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I Sent Everybody in My Phone a Text

That went I Don’t Blame You

Half responded

Thanks

Half

Why Would You?

To the second half I responded

Good question, more and more these days

I wonder why I do anything.

Maybe my parents. Maybe my genes.

Maybe trauma.

Half responded: I know what you mean.

Half responded: What?

To the second half I responded

This intimate lick is my last and best attempt

To find some common heart between you and me

To feel we share a pulse.

Should I give up?

Half responded: I think so.

Half responded: I’m not sure.

And I called that last person

Because I only sent my initial text to eight people

I’ve recently purged my phone of everyone

Who was not needful

For either of us

And we decided to get together for coffee

And bread with butter

At this Afghan place I know in the west valley

I’m looking forward.

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I Don’t Need to Meet You to Know You

She said to me. Provocatively, I believed. Deliberately to provoke. But her point was as follows. She said, once you read a romance book you get to know the formula a bit, and once you read ten you know the formula cold. You do not need to read a new harlequin romance to know it. I have not seen, she would say, the latest fast and furious film, but I can tell you about it just the same. The friends will fight, but in the thick of battle — a battle involving the racing of cars — they will learn that their friendship runs deeper than whatever it was that drove the apart. Probably a woman. Almost certainly a woman. And, people, are like that. I have met nerds who know the Lord of the Rings backwards and forwards. If you are a nerd who is like those nerds, but your obsession is the Japanese pirate cartoon One Piece, I do not need to meet you to know you. When I have tasted a piece of apple I do not need to eat the whole apple to know how it tastes. Appley. Every piece of the apple tastes appley. When you have tasted enough men you know they will taste like Man. You do not need to eat another one.

What a provocative thing to say! As if it were a challenge to me, to differentiate myself, like a sculpture sculpting itself from stone, and leaping forth, into waiting arms.

But who said hers were the arms into which I ought to leap? Who says when she provoked me I needed to respond to the provocation?

Perhaps I should be one of those who in the fact of the provocation turns tail and charts my course, deeper and deeper into the anonymous, the undistinguished, the undifferentiated, the generic?

Like so many others! Like, perhaps, all of us. Born unique and each uniquely launching out on his weird lonely journey to that distant shore called Being the Same!

Does it even exist? When we arrive there will they accept us? Or will the natives tip-toe forth from their forest only to look up us at us timidly, unable to read the strange writing on our faces, rummaging their dictionaries for the meaning of our names, but still in love with the strange visitor, with his smiling face, and brown hair?

Who smells like apples.

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Sweetie’s Box of Silver Dreams

This one is about a girl named Sweetie and a boy named Junk. And you may be wondering whether he was really junk and she was really sweet, and if you are, there’s nothing wrong with that. And you may be thinking, sure, a boy can be made of junk, I know boys who are, and a girl can be sweet,sweet,sweet, I know girls who are — or maybe I am a boy like that, or even, I am a girl like that. And that’s fine. Or you may be thinking “naw!”. And that’s fine too.

Junk was out back on top of a really wet old mattress that had gotten a bit weird TBH from being left out in the rain so much so that there was a little pool in the middle of it and in the pool, there were baby mosquitos, and around the steamy yard where junk was playing there were growing big ailanthus trees and also grass that was so tall it had gone to seed. I don’t know what he was doing there. Just hangin’ out, I guess. Just sort of sittin’ there, although sometimes he would get up and walk around the old catalpa tree, and sometimes when the door opened he would hide because he didn’t want trouble from the people who lived in the house.

Were those people Junk’s Mom and Dad? I don’t know. I guess. Maybe. That would make sense. I guess.

Anyway, Sweetie would watch from the porch which she shared with the cat, Crystal Rystal Ray Dawn Thunder, whom she called Chris and when she had had enough she went out and started to talk to Junk, and she asked him why he didn’t play.

“Why you sitting on that dirty disgusting old mattress? Why don’t we play a game?”

“What’s a game?” Junk asked Sweetie.

Well, Sweetie was both amazed and confounded by a question like that, and she tried to teach Junk red light green light and she tried to teach him chess, and she tried to teach him steal the old man’s bundle, but Junk just sat on the damp mattress looking at her with his big brown eyes. And Sweetie didn’t know what to do. What would you do? With a boy who not just doesn’t play but doesn’t seem to even get the idea?

