girl that he is Victoria’s visitor from Africa,
To which the girl responded with caution that Victoria is at the barbershop,
Giving hand to her father in shearing the horses, and thus she is busy,
No one is allowed to meet her, at that particular hour of the day
But he pleaded to the hunchback girl only to pass tidings to Victoria,
That Akhatembete Khobwibo khakhalikha nobwoya from Africa
Has arrived and he is yearning to meet her today and now,
The girl went bananas on hearing the name
The hunch on her back visibly shook,
Is like she had heard the name often,
She then became prudent in her senses,
And asked the visitor not to make anything—
Near a cat’s paw out of her person,
She implored the visitor to confirm
if at all he was what he was saying
to which he confirmed in affirmation,
then she went out swiftly
like a tail of the snake,
to pass tidings
to her sister
Victoria.


Song ten
She went out shouting her sister’s name,
A rare case to happen in England,
One to make noise in the broad day light,
With no permission from the local leadership,
She called and ululated Victoria’ name for Victoria to hear
From wherever she was, of which she heard and responded;
What is the matter my dear little sister? What ails you?
Akhatembete Khobwibo khakhalikha nobwoya is around!
She responded back in voice disturbed by emotional uproar,
What! My sister why do you cheat me in such a day time?
Am not cheating you my sister, he is around sited in our father’s house,
Is he? Have you given him a drink, a sweet European brandy?
My sister I have not, I feared that I may mess up your visitors
With my hunched shoulders, I feared sister forbid,
Ok, I am coming, running there, tell him to be patient,
Let me tell him sister just right now,
And make sure you come before his patience is stretched.





Song eleven

Victoria Goodhamlet Lovehill almost went berserk
On getting this good tidings about the watershed presence,
Of the long awaited suitor, her face exploded into vivacity,
Her heart palpitating on imagination of finally getting the husband,
She went out of the barber shop running and ululating,
Leaving her father behind, confounded and agape,
She came running towards her father’s main house
Where the suitor is sited, with the chaperons,
She came kicking her father’s animals to death,
Harvesting each and every fruit, for the suitor,
She did marvel before she reached where the suitor was;
Harvested ten bananas, mangoes and avocadoes,
Plums, pepper, watermelons, lemons and oranges,
She kicked dead five chicken, five goats, rams,
Swine, rabbits, rats, pigeons and hornbills,
When she reached the house, she inquired to know,
Who among them could be the one; Akhatembete Khobwibo
Khakhalikha no bwoya, But her English vocals were not guttural enough,
She instead asked, who among you is a key tempter go weevil car no lawyer?
The decoy ogre promptly responded; here I am the queen of my heart. He stood up,
Victoria took the ogre into her arms, whining; babie! Babie, babie, come!
Victoria carried the ogre swiftly in her arms, to her tidy bed room,
She placed the ogre on her bed, kissed one another at a rate of hundred,
Or more kisses per a minute, the kissing sent both of them crazy, but spiritual craft,
That gave the ogre a boon to maintain some sobriety, but libido of virginity held Victoria
In boonless state of ****** feat, defenseless and impaired in judgment
It extremely beclouded her judgment; she removed and pulled of their clothes,
Libidinous feat blurring her sight from seeing the scarlet tail projecting
From between the buttocks of the ogre, vestige of *******,
She forcefully took the ogre into her arms, putting the ogre between her legs,
The ogre’s uncircumcised ***** effectively penetrated Victoria’s ****** purse,
The ogre broke virginity of Victoria, making her to feel maximum warmth of pleasure
As it released its germinal seed into her body, ecstasy gripped her until she fainted,
The ogre erected more on its first *******; its ***** became more stiff and sharp,
It never pulled out its ***** from the purse of Victoria, instead it introduced further
Deeper and deeper into Victoria’s ******, reaching the ****** depth inside her with gusto,
Victoria screamed, wailed, farted, scratched, threw her neck, kissed crazily and ******,
On the rhythms of the ogre’s waist gyrations, it was maximum pleasure to Victoria,
She reached her second ****** before the ogre; it took further one hour before releasing,
Victoria was beaten; she thought she was not in England in her father’s house
She thought she was in Timbuktu riding on a mosquito to Eldorado,
Where she could not be found by her father whatsoever,
The ogre pulled Victoria up, helped her to dress up,
She begged that they go back to the common room,
Lest her father finds them here, he would quarrel,
They went back to the common room,
Found her father talking to other two ogres,
She shouted to her father before anyone else,
That ‘father I have been showing him around our house,’
‘He has fallen in love with our house; he is passionate about it,’
Akhatembete khobwibo khakhalikha nobwoya was shy,
He greeted the father and resumed his chair, with wryly dignity.


Song twelve
An impromptu festival took place,
Fully funded by the father of Victoria,
There was meat of all type from pork to chicken,
Greens were also there in plenty, pepper and watermelons,
Victoria’s mother remembered to prepare tripe of a goat
For the key visitant who was the suitor; Akhatembete,
Food was laid before the ogres to enjoy themselves,
As all others went to the other house for a brainstorming session,
But the hunched backed girl hid herself behind the door,
To admire the food which visitors were devouring,
As she also spied on the table manners of the visitors, for stories to be shared,
Perhaps between herself and her mother, when visitors are gone,
Some sub-human manners unfolded to her as she spied,
One of the ogres swallowed a spoon and a table fork,
And Akhatembete khobwibo khakhalikha nobwoya,
Uncontrollably unstuffed his scarlet tail from the trouser,
The chill crawled up the spine of hunchbacked girl,
She almost shouted from her hideout, but she restrained herself,
She swore to herself to tell her father that the visitors are not humans
They are superhuman, Tarzans or mermaids or the werewolves,
The ogre who swallowed the spoon remorsefully tried to puke it back,
Lest the hosts discover the missing spoon and cause brouhaha,
It was difficult to puke out the spoon; it had already flowed into the stomach,
Victoria, her father, her mother and her friend Anastasia,
Anastasia; another English girl from the neighborhood,
Whom Victoria had fished, to work for her as a best maid, as a chaperon,
Went back to the house where the ogres had already finished eating,
They found ogres sitting idle squirming and flitting in their chairs
As if no food had ever been presented to them in a short while ago,
One ogre even shamelessly yawned, blinking his eyes like a snake,
They all forgot to say thanks for the food, no thanks for lunch,
But instead Akhatembete announced on behalf of other ogres,
That they should be allowed to go as they are late for something,
A behaviour so sub-human, given they were suitors to an English family,
Victoria’s father was uneasy, was irritated but he had no otherwise,
For he was desperate to have her daughter Victoria get married,
He had nothing to say but only to ask his daughter, Victoria,
If she was going right-away with her suitor or not,
To which she violently answered yes I am going with him,
Victoria’s mother kept mum, she only shot miserable glances
From one corner of the house to another, to the ogres also,
She totally said nothing, as Victoria was predictably violent
To any gainsayer in relation to her occasion of the moment,
Victoria’s father wished them all well in their life,
And permitted Victoria to go and have good life,
With Akhatembete, her suitor she had yearned for with equanimity,
Victoria was so confused with joy; her day of marriage is beholden,
She hurriedly packed up as if being chased by a monster,
PROLOGUE:

