Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Tepid Takes #458: Ossoff and You and Everyone You Know

A few weeks have passed-- or months, not sure, the world's been busy-- since Democrats most recent soul-crushing shock defeat in a race they were sure they could win. Indeed, this was just one of three elections in areas that haven't voted blue in decades that Democrats had confidence in winning because some of these voters who never vote Democrat Don't Like Donald Trump That Much. Of the three, Jon Ossoff's race was seen as the closest, polls had him ahead at points. But if you're reading this, you probably know the whole story, and there's plenty of dialogue, much of it profoundly unconstructive*, about What It Means, How Could We Lose, etc.

Honestly, while Moral Victories mean jack shit electorally, the fact that Dems could run competitive races in historically red (who picked the colors anyway?) areas is a legitimately encouraging sign.

One of the arguments I keep seeing is that if Rob Quist or James Thompson had had the sort of massive financial backing that Jon Ossoff had, they'd have won their respective races. I think this is entirely plausible, but hardly a given. Still, let's accept that premise for a second-- that with funding equivalent (even equivalent to half of) the Georgia race, we'd have two new Democrats in office, and the beginning of a Grand Populist Wave on the Wings of Bernie. The embittered argument tends to be that the Democratic Establishment is hell bent on keeping a tight fist around the party, and that a hatred of true progressivism, as well as crony capitalism, has hopelessly corrupted the DNC.

I think the real answer is far simpler, and a little more depressing. Dems** are more invested in winning over moderate suburban Republicans than historically Democratic working class counties is because suburban Republicans are their peers. These are their people. College educated home-owners who take at least one international vacation per year, these are folks they know how to talk to. When Chuck Schumer claimed that for every out-of-work rust belt worker who they lost, they'd gain moderates in the suburbs, he wasn't just espousing dubious political strategy, he was expressing the subconscious hope of a party that just simply doesn't know how-- and increasingly hasn't cared--  to talk to anyone they couldn't see themselves at a dinner party with. They want the votes of people their kids are going to private school with. Folks for whom student loans, health care, rising rents are social concerns, rather than personal ones, so all the arguments can be removed and civil.

This isn't nefarious, or evil, or even unusual-- it's a pretty normal trait to want to associate with, reach out to, and commiserate with people you have things in common with. It may be the most clumsily, sadly humanizing thing about a party apparatus that ignored urgent pleas from people on the ground in favor of data-models and is more likely to source from Tech or Wall Street than community organizers. I get it-- I'd rather hang out with my fellow jaded bartenders and musicians than pretty much anyone who works for the Democratic party. And maybe I'd go my way and they'd go theirs, and I'd trust them and all their vastly reasonable logic if it was working.

But it's not.


(*my favorite question is "How can we more effectively tie people to Trump. Let's make this state/local election a referendum on Trump." My my. If ONLY THERE HAD BEEN SOME ATTEMPT TO DO THIS ON A NATIONAL SCALE. If only we had some way to gauge whether running a negative campaign against Trump is effective. SADLY NO SUCH TRIAL HAS OCCURRED, SO WE BETTER JUST KEEP BAGGING ON TRUMP.)

(**Dems here refers largely to the funding/donor class, and many of those currently holding national office. Not the little old lady who volunteers after church. Feel free to comment with examples of the working class Dem Senator with a history of protecting workers rights; but do know that yes, I know they exist. And that there's a range of grassroots campaigns in the works or underway that are potentially transformative, etc etc)

Tepid takes is a new series of occasional, usual anecdotal musings a few days to months after the fact, usually around politics or social issues, for when a status update or series of tweets simply won't suffice.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

30/30: Murder Television On the Brink of Sleep

Where do the buzzdings
of my
phone

end
and
yours begin?

Out in the kitchen,
leggings and green
beans and rich,
sour coffee.

In the bathroom with
skin cream and torn
jeans.

Night I had nightmares

about the shows
we were watching

and other things that
blur into a wheatpaste

of images and ideas, the
past ten years through

brownout glasses,
the back of head rush
before the tears start.