She went into the house and she came back with a shoe box with all sorts of things in it — a gold bead necklace,a copper plated door knob, string from a cake with chicken neck bones strung on it, a harmonica. And she said “Junk, these are my silver dreams in this box.” And junk said “What’s a dream?”

Well if you think she was flummoxed before, she was beyond flummoxed and half-way past next Tuesday now!

What could you tell a boy who didn’t know how to dream?

What would you have told him?

So finally she said — look you see this doorknob. It’s not just a doorknob.

“It’s not?” asked Junk.

“It’s not. It is also a stone that a hero can use to kill an Ogre-Wizard-Dragon-Devil-Slug.”

“Oh!” said Junk.

Well a few years passed, and Sweetie got sweeter and sweeter and Junk got some sort of thing with the city where he had to clean up parks to get his benefits — or maybe his parents swiped the benefits and just gave a pittance to Junk — if those two really were his parents — I’m foggy on some of the details but not the main point, which is that life moved on.

Until one day they actually sold Sweetie to a man named Mr. Erasmus and they were trying to get her into the car by Wilacre park, and she was kicking and carrying on, and the folks who had sold her were counting the money and not looking too close at what was happening when BAM! in his forehead something struck him down, in mid-abduction, dead.

Sweetie was saved. She ran from there and never looked back.

What was it that him that man in the head?

A copper doorknob.

Who threw it?

You know who.

Now a lot of the things I write about here for you don’t have morals, they just kinda are what they are, but this one, lucky for you does and here it is, it’s this.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to play and you don’t know how to dream — you can still know how to love.

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I Would Like to Tell You Something

When I write this now I have a good feeling inside!

I hope when you are reading it you feel happy and you feel like thinking and moving and you are letting yourself feel things, and they are good things.

If you want to live you have to continually control your birth.

If you look up in the sky there are so many stars. They have intelligence. They are intelligence and they are thinking about you. Yes they are feeling a lot about you. Thinking is a kind of feeling, feeling is a kind of thinking.

If you find yourself angry or afraid by anything you hear me say, or hear anybody else say, or even, and this is funny, hear yourself say, remember that this is your flight-or-fight nervous system taking over, and it’s shutting down possibilities for you and it’s making you hard to use your imagination. You just say, thank you, but I don’t need you right now, fight-or-flight. Because I am safe.

Because you are safe!

I hope you are feeling happy and funky.

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The Changing Truth

I am sure that things change, yet I try to say what they are in tokens that do not change. So if it is sunny sometimes and sometimes clear I say “It is sunny sometimes and sometimes clear” and that sentence does not change. So it is true.

But of course it might be false, if the meaning of the words changes. If it takes me a very long time to say, let’s say a thousand years, and during that period of time the word “sometimes” changes it’s meaning from “sometimes” to “always” although I may start to say the sentence with the best of intentions, by the time I actually finish saying it, it will be false. In fact it will be self-contradictory.

A problem!

And while this may seem a far-fetched example, supposing I started to say “A man can own another man” in 1600 and it took quite a long time to say it. That sentence might have been true when I started to say it and false when I finished saying it.

Now, we might want to say — it was always false. It wasn’t that it became false. It was always false and we just didn’t realize it.

I can see why we would want to say that, in part because we don’t want anybody to make it true AGAIN, and people are always trying to do that, trying to own us, and we want to push back. And that makes sense.

But on the other hand, it can also make us a little lazy, a little complacent, if we think it is already decided what’s true or false. We lose the fact that it’s up for grabs and thus that we have to fight to make things true that we want to be true. We can’t just wait for the truth to manifest. We have to make it manifest.

And in a sense the “it was never true that you can own a person” position — there are timeless truths and we just need to wait so to speak for the dust to get brushed away and they can stand, resplendent, for all right-thinking people to acknowledge — in a sense that position does not give enough credit to those who fought for those truths to be true, when nobody else accepted it.

It ignores the work of poets and people like poets (everybody?) to make the language say what we want it to say.