“’We must stop this brain working for twenty years.’” So said Mussolini’s Grand Inquisitor, his official Fascist prosecutor addressing the judge in Antonio Gramsci’s 1928 trial; so said the Il Duce’s Torquemada, ending his peroration with this infamous demand.’”  Gramsci, Antonio: Selections from the Prison Notebooks, Introduction, translation from Italian and publishing by Quintin ***** & Geoffrey Nowell Smith, International Publishers, New York, 1971.

BE IT RESOLVED: Whereas, I introduce this book with a nod of deep respect to Antonio Gramsci--an obscure but increasingly pertinent political scientist it would behoove us all to read and study today, I dedicate the book itself to my great grandfather and key family patriarch, Pietro Buonaiuto (1865-1940) of Moschiano, in the province of Avellino, in the region of Campania, southern Italy.

Let it be recognized that Pete Buonaiuto may not have had Tony Gramsci’s brain, but he certainly exhibited an extreme case of what his son--my paternal grandfather, Francesco Buonaiuto--termed: Testaduro. Literally, it means Hardhead, but connotes something far beyond the merely stubborn. We’re talking way out there in the unknown, beyond that inexplicable void where hotheaded hardheads regurgitate their next move, more a function of indigestion than thought. Given any situation, a Testaduro would rather bring acid reflux and bile to the mix than exercise even a skosh of gray muscle matter.  But there’s more. It gets worse.

To truly comprehend the densely-packed granite that is the Testaduro mind, we must now sub-focus our attention on the truly obdurate, extreme examples of what my paternal grandmother—Vicenza di Maria Buonaiuto—they called her Jennie--would describe as reflexive cutta-dey-noze-a-offa-to-spite-a-dey-face-a types. I reference the truly defiant, or T.D.—obviously short for both truly defiant and Testaduro. T.D.’s—a breed apart--smiling and sneering, laughing and, finally, begging their regime-appointed torture apparatchik (a career-choice getting a great deal of attention from the certificate mills--the junior colleges and vocational specialty institutes) mocking their Guantanamo-trained torturer: “Is that what you call punishment?  Is that all you ******* got?”

If, to assist comprehension, you require a literary frame of context, might I suggest you compare the Buonaiuto mind to Paul Lazzaro, Vonnegut’s superbly drawn Italian-American WWII soldier-lunatic with a passion for revenge, who kept a list of people who ****** with him, people he would have killed someday for a thousand dollars.

Go with me, Reader, go back with me to Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House-Five: “Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time . . .”
It is long past the Tralfamadorian abduction and his friendship with Stony Stevenson. Billy is back in Germany, one of three dingbat American G.I.s roaming around beyond enemy lines.  Another of the three is Private Lazzaro, a former car thief and undeniable psychopath from Cicero, Illinois.

Paul Lazzaro:  “Anybody touches me, he better **** me, or I’m gonna have him killed. Revenge is the sweetest thing there is. People **** with me, and Jesus Christ are they ever ******* sorry. I laugh like hell. I don’t care if it’s a guy or a dame. If the President of the United States ****** around with me, I’d fix him good. Revenge is the sweetest thing in life. And nobody ever got it from Lazzaro who didn’t have it coming.  Anybody who ***** with me? I’m gonna have him shot after the war, after he gets home, a big ******* hero with dames climbing all over him. He’ll settle down. A couple of years ‘ll go by, and then one day a knock at the door. He’ll answer the door and there’ll be a stranger out there. The stranger’ll ask him if he’s so and so. When he says he is, the stranger’ll say, ‘Paul Lazzaro sent me.’ And then he’ll pull out a gun and shoot his pecker off. The stranger’ll let him think a couple seconds about who Paul Lazzaro is and what life’s gonna be like without a pecker. Then he’ll shoot him once in the gut and walk away. Nobody ***** with Paul Lazzaro!”

(ENTER AUTHOR. HE SPEAKS: “Hey, Numb-nuts! Yes, you, my Reader. Do you want to get ****** into reading that Vonnegut blurb over and over again for the rest of the afternoon, or can I get you back into my manuscript?  That Paul Lazzaro thing was just my way of trying to give you a frame of reference, not to have you ******* drift off, walking away from me, your hand held tightly in nicotine-stained fingers. So it goes, you Ja-Bone. It was for comparison purposes.  Get it?  But, if you insist, go ahead and compare a Buonaiuto—any Buonaiuto--with the character, Paul Lazzaro. No comparison, but if you want a need a number—you quantitative ****--multiply the seating capacity of the Roman Coliseum by the gross tonnage of sheet pane glass that crystalized into small fixed puddles of glazed smoke, falling with the steel, toppling down into rubble on 9/11/2001. That’s right: multiply the number of Coliseum seats times a big, double mound of rubble, that double-smoking pile of concrete and rebar and human cadavers, formerly known as “The Twin Towers, World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan, NYC.  It’s a big number, Numb-nuts! And it illustrates the adamantine resistance demonstrated by the Buonaiuto strain of the Testaduro virus. Shall we return to my book?)

