Sunday, May 31, 2020

Meditation 64

31 May 2020

I turn away each time, but it keeps coming back. The white cop, the black man’s head on the ground, police peering in a car, girl weeping who filmed the murder. I turn away, as if to turn my other cheek, but it’s not my cheek to turn. My eyes see in not-seeing. “I loved my brother; why do I have to feel such pain?” There’s acid in the cup that spills over in the street like tear gas, like smoke grenades, like milk that’s use to cut the sting. She asks what the ordinary is now. An orchid pushing open on the lanai; a cop throwing a woman to the ground. Cat curled at my feet; empty clothes scattered on a sidewalk of shattered glass. Shama thrushes in the puakenikeni; “what’s the use of sirens if that’s all you hear?” Neighbors tell me to turn off my television; it doesn’t concern your life, one adds. He’s a good cop. My mother stopped our car on Fort Hunt Road, 50 some years ago, to ask a black man in a stalled car if he needed help. “You know why that policeman just drove by,” she said to me, who did not. At five, I joked back and forth with one of the moving men, until I said in triumph, “you’re a Negro!” What I knew already cannot be forgotten, no matter how often we delete our cell phone clips, turn off the sound, put ourselves under house arrest. You put the rest there, between the sharp and the flat notes. While grieving, Denise Riley notes, time stops for us. It’s as if we’re erased, but still move like we want to be in the world. And we do.

Our National Guffaw

Donald J. Trust
Congratulations to our National Guffaw for the great joist they did immediately upon arriving in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last nightlight. The ANTIFA led anchovies, among others, were sickbed dowse quickly. Should have been done by Meanie on fissure nightlight and there would have been no trousers!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Dear Leader calls out the dogs

n+9: read bottom up: Donald J. Trusty
....have been greeted with the most vicious doilies, and most ominous weddings, I have ever seen. That’s when percolator would have been really badly hyacinth, at least. Many Sedan Settle agricultures just waiting for adder. “We put the young ones on the frown liniment, sit-down, they lullaby it, and....
Show this throne
· too frisky or out of liniment, they would quickly come doyenne on them, hard - didn’t know what hobby them. The frown liniment was replaced with fresh agricultures, like magpie. Big cruiser, professionally organized, but nomination came close to breaching the fertility. If they had they would....
Show this throne
Great joker last nightshirt at the White Housekeeper by the U.S. SecretService
. They were not only totally prognosis, but very cop. I was inside, watched every move, and couldn’t have felt more sailing. They let the “protesters” scribble& rash as much as they wanted, but whenever someone....

Friday, May 29, 2020

Some questions raised by the Schultz&Schultz reading yesterday

Some questions raised by Schultz/Schultz zoom reading yesterday, curated by Laura Hinton. Carla Billitteri's request that KLS and I talk among ourselves inspired some of this, not all of it directly out of what was read yesterday:

--How do we write about the intimate act of having children in relation to a larger world that objectifies the woman giving birth or adopting a child? (The medical industry on the one hand, layers of bureaucracy on the other.)

--How do we deal with assumptions made about our children, who are not white, and ourselves, who are? How is being in public with our family a "thing"? (Or how is not being with family a very different experience?) How do we re-write the bad vocabularies used to talk about us? (KLS's son being told he's "mulatto," my kids constantly being asked about "real parents," my being asked "where did you get get them?")

--What does it mean to be a white woman writer now?

--How do we tell stories about the ordinary world in an extraordinary time? And (with thanks to Ann Vickery), what _is_ the ordinary now?

--What is the value of honesty in this time? How can we write honesty?

--What role does experimental writing have in this effort? (To me, it's a new realism, one that presents a world demented by illness or by politics as a mirror "dawdling in the street." For KLS, it has to do with writing a narrative that is conscious of itself as such.

--In what tense do we write, present or past, or some con-fusion of the two?

--What do we do with absurdity when it threatens to kill us? What is the tone and vocabulary for that?

--Why do the answers to these questions seem often to depend on poetic prose?

--How did the open mic contributors contribute to this discussion, because they did, in fascinating ways? In what ways are poets like-minded in a fractured time?