Sometimes I think the problem is that we are trying to be true to a changing reality with unchanging tokens. Either made-up (imaginary, white-mythological) tokens — propositions — or tokens that we sort of hope won’t change — sentences.

Because what if instead of trying to say what was true about the weather with a sentence — “It is sometimes rainy” I used an app on my phone that said “rainy” when it was rainy and “clear” when it was clear and if the meaning of English words changed, changed accordingly. This app would be “truer” — more trustworthy, more responsive to reality, whatever “true” means (not sure! a discussion for another day!) — than the sentence “It is sometimes rainy sometimes clear”.

The changing app is better than a sentence for being true to a changing world. It might be a problem in other ways — it might cost a lot, or fail when the grid fails, or bug me too much — but it would be better than the sentence along the axis of “truth”.

Similarly if you want a good likeness of yourself as you look right now, seek out a mirror, rather than a photograph.

I sometimes think I should come up with a theory where the bearers of truth value are not sentences or propositions but something that changes. I’m not sure how, or what such a theory would look like, or even if it ought to be a theory.

But although it’s not a theory, the idea that the the bearers of truth value are changing themselves, does strike me as true.

Maybe the bearer of truth-value — i.e. the thing that can be true or false — is my body, or my life, or my own beating, mutable heart?

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Transphobia

When you have a transphobic thought or reaction it might be a good idea to take a look at what’s causing that reaction. Because it might be that you are actually under threat — I mean it might be — these things happen –huma beings evolved the fight-or-flight response for a reason on the Serengetti — we weren’t just developing brain models for fun — but it also might be that you aren’t, and if it’s the case that you aren’t, then you will be, in an effort to defend yourself, lashing out at a group of people who are suffering disproportionately.

So I am just saying, you probably want to check your work. Because if you are wrong, if you are not under threat, what you view as a counter-attack, will actually be an attack on vulnerable people, who already have quite serious problems — avoiding murder, avoiding discrimination and harassment, getting medical care, keeping their jobs. Stuff like that.

And after all in the past, feeling one is under threat, has been no guarantee of being right, or indeed, no protection at all against doing horrible things. Southern whites were scared of the blacks they lynched. Straight people were afraid that people being openly gay were somehow going to tear down their family structure and consequently beat them up. Germans after WW I who supported the Nazis thought that Jews were nibbling away at what they needed to survive in our tricky way, etc. Etc. Etc.

Maybe those trans people waiting for the bus, are in fact, acting like they own the place, and are in fact, by their very existence making it harder for you to be a man or a woman or whatever. Maybe. Could be. These things happen, I am sure. But maybe they aren’t. Maybe you are fine. Or maybe, if you are not fine, the reason you are not fine has to do with — I don’t know — the vast power of the super-wealthy, or the climate disaster that is causing the globe to be less habitable by humans, and unleashing waves of civil wars, and refugees, or I don’t know, racism, or vote-rigging in the pursuit of using the state to force women to bring unwanted pregnancies to term. Or something, like that. Could be. And if the theory that your problems are due to trans people waiting for the bus, or walking down the street and not hiding turns out to be false, and one of these other problems — anxiety due to an unfair economic shake or impending climate catastrophe or what have you — if that turns out to be true, then this attention on trans people will be hurting you, more or less as somebody complaining about his neighbor’s necktie while stage 3 cancer rages in his body, would be hurting himself — because of misplaced energy. Misplaced focus.

These are all very deep questions and most likely impossible to resolve, so it will be best to look at this issue from 30,000 feet in the air so we can say things that will not get anybody upset. For example: as long as we discuss it, that’s good. And from 30,000 feet in the air it is hard to argue that discussing is better than non-discussing, much as clarity is better than confusion, true is better than false, good is better than bad, and love is better than hate. The Devil is in the details of course — is love, as expressed by letting my neighbors dog run free and bite kids — truly better than hate — as expressed by an angry letter to my neighbor requesting he lock up his damn dog? Well, no. But that would be upsetting to say — to my neighbor. To his dog. To people on social media who love to let dogs run free. And so on.

I think it would be a good idea if you are having the urge to lambaste trans people to have lunch with twenty trans people, listen a lot, and then see if the urge subsides.