The truth is Italian-Americans were never overzealous about WWII in the first place. Italians in America, and other places like Argentina, Canada, and Australia were never quite sure whom they were supposed to be rooting for. But that’s another story. It was during that war in 1944, however, that my father--John Felix Buonaiuto, a U.S. Army sergeant and recent Anzio combat vet decided to visit Moschiano, courtesy of a weekend pass from 5th Army Command, Naples.  In a rough-hewn, one-room hut, my father sat before a lukewarm stone fireplace with the white-haired Carmine Buonaiuto, listening to that ancient one, spouting straight **** about his grandfather—Pietro Buonaiuto--my great-grandfather’s past. Ironically, I myself, thirty yeas later, while also serving in the United States Army, found out in the same way, in the same rough-hewn, one-room hut, in front of the same lukewarm fireplace, listening to the same Carmine Buonaiuto, by now the old man and the sea all by himself. That’s how I discovered the family secret in Moschiano. It was 1972 and I was assigned to a NATO Cold War stay-behind operation. The operation, code-named GLADIO—had a really cool shield with a sword, the fasces and other symbols of its legacy and purpose. GLADIO was a clandestine anti-communist agency in Italy in the 1970s, with one specific target:  Il Brigate Rosso, the Red Brigades.  This was in my early 20s. I was back from Vietnam, and after a short stint as an FBI confidential informant targeting campus radicals at the University of Miami, I was back in uniform again. By the way, my FBI gig had a really cool codename also: COINTELPRO, which I thought at the time had something to do with tapping coin operated telephones. Years later, I found out COINTELPRO stood for counter-intelligence program.  I must have had a weakness for insignias, shields and codenames, because there I was, back in uniform, assigned to Army Intelligence, NATO, Italy, “OPERATION GLADIO.“

By the way, Buonaiuto is pronounced:

Bwone-eye-you-toe . . . you ignorant ****!

Oh yes, prepare yourself for insult, Kemosabe! I refuse to soft soap what ensues.  After all, you’re the one on trial here this time, not Gramsci and certainly not me. Capeesh?

Let’s also take a moment, to pay linguistic reverence to the language of Seneca, Ovid & Virgil. I refer, of course, to Latin. Latin is called: THE MOTHER TONGUE. Which is also what we used to call both Mary Delvecchio--kneeling down in the weeds off Atlantic Avenue--& Esther Talayumptewa --another budding, Hopi Corn Maiden like my mother—pulling trains behind the creosote bush up on Black Mesa.  But those are other stories.

LATIN: Attention must be paid!

Take the English word obdurate, for example—used in my opening paragraph, the phrase truly obdurate: {obdurate, ME, fr. L. obduratus, pp. of obdurare to harden, fr. Ob-against + durus hard –More at DURING}.

Getting hard? Of course you are. Our favorite characters are the intransigent: those who refuse to bend. Who, therefore, must be broken: Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke comes to mind. Or Paul Newman again as Fast Eddie, that cocky kid who needed his wings clipped and his thumbs broken. Or Paul Newman once more, playing Eddie Felson again; Fast Eddie now slower, a shark grown old, deliberative now, no longer cute, dimples replaced with an insidious sneer, still fighting and hustling but in shrewder, more subtle ways. (Credit: Scorsese’s brilliant homage The Color of Money.)

The Color of Money (1986) - IMDb www.imdb.com/title/tt0090863 Internet MovieDatabase Rating: 7/10 - ‎47,702 votes. Paul Newman and Helen Shaver; still photo: Tom Cruise in The Color of Money (1986) Still of Paul Newman in The Color of Money (1986). Full Cast & Crew - ‎Awards - ‎Trivia - ‎Plot Summary

Perhaps it was the Roman Catholic Church I rebelled against.  The Catholic Church: certainly a key factor for any Italian-American, a stinger, a real burr under the saddle, biting, setting off insurrection again and again. No. Worse: prompting Revolt! And who could blame us? Catholicism had that spooky Latin & Incense going for it, but who wouldn’t rise up and face that Kraken? The Pope and his College of Cardinals? A Vatican freak show—a red shoe, twinkle-toe, institutional anachronism; the Curia, ferreting out the good, targeting anything that felt even half-way good, classifying, pronouncing verboten, even what by any stretch of the imagination, would be deemed to be merely kind of pleasant, slamming down that peccadillo rubber-stamp. Sin: was there ever a better drug? Sin? Revolution, **** yeah!  Anyone with an ounce of self-respect would have gone to the barricades.

But I digress.
A Letter To My Aunt Discussing The Correct Approach To Modern Poetry

To you, my aunt, who would explore
The literary Chankley Bore,
The paths are hard, for you are not
A literary Hottentot
But just a kind and cultured dame
Who knows not Eliot (to her shame).
Fie on you, aunt, that you should see
No genius in David G.,
No elemental form and sound
In T.S.E. and Ezra Pound.
Fie on you, aunt! I'll show you how
To elevate your middle brow,
And how to scale and see the sights
From modernist Parnassian heights.

First buy a hat, no Paris model
But one the Swiss wear when they yodel,
A bowler thing with one or two
Feathers to conceal the view;
And then in sandals walk the street
(All modern painters use their feet
For painting, on their canvas strips,
Their wives or mothers, minus hips).

Perhaps it would be best if you
Created something very new,
A ***** novel done in Erse
Or written backwards in Welsh verse,
Or paintings on the backs of vests,
Or Sanskrit psalms on lepers' chests.
But if this proved imposs-i-ble
Perhaps it would be just as well,
For you could then write what you please,
And modern verse is done with ease.

Do not forget that 'limpet' rhymes
With 'strumpet' in these troubled times,
And commas are the worst of crimes;
Few understand the works of Cummings,
And few James Joyce's mental slummings,
And few young Auden's coded chatter;
But then it is the few that matter.
Never be lucid, never state,
If you would be regarded great,
The simplest thought or sentiment,
(For thought, we know, is decadent);
Never omit such vital words
As belly, genitals and -----,
For these are things that play a part
(And what a part) in all good art.
Remember this: each rose is wormy,
And every lovely woman's germy;
Remember this: that love depends
On how the Gallic letter bends;
Remember, too, that life is hell
And even heaven has a smell
Of putrefying angels who
Make deadly whoopee in the blue.
These things remembered, what can stop
A poet going to the top?

A final word: before you start
The convulsions of your art,
Remove your brains, take out your heart;
Minus these curses, you can be
A genius like David G.

