Friday, May 06, 2011




It’s always dangerous to need help
mothers offer a lot of help
some people organize their lives to be most helpful
as others do to be richest or most powerful—
maybe it’s mainly because of indoctrination when young
or like mothers, triggered hormones—
help given from pure empathy, sympathy, kind generosity
& delivered by one
who has made him or her self capable
is the highest virtue
I’m grateful for help like that that I’ve received
& hope, sometimes, to pass it on—
& some help
is neurotic & frustrates the recipient
& makes the chances
of improving his or her situation
do-it-yourself & ambition now are all the rage—
get the upper hand, hold it, develop advantages
don’t be taken in by all the con artists & deluded fools—
governments have been so corrupted
by those who have made them providers of help
mostly to those likely to vote in large blocs
but also to approximately anyone unable to cope
except with the mechanisms of collecting
what it’s said they have a right to—
at the expense of those who won’t
be members of herds of clients!—
dissolving such a misguided metastasizing complex
is as much a help as not—
plenty of people will suffer from the dissolving
but plenty of us
far from even having enough to live comfortably for long
suffer from the deal
between the politicians & their clients
at our expense—
no doubt, most of those most vociferous
in demanding the dissolving
of institutionalized help
are greedy, unimaginative, unfeeling—
we’re vulnerable again
to the wind, rain, big & hungry beasts
plagues, droughts, floods—
&, now, we live as tho right on top of one another, too
in a maze of artifacts with corroding moving parts
& so few people capable
& so few people inclined
without government intervention
to help—
& governments to deal with, too—
the governments that claim to represent us
& governments that claim to represent others
& the governments are inclined to scrimmage
to & maybe over the edge, into war—
I’ll bet occasionally wise & helpful bureaucrats
help someone here & there do something truly valuable
that otherwise wouldn’t be done
without hurting those forced to pay for it
at least, not as much as they benefit—
but mainly—I’ll bet you’ve had experience—
they get between you & something sane & good
you’re struggling in the midst of slapstick & suffering
& frustration that threatens to be terminal
to realize—
& elected officials are usually worse—
I don’t say always—
I don’t say everyone but Noah deserves to drown—
there must be exceptionally wise & helpful ones
among them, as, unexpectedly, among any set or group—
but mainly what they say & do
to get ahead & stay ahead
is so shameful, so hurtful—
their armies go to war
wars that clobber everyone not lucky enough
to be out of the way of
fast, dense projectiles & whomped-up psychopaths—
& they work for the same sort of damn conquerors
as in the days of knights, kings, aristocratic spoils—
tho no doubt sprinkled among them
as among bureaucrats
are exceptionally wise & helpful
who feel as nauseated by their peers’ insatiability
as by the ocean of need surging all around them.


- for Teresinka Pereira

You choose subjects of importance to everyone
& say what you’re saying clearly
so rare, & I appreciate it
& you’re brief—I’m sure everyone appreciates that
editors always love it
& most readers have short attention spans
especially, of course, since they expect poems
will be about the usual
personal sorrows & consolations—
not offending anyone who might advance the poet—
&, yes, the bombing at Hiroshima was terrible
beyond the terror & pain most individuals
will know in brief moments of their lives—
many individuals destroyed
immediately, excrutiating
or over aching, grieving decades—
&, sure, Truman & the pilot of the bomber
earned some of the blame—
but what about the people who designed & built
the bomb & the plane?
& the rulers of Japan
who ordered the bombing of Pearl Harbor
triggering years of bombing across the Pacific?
& the Japanese soldiers
who committed atrocities all over east Asia?
& likewise the Nazis in Europe?—
& what about all those supporting the troops
& bombers on both sides of every battle, every war?
or who fail to find ways & take the necessary risks
to remove injustice & the consequent rage of victims
before war breaks out again & again?—
Hiroshima, sure, but Verdun, too
the Turkish Armenian genocide
the European Holocaust
the Gulag Archipelago
the slaughter of innocents
in Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina
Palestine & Israel
Pakistan & India
Black slavery & the Civil War of the USA
the Russian, Chinese, Mexican revolutions
World War I & World War II—
China’s population was reduced a third
during the An Shan Rebellion
during the Tang dynasty—
& Germany’s population likewise reduced
during the Hundred Years War in the 1600s—
& America’s native population decimated
over centuries of greed & misunderstanding—
& the greatest crimes go on day after day
during times of so-called peace
& prosperity or recession or depression
most people adjusting to being dominated
& learning to concentrate on what they must do
to avoid weakening & becoming one
of the victims of human crocodiles—
that it’s always been so & can only be so
implanted in their minds—
they enforce the subordination
on one another & on themselves
that’s wasting & killing them
& drives some to kill in a rage
& some to organize against some enemy
they imagine lives far away
or like an infection among them
but not within themselves—
you say hope wins—
I hope hope wins!
every day is a struggle for hope
& to use hope & courage & cunning
to change the situation!—
to love the struggle
not collapse from the effort
against evil-doing & the concentration
of nearly everyone on getting along with evil-doers
& with others likewise getting along—
you say:
we wish all bombs be banished
from all countries in the world—
yes, but, then, who are “we”?—
lions, tigers, sharks, crocodiles, & viruses
don’t want peace, it’s prey they want—
you know that there are human
lions, tigers, sharks, crocodiles, & viruses, too—
there are people getting rich by commanding
production & deployment of bombs & bombers—
congressmen run for re-election
bragging of orders for bombs & bombers
they managed to get for their districts
in return for votes on how to fund
medicines & surgeries & salutary or toxic schools—
not just one president of one country of one time
not just one pilot of one bomber—
Truman was just one mostly bewildered human
pushed this way & that
by powerful, more sophisticated men
who weren’t very sophisticated, themselves
& by events way beyond his understanding—
& that pilot had to know
that if the Japanese rulers refused to surrender
thousands more of his comrades would have to die in battle
maybe him—they were shooting at him—
& Tokyo had already been napalmed for months—
it’s complex—it’s a jungle
of humans at their basest & noblest
& viruses, archaeans, bacteria, fungi, animals, & plants
& minerals in solid, liquid, & gaseous forms
with all kinds of forces between & among them in space—
there’s always a war for nutrients & advantage
& there are always elements of cooperation & love
women always looking for men
who can help them raise children
& men looking for women
with whom or on whom
they can discharge the sexual build-up
that will otherwise make them unable
to operate within the consensus of their local quorum—
everyone’s hungry or scared or megalomaniacal
or some exquisite combination—
some more, some less considerate of others
or understanding
of those who look & act differently than they do—
you & I want hope & peace to prevail
we are related in that way
a subspecies
& both of us use words we hope will influence events—
so don’t take this as a put-down, team-mate—
I want our team, however informal, to prevail
& it’s far from prevailing—
it’s slight, weak
for most people, it’s a joke
most of us keep falling into neuroses
dying without achieving
what we started, at least, to conceive—
either winning consolation prizes or not even that—
we won’t be listened to often
we have to make what we say
as close to exactly what is so
as we can make it
as well as being serious & clear—
we have to be wise
as well as brave & strategic.