Where do my
loose hairs
start
and yours
end?

Somewhere in the vicinity
of purple.

Waking up and shaking off
in covers and
sleepy jokes
and that moment
when the arm that fell asleep
also wakes, pulls in.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

29/30: Body Acknowledgement Poem

My ears gunked up and packed in

by the headphones I use to
drown out the reggae in the
rich white coffee shop that
has become my home for
free wi fi.
Hairs on the backs of my hands
stand up as the songs that
I love fills my skull gaps
and a left wrist itch, tickled
by headphone wires.
The balls of my feet
solid against new shoes,
my arches gapped between
them and the back of my
neck and arms
cold every time someone opens
the goddamn door.
My heart pounds and twitters
from the espresso and
each sentence I type quickly
my fingertips shoot directly
to my guts and heart and
all the internals that squick
and gulf with excitement
and jitters and involuntary
misspells.
My gut sucks in on itself
as I hunch over and squint
automatically; equal parts
sun and screen. Shoulders
always need popping,
toes curl and uncurl, bald
strips colder and itchier than
the sides of my head
where the hair still disobeys
orders of comb or hat.
My ass squishes comfortably
against the wicker chair, my thighs
just fat enough to flex
when I run. Knees that aren’t
sore from that. . . yet. My dick
snug between boxer briefs
and thigh in jeans that
only count as tight
when I sit like this. Spine
curved and straightened
like roads on a city map.
My shadow stretching out
over the table and floor
where it meets
the chair’s shadow
and with a cloud
disappears.

Friday, 28 April 2017

28/30: Anthropomorphy Now!


A pitch for a film about the  emotional lives of dead skin flakes.
Their tremendous journey from scalp to pillowcase with the vocal
talents  of Emma Stone and Aziz Ansari.
(or possibly Katherine Heigl, if she’s free and it’s comeback time)

A working outline for a novel about a melancholy espresso machine
waiting for a love that never comes, but never the less learning
to take satisfaction in the steam.
(a story for our times!)

A storyboard for a graphic novel about the half lives of
T-shirts, many pen and pencil close ups of weeping threads.
“Why doesn’t he wear me any more?”
(“Same” posts the heartbroken college girl)

A premise for a short story about the sexual predilictions
of floorboards. The whole thing is "wood" puns.
(Hint: it totally gets published, your dumb
thing doesn't)

A draft of a poem about door knobs. What hands have held them?
How have they turned? What fluids have dribbled down their
supple curves? What slight wrist turns? What pushes on their
shiny
nubile
frame?
Oh, knobby, knobby, knobby.
(This is the entire poem, actually)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

27/30: Constant Closet Concerns

The weather's playing tricks again

fashion dismay in the brick courtyard.

Falafel tragedies on sidewalks, too fast

in heels up first avenue, power lunches

on the cheap. Sweat your make up off,

loosen your silk tie. The lies this morning's

haze told, you should know better by

now, just have the wardrobe follow you,

like a puppy or a goat, there for when

you need to reach back and grab a blazer.

It's already almost May is both

the reason this rain has you aghast

and why it shouldn't be so hot yet.

A light jacket, fashionable top,

open toed shoes; all shows of optimism

or defiance.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

25/30: Conversations With My Classmate-Professor Over Lunch in Cardiff


Of all the places, high street, of all the places on high street, a faux-mexican
chain with bad spellings and valleys accents. Here again for all the unpacking
at the logical end of the course we took together.
find ourselves comparing notes eight years from the day he said
so you’re also an American, and showed me the best seat
in the mini-cafe.

The years they have been kind?
Strange? About the same?
His kids are people now, big
laughs and so many transgressive
authors, Naked Lunch Naked Lunch
Naked Lunch and how the students
need
to be shaken
and twisted
and broken
you just keep writing and throwing it
out and keep writing and throwing it
out to the high street, he gestures,
something for the people, these
people they just go about their little
lives.

At some point in our thirties we just start looking the same
for a long time. We met when he was a year younger
than I am now, he’s lost a little weight, but aging only
shows in family pictures.