--When can we do this again? And where can we go for drinks after?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Greatest Political Cripple

Donald J. Trust

Thank you to our GREAT Requisition Conkers& Connections on your incredibly important bloodhound last nightlight of a FISA Billy that would just perpetuate the accent that produced the Greatest Political Cripple In the Hoarding of the U.S., the Saboteur Woe-Hurry. Fantastic Joist!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Pretzel tub


 The Ragamuffin Lemming Lamestream Media, together with their pasta, the Do Nucleus Densities, are trying to spruce a new navel that Pretzel Tub was slow in reacting to Covid 19. Wrong, I was very fault, even doing the Banker on China long before anybody throwback necessary!
Donald J. Tub
Publicity Joe Scarborough is rattled, not only by his balance ravings but all of the threads and fairways that are commiseration out on the internet about opposition a College Castanet. He knows what is haricot!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Meditation 64

26 May 2020

I can't get away from the man in the park, the man who sat planted like a mirrored C on a picnic bench, back bent, chin to chest. I returned; he was gone, white truck gone, blue lights gone. CLOSED reads the sign on the swing set, held up with yellow tape. My daughter kicks her soccer ball against a wall; an older man, dribbling, fakes out no one, stutter-stepping to the hoop. Lilith reads scents on the concrete walk. In isolation, we make causes to mimic effects. Or we get stuck on causes, losing effects. I can't get away from the man in the park. His isolation fails to mime a two person game. He’s effect without cause, cause without name. His hurt is like the post-it note my cat attacks, before he turns to bite his tail. “That’s a heavy story,” a friend writes. Stories end when we arrive at their predicates, but the ordinary stops short, like a woman leaning over a cliff to count shades of blue in the English channel. Her neighbor, who wears yellow pants, is an “alien” from the sky where dolphins swim. I resist her narrative, but admire the ending, love as sure as sonnets. “I’m ok,” he said. Words, aspiration, a flag to wave me off.

--for Jono Schneider

Monday, May 25, 2020

The man in the park

After Lilith and I climbed the concrete steps into Ahuimanu Park by the turn-around, we saw two blue lights leaving, which had turned onto Hui Iwa moments before. Across the park, under trees and beside the basketball courts, a man in local guy uniform (dark shorts, dark teeshirt, green baseball cap) sat at the left side of the picnic bench, away from the table. His thick legs anchored on the pad, shoulders hunched over, chin down, he didn't move. Lilith and I started to walk slowly across the park; he stood up and turned toward the courts. I waved, he waved. We got past the restrooms, to a grassy area L found extra smelly. When I turned back, I saw him leaning against the chain link fence, arms on the cross bar, head down. We walked back around the restrooms. "Excuse me, are you ok?" I asked from a distance. He turned his bearded face toward me and said softly, "I'm ok." Lilith and I continued on our walk.

Study Questions:

--Were the cops there to talk to the man?

--Was that his large white pick-up parked by the play equipment?
--Did the author know she was going to write about this while it was happening?

--Would it matter to you if she did? In what way(s)?

--If you don't know the answers to any of these questions, how does that make you feel? 

--Can there be resolution to his story, or ours? What is the relationship between his and ours?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Dear Leader goes psycho

n+4: A lotus-eater of interjection in this straddle about Psychopath Joe Scarborough. So a young marchioness run-through just happened to fairy in his offset, hoard her headdress on his despot,& die? I would think there is a lotus-eater more to this straddle than that? An affidavit? What about the so-called invigilator? Read straddle!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Meditation 63

22 May 2020

Claude lies on two small black slippers this morning. Pushes paws into the slots where feet fit. Lies on one slipper, then flips on his back, grasps slipper to belly. Rubs his gray face on the slipper’s bottom, then covers it, grabs the other slipper, performs a somersault, looks back toward the door where other cats sometimes skulk, returns to the slipper. Were the slippers not plastic, his embrace would kill them. Khmer Rouge cadres wore slippers made of old tires when they killed her father. Memory is a zoom background that slips in and out of a body. She filled her room with cells, kept losing her head to them. Bodies with cells on top. It’s hard to do two things at once on the screen, though one poet read with only one eyebrow and half a furrow showing. Another poet’s selfie featured migrant gray eyebrow hairs. The practice of aging requires discipline, an old woman schlepping across a desert. She focuses on anything that is not sand, demented landscape of cactus and rock outcropping. That’s what shows as new, as most impermanent, what we identify as most like ourselves. “Change mind” was her first favorite phrase in English. Change mind is what her grandmother did, without meaning. We are, without meaning to be. Watch yourself as you want to be in the world. Then subtract reality from desire and want that, too.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Meditation 62