The so-called successes
of my celebrated contemporaries
are so puny, I’d laugh
if I weren’t afraid that the congregations
of the taverns, churches, courts, & arenas
would beat me til I’d feign respectfulness.

How I wish I’d hear from those, like me
engaged in great, unnoticed battles!


Guy at the counter
just before a winter sunrise
tells me that the day he retired
no more paycheck
was the scariest day of his life—
he has this much pension
this much social security
this much savings—
Yeah, I know, I say
the scariest day of my life
is every other day or so
for the last 4 or 5 decades—
Yeah, he says
but you brought that on yourself—
which is true, tho only partly—
if you’re young
right now you may be deciding
I’m not going HIS way—
&, okay, maybe that’s right—
but I’d go this way again
of course, I’d be more tactful
I’d have held onto temporary jobs
by not letting my bosses know
each one, a little longer
what I was doing with my life
which threatened them—
& I’d have been more cunning
in dealing with those I hoped
would help me by displaying my work
&, sometimes, paying me for it
who were equally threatened
that I was not doing what they were doing—
still, I’d do what I’ve done, mainly—
it was always nearly impossible—
but I was & am changing the odds
for myself & for you
if you haven’t committed to opposing me—
it’s a great adventure—
the Germans & Japanese had won
almost every battle, 1942
Britain & its Indian colony
& the English-speaking off-shoot nation remnants
of its collapsed naval & commercial hegemony
including the rebellious but similar USA
& the non-industrial remnant of totalitarian Russia
were shattered & reeling—
it took being nearly defeated
to understand the glorying
in destruction, humiliation, murder—
the unrestrained delusion of superiority
& exhilarated relief from petty hypocrisy & regulation—
the Nazi armies occupied almost all of Europe
imperial Japanese armies controlled China’s coast
Korea & industrial Manchuria
Malaya, Indonesia, most Pacific islands
Spain & Italy were ruled by fascists
South American fascists could see their opposition failing
fascist armies & navies were still expanding
their psychopathic leaders confident—
I imagine the leaders of the so-called democracies
plenty of injustice, corruption, & madness
mixed in various ways & degrees
with hard-won & never-pure liberty
& elements of justice, there, too—
& the leaders partly cynical, partly deluded themselves—
& Stalin, totally in charge
of those he hadn’t killed in intimidated Russia
as evil as any ruler then or any time
even worse, far worse than the Tsars who preceded him—
didn’t see what else they could do than what they were doing—
they survived, persisted, adapted—
I’m not saying they were the greatest generation
as some say who were rewarded by succeeding them—
they were a generation like any generation
some courage, some cowardice, insightful, benighted
like mine & your generation, for instance
as Jesus was the son of God
the same way you are a son or daughter of God
& as Muhammed was truly a prophet
& there are many other prophets, too
partly seeing more clearly than others
partly more crazy than normal
maybe acclaimed, maybe persecuted—
& tho it seemed impossible then
they prevailed—
the alternative is surrendering
to what you must resist & undo
or die, or become what’s killing you—
I won’t, I don’t:
you do what you think you must & should.

Don’t imagine I’m talking about
the life of an artist—
tho that’s an element of it in my case—
most artists are as much a part of what I’m trying to undo
as most Democrats, Republicans, fascists, Leninists—
their assumptions & attitudes & competition
in aggregate
as formidable an obstacle as any I face—
as winter or unjust governments—
since I won’t be like them
they’ll starve me if I don’t outwit them—
as the so-called common sense
always trying to shut me up or somehow break my will
of those who have rationalized their allegiance
to those who take more from them than they give in return
& claim the only right to violence & imprisoning—
& as the fierce resistance
of those gaining tremendously at everyone else’s expense—
who never stop expanding their domain
& taking a greater & greater share.

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