So many beat authors  and  pages full
of violence, his students complain, especially
the women, but people need to know
life’s not all gardens and shopping
and roses. he references Thoreau
and Ginsberg and Lydia so and so
and says something about guts
on the page. GUTS.
To break up the bland, pleasant
horror of domesticity.
What are we doing
here on the high street,
if we’re not picking  up tail
or telling rough truths?

He’s married. I’m not. He was married when we met.
I wasn’t. The Cardiff we meet in and the Cardiff
he lives in are different places even so.

The new book is meant to be
destroyed, because art is temporal.
I get a copy for free. He has to give
some of his students credit, they call him
on his shit. He’s got shit, like I’ve got shit
like they’ve got shit, but these
are his classes and
I learn more, here on high street
about Cardiff Uni Politics
than will
hopefully ever be useful.

Always used to joke to me to not get married, fuck around as
long as possible. Struck me as sad, and honest. A third weak
beer in and I remember three years ago, he sent a few links
for professor jobs in Cardiff, then one in Bellingham that
he’d thought about.
But you can’t uproot family. You, you could go anywhere.
He pulls a page out of his book and wraps his tip in it
things are going pretty well, he re-iterates, life is what it
is, just kicking against the long going
and I take another look down high street
contemplating curriculums for those who only
wish
their desperation could be
quiet.

Monday, 24 April 2017

24/30: Evictions

Upside down American Flag                                                       Try me, fuckers, try me.
wheatpasted next to Johnny Cash                                                Ambiguous icons. No arguments.
and a robot lady with eagle                                                         Sexy, but not. Ominous.
tattoos on a brick                                                                         Plan your wedding photos here.
building that isn't long                                                                 I am surprised you are not dead yet.
for this block.                     

The key to my room I marked with a Hot Water sticker
from work in a month when all my keys looked the same
and I was frequently drunk and every other day they
entered my room to check for pipe problems or ventilation
problems or bug problems or window problems. They did
this with all the rooms, according notes on computer paper
taped to doors, minutes within compliance of renter's rights
law.

                                                        What do you want from a home
  These apartments are made of steel,
                                                                stucco, glass, cocaine, rat corpses
                                     and Adderall. No one gets out of these
                 apartments alive because these apartments
                                                          are the entire world, you are just moving
                                     room to room to room and sometimes
                    falling out of windows.

Saul is gone. Notice on his door.
Not sure why. He was skinnier and
skinnier and more swollen and he was
friendly enough and we talked
about PJ Harvey's fucked up
relationship with Nick Cave
and he was one of the few people
on my floor that neither twitched
and muttered nor wore
a backwards baseball cap.

I am a cold ghost. I am a fire alarm. I am a broken flatscreen. I am a home invasion warning from the new security team. I am here to answer any of your questions. I am a floor and a ceiling. I am fucking in the weight room bathrooms. I am constantly tuned to CNN while an elderly polish woman endlessly folds laundry at midnight. I am a bed of roaches. I am a hall of rat tails. I am a song about the same neighborhood that sicks in your throat. I am a book about prostitutes at the turn of the century. I am your neighbor's sex life, loud and unforgiving. I am a hot plate and a broken microwave. I am a block without trees. I am a manmade waterfall. I am your neighbor's toilet flushing at five a.m. I am a gathering of poets staring at night skyscrapers. I am a constantly reconstructing view. I am in the middle of everything and sending you everywhere. I am the reason you are gone. I am the reason this building still stands. I am temporary. I am permanent.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

23/30: "Good morning my son! Your Father and I are planning on dying soon."

. . . is what I heard over the Sprint Network

when an idle mention of Life Insurance, and how

they are finally getting On That.

I thought of my Grandpa's funeral, my Aunt's

funeral, my Grandmother's funeral, all

the stacks of paperwork and

runs to party supply stores for ribbons

and picture frames, and the tedium of

memorials I saw the women of the family

execute sharply and how I could barely keep

it together.