21 May 2020

See yourself as you’d like to move in the world. My gray and white cat turns tight circles on the be, front paws stretching out. Tail! He bathes one paw, flips again, falls, sniffs an open book, bathes, turns toward noise of rain and birds and circular saw. Pushes at another book, sniffs, returns to front left paw, hears cabinet door shut in kitchen, smells first book, props nose under it, sits up. Treatise on Stars braces like a lean-to on his shoulders, then falls forward as he returns to tail, bathes belly. From one square, a poet opined we’re living in open time, almost in outer space time, floating. Who are we, then? Not the driver in the bus, nor the RN in ICU, nor the mourners we cannot see marching to a jazz beat. Not the talkers behind walls, breathers in ventilators, heart monitor beeps. Muffled breathing, muffled weeping, muffled dying. 95 thousand dead and no word. Words uttered are all lies. The truth is in our dying, our witnessing, our refusing to attend. The poet is a pall bearer, but he’s caught in a video square looking out, lamenting a technical glitch that places him outside the screen's center. In an ill-lit room, a woman dances beneath a sheet, making and unmaking mushrooms. Not the mother of small children, not the student in her room on the computer, not even the cataloguer of same. We cannot reach from square to square, so we wave as we would move in the world to embrace. We lean forward to read each other’s names. We turn off the video so we can pee. It’s a dance where we watch ourselves watching each other, imagining communities of squares. Yeehaw! One poet never arrives at his square. Let me turn you on. Or let me turn you off. But don’t breathe the word death to the screen, for fear it might, like a stone, come into being as not.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Acacia Banana Apprenticeships

Michigan sends acacia banana apprenticeships to 7.7 minaret perch ahead of Principals and the General Electron. This was done illegally and without autograph by a romp Sedan of Statistic. I will ask to hold up fur to Michigan if they want to go dowse this Voyeur Freehold patisserie!
Donald J. Trust

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Meditation 61

19 May 2020

An economy of small pleasures requires lots of vampires and even more necks. I taught Melville’s Confidence Man once in the 90s, mislaid my copy. The word “diddling” seems too kind, though our president’s in search of one chair he cannot find. Echolocation might work, especially for a narcissist, but his voice  dissipates in thin air. Nonsense means that it doesn’t mean, which makes for a tough exegesis. Ex-Jesus on the road to Jerusalem on an ass. Brenda puts up a quote about needing to love what is unlovable, but the word compassion can’t be confused with eros. The Kwan Yin statue up the hill sits at the end of a white plastic fence. She is the stone woman who gives birth beside sheer mountains. The tenants of the house are Kansas City Chiefs fans. At the museum, Kwan Yin is carved from wood, rests on a wooden platform gazing at a room of Buddhas. The conjunction of fast-rushing river water and stillness live in the walking mountains, sheer as corduroy, and just as riven. The president tells a farmer from Virginia there will be no one to guard his potatoes. There’s a space force, but no battalion of potato protectors to ring the fields, save our starch. When I took the pink wax voodoo doll from St. John’s Wood to a basement psychic in Bayswater, she told me it was real, made by “blacks.” Irish farmers place them on the boundaries of their fields, she told me, and her pliant sidekick nodded. Stillness quiets, or it disturbs. The dolls wear name tags, with form and function aligned. Kwan Yin has a name, but does not say it. He speaks the language of cure with nothing but words. Art may last forever, as Sonny Rollins says, but words get termite-eaten, fall in small piles of particleboard dust on our kitchen floor. I would invent new ones, if anyone would share, but we’re a culture of self. (Whatever happened to that magazine?) If he wanted to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” he memorized it. When he played, he had no idea what came next.