Take courage, aunt, and send your stuff
To Geoffrey Grigson with my luff,
And may I yet live to admire
How well your poems light the fire.
Chuck Dec 2012
A master of characterization
After moments of gesticulation
Your characters become universal
Images play without dress rehearsal .
First created, an idealistic knight,
Who teaches the perfect techniques to fight.
Next danced a lad of ladies' desire .
Your words described me, "a lad of fire."
A counterfeit nun pilgrimed with the bunch.
She starved her dogs to have a second lunch,
Yet, you viewed her as whimsical and tame.
The way she faked, sung, and lied was a shame.
Still, I know this false Prioress today,
Characters such as this wont fade away.
The Miller modeled your retched Scot.
I too am Scottish, but retched I'm not!
Though we don't always view the world as one,
I have the faint soul of your pseudo son.
I too would flirt with the strong Wife if Bath,
And roam with the pilgrims down that God path.
Master at comic irony, you are
The church was corrupt, relics in a jar
Or a pardon for an extorted fee.
Friars with gifts for girls could not trick thee.
Twenty four of one twenty were finished,
But the affects will not be diminished.
They say you're number two in history.
For people like me, that's a mystery.
In a quill duel between Shakespeare and you,
You'd leap to number one, Shakespeare to two.
Shakespeare is great. I just love Chaucer's characters. This is my tribute to my greatest writer of all time. If you haven't read his tales, you must. You won't regret it. Thanks for reading!
LJW Feb 2014
I've given poetry readings where less than a handful of people were present. It's a humbling experience. It’s also a deeply familiar experience.

"Poetry is useless," poet Geoffrey ****** said in a 2013 interview, "but it is useless the way the soul is useless—it is unnecessary, but we would not be what we are without it."

I was raised a Roman Catholic, and though I don’t go to Mass regularly anymore, I still remember early mornings during Advent when I went to liturgies at my parochial school. It was part of my offering—the sacrifice I made to honor the impending birth of the Savior—along with giving up candy at Lent. So few people attended at that hour that the priest turned on only a few lights near the altar. Approaching the front of the church, my plastic book bag rustling against my winter coat, I felt as if I were nearing the seashore at sunrise: the silhouettes of old widows on their kneelers at low tide, waiting for the priest to come in, starting the ritual in plain, unsung vernacular. No organist to blast us into reverence. No procession.

Every day, all over the world, these sparsely attended ceremonies still happen. Masses are said. Poetry is read. Poems are written on screens and scraps of paper. When I retire for the day, I move into a meditative, solitary, poetic space. These are the central filaments burning through my life, and the longer I live, the more they seem to be fused together.

Poetry is marginal, thankless, untethered from fame and fortune; it's also gut level, urgent, private yet yearning for connection. In all these ways, it's like prayer for me. I’m a not-quite-lapsed Catholic with Zen leanings, but I’ll always pray—and I’ll always write poems. Writing hasn’t brought me the Poetry Jackpot I once pursued, but it draws on the same inner wiring that flickers when I pray.        

• • •

In the 2012 collection A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith, nineteen contemporary American poets, from Buddhist to Wiccan to Christian, discuss how their artistic and spiritual lives inform one another. Kazim Ali, who was raised a Shia Muslim, observes in his essay “Doubt and Seeking”:

[Prayer is] speaking to someone you know is not going to be able to speak back, so you're allowed to be the most honest that you can be. In prayer you're allowed to be as purely selfish as you like. You can ask for something completely irrational. I have written that prayer is a form of panic, because in prayer you don't really think you're going to be answered. You'll either get what you want or you won't.

You could replace the word "prayer" with "poetry" with little or no loss of meaning. I'd even go so far as to say that submitting my work to a journal often feels like this, too. Sometimes, when I get an answer in the form of an acceptance, I'm stunned.

"I never think of a possible God reading my poems, although the gods used to love the arts,” writes ***** Howe in her essay "Footsteps over Ground." She adds:

Poetry could be spoken into a well, of course, and drop like a penny into the black water. Sometimes I think that there is a heaven for poems and novels and music and dance and paintings, but they might only be hard-worked sparks off a great mill, which may add up to a whole-cloth in the infinite.

And here, you could easily replace the word "poetry" with "prayer." The penny falling to the bottom of a well is more often what we experience. But both poetry and prayer are things humans have learned to do in order to go on. Doubt is a given, but we do get to choose what it is we doubt.

A God in the House Book Cover
Quite a few authors in A God in the House (Howe, Gerald Stern, Jane Hirschfield, Christian Wiman) invoke the spiritual writing of Simone Weil, including her assertion that "absolutely unmixed attention is prayer." This sounds like the Zen concept of mindfulness. And it broadens the possibility for poetry as prayer, regardless of content, since writing poetry is an act of acute mindfulness. We mostly use words in the practical world to persuade or communicate, but prayers in various religious traditions can be lamentations of great sorrow. Help me, save me, take this pain away—I am in agony. In a church or a temple or a mosque, such prayerful lamentation is viewed as a form of expression for its own good, even when it doesn't lead immediately to a change of emotional state.

Perhaps the unmixed attention Weil wrote of is a unity of intention and utterance that’s far too rare in our own lives. We seldom match what we think or feel with what we actually say. When it happens spontaneously in poetry or prayer—Allen Ginsberg's "First thought, best thought" ideal —it feels like a miracle, as do all the moments when I manage to get out of my own way as a poet.

Many people who pray don’t envision a clear image of whom or what they’re praying to. But poets often have some sense of their potential readers. There are authorities whose approval I've tried to win or simply people I've tried to please: teachers, fellow writers, editors, contest judges—even my uncle, who actually reads my poems when they appear in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he used to work.

And yet, my most immersed writing is not done with those real faces in mind. I write to the same general entity to which I pray. It's as if the dome of my skull extends to the ceiling of the room I'm in, then to the dome of the sky and outward. It’s like the musings I had as a child lying awake at night, when my imagination took me to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. But then I emerge from this wide-open state and begin thinking about possible readers—and the faces appear.

This might also be where the magic ends.

• • •

I write poetry because it’s what I do, just as frogs croak and mathematicians ponder numbers. Poetry draws on something in me that has persisted over time, even as I’ve distracted myself with other goals, demands, and purposes; even as I’ve been forced by circumstance to strip writing poetry of certain expectations.

