Wednesday, January 21, 2015

America in Autumn


1.

The Texas summer doesn't end in late
September. Mississippi steams into
The winter. White camellias bloom. The gate
Of winter opens at a later date.

If only we could hold off winter through
This land -- but hatred brings a frigid cold
And threatens all we think and love and do.
The problems are not them; it's always you.

The real news always lies beneath the fold,
And Hollywood proclaims the moral law,
And truth is truth when everyone is polled,
And money is not worth its weight in gold.

I traveled north, avoiding hatred's claw
To find hawks spread their wings and soar the sky
To make a prey of other birds and draw
Us to a leader, to our ancient flaw.

The hawks of hatred in this land deny
That they're the same as southern eagles which
Destroy and kill, believing their own lie
That they're benevolent. They watch us die.

I do not understand why I should hitch
A ride with either one. The lowly crow
Is cleverer by far, creates a niche
So all may live and grow, rise from the ditch.

When winter comes, the birds all head below
To lands they know, which comfort them. The heat
Is comforting, the sun blankets a glow
That tells us all we really want to know.

But justice does not separate, delete
The differences or, lying, say they stand
With the oppressed but want to stay elite --
Thus virtue crashes wingless in defeat.

I do not want a world the same and bland,
Where seasons never come and every bird
Is of a feather, hawk and dove both land
Together on the feeder by command.

For far too long the best we get's absurd,
Defeathered chickens thrown up to be man.
No one believes in the truth of the word,
And sell as art a can that hold a turd.

Without our foundations in art we can
Not find our way out of deep poverty --
Our death is masked by a false feather fan.
When you make hatred, you don't have to ban.

We cannot soar without our liberty --
we cannot live a true life without fate --
We live by trimming branches off the tree
Of time, our lives -- we sing this to be free.

2.

I left my teaching job, disgusted at
Such arrogance and ignorance combined
With laziness, indiscipline. They're fat
And revel in disease, each one a brat.

I'd love to teach each one to be refined,
I'd love to cast off all their ignorance --
But that would mean they all would have to mind
And discipline will get you fired or fined.

Instead of having ego temperance,
Each thinks themselves a phoenix, each unique,
With every word a drop of gold, no sense
Has chance to charm a skull so dense.

Each one's a baby bird with open beak,
Complaining of the food that's brought to them --
They do not care for virtue, truth to seek
And crumble under each tiny critique.

Our students have a French disdain to hem
Their thoughts by generative, freeing rules,
Rejecting logic, knowledge, virtue, gem
Of beauty, making sense fall off its stem.

But what do we expect when ruled by fools
Like Richard Rorty, careless Stanley Fish,
The demagogue Paul Krugman with his tools
That change with who so rules -- they're mental ghouls.

This rampant anti-intellectualish
Elitist narcissism feathers out
Into the unformed mind, the empty dish
To destroy hope and every honest wish.

The state of education makes me doubt
The future will have more than cuckoos in
The nests, and vultures ruling them. This route
To foolish ignorance leaves no way out.

Perhaps I'm driven by the endorphin,
Perhaps I want to fly before I cry,
Perhaps I cannot stand to be worn thin,
Perhaps to leave right now would be a sin.

A sin? It is a sin to dare deny
The best and brightest knowledge so they'll grow,
To clip their wings so none of them can fly
So we won't have to hear the lowest sigh.

So I must leave -- to live, I have to go.
I cannot parrot ignorance and bear
A life of honor, virtue -- I must know
That I am more than fiery indigo.

I'm leaving teaching now because I care
And, caring's tearing feathers out of me
Until I'm singed and done. I do not dare
Remain -- I have to wander . . . anywhere.

I want to show the world's deep density
And show the world exactly where it's at --
But knowledge, wisdom brings complexity
And it's that beauty that will make us free.

3.

 My Asian friends all say this country's vast
And empty -- yes, but that's the freeway view --
The towns, the people have all been bypassed,
Ignored, on all of them long shadows cast.

