Clicking, no ringing, not quite a ring but a hum.

My breath, I hear my breath…and my heartbeat, 

flooding my ears with pulsing thrum, alarming yet calming.

Am I dying, an aneurism around the corner, pressure cooked?

Cyber facts point to clogged ears given my health history.

Simple fix, but something stops me from stopping the sound.

A comfort in hearing life, my life, in its rawest base components:

a heart beat and breath reminds me that I walk as mechanical wonder,

a miracle of meat and synchronized pumps and electric pulleys, 

anima’s dusty coat of confectioner’s powder smothering the shine.  

The Little Death

Yet Freud’s or the French’s little death (orgasm) requires total submission and trust–to let go of holding on without fear of being judged or betrayed by another, a body or self. 

Different pathway to the same result, which is total obliteration, mind-erasure, loss of control over the world–fear and pleasure. 

Both test humanity.

When terror burns its path through a being, however, surfing its electricity at sonic light, what remains is not so much silence as a spentness, a vapid stripping of nerves that leaves a permanent mark, maybe a tic, a recurring memory, or a dullness close to death.

Dopamine refuses fear the same experience as orgasm, though dopamine injects its life-loving pleasure-ful substance in both, pre-death.

Both are ineluctable surrender, an abandonment of reason and belief, a blackness in the mind’s hole.

But I’d take a cheap orgasm over a good scare any day.



Is Sylvia Plath a cultural appropriator?




You do not do, you do not do   

Any more, black shoe

In which I have lived like a foot   

For thirty years, poor and white,   

Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.   

You died before I had time——

Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,   

Ghastly statue with one gray toe   

Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic   

Where it pours bean green over blue   

In the waters off beautiful Nauset.   

I used to pray to recover you.

Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town   

Scraped flat by the roller

Of wars, wars, wars.

But the name of the town is common.   

My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.   

So I never could tell where you   

Put your foot, your root,

I never could talk to you.

The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.   

Ich, ich, ich, ich,

I could hardly speak.

I thought every German was you.   

And the language obscene

An engine, an engine

Chuffing me off like a Jew.

A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.   

I began to talk like a Jew.

I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna   

Are not very pure or true.

With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck   

And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack

I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,

With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.   

And your neat mustache

And your Aryan eye, bright blue.

Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——

Not God but a swastika

So black no sky could squeak through.   

Every woman adores a Fascist,   

The boot in the face, the brute   

Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,   

In the picture I have of you,

A cleft in your chin instead of your foot   

But no less a devil for that, no not   

Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.

I was ten when they buried you.   

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,   

And they stuck me together with glue.   

And then I knew what to do.

I made a model of you,

A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.   

And I said I do, I do.

So daddy, I’m finally through.

The black telephone’s off at the root,   

The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two——

The vampire who said he was you   

And drank my blood for a year,

Seven years, if you want to know.

Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart   

And the villagers never liked you.

They are dancing and stamping on you.   

They always knew it was you.

Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

Sylvia Plath, “Daddy” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Editorial matter copyright © 1981 by Ted Hughes. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Irving Howe charged that “there is something monstrous, utterly disproportionate, when tangled emotions about one’s father are deliberately compared with the historical fate of the European Jews.” Susan Gubar wrote similarly that using the Holocaust as metaphor diminishes the Jewish experience,  the real of it, personalizing and fictionalizing it.

Is that a form of cultural appropriation?

Mindfulness: Culturally Diverse not Divisive

My Eagle (Eastern Washington University Eagle) and I speak most days about her training, school, roommates and life in the Northwest. Her pre-season schedule keeps her wickedly busy, but yesterday we ended the day unwinding to the news of her day and mine. 

After reminding me of her class schedule, one class being African American studies, we began a discussion about cultural appropriation, having referenced the class that Rachel Dolezal (former professor at EWU and President of the NCAA who made the news recently by her parents outing her as white) would have taught. 

Not surprisingly, she and I differed. She thought social media had gotten it right this time. People should not be consuming cultural artifacts as if unattached to the people who suffered or strove through the badges, persecution or honors of and by those cultural expressional effects. 

One example she insisted on was the appropriation of “clueless white girls” adorning themselves with henna though they do not care a whit for Indian culture or people. In fact, she claims, these same young white girls actively discriminate and ridicule cultures different from their own (if whiteness is a culture as well as a position of privilege and power?), including Indians.

Admittedly, my most played role as devil’s advocate annoys my children. But this time I was not baiting. I countered with labeling and generalizing as liable to injure as much as the lack of consciousness of some consumerists. Not all cultural appropriations spell disrespect. 

We live in a multicultural world, America being one of the most diversely populated. Adapting the behaviors, clothing, styles and language of other cultures organically arises from living among others. What matters–the same always–are words and actions consciously spoken and taken. 

To love another culture so much as to adapt it is not uncommon. People move to other countries more suitable to their natures. Look at Cat Stevens, who left American fame and fortune to live in a culture more nourishing to his spirit. One can question his or anyone’s motives for “abandoning” his or her birthright, but why, what’s the point?