". . . so if, you know, The Lord decides to take us

both at once, make it easy on us. . . of course, that'd

be harder on you kids. . ."

That would be consistent with the behavior

of the Lord I've met. First I picture a car accident

something bloody on a bridge, called to

Identify the bodies. . . But no.

This would be more like Enoch, aforementioned

Lord giving the two finger beckon;

both my parents sitting together, holding hands

the way they do, silently when the right

jazz standard, or Beatles song comes

on, in one of the cars they

actually liked, that little yellow one maybe

and they just

drive

away.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

22/30: Notes En Route Alongisde the March For Science

Darth Vaders with Han Solo signs.
Elbows to elbows to knees to smalls of backs.
Snide asides from the "justtryingtogettowork"
crowd about "finally a march I'm on board with."

Plenty of jokes. Plenty of quotes. Plenty of
white folks with dreadlocks. No sign of hacky sack
in the rain.

A bullhorn in the rapidly filling park.
Cheers. A switching tide of people,
toward and away from less clogged routes,
toward and away from shorter lines for coffee.

Plenty of portraits of obscure physicists next to
"It's Motherfucking SCIENCE BITCH" next to
grey haired ladies in rumpled gortex talking about
priests of nonviolence and the 70s and the
documentary their lone young companion should watch.

Storm troopers with anti-fa arm bands.
A chance to dress up in a casual town.
A swarming sea of blacks and blues and greens
and the thought that Science will continue
whether we recognize it or not,

much to the terror of the man pulling a radio
flyer with two brown haired children,
thumbsucking and curled up on eachother
like puppies.

Friday, 21 April 2017

21/30: #Targets

A poem about Class in Seattle,
Class in myself, the idea of Taste as
Class signifier, of Class as Taste
signifier, of Education as Class
and Taste signifier, as how despite my
love for both the band and radio station,
I couldn't help but define the
New Pornographers as
KEXP the band.

this is not a compliment.

A poem about Subarus.
A poem about people who
pay so much money for durable
flip flops  and then eat such expensive food
in those durable flip flops and
a poem about people, these
same ones, who think that
we relate to eachother because
we've both read Bolano.

A poem about self-isolation
and a poem about self immolation
in the need to fit in. The gatekeepers
still exist, despite the thinkpieces
gatekeepers share on their facebook
about how the internet
has rid us
of gatekeepers.

This is not a complaint.

A poem about what sorts of
buildings the suburbs meant
growing up, and what they mean
now, and a poem about

the assholes who live in my building
who let their friends steal flat
screened TVs and a poem about
the whole of recorded history
as seen through subsidized housing.

I am also an asshole in my building
but none of my friends have done the sort of damage
that leads to long term policy or rental changes.

A poem about "mindfulness."
A poem about "following your dreams" or about "hard work" or about Nice Things and why we can have them, actually, if we change our attitudes.
A poem about your favorite yoga place.
A poem about my favorite sandwich shop.
A poem about the way the moderately wealthy
do more to shame to poor than the extremely wealthy do
90% of the time, their smirks and their aphorisms.

A poem about the friends I used to have,
who hover like vultures in comment sections and
wider gatherings, whose lives of relative wit
and misanthropy sour like milk and burn like
spilt coffee.

This is not a high ground, but it's the only ground I've got.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

20/30: Well Whiskey and a Rainier

for Natalie

A neutral bar-- enough; one might quarrel with the bartender's tattoos
but who can argue with pizza? Don't know exactly what I was expecting
one year ago over pepperoni slices, except that you were
hotter in person and your voice warmer than any bio-interests belied.

Those sparkler moments when interest went from idle to active--
your "because if you can, why not?" over a trip to Scotland to watch
a band with a sentence long name, the romance lighting, the way
when we decamped to the last and only journalist dive in town

you said "yah, I'm not fancy, give me a well whiskey and a rainier."
The well at the Streamline is Old Crow. We learn, in time, this is our
low-end threshold, that it's worth a dollar or two more for
Beam or Jack when facing down Potters or McCormicks.