"Life on a Lily Pad" © Michelle Tribe
"Life on a Lily Pad"
© Michelle Tribe
At 21, I was sure I’d publish my first book before I was 25. I’m past my forties now and have yet to find a publisher for a book-length collection, though I've published more than a hundred individual poems and two chapbooks. So, if a “real” book is the equivalent of receiving indisputable evidence that your prayers are being answered, I’m still waiting.

It hasn’t been easy to shed the bitter urgency I’ve felt on learning that one of my manuscripts was a finalist in this or that contest, but was not the winner. Writing in order to attain external success can be as tainted and brittle as saying a prayer that, in truth, is more like a command: (Please), God, let me get through this difficulty (or else)—

Or else what? It’s a false threat, if there’s little else left to do but pray. When my partner is in the ICU, his lungs full of fluid backed up from a defective aortic valve; when my nephew is deployed to Afghanistan; when an ex is drowning in his addiction; when I hit a dead end in my job and don’t think I can do it one more day—every effort to imagine that these things might be gotten through is a kind of prayer that helps me weather a life over which I have little control.

Repeated disappointment in my quest to hit the Poetry Jackpot has taught me to recast the jackpot in the lowercase—locating it not in the outcome but in the act of writing itself, sorting out the healthy from the unhealthy intentions for doing it. Of course, this shift in perspective was not as neat as the preceding sentence makes it seem. There were years of thrashing about, of turning over stones and even throwing them, then moments of exhaustion when I just barely heard the message from within:

This is too fragile and fraught to be something that guides your whole life.

I didn't hear those words, exactly—and this is important. For decades, I’ve made my living as a writer. But I can't manipulate or edit total gut realizations. I can throw words at them, but it would be like shaking a water bottle at a forest fire; at best, I can chase the feeling with metaphors: It's like this—no, like this—or like this.

So, odd as this sounds for a poet, I now seek wordlessness. When I meditate, I intercept hundreds of times the impulse to shape a perception into words. Reduced to basics, the challenge facing any writer is knowing what to say—and what not to.

• • •

To read or listen to poetry requires unmixed attention just as writing it does. And when a poem is read aloud, there's a communal, at times ritualistic, element that can make a reading feel like collective prayer, even if there are only a few listeners in the audience or I’m listening by myself.

"Allen Ginsberg" © MDCArchives
Allen Ginsberg
© MDCArchives
When I want to feel moved and enlarged, all I have to do is play Patti Smith's rendition of Ginsberg's "Footnote to Howl." His long list poem from 1955 gathers people, places, objects, and abstractions onto a single exuberant altar. It’s certainly a prayer, one that opens this way:

Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!

The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and **** and hand and ******* holy!

Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!

Some parts of Ginsberg's list ("forgiveness! charity! faith! bodies! suffering! magnanimity!") belong in any conventional catalogue of what a prayer celebrates as sacred. Other profane elements ("the ***** of the grandfathers of Kansas!") gain admission because they are swept up into his ritualistic roll call.

I can easily parody Ginsberg's litany: Holy the Dairy Queen, holy the barns of the Amish where cheese is releasing its ambitious stench, holy the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Internet. But reading the poem aloud feels to me the way putting on ritual garments must to a shaman or rabbi or priest. Watching Patti Smith perform the poem (various versions are available on YouTube), I get shivers seeing how it transforms her, and it's clear why she titled her treatment of the poem "Spell."

A parody can't do that. It can't manifest as the palpable unity of intention and utterance. It can't do what Emily Dickinson famously said that poetry did to her:

If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only [ways] I know it. Is there any other way.