The people my daughter–and her social network–criticize, live inauthentically and thereby injure others, I suspect. To affect the style of another group is an act of honoring, blind imitation, or malicious mockery, depending on the intentions of the adapter. 

But all behavior may be measured as moral, immoral or amoral, depending upon the degree to which the actor moves beyond him or herself toward another–and with a conscious intention of producing good or ill will.

Mindfulness is an overused term, quickly turning trite. But in truth, to bring mind to bear on everything we do matters most. Morality is another term that gets maligned in its use, overuse and abuse. But the morality that the philosophers hypothesize about in classrooms, bars and libraries through time immemorial informs the morality I believe defines mindfulness:  an ethics of right behavior toward others, which is situationally switched on by a mind and heart likewise opened and active.

I am not foolhearty enough to believe in a “correct” behavior for every situation, but the footpath toward morality starts with a consciousness of the causes and effects of what we do, otherwise known as awareness. Thinking awake and remembering that we belong to a community are two steps in the right direction on that path.

At the conclusion of our call, I asked her what I should write about next, after plastic bags and waterless urinals. She offered sex work and cam girls. Um….wait, what?


The California Plastic Ban

Read the full article of the excerpt I posted a few days ago, as it appears at The Mindful Word.

Walking out of the market, it suddenly hit me. Something different. Oh, that’s right. No one asked me if I would like to buy a bag for ten cents, and my two hands carried one plastic food-stuffed bag each. I wondered how long I had been unaware of the … (read more here)

Train of Thought


Mayhem in the morning, it felt like
a kind of dismemberment of the mind from the neck down.
Nothing a silent session of steep stretching would not cure.
Sometimes sleep affects the whole day that way,
with a whisper of promise, something more like
a train ride through a New Mexico sweep of pronghorn elk.
That trip through the beltways and tracts of the country,
the clacking wheels syncing the spin of my mad days,
in orange rinds left on the porch swing as evidence of hollow thirst.



Should vivisection on animals be universally banned?

California’s gun control laws are the strictest in the nation and do not need tightening.

Costa Rica’s Preventia policies are unjust and inhumane.

The papparazzi need to be reigned in from their reign of destruction.

Coed education beats same-sex education miles high.

Long Beach police officers are doing a great job despite the public outcry against police brutality.

The higher divorce rate among military families compared to non-military familes cries out for resources.

Street art is not graffitti!

Torture has its place in terrrorist prevention.

Inception is not a coherent thriller.

It’s end of the summer semester research term paper time. So many arguments, so many readily available resources, and so many fallacies.  My students, weaned on the Internet, both master and destroy logic. Familiar with the bounty that is the network–social, educational and otherwise–they can research. They find stuff. However, likewise products of the world wide of webbings, traps for the unweary, they believe without discernment. 

Teaching young minds to think in verticals and horizontals tasks the impatient and weary. Entitlement does not only measure ownership attitudes; the right to be right falls in the heap of our stuff. Ours. Mine. Not yours.

How else does the abounding madness of polarizing non-sense stop: me vs. you, right vs. wrong, with us or against us? Isn’t that the major premise of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals--keep the pressure on with conflict so power can slip in its agenda? 

I responded to a social media prompt on a relative’s Facebook page about the minimum wage not being about bickering over which unskilled worker should get two dollars more than the other. Two good responsive posts about the issue over dignity of work, skilled vs. unskilled worker…and then it came: the post about me, me, me and what I do and don’t blame me for trying to work and make money. 

Buzz kill. There is no response to a hijacked discussion of a public issue by someone’s feelings about his or her life or imaginary persecution–a failure to read and understand a public forum’s purpose in the shades of meaningful and polite interaction. 

Teach a mind to think, reason and discern: rule one of a civilzed nation.


A Single Thread


A small thread, a half inch or so, little more, plays peek-a-boo on my sleeve,
one minute spied from an eye corner, the next invisible to squint-study sight.
Poking up among the finely woven linen threads formed to panels, collars,
buttons and tails, a renegade refusing submission, seeks its tenant’s notice.
Like a bee, child, snake or lover, it tentatively positions itself seen and unseen,
always at vision’s edge, reminding, teetering, like all teeming imperfections.
And when I spy its frayed head atop my wrist swathed in tapestried symmetry,
like chance, options, luck, sleep, hope, and calm, I reach to pluck it, and it’s gone. 

Calico Days

Like Mary’s lamb, Betty walked us to school each day.

Athough, the street crossing delimited her hospitality.

She left us, standing her curbside guard as we passed,

rounding the corner to the garden playground tarmac,

launching little ones to the land of rowed rote learning.

The morning ritual drew her celebrity as the cut-tail cat,

the shepherd of the suburban neighborhood children.  

She pranced for pets, then skittered past to prod them,

“Don’t be late,” as if urging them to the teachers’ walls, 

brick-lined in students armed with backpacked lunches.

And thus she bid the morning watchfully, awaiting 2:42 

when full of 2+2 and rainbow-colored painted clothes,

her charges returned to their tri-colored ambassador,

strolling four-footed assured along a territory secured

in pats and giggles, amazement and chase of the calico.