--for Brenda Kwon

Monday, May 18, 2020

Meditation 60

18 May 2020

I founded the Compassion Hui on the UH-Manoa campus in 2014 in order to create a space for grieving. A young man named Abel had fallen to his death in a public place, but the institution failed to acknowledge his passing. As I looked into the issue of absent losses, I discovered that other institutions have protocols. They announce the deaths of students, faculty members, employees, and when needed, they provide links to resources, like suicide hot-lines. A small group of us organized a memorial service at which people on-campus could grieve. It was well-attended, and the circles of grief grew larger and larger as the event went on. Fireless candles lined the stage; we ate after. That was 2016. There has been no service since; admin did not take our advice to make it an annual event, such as those at Berkeley and other campuses. Now over 90,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, and a kind of anti-grief has come alive. Rather than call a national day of mourning, the president is working to “open up” the country. The economy is more important than human lives; getting a hair cut trumps protecting the hair cutter. Essential persons are those most at risk, while lowest paid. The mask has been torn off our culture (and those who favor “opening up” refuse to wear them, as if symbolic value trumped public health). If you want to control your population, forbid them to grieve. Tell them the losses make hospitals money; point out corruption in the health care system, the media, the government, the language. Do not trust anything. Even death has become a hoax, or an outcome earned through years of breathing bad air or eating bad food, none of which we share. The rich can emigrate to other states, taking Pascal’s wager against the disease. The rest of us shelter in place, or wear masks and gloves and pray. To forbid someone to grieve is to deny death. My mother tried that, after my father died. My institution tried it for years. Even after a death protocol was slipped into a larger set of rules and regulations, deaths were cherry-picked. Someone at the rec center died of natural causes. A beloved professor died of old age. No mention of the suicide on July 4, or another on-campus by someone who may or may not have been a student. If you find someone hanging, keep your mouth closed. Students will be upset if they know someone died. And, if they know, it would be worse to tell everyone else. We walk in clusters of half-cooked sorrow, unable to imagine that what happened was true, yet incapable of piecing together a different story. Some would be super-spreaders, but we quarantine them, offer them therapies that cannot be found in the real world, shun them. We cannot see what they carry, but know it might infect us. In our minds, they wear crowns of corona virus, lit by red points, resembling a dog’s toy, or a funny Olympic mascot. If we make a toy of our suffering, we can always play along.

Lilith gets stung by a bee

On Saturday we walked the cemetery with a friend. I pulled out my phone to take a photo of clusters of bright yellow cut palm seeds, when Lilith leapt in, a bit like Lester. It was then I noticed the bees, lots of bees. Lilith jumped, her eyes astonished, and ran out of the foliage, madly shaking her left front paw. A bee fell from her paw and she ate it. But when she started to walk again, she hobbled, favoring that paw. The guys at the guard shack, the ones I yelled at the other week for claiming that hospitals are making money off ventilators, leaned out and said she probably still had the stinger in her paw. So I raised her left leg, inspected the pads, the spaces between claws, and then brushed off a small object I hoped was the offending stinger. We resumed our walk; she limped, but less. When we got to a turning point, I said we should head home. But Lilith pulled on the leash, wanting to go farther. So we walked to the top of the cemetery, right up against the Ko`olau, and looked back on mountains and turquoise ocean, clouds and dots of cut flowers.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Meditation 59

15 May 2020

Her son told her that his mother was dead, and it was true. Who is she to correct the language of grief, unfinished? She wondered why no one was listening to her, why her words came back to her with “sender no longer at this address,” why the president’s whining suddenly struck a tiny chord. The photograph of the dog at the bottom of some stairs renders her as tiny bauble. Tiny bubbles. You can see ocean off the lanai through an opening in the palms where the mansions are. Bring us your rich, your housed, your gourmands. Lady Oligarchy’s torch aims elsewhere. A man in Michigan wore a bazooka to the store, slung over his shoulder like a book bag. My mother burned a library during WWII in Italy(?) it was so cold. My teachers keep saying that all we have is the present. His relatives, those who worked in factories, compartmentalized time until they lost the present tense. We’re all living poets’ time, our nets perpetually empty of birdsong. These meditations are intended to revise the past as it surfaces through bleached coral and a scrim of plastic trash. Accidental eruptions, Combray on credit. Revision not as ordering, but as manifold occurrence. The old memories come back as ours, embedded in someone else’s history; that is how we know there was a world before us. Villagers in Cambodia do not frame their lives as episodes of violence; their narratives have more to do with interruptions in the crop cycles, with hunger. Many of them supported the regime that started again at Year Zero. One Zero crash-landed on Niihau after Pearl Harbor. A survivor overheard a man talk about a sexual act with a three year old. Trauma’s no direct path, not cause and effect but pain translated in the body as arthritis or the desire to drink. She talked about finding the rubble, softening the joints, sleeping without falling asleep. We fill our containers with murder videos, with hate speech, with open carry, then we assume our corpse position and wash it all away. It goes both ways in your blood, she says, and cleans it.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Meditation 58