Like the process of prayer—to God, to a better and bigger self, to the atmosphere—writing can be a step toward unifying heart, mind, body, universe. Ginsberg's frenzied catalogue ends on "brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul"; Eliot's The Waste Land on "shantih," or "the peace that surpasseth understanding." Neither bang nor whimper, endings like these are at once humble and tenacious. They say "Amen" and step aside so that a greater wordlessness can work its magic.
From the website http://talkingwriting.com/poetry-prayer
In response to a sardonic essay written in the recent Saturday Nation by Proffessor Ekara Kabaji, wryly  disregarding the position of Kwani in the global literary movement within and without Kenya , I beg to be permitted a leeway  to observe that any literature, orature, music,drama,cyborature,prisnorature,wallorature,streetorature , sculptor  or painting can effortlessly thrive and off course it has been thriving without professors of  literature, but the reverse is not possible as a proffessor of literature cannot be when literature is not there. Facts in support of this position are bare and readily available in the history of world literature, why they may not be seen is perhaps the blurring effects from tor like protuberant irrelevance of professors of literature in a given literary civilization.
A starting point is that literature exists as a people’s subculture, it can be written or not written like the case of orature which survive as an educative and aesthetic value stored in the collective memory of the given people. The people to be pillars of this collectivity of the memory are not differentiated by academic ranking for superlativity of any reason, but they are simply a people of that place, that community, that time, that heritage, that era and that collective experience. Writing it down is an option, but novels and other written matter is not a sine qua non for existence of literature in such situations. This is not a bolekaja of literature as Proffessor Ekara Kabaji would readily put, but it is a stretch towards realism that it is only people’s condition that creates literature. Poverty, slavery, colonialism, ***, marriage, circumcision, migration, or any other conditions experienced as collective experience of the people is stored or even stowed away in the collective memory of the people as their literature. Literature does not come from idealistic imagination of an educated person.
Historical experience of written literature informs us that the good novels, prose, drama and poetry were written before human society had people known as professors of literature. I want you my dear reader and You-Tube audience to reflect on the Cantos of Dante Alighieri in Italy, novels of Geoffrey Chaucer in England, Herman Melville and his Moby **** in Americas, poetry of Omar khwarisim in Persia, Homeric epics of Odyssey in Greece and the Makonde sculptures of Africa and finally link your reflections to Romesh Tulsi who grafted the Indian epic poetry of Ramayana and Mahabharata. At least you must realize that in those days literature was good, full of charm, very aesthetic and superbly entertaining. This leads to a re-justification that, weapon of theory is not useful in literature. University taught theories of literature have helped not in the growth of literature as compared to the role played by folk culture.
Keen observation will lead you dear reader, down to revelations that; professors of literature squarely depend on the thespic work of the people who are not substantially educated to make a living. Let me share with you the story about Dr. Tom Odhiambo who went to University of Witwasterand in South Africa for post graduate studies in literature only to do his Doctoral research on books of David G Maillu. Maillu is a Kenyan writer, he did not finish his second year of secondary school education but he has been successfully writing poetry and prose for the past three decades. His successful romantic work is After 4.30, probably sarcasm against Kenyan office capitalism, while his eclectic, philosophical and scholarly work is the Broken Drum. Maillu has many other works on his name. But the point is that Dr. Odhiambo now teaches at University of Nairobi in the capacity of senior lecturer in Literature. What makes him to put food on the table is the effort of un-educated person in the name of David Maillu. Dr.Odhiambo himself has not written any book we can mention him for, apart from regular literary journalism he is often involved in on the platforms of the Literary discourse in the Kenyan Saturday Nation which are in turn regular Harangues and ripostes among literature teachers at the University of Nairobi, the likes of Dr Siundu, Proffessor wanjala Chris and Evans Mwangi just but to mention by not being oblivious to professors; Indangasi and Shitanda.
No study has yet been done to establish the role of university professors on growth of African literature. One is overdue. Results may be positive role on negative role, myself I contemplate negative role. Especially when I reflect on how the African literati reacted on the publication of Amos Tutuola’s book The Palm Wine Drinkard. The reactions were more disparaging than appreciative. Taban Lo Liyong reacted to this book by calling Amos Tutuola the son of Zinjathropus as well as taking a self styled intellectual responsibility in form of writing a more  schooled version of this book; Taking Wisdom up the Palm Tree. Nigerians of Igbo (Tutuola being a Yoruba) nation cowed from being associated with the book as it had shamefully broken English, broken grammar etc. Wole Soyinka had a blemished stand, but it is only Achebe who came out forthrightly to appreciate the book in its efforts to Africanize English for the purpose of African literature. Courtesy of Igbo wisdom. But in a nutshell, what had happened is that Amos Tutuola had taken a plunge to contribute towards written literature in Africa.
One more contemplated result from the research about professors and African literature can be that apart from their role of criticism, professors write very boring books. A ready point of reference is deliberate and reasonless obscurantism taken Wole Soyinka in all of his books, Soyinka’s books are difficult to understand, sombre, without humour and not capable to entertain an average reader. In fact Wole Soyinka has been writing for himself but not for the people. No common man can quote Soyinka the way Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is quoted. Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart when he had not began his graduate studies. However, he did not escape the obvious mistake of professors to become obscure in the Anthills of the Savanna, the book he wrote when he had become a proffessor. This is on a sharp contrast to entertaining effectiveness, simplicity and thematic diversity of Captain Elechi Amadi, Amadi who studied chemistry but not literature. He does not have a second degree, but his books from the Concubine, The great Ponds, and Sunset in the Biafra and Isibiru are as spellbinding as their counterparts in Russia.
Kenyan scenario has Ngugi wa Thiongio, he displayed eminence in his first two books; Weep not Child and The River Between. These ones he wrote when he was not yet educated, as he was still an undergraduate student at Makerere University. But later on Ngugi became a victim of prosaic socialism, an ideology that warped his literary imagination only to put him in a paradoxical situation as an African communist who works in America as an English teacher at Irvine University. His other outcrops are misuse of Mau Mau as a literary springboard and campaigning for use of Kikuyu dialect of the Gema languages to become literary Lingua Franca in Kenya. Such efforts of Ngugi are only a disservice to Kenyan literature in particular and African literature collectively. Ngugi having been a student of Caribbean literature has failed to borrow from global literary behaviour of Vitian S. Naipaul.  Ngugi’s position also contrasts sharply with Meja Mwangi whose urban folksy literature swollen with diversity in themes has remained spellbinding entertainers.
The world’s literary thirsty has never failed to get palatable quenching from the works of Harriet Bechetor Stowe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shakespeare, Alice Munro, Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda, John Steinbeck, Garcia Guarbriel Marguez,Salman Rushdie, Lenrie Peters, Cyprian Ekwenzi, Nikolai Gogol,I mean the list is as long as the road from Kaduna to Cape town. Contribution of these writers to global literature has been and is still critical. Literature could not be without them. Surprisingly, most of them are not trained in literature; they don’t have a diploma or a degree in literature, but some have won literature Nobel Prize and other prizes. Alfred Nobel himself the author of a classical novella, The Nemesis, does not have University education in literature. What else can we say apart from acceding to the truth that literature can blossom without professors, the Vis-à-vis an obvious and stark impossibility.
Michael R Burch Feb 2020
Merciles Beaute ("Merciless Beauty")
a roundel by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.

Unless your words heal me hastily,
my heart's wound will remain green;
    for your eyes slay me suddenly;
    their beauty I cannot sustain.

By all truth, I tell you faithfully
that you are of life and death, my queen;
for at my death this truth shall be seen:
    your eyes slay me suddenly;
   their beauty I cannot sustain,
   they wound me so, through my heart keen.

***

Original text:

Your yën two wol sle me sodenly,
I may the beaute of hem not sustene,
So woundeth hit through-out my herte kene.

And but your word wol helen hastily
My hertes wounde, whyl that hit is grene,
     Your yën two wol sle me sodenly;
     may the beaute of hem not sustene.

Upon my trouthe I sey yow feithfully,
That ye ben of my lyf and deth the quene;
For with my deth the trouthe shal be sene.
     Your yën two wol sle me sodenly,
     I may the beaute of hem not sustene,
     So woundeth hit through-out my herte kene.


Michael R Burch Oct 2020
Villanelle: The Divide
by Michael R. Burch

The sea was not salt the first tide...
was man born to sorrow that first day,
with the moon―a pale beacon across the Divide,
the brighter for longing, an object denied―
the tug at his heart's pink, bourgeoning clay?

The sea was not salt the first tide...
but grew bitter, bitter―man's torrents supplied.
The bride of their longing―forever astray,
her shield a cold beacon across the Divide,
flashing pale signals: Decide. Decide.
Choose me, or His Brightness, I will not stay.

The sea was not salt the first tide...
imploring her, ebbing: Abide, abide.
The silver fish flash there, the manatees gray.

