Spider in the Shower Wisdom

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In an age of so much door-stop wisdom in flashy colors and streams,

Profundity hides harder to recognize in tastes-great–less-filling sweetie ah-bites.

And when everyone’s grandmother publishes, words do not come easily any more, all lost in 

Endless letters combined, re-combined and strewn everywhere, making 

Nonsense seem sense or not even bothering, words without aching indescribably churning or heart-

Rent fluid affecting, infectious and ever-in-the ears and eyes inscription, just syllables,

nothing more. 

I can’t hear myself think over the noise of it, the shrill deprecating humor,

Blunt, sword-slicing insults and chiding, scolding and deriding, nothing but chatter-ful ticks.

How to be mindful when the mind chitters and bakes under the halitosis heat?

Sweltering  discomfort in knowing my life is in the hands of self-sabotaging

Zealots and bonzai bitchers and moaners, paraders and inert blabberers.

But there is some thing, something…

I see it in the piss-yellow plumped plastic medicine bag

pole-hanging to high heaven

with streaming liquid hope in thin rubber tubes of curative culture like an i.v. of satisfaction.

It’s there in the splayed legs of a stiffening spider fending off the drain holes’ draw

with the unfathomable force that those toothpick sticks belie as the pounding punishing pulse of the

thunderous shower stream pushes and the suction below pulls.

That’s the way it is with nature and words, that suspension between sense and salvation.

Atonality


We perform in atonal times, no guiding key.

Some allude to a world dystopian, technocratic oligarchs

And corporate heroes, when truth, politics and religion

Are pronounced (often spat) in acerbic yet nostalgic terms.

Truth? Irrelevant. 

Never a believer in absolutes, the relativity of all things

Now lapsed into the arbitrariness of myth or reality,

Falsehoods or evidence, justice or gamesmanship, 

I crave a concrete proven fact’s acknowledgement, 

A shared given or universal ‘yes ‘ we all nod to.

Power is what it has always been about, long plodding 

Or devastatingly explosively quick and slaughtering.

The one constant.

I’ve read that if we stop talking about race, patriarchy 

And binaries, they will disappear. 

No arbitrary superiority shall be pre-ordained.

Our children’s children will not know these prejudices.

But silence can also deafen the voice we hear

Inside ourselves, to assure us–even in the face of fools and fakery–

That we know the difference.

 
Credit: gillespiemusic.com

In the Key of Hate

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The trump-er grown loud in palsied anger

defeaned himself to the mad deranger 

While…

One penless poet in an inkwell stared

down letter-less pages of his dreams bared

For…

The world’s gone bonkers at last I tell you

rightside up is sideways blowing up truth

As…

When growing rich means exploding idols

and viscous real estate steals upturn skulls

So…

Time then once and for all to scrap the deal

that fear-stuffed progress regressives pig squeal.

End.

Hate. 

Coda:

 

 

Dayenu

  
Just like any other mother, naturally I did not want to make even minor let alone crippling mistakes in child rearing. So when it came down to the uncomfortable decisions that arose daily as my children grew, I examined my own childhood to weed out the unwanted inheritances. 

While I had an unremarkable childhood, pleasantly healthy and largely uneventful (a good thing), there are certain cultural traditions I would have eliminated. In hindsight, I wish I was mollified less and respected more as a child. I had a great need to be seen, not for attention (though that too probably) as much as for recognition of what I was capable. As the middle child of five, that was my specific plight–invisibility. I did not feel unloved, just unrecognized.

I bristled at statements like, “Oh you’ll understand when you’re older” to my exasperation at illogical or unfair reasons or causes, for example, why my father was allowed to call my mother mean names while she served him hand and foot. She was right. I would not understand then the subtleties of relationships, but I wanted someone to try me nevertheless, see if I could grasp complexities. I wanted honesty and direct explanation. Still do.

So when it came to decisions my husband and I made about imaginary beings like the tooth fairy and Santa Claus, I was adamant that we not build a relationship of lies at the outset. I did give in, however, to the argument that kids thrive on fun, and these fantasies were fun. Also, I did get to explain to my now mostly adult children what I wanted for them and the reasons for our decision to build their reality in the way we did.

So much in childhood goes unexplained and we blindly carry pieces of childhood with us, never examining them, never even looking at them, just wearing them like skin. Memories, information, habits and beliefs are all carried without notice. One battle I won is the one for deferring religion until a time the children grew old enough to choose. Religion is inherited for most of us. My children have since thanked me for giving them that option to decide for themselves.

I was raised Jewish, a culture more than a religion. Seder songs and Chanukah rituals patterned my days and years, just as a sliver of them pattern my own children’s life. While I did not pass down ritual, I did my part for the economy by indoctrinating them in the gift-giving commercial holidays like Chanukah with its alluring candle-lit solemnity and awe, and Christmas with its bright celebratory colors and good will. They knew when the getting was going to be good, counting the days to a secular consumption feast.

One song I know from my own childhood as well as candle-lit menorahs, Chanukah gifts and chicken soup was Dayenu, the passover song. Passover was not a fun holiday until after the ceremony, requiring young children to sit for far too long at a table where unintelligible words and actions played out, mystifying and boring. Until the singing of dayenu, a catchy tune that signaled eating and then running off with cousins to play.

Forty-five some odd years later, on this very day, I learned the meaning of this Hebrew word. Not that I was curious and looked it up out of the blue. No, it happened by chance. Last night I enjoyed a Valentine’s Day dinner on a stool at a local bar around the corner. I had a long day slinging sweets at the shop and craved a beer. So, while in the throes of feel-good satiety (seafood soup and roasted artichoke) and a slight buzz, I looked to the words written over the entry to the establishment, which read,  “if you are lucky enough to drink wine by the sea, you are lucky enough.”