The minor roads will show me what is new
To city-dusty eyes. A wide, wired land,
Endensified by satellites and through
Long cables, light where lonely birds once flew.

I walk away so I can take a stand
And trust that with my single flapping wing
I'll raise a hurricane, each windy band
Of ocean-clouds deep-churning up the sand.

I rent a storage space so everything
I own will have a place to stay. I pay
The next two years and hope the months will bring
The hope and wisdom that I need to sing.

I pay my last two months of rent. I'll stay
With who I can. Perhaps, when I return,
I'll find a mindless job without delay
And be a sandy ostrich each weekday.

I get into my Skylark and I turn
Onto the road. Escaping Dallas -- more,
Escaping all that I have learned to spurn --
I'll travel north. I must escape this urn.

I've shut and locked the ancient wooden door --
I have enough to grant me liberty --
I have no ties, no love that I adore,
Just visions of a syphilitic whore.

What choice have I with no prosperity?
With such a life relationships won't last.
I've made a choice of homeless poverty
In hopes that I will learn now to be free.

4.

The grackles rise into the Texas sky
In crashless patterns that emerge to show
That we can move together, unmoved by
Some master that will only make us die.

The scissor-tailed flycatchers show they know
With every ribbon-dance looped in the air
That life is really constant overflow,
That beauty is the life we need to grow.

The asphalt crumbles out before me, spare
Of paint and signs. Wood fences fence the grass
And stones and trees and fruiting prickly pear,
Perhaps to stop them wandering off somewhere.

I glance at birds and bushes as they pass --
To drive one contemplates but passing time --
A faster time than time spent fishing bass,
More timely than a universe of gas.

I slow my speed -- I won't commit the crime
Of blurring life with my blinders on,
Ignoring, ignorant that every clime
Has beauty in its fullness, health and grime.

Distinct, distinguished, seen before it's gone --
That's what each subject wants, what each deserves --
To find the hidden shape of dabbled fawn,
To never treat a person as a pawn.

 The present comes in potholes, all my swerves
Avoiding them and rabbits darting out
Onto the road that only slowly curves,
Distracting me from all this culture's pervs.

Perverse! That's what this culture is! Don't doubt
The pornographic impulse to erase
The individual person and to route
All beauty out -- that's what it's all about.

We've damned from life all elegance and grace --
Resentment, hatred we have deified,
Destroying what is sacred everyplace
And mutilating beauty's every face.

I've left but, leaving, I still cannot hide
The reason that I left -- I bring along
The emptiness, the pain with which I cried --
But had I stayed, I surely would have died.

How can external things become so strong?
But what's external to a social ape?
External, internal -- they both belong
In tensions telling us what's right and wrong.

The sun shadows my car, a hidden shape
Beneath a cloudless noon. Bird shadows dart
Across the road. I'll take this concrete tape
To northern fields of corn and wheat and rape.

A town appears -- it's small and white, a part
Of all the gravel dust all cars encloud
As they turn in to town. A broken cart
Invites me to part next to it to start.

A restaurant, a place without a crowd --
It's small and local, promises of home.
I'm certain that the people here are proud --
When I walk in, I feel I'm not allowed.

Three men, a pair of women crack the tome
Of innocence as they all stare me down:
Well, who are you? We don't like those who roam
And wander, detached from the sandy loam.

I try to smile at them to face the frown
That links their faces int one. I wait,
A waitress frowns, the same as all the town,
And sits me down, attends me like a clown.

An educated Southerner, I hate
To hate -- I've learned to love the other and
Refused to let my kin be second-rate --
And now both are entwined to make my fate.

The waitress, older than her years and bland
In dress and walk and speech, asks what I'll take
To drink. To drink! My tongue is dry, thick sand.
"Y'all got some lemonade?" displays my brand.

The menu. Heat, the stares -- I want to break
Out in a sweat. My body's getting wet.
I breathe behind the menu, calm the quake:
I order up a burger, fries, and cake.