The moon, a pale beacon across the Divide,
has taught us to seek Love's concealed side:
the dark face of longing, the poets say.
The sea was not salt the first tide...
the moon a pale beacon across the Divide.

"The Divide" is essentially a formal villanelle despite the non-formal line breaks.



Villanelle: Ordinary Love
by Michael R. Burch

Indescribable―our love―and still we say
with eyes averted, turning out the light,
"I love you," in the ordinary way

and tug the coverlet where once we lay,
all suntanned limbs entangled, shivering, white...
indescribably in love. Or so we say.

Your hair's blonde thicket now is tangle-gray;
you turn your back; you murmur to the night,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.

Beneath the sheets our hands and feet would stray
to warm ourselves. We do not touch despite
a love so indescribable. We say

we're older now, that "love" has had its day.
But that which Love once countenanced, delight,
still makes you indescribable. I say,
"I love you," in the ordinary way.

"Ordinary Love" was the winner of the 2001 Algernon Charles Swinburne poetry contest. It was originally published by Romantics Quarterly and nominated by the journal for the Pushcart Prize. It is missing a tercet but seemed complete enough without it.―MRB



Villanelle: Because Her Heart Is Tender
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in wet linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.



Villanelle: Hangovers
by Michael R. Burch

We forget that, before we were born,
our parents had “lives” of their own,
ran drunk in the streets, or half-******.

Yes, our parents had lives of their own
until we were born; then, undone,
they were buying their parents gravestones

and finding gray hairs of their own
(because we were born lacking some
of their curious habits, but soon

would certainly get them). Half-******,
we watched them dig graves of their own.
Their lives would be over too soon

for their curious habits to bloom
in us (though our children were born
nine months from that night on the town

when, punch-drunk in the streets or half-******,
we first proved we had lives of our own).



Villanelle Sequence: Clandestine But Gentle
by Michael R. Burch

Variations on the villanelle. A play in four acts. The heroine wears a trench coat and her every action drips nonchalance. The “hero” is pallid, nerdish and nervous. But more than anything, he is palpably desperate with longing. Props are optional, but a streetlamp, a glowing cigarette and lots of eerie shadows should suffice.

I.

Clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she eavesdropped on morose codes of my heart.
She was the secret agent of delight.

The blue spurt of her match, our signal light,
announced her presence in the shadowed court:
clandestine but gentle, cloaked in night.

Her cigarette was waved, a casual sleight,
to bid me “Come!” or tell me to depart.
She was the secret agent of delight,

like Ingrid Bergman in a trench coat, white
as death, and yet more fair and pale (but short
with me, whenever I grew wan with fright!).

II.

Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night,
she was the secret agent of delight;
she coaxed the tumblers in some cryptic rite

to make me spill my spirit.
Lovely ****!
Clandestine but gentle, veiled in night

―she waited till my tongue, untied, sang bright
but damning strange confessions in the dark...

III.

She was the secret agent of delight;
so I became her paramour. Tonight
I await her in my exile, worlds apart...

IV.

For clandestine but gentle, wrapped in night,
she is the secret agent of delight.



Villanelle: Hang Together, or Separately
by Michael R. Burch

“The first shall be last, and the last first.”

Be careful whom you don’t befriend
When hyenas mark their prey:
The odds will get even in the end.

Some “deplorables” may yet ascend
And since all dogs must have their day,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

When pallid elitists condescend
What does the Good Book say?
The odds will get even in the end.

Since the LORD advised us to attend
To each other along the way,
Be careful whom you don’t befriend.

But He was deserted. Friends, comprehend!
Though revilers mock and flay,
The odds will get even in the end.

Now infidels have loot to spend:
As ****** as Judas’s that day.
Be careful whom you don’t befriend:
The odds will get even in the end.

NOTE: This poem portrays a certain worldview. The poet does not share it and suspects from reading the gospels that the “real” Jesus would have sided with the infidel refugees, not Trump and his ilk.



Villanelle: The Sad Refrain
by Michael R. Burch

O, let us not repeat the sad refrain
that Christ is cruel because some innocent dies.
No, pain is good, for character comes from pain!

There’d be no growth without the hammering rain
that tests each petal’s worth. Omnipotent skies
peal, “Let us not repeat the sad refrain,

but separate burnt chaff from bountiful grain.
According to God’s plan, the weakling dies
and pain is good, for character comes from pain!

A God who’s perfect cannot bear the blame
of flawed creations, just because one dies!
So let us not repeat the sad refrain

or think to shame or stain His awesome name!
Let lightning strike the devious source of lies
that pain is bad, for character comes from pain!
Oh, let us not repeat the sad refrain!



Rondels, Roundels and Rondeaux are poetic forms with refrains that are related to the Villanelle.



Rondel: Merciles Beaute ("Merciless Beauty")
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation Michael R. Burch

Your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.

Unless your words heal me hastily,
my heart's wound will remain green;
for your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain.

By all truth, I tell you faithfully
that you are of life and death my queen;
for at my death this truth shall be seen:
your eyes slay me suddenly;
their beauty I cannot sustain,
they wound me so, through my heart keen.



Rondel: Rejection
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.

I'm guiltless, yet my sentence has been cast.
I tell you truly, needless now to feign,―
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain.

Alas, that Nature in your face compassed
Such beauty, that no man may hope attain
To mercy, though he perish from the pain;
Your beauty from your heart has so erased
Pity, that it’s useless to complain;
For Pride now holds your mercy by a chain.



Rondel: Escape
by Geoffrey Chaucer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.

He may question me and counter this and that;
I care not: I will answer just as I mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean.

Love strikes me from his roster, short and flat,
And he is struck from my books, just as clean,
Forevermore; there is no other mean.
Since I’m escaped from Love and yet still fat,
I never plan to be in his prison lean;
Since I am free, I count it not a bean.



Rondel: Your Smiling Mouth
by Charles d'Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation/moderniz  ation Michael R. Burch

Your smiling mouth and laughing eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms’ twin chains,
Your hands so smooth, each finger straight and plain,
Your little feet―please, what more can I say?

It is my fetish when you’re far away
To muse on these and thus to soothe my pain―
Your smiling mouth and laughing eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms’ twin chains.

