Saturday, June 22, 2019

Toothbrushes & towels

My breath tastes of sleep and coffee; I don't brush my teeth before going out with Lilith. "The 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores Settlement Agreement, didn’t say anything about providing a 'toothbrush,'  'towels,' 'dry clothing,' 'soap,' or even 'sleep,' the administration has argued." (WaPo) The government attorney said it was a matter of vague "language." Our vocabulary does this to us all.

Space blankets are shiny, though. Kids resemble moguls of aluminum snow on concrete floors. "Be concrete, Sue," Mrs. Katz told me in 9th grade. I couldn't see my writing as a sidewalk.

A local poet tells me she's reading my book. She says she likes my images. But I think there are no images. Or is "migrant child in black shoes, or none" an image? The word is irksome. "A mental picture or impression of something."

Does Abdellatif Laabi use images in his description of a woman's torture unto death? Or have we entered the chamber, watched her lifted on a pole through her tied-back hands, felt the heat on her spine, swallowed her words? The electronic probe in her vagina: is that image or act?

He gets water-boarded, but the term is never used; that term is like an image for the fact. Feeling death is not image, but act. Or acted-upon. Given that our institutions are not armed (at least not officially), why do we lack courage? It's that corporate onion, the one in many layers; because we're in it, we refuse to cry out. There's no Tin Drum cafe beneath the street, where onions are the agents of water.

There is no necessity for "soap" in a sentence that includes the word "sanitary." It's too vague, unless you spell it out. An eight way tie this year for spelling champ. How did they spell the word "sanitary"? Was it too easy to include in the list? Or "soap," with its trick "oa" spelling of "oh." Oh say can you see.

ICE raids this weekend; a million souls to be deported, based on a tweet. Families cut open, dismembered. You cannot call them "concentration camps." It's a question of language. The language is inappropriate, therefore you cannot call out their immorality. That word is not strong enough.

I used the name of a dead poet in my blog post, the one I intended to scrap later on. It got more hits than any in years. Serves me right for lacing my writing with a name, with the named image of a man who cheered us up in our poetry cells. The mourning for generosity is palpable, but we seem to need a model, and there's no magical contagion yet. (He wrote important poems about contagion.)

Are we generous to the dead because they have forgiven us?

Or is our attachment to the dead like the blur of the hockey puck on the screen, when all the shots resemble grace notes trailing from the special effects machine? Guitar Saturday always begins with guitars, and ends in noise. When I ask where the guitar is, Bryant tells me it's hiding behind the drums.

The Cardinals writer uses numbers brilliantly; she enumerates how many minutes the Pujols ovation lasted, how many seconds of the Yadier and Albert hug, how quickly he ran to first on an in-field hit (nearly the first ever!). I cannot count; it hurts too much. So I pull a number out of air.

In-coming link to Jon's blog. "Lie down with the dogs of easy metaphor, get up with the fleas of politics," he writes, after posting a photograph of a cactus. A gun-loving American clicked "like." That train left the station, the one with all the guns in it. What do you do with them all? The neighbor's garage sale features dresses, plastic toys, and a folding table. You can get great books at the library sale for 25 cents.

The tortured woman held her silence; her body diminished unto skin and bone. I can't see her face, her torso, her crooked legs and feet. I can't know her by what she resembles.

Note: In Praise of Defeat, Abdelltief Laabi, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith from the French. Thank you to Jerrold Shiroma for recommending it.

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