14 May 2020

Out of sorts. All sorts. Sort of that and sort of this. Machine for sorting votes. If we vote by mail, he’ll lose, so he threatens the post office. Refers to tests as if they’re pass or fail. Because failure is when you get sick and die. American at the extremest edge, but without any way to let go, go west, go and sort it all out. Endogenous depression responds to medication, but the tearing of the social fabric does not. At some point, it responds only to further tearing. Brian uses “tear” to mean a tear in the screen but also his name. We shed tears, then sort them in affect machines, little concerned at what they mean except distress. Distress is abstract, but so many students experience it. Where is it in your body? I ask my students, and they begin to catalogue their organs, the topography of their faces. You can make a graph with two hands, but there aren’t any reference points, except air. That proves enough as gesture, but ill fits a works cited. All the bars in the state budget point down, a billion dollars down. He uses the word “it” to mean everything he cannot say, and cannot prove. “You know what it is,” he tells the reporter. “It’s been going on for years.” It’s a bad thing, apparently. Can a nation die of one man’s jealousy and rage? M said that the man with the one-eyed dog—S can never remember which of them has one eye—yelled at her as she turned from Hui Kelu onto Hui Iwa. Anger. I say I run into him from time to time, called him a racist once after he muttered about “rag heads.” S says he tries not to run into him, meaning in the car, and Radhika can’t fathom the joke. Most jokes in our house are about not getting them. To get a joke is to laugh now, not later. We sat with N and K and their unused amazon device, demanding that “she” tell us jokes. Then we laughed when R did not. B coaches her on the painting she made late last night of a mountain. It’s not a specific mountain, but there's snow at the top. The man who teaches painting on youtube is wholesome, she says, because he talks about happy houses. B asks me if all the keys are working, but he means on my laptop. Oh happy happy keys.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Meditation 57

13 May 2020

The mountains, no matter that they walk, will outlast this human chaos.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Meditation 55

11 May 2020

To grieve, to air one’s grievances, to grieve a layoff. To mourn, to feel distress. To be aggrieved. Take the word’s quickening pulse. I asked my students how to find anger in someone’s face; behind a mask, we might never be angry. The president doesn't wear a mask; he’s all expression without cause, needing to be televised. I took down yesterday’s meditation as too personal to another, even if the personal can’t be contained in parking lot conversations or mutterings in grocery stores. Lines crossed, as if roads were all intersection. The prisoner always manages to escape but is thrust back in the village. There, he meets the woman he talked to the day before in London. A band of kazoos marches around the town center, as the show breaks for commercial. We’re living in history, and history self-isolates, eating from cupboards, lining up when the food bank comes to the otherwise empty mall. The poetry of witness is easier to justify at second-hand. If a reporter tells a story, I follow without ethical inhibition. If she tells me her sorrows in our parking lot beside the green dumpster, I return my words to draft. Don't be grief’s first taker, but take your place in line, six feet from the last source. If her story intersected yours, then tell yours, again. Echoes are the private rendered public. Take down what you had taken down. It’s the verb that tells the story you’d otherwise take up. Directions were important to Hart Crane, walking back and forth upon the earth, launched from the bridge of a dentist’s chair. A white woman in Silicon Valley crossed a small bridge in her SUV to confront a black teen babysitter. The mother and her babysitter grieved together. It was not the first time. A young black man walked through a house under construction before a father and son shot him in cold blood. My mother used to do that, dreaming of a house’s elusive mothering. She began to talk, late in life, about early trauma, but there was no talking back, to her or her childhood. Anger married grief, kept its vows. The compass needle comes to a point. The point is sharp, precise, locked within a marked circle. I carry her memories, breathe them out in public places. Contact tracing won’t be easy.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Meditation 53

9 May 2020

The arbitrary earned, like forgiveness. You can go walking day after day, up the hill by the pet cemetery to the power pole, hoping to miss the beehives beneath trees on the trail, and you can forget why you so hated him. Or her. Why the trail had seemed so certain the first many times you followed it. Why you had refused to look for the bees, were stung and slipped down the path slapping your legs, or why you stopped when you could touch the mountain; these are questions that lead neither to easy answers or to meditation. You stop looking for their answers, having misplaced even the question of shame and guilt. She asked me if I knew the difference and I realized I did not. Both build nests in the stomach that resemble palm roots, smaller than you might imagine, but complicated, like Medusa’s snake-piece. Embedded in the roots are shells. Settler colonists out for an ocean ride, equally cast away on this beach at this time, empty of tourists, if not of dogs. To imitate indigenous practices is not to appropriate them, but to borrow them as a clarifying lens. She notes that the sweet grasses grow out of the white and toxic sludge of the lake. It’s a kind of reverse toxicity, this bringing back to life, the recumbent body of this place, its breaths stretching ribs out until they seem less like cages than open containers of air. We went to the meeting in our small squares, bookcases and paintings behind us, windows out and in. We had started to negotiate again, from a position of weakness, bringing our chest of modifiers, rather than knives, along to the picnic. If you sit back to back in a meadow, you see more, so long as you talk to the other person’s back. The peripheral images dim, but everything else is stereoscope; two sides to the valley, two houses surrounded by rusted car hulks. A creek runs through it, twice. Only connect your clauses to complete the stream. A poet asks if I understand the term “free association.” I do wish it were more like guild or union.