So would I beg you, if I only may,
To see such sights as I before have seen,
Because my fetish pleases me. Obscene?
I’ll be obsessed until my dying day
By your sweet smiling mouth and eyes, bright gray,
Your ample ******* and slender arms’ twin chains!



Oft in My Thought
by Charles d'Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation/moderniz  ation Michael R. Burch

So often in my busy mind I sought,
Around the advent of the fledgling year,
For something pretty that I really ought
To give my lady dear;
But that sweet thought's been wrested from me, clear,
Since death, alas, has sealed her under clay
And robbed the world of all that's precious here―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

For me to keep my manner and my thought
Acceptable, as suits my age's hour?
While proving that I never once forgot
Her worth? It tests my power!
I serve her now with masses and with prayer;
For it would be a shame for me to stray
Far from my faith, when my time's drawing near―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

Now earthly profits fail, since all is lost
And the cost of everything became so dear;
Therefore, O Lord, who rules the higher host,
Take my good deeds, as many as there are,
And crown her, Lord, above in your bright sphere,
As heaven's truest maid! And may I say:
Most good, most fair, most likely to bring cheer―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.

When I praise her, or hear her praises raised,
I recall how recently she brought me pleasure;
Then my heart floods like an overflowing bay
And makes me wish to dress for my own bier―
God keep her soul, I can no better say.



If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly,
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.



Recursion
by Michael R. Burch

In a dream I saw boys lying
under banners gaily flying
and I heard their mothers sighing
from some dark distant shore.

For I saw their sons essaying
into fields―gleeful, braying―
their bright armaments displaying;
such manly oaths they swore!

From their playfields, boys returning
full of honor’s white-hot burning
and desire’s restless yearning
sired new kids for the corps.

In a dream I saw boys dying
under banners gaily lying
and I heard their mothers crying
from some dark distant shore.



I AM!
by Michael R. Burch

I am not one of ten billion―I―
sunblackened Icarus, chary fly,
staring at God with a quizzical eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I.

I am not one life has left unsquashed―
scarred as Ulysses, goddess-debauched,
pale glowworm agleam with a tale of panache.

I am not one life has left unsquashed.

I am not one without spots of disease,
laugh lines and tan lines and thick-callused knees
from begging and praying and girls sighing "Please!"

I am not one without spots of disease.

I am not one of ten billion―I―
scion of Daedalus, blackwinged fly
staring at God with a sedulous eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I
AM!



This World's Joy
(anonymous Middle English lyric)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Winter awakens all my care
as leafless trees grow bare.
For now my sighs are fraught
whenever it enters my thought:
regarding this world's joy,
how everything comes to naught.



Elegy for a little girl, lost
by Michael R. Burch

... qui laetificat juventutem meam...
She was the joy of my youth,
and now she is gone.
... requiescat in pace...
May she rest in peace.
... amen...
Amen.



How Long the Night
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa early 13th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is pleasant, indeed, while the summer lasts
with the mild pheasants' song...
but now I feel the northern wind's blast,
its severe weather strong.
Alas! Alas! This night seems so long!
And I, because of my momentous wrong
now grieve, mourn and fast.



Fowles in the Frith
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The fowls in the forest,
the fishes in the flood
and I must go mad:
such sorrow I've had
for beasts of bone and blood!



I am of Ireland
anonymous Medieval Irish lyric, circa 13th-14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am of Ireland,
and of the holy realm of Ireland.
Gentlefolk, I pray thee:
for the sake of saintly charity,
come dance with me
in Ireland!



Whan the turuf is thy tour
(anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th century AD)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

1.
When the turf is your tower
and the pit is your bower,
your pale white skin and throat
shall be sullen worms’ to note.
What help to you, then,
was all your worldly hope?

2.
When the turf is your tower
and the grave is your bower,
your pale white throat and skin
worm-eaten from within...
what hope of my help then?


Ech day me comëth tydinges thre
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Each day I’m plagued by three doles,
These gargantuan weights on my soul:
First, that I must somehow exit this fen.
Second, that I cannot know when.
And yet it’s the third that torments me so,
Because I don't know where the hell I will go!



Ich have y-don al myn youth
anonymous Middle English lyric, circa the 13th to 14th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I have done it all my youth:
Often, often, and often!
I have loved long and yearned zealously...
And oh what grief it has brought me!



I Sing of a Maiden
anonymous Medieval English Lyric, circa early 15th century AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless.
The King of all Kings
For her son she chose.
He came also as still
To his mother's breast
As April dew
Falling on the grass.
He came also as still
To his mother's bower
As April dew
Falling on the flower.
He came also as still
To where his mother lay
As April dew
Falling on the spray.
Mother and maiden?
Never one, but she!
Well may such a lady
God's mother be!



Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear...

once starlight
languished
in your hair...

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

Regret...
a pain
I chose to bear...

unleash
the torrent
of your hair...

and show me
once again―
how rare.



Enigma
by Michael R. Burch

O, terrible angel,
bright lover and avenger,
full of whimsical light
and vile anger;
wild stranger,
seeking the solace of night,
or the danger;
pale foreigner,
alien to man, or savior...

Who are you,
seeking consolation and passion
in the same breath,
screaming for pleasure, bereft
of all articles of faith,
finding life
harsher than death?

Grieving angel,
giving more than taking,
how lucky the man
who has found in your love,
this, our reclamation;

fallen wren,
you must strive to fly
though your heart is shaken;

weary pilgrim,
you must not give up
though your feet are aching;

lonely child,
lie here still in my arms;
you must soon be waking.



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase...

now that I have forgotten her face.



The Quickening
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

I never meant to love you
when I held you in my arms
promising you sagely
wise, noncommittal charms.

And I never meant to need you
when I touched your tender lips
with kisses that intrigued my own:
such kisses I had never known,
nor a heartbeat in my fingertips!



Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch
after William Blake

O little yellow flower
like a star...
how beautiful,
how wonderful
we are!



Published as the collection "Villanelles"

Keywords/Tags: villanelle, refrain, repetition, chorus, rhyme, sea, tide, moon, heart, love, rondel, roundel, rondeau, poetic form, poetics, poetic expression, Chaucer, Orleans, love, art, beauty, mercy, merciless, words, heart, hearts, pity, pride, prison, mrbvill, mrbrondel

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