And if you feel that way about Jews or dog-owners, do the same. In fact for any group X, before lambasting X actually meet members of the group X IRL and ask the how it goes with them, and listen, and then see if the urge to lambaste lowers in intensity, or if other urges start to compete with it–

well, TBH I think it’s a good idea.

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Disgusting People

I was lucky enough to ask my father the questions I really wanted to know before I lost him, so as a consequence i know the answer to a lot of puzzles that I otherwise wouldn’t.

For example, I asked him, Dad, why is that some people are disgusting, or seem so?

He said, people are disgusting if we think we might want to be close to them but then realize that we should not. It is like how a rock is not disgusting, but a spoiled egg is.

I have met armed robbers who are not disgusting at all, because they are what they seem, and nobody would want to be close to them, at least not in the proverbial dark alley.

While poets, priests, lovers and so forth can all be disgusting — because we are tempted by our minds or imaginations to get closer and our gut says — no.

I asked Dad if he thought it was wrong to view people as disgusting and he said this idea was, itself, very disgusting.

There are two paths to feeling no disgust for our fellow man — one is to never wish to be close to others, the other is to not find anyone to be dangerous. The first path is undesirable, and the second, impractical.

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Thinking, Clear and Unclear

Some people are able to think clearly. Others are able to think unclearly.

When people who think clearly but not unclearly are confronted with something clear and distinct, they excel. When they are confronted with something unclear, they attempt to make it clear. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes they succeed partially and fail partially. In the latter case, they fall, because they are unable to see to what extent they have failed, and believe they have completely succeeded, and to believe one has succeeded when one has failed, is dangerous.

When people who think unclearly are confronted with something distinct and clear, they mistake it, imagining one part to be another, missing where the thing begins and ends, confusing it with other things. When people who think unclearly are confronted with something unclear, they are able to be correct. But often they do not know it.

It is for this reason that sages distinguish between the clear and the unclear, between the phenomenon that is comprised of distinct parts and that which is not. It is for this reason that sages fail to distinguish between the clear and the unclear, between the phenomenon that is comprised of distinct parts and that which is not.

It is in this respect that sages differ from non-sages.

It is in this respect that sages and non-sages are the same.

Know this well, and you will be able to String the Bow of the Unvanquished, and taste the Nectarine of the Rainbow Monkey. Know this well and you will be able to live while you are still dead, and die while you are still alive.

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For My Australian Friend Who Just Became a US Citizen

I’ll tell you something serious about america

that we didn’t know until we became much oldier

or maybe i won’t, cause even the soldiest

soldier won’t tell you this unless you sidle

innerwise and outerly up to his idol

and give him the anti-cycliest midol

becoming the Apache Arrow turned helicopter

YeS! Lunicopter! Yes! Astrocopter!

Yes America, go America, america, america

first in war first in nuclear war and first in the hearts of his countrymen

That’s George Washington! The dollar guy

His mouth had the teeth of slaves and every morning in school

We pledge allegiance to the idea

That the Washington Monument is not his giant penis

And anybody who says it is is wrong amen

with liberty and justice Feral, For all

do you know the story Young Goodman Brown

who in the forest he learned that everybody

his Mom and Dad his girlfriend and his buddy Indian Joe

were servants of the Devil

So he put on a Big Smile and said

I’ll sell you anything but my own death but that

I will vote for that on election day that I will eat with turkey

That I will marry on the bed with an American wife

And breed us an American boy — it’s me

Do you know the story of Oil of Dog

You have to learn the stories they are our stories

And therefore your stories because we a nation of immigrants

Where everybody can say

I am an American boy and those three things

Are indivisible like liberty and Justice and George

Everybody is ashamed to recite them everybody recite them

Everybody say

I know the story I rang the bell

Say it with me GG! I am an American boy!

“I” and “America” and “boy” I cannot tell apart

Was I even a boy if I wasnt American?

Was I even American if I wasn’t a boy?

Was I a I if I wasn’t both?

America, I’m sorry

America I’ll do my best

I ate my smile, I’ll come back twice as strong

Sad to say boy but it hurts too much to laugh

America, last food and lodging for miles

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