The menu gone, I've nowhere else to get
Away from all the hostile stares. I lean
Back in my chair. I look until I've met
Each eye. I won't leave here with that regret.

Regret, regret -- I will not live so mean
A life, but choose the golden mean, where strife
Enstrengthens me and makes me hard and lean,
Since weakness grows up in a world too clean.

I get my food and ketchup, fork and knife
And drink, and then I'm on my paltry feast.
The hamburger is not exactly rife
With flavor, glutamate, thus lacking life.

I pay and leave, illusions now decreased
By having met the people on the earth
They never shared with me. Were I deceased
Not one would care about it in the least.

Among the people of this town my worth
Is less than the old homeless dogs that flee
Each passing car and give each man a berth --
I'm glad to leave this town that's lacking mirth.

I almost leave this town in ecstasy --
And as I leave I hear a grackle cry --
Not lack of money, but souls' poverty
Is what will grind us down so we're not free.

5.

I need to challenge my utopia --
Romantic nothing, nowhere, never -- where
Can fair truth really be? Its formula
Remains unknown to all the media.

The mother grizzly is not teddy bear,
The bobcat is no fuzzy kitty cat,
And keeping people different by a hair
Will never make a world that's good and fair.

Faux-generous treat all the world as flat
But cannot stand the people that they give
So many others' money to. Each brat
Just calls them (privately) all stupid, fat.

The cuckoo parasites so it can live
And fools the working birds to raise its young.
The cuckoo takes and takes, will never give --
And if you do not give, you get the shiv.

The people that I met, they work the dung
Into the earth to grow the food we eat --
But does that make them good, their being hung
By all elitists on the lowest rung?

The same race, still I felt I had to beat
The sun if I were to be safe. The day
Protected me, I know. I won't repeat
This sad mistake -- I will admit defeat.

Yes, my perception's a mistake -- the clay
That penetrates their feet has driven me
To understand that only those who pray
Together love together, do not stray.

I had to learn that reciprocity
Among the ones we love bring us to a
Place where we first had lived within the tree
Where we evolved, and came down to be free.

6.

How did I end up here, on 40? West
At almost 80. Vultures circling
Are all the life I see. A lonely breast
Of land slow-rises high above the rest.

I could not hear if anything should sing
With all this roaring wind that swirls my head
Into a dizziness that eddies bring,
And order that I am now coveting.

I drive along this road with growing dread
That I made a mistake in leaving home --
I drive until the sun before me's red
And only stop when I find evening's bread.

I spend the night alone again, the foam
That holds my head the only lap to lay
Down on. I reflect on the tall lamp's chrome:
The solitary wanderer should roam.

I'm on the road again at break of day --
Before the break, when Venus rises high --
I must drive West, drive West without delay --
Delayed for what, I really cannot say.

I feel an itch that's creeping up my thigh --
But I have chosen this, a life alone --
So love and lust I must myself deny --
Confirmed with a coyote's lonesome cry.

I think I must get off this road -- I groan
At all of these thoughts -- God, they're so clich├ęd.
But there's no place in this landscape of stone
For me to stop and write and, thus, atone.

I find a side road -- for too long I've strayed
By being on the highway with the crowd --
But I'm the only one I have betrayed
Because my time alone has been delayed.

And there upon the side road, my head bowed,
I wondered where my life was going to go --
There's no one, friend or family, I'd endowed
With knowledge of my goals. None I'd allowed.

I bypassed cows and horses, sheep, a crow.
I bypassed horses, ranches, fields and farms
I bypassed all I ever chose to know --
And then I saw a sign for Mexico.

I wondered about all its modest charms --
I wondered if the place was right for me --
But nothing set off my call-off alarms
And so I drove and stiffened up my arms.

I had a feeling I would find a sea
Of flowers waiting there and all life's harms
Would vanish. I will find a sprawling tree
And under it I finally will be free.

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