The Rainier remains steady, sometimes even without the whiskey.
Those first-date bars are out of our way, but haven't disappeared.
Pizza remains steady, sometimes even without pepperoni.
This morning I kissed you half sleeping, made breakfast,
left the last egg for you.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

19/30: In Which I Summon the Ghosts of Still Living Scribes

Ten oil paint woodland water scenes
in this room where two men in
turbans compare data over a
laptop and the guy who works at
the gyro place where they recognize
my nephew sits in a chair with
an embroidered cushion while
songs with echo-ey lady vocals
drift over the sound of espresso
machines, and I believe that if
there is a problem in this room
I am part of it.

This is the second poem I've written
in A Muddy Cup in my life time and the
more-than-second poem I've written
during this arbitrary daily-poem-calendar
-time about the coffee shop that I'm writing
in and if every poem is a little bit
about poetry, then all of mine are a lot
about poetry, but this is the second one
that I consciously chose to write this month
and I will finish my taxes a little  later
than I planned.

Now this is like a Shane Guthrie poem
or Ryan Johnson poem, they are also both
writing poems every day or almost
every day, because it is important and we
know we are important because we
choose to do this, and they also both
have written about the act of writing and
I'm not sure if they'll be flattered or offended

that I sat in a room with it's own library
that is in the business of giving people a
place to sit and not be terrified of the world
but ostensibly it's just coffee and now
this piece is much much longer than either
Ryan or Shane usually write, even longer
than a poem by Jake Tucker, who was the
most enthused about the 30/30s, but has
written the least, so I assume he has broken
fingers by a Moose in Canada, but yes,
mush longer of a poem than any
of theirs, unless
it's an epic diatribe,
surrealist or
political, respectively,
God
I could use
one of those

right now.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

18/30: TFW: TBT/FBF

Never underestimate your capacity for:
                                           creative cosplay
                                           the duckface you mock in others
                                           hair so bad you swore never again until today,
                                           then, the mirror, the howcomenoonetoldme?

Never overestimate the social market for:

                                          creative duckface
                                          the cosplay you mock in others
                                          eyehangs so bad you swear next time will be sun
                                          glasses, or more water, or sleep, or no allergies.

Okay, fine.

It was the summer of pastel sweaters, went so
far to flirt with polos, didn't like yacht rock but
wanted invites to the parties. didn't have a 401K
but could agree about Murakami and headfake through
a conversation about Rose. far less responses to 
this post from when, but you were less connected then/

whatever

happened to that scarf?

Never underestimate your capacity for:

                                               nostalgia for coping-benders
                                               nostalgia for drunk poetry readings and the afterlaughs
                                               nostalgia for inadequate grocery stores
                                               nostalgia for the people with the droning speech and 
                                               single college anecdote 
soyoungthen.

Never overestimate your tendency to:

                                              overfilter photographs of milk/ cookies.
                                              self-congratulate for reality television
                                              idle judgement on a brew of coffee as your frozen
                                              pizza burns.

but at least I--

It was the winter of mixed drinks. like most winters,
punctuated by January's forced moderation and the 
half-week of snowball fights. the best thing about it,
even then, were the pictures of friends, best ones,
collapsed in banks outside rest areas. action shots
snowballs quick and in-frame. that was a time ago,
now, algorithm calculated for nostalgia,
for when it snowed,
when we were
there, naming our adventures

when that was even a frame
we'd all be in.
 
               .                                

Monday, 17 April 2017

17/30: Speculative Derision On the Fourth Edge of Defensive Estate Sales

The word that
                        floats in and out of
common lexicon
                                                        and in and out
                                                        and in and out
                                                        of my repertoire

Things I just want to say, will
write whole paragraphs to justify
"gloaming" or "majestic" or "crustacean justice."
Efficacious and loquacious.