I raised my glass to the thought and the written words and did what anyone would do: I posted a bastardized version of it to fit my current circumstances–drinking an IPA–on Facebook: “Drinking an IPA by the sea. It is enough.” The next morning’s comment from a friend was “dayenu.” After lamely asking if the word was the name of a beer as well as a song, I googled the word before receiving a response only to find the word means something like “it is enough.” 

Who knew? I obviously did not. While this may be a case of syncronicity, kismet or mere coincidence (no major planetary alignment), it should remind and caution all of us of an interesting psychological and cultural phenomenon: we are products of much we do not understand or even think about. 

And this I have often argued is how racists and bigots form most often: through mindless heredity, unthinking but powerfully instilled. This is how a culture perpetuates–unknowing, unheard, and undetected. We do not know why we know what we know or do what we do, unless we make the effort to understand, observe and mind. How else do we make changes local and global?

It is obvious from the wacky state of U.S. politics this election season that Americans hunger for drastic change and reject the mindless status quo business as usual, regardless of the wisdom or catalyst of that change: Trump the savior or Sanders the socialist, if you believe campaign rhetoric and vitriol. But this hunger is good. Feeding automatic feel-good responses, age-old prejudices and knee-jerk reactions dredged in a rotten history of exclusion, bigotry and fearmongering is not. We must examine where our frustrations and reactions derive. Are they mere mimicry? inborn? calculated? truth? Riotous urges to shout and defy are necessary sometimes but not without mindfulness. Otherwise, we are mere primates.

Being vigorously and mindfully curious, now that is enough.
 

In Our Againstness

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It is easy to be anti.

Sew any position,

idea,

suggestion,

politics,

plan,

stance,

ideology,

life-choice,

selection,

belief,

imagination,

project,

offering,

words,

lifestyle,

body,

work,

design,

opinion,

promise,

intuition,

product,

opportunity,

advice,

action,

money,

art,

sensibility,

interest,

heart,

and/or decision;

then find the furthest pole—

the apogee to the perigee,

south to north–

and clothe yourself in it,

wear it like a challenge

and fight, live and die for the right to be it–

cloaked in against-ness.

Far easier than crafting a conscious cushion,

considerately embroidered,

seated somewhere in between,

not necessarily half-way

but somewhere along the imaginary stitching

that traces the path from me to you.

Not compromise but creation.

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)

Ban it

  
The California plastic ban that will be before voters in California next general election has been on my mind. Since I live in the only city that has repealed the ban after two years, I thought I would investigate the city council’s doings to earn such an honored historic distinction.

As usual, the war between environmentalists and big business wages. Environmentalists claim the plastic bags pollute and harm marine life. Big plastic says not so, and people will lose jobs if the ban is instituted.

No surprises in the world of politics. Both sides accuse one another of cheating, irresponsibility, and undue influence by monied folk, special interests. And so it goes.

In the end, it matters little the motivations–money or environment–behind the law so long as the law does what it is purported to do and people support it. The larger matter lies in individual responsibility to others, and not just with plastic.

When do we cross the line between a seemingly innocuous lack of consciousness of those around us–say, like my forgetting recycling bags–and conscious disregard of others? The “rugged individualism” (pride of this country’s founding generation and their progeny), pitted against the social contract based on a benevolence toward others with whom we live in society–an agreement to let live–always calls up that question. And not only for people.

Philosopher Peter Singer, in an interview with the New York Times opinionator blogger, George Yancy, earlier this year defined human disregard of animals’ as “speciesism,” when humans give “less weight to the interests of nonhuman animals than they give to the similar interests of human beings.”
Interests like survival in clean oceans, I imagine.
Whether we consider ourselves the shepherds of other species, a posture of assumed superiority, or we consider ourselves on par with other species and posit survival as the burden of each species, there is still a path that is neither too philosophical nor too patriotic. 
When we teach ourselves good habits, the correlative benefits to all society reverberate small and large. And we are such trainable creatures, we humans, if we have the will, both personal and political.
 

credit: http://vsknow1.com

A Sudden Slant of Cynicism

  
“We toggle the gas pedal of politics between zealotry and apathy,” she complained. “One day we parade in protest for rights, wrongs and indifferences of some group, some perp, some activist, some governmental faction that failed or should not even exist, and the next day we go home and order up Chinese, bitching about how long the delivery service takes to go two city blocks.”

Her dilated pupils betrayed the calm cynical shellac of her words.

I wanted to reply with something equally poised and stunning, but my mind was stuck on crystals. Sometimes I get like that, in a mental tic. I read that quote by Stendhal earlier. 

What did Stendhal know about the process of crystallization, of solutes and nuclei, when he  teased out the strands of love, a taxonomy of four–the usual suspects like passion, ego, appearance, and lust? Something like that.

“I call ‘crystallization’ that action of the mind that discovers fresh perfections in its beloved at every turn of events.”

Delusion. 

We submerge others in the playground of our projections, our imagined lovelies that just get lovelier–because we want it so.

Objectification.

Sylvia Plath wrote plainer (“I think I made you up inside my head”).

“I believe you,” I replied to fill the lull of exhaustion her statement left. “So what are we going to do to change the world? Order lunch?” 

I chuckled.

She stared through me, and my thoughts squinted, wondering what lay behind me.
 

credit: https://marlonjbradley.files.wordpress.com