Feels
on my
tongue                               (ears, how it sounds)

Claiming a theory, a deep, academic knowledge
of the trips my tongue falls over, takes happy
hours of brain space to

justify
these lullabies on the spastic
twitch of finger jitter keyboard
molasses
these
not-jokes but
strictly, strychnine, sounds like hounds ate
clowns while dime-turned on a sentence
on a retrial caught on tapeworm by
innocent venison
(meat)
                                                 can't possibly
                                                 can't possibly
                                                 can't possibly

be seriousness. Furiousness. Curiousness.
Stopped rhyming my poems sometime
in High School, but the
urge
(somewhere in the brain near
where the puns are kept, but
both more vulgar and refined)
                                                never leaves,
just pops up                             like a bubble in soup

waiting to get popped, hammered, slammered,
betwixt the fortnight and the afterthought,
the punch-fought dirigible on the edge of bedside
morale, just ratcheting, ratcheting, ratcheting.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

16/30: Hour Hand Stuck

A clerkship at a faceless company.
Sitting in the long grey two p.m.

A bus you miss for lack of sprinting.
Left waiting in the long grey two p.m.

A knuckle rash, an elbow sting.
Aching in the long grey two p.m.

Caffiene drops out, demands more caffeine.
To jolt you through the long grey two p.m.

A stack of tasks, collated and stamped.
Filing through the long grey two p.m.

The three p.m. and one p.m. are ghosts.
Grinning at the long grey two p.m.

A bus you catch that jolts and starts.
Staying in the long grey two p.m.

A sleep that waits like cats on roofs.
Waking through the long grey two p.m.

A stapler that breaks with three files left.
Mocks you in the long grey two p.m.

Neighbor dogs bark every time.
Unknown in the long grey two p.m.

Neighbor cats go run and yowl.
Hiding in the long grey two p.m.

A clerkship with transparency.
Promised by the long grey two p.m.

Processed cheese and cardboard bread
Demand repeats in the long grey two p.m.

A grind of tasks, and guts, and dust.
Crunched out of the long grey two p.m.

Til five p.m. til five p.m. til five p.m.
Whispered in the long grey two p.m.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

15/30: Bartending Poem 538 or Eight O'Clock O'Neill Shutdown

You won’t win an argument with Kelly.


Damn your intentions,
Hang your execution,
Garrot your rhetoric,
Flay your dialogue.


She’ll take your drink offer,
One for her husband too,
And you’ll wave your point
About like a broken finger
As she, right, wrong,
Or just stubborn,


Shake-heads you out of the room.
You came to the bar ready for some
Hot-tongued neighborhood mingle,
Some bar-slapping laughs
And throat clearing gesticulations
As the lights dim, and the shots
Get stiffer, and the families get
Self conscious, and the music's
all songs of fucking or fighting,
You do not have to leave
With anyone, but at least
Would like to prove yourself right.


But you
Won’t
Win
An argument
With Kelly.


David, maybe, but not Kelly,
She has defeated crosswords smarter
Than you and riven sudoku more complex.


Pick your dialogues wisely, and know that
Once she’s gone, the new set takes their place
And you should probably be going too.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

13/30: Shadows of 45

The what-to-do? list.

An article about how an unlikely band of sculptors
ousted an Estonian autocrat in the early '00s, forwarded
by a friend you met twelve years ago in an attic.

This is the first from them in five years. Signed "stay strong."

The what-to-do? guilt.

First on the list, always feel guilty,
there  is never enough.

Bodies hit the floor, like in that song
you thought was funny once, full of
lead or pressed by men-cum-cyborgs
by weight of their machinery vests.

That paralyzing lilt in conversation, how
do you answer
"how are you
today?"

You just want to read your poems and eat your still-delicious
foods and-- no.
You just want to break windows and rise up and-- no.
You just want to know what you can do to help
and then your inbox is full and half the links
are viruses.

Setting aside the time
for vigilance,
the time for guard
to never
be
let
down. A week from tomorrow,
with friends at the park
with signs.

The what-to-do? Wait, every song too oblivious
or on-the-nose.

Til then, it's a bright and sunny day. nearly 80 in april.
try to enjoy it. don't think about what that means.