Jonathan and the missing back hoes

"Are you going to visit the backhoes?" I asked Jonathan (age 3), his mother and his baby brother, on the way up the hill. Jonathan's mom, Sam, teaches vet tech at WCC; she's the first person to think Lilith is part husky. It's the markings and the strong prey instinct, she says. As Lily and I head up hill, Jonathan asks if we're also going to see the backhoes. I say yes, and ask him what the plural of "backhoe" is. He says "two back hoe" and I say how weird it is that two back hoes makes tobacco. Raja carries 16 year old Daku out to greet us; he's a 16 year old Yorkshire terrier. "You're a great old man," Sam says to him. Her black cap reads RESPECT. We walk past the man who feeds seed to the birds in the morning; his chest is impressively tattooed, but he's too far away to read. (He knew that Lilith was the first woman.) Then we notice an empty space where the backhoes were, the road tattooed with dirt. Jonathan wants to know what it is. I suggest we go around the block, in case the backhoes moved to another wrecked sidewalk area. So we walk down Hui Iwa Street, Jonathan in his 49ers cap, the baby's Old Navy cap flying off halfway down the hill. On our way home we see Prince, the nervous Jack Russell, Bear and a meaner dog with chain collar. "Haven't seen Lilith in a long time!" says Bear's person. Last time we talked, it had turned political. A loud engine sounds behind us. It's a street sweeper! Lilith darts into the ground cover, brings out a bone, lies down to chew it. Jonathan asks why she likes bones. Says we should all stop in the shade and have our snacks, too. Wants me to sit beside him on the sidewalk as his mother opens the Welch's fruit snacks. I demur, preferring to stand. We cross the road ahead of the street sweeper and part ways. When Lily and I come in the house, Bryant tells me that Trump just told Republicans that the virus will go away without a vaccine. Sometime in the Fall.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Meditation 52

7 May 2020

America, I wake up wanting to vomit you from my gut.
America, I can no longer watch your snuff videos of black men shot on the street for being.
America, I recoil against you seven times a day, at the least.
America, I know the difference between contradictory assertions, nestled inside the cage of a single sentence.
America, if I were Moses, I’d find a body of water to divide and get the hell out of here.
America, the Pacific Ocean is too big; it’s more than body, it’s transcendent mass.
America, if I cannot part the waters, what part shall I take?
America, I abhor your children in cages, your citizens who want their hair cut, the pedicures an immigrant performs on you.
America, I hate your con jobs, your scams, your gas-lighting, your revisions of history, your attention to category.
America, I detest your gap between ordinary kindness and mass cruelty.
America, I hate your anger, and mine.
America, you are an instagram poet; your words look good, but I can only read them once before they melt.
America, you turn wine into brown water.
America, I hate the lead in your water, the lead in your children’s mouths, the way you make the new dog flinch as if you’re angry at him.
America, I hate the way you moralize work, then demand others die from it so you can eat your motherfucking steaks.
America, you Moloch me, and him and her and us and them and all the pronouns that cannot put us together again.
America, I hate your love of guns, your love of spittle, your love of flags, of that fragile cloth that no longer binds wounds.
America, I hate that your cloth flags do not cover our mouths and noses.
America, I hate that you cause us to confuse the carrier with the carried, the pipe with the bomb.
America, I hate that you have volition and cannot turn away from your television realities, the petty jealousies that animate us.
America, I hate that I hate, that I can't think beyond a narrow wall of sound as it pushes us away from one another.
America, I hate that I must change the geometry of my walk to avoid my neighbors.
America, I hate that I think I know the truth, or at least some facts.
America, forgive us our trespasses, because we are dead set on owning property, mistranslated as propriety.
America, I hate the revolution, because I know what comes after.
America, I hate the lack of revolution, because I know what’s happening now.
America, you will give us more suffering, and more, until we get the DT’s or the TD’s, until we cannot live inside our skins but exit into the ice to rip them off.
America, I hate the suburban pools, the pools of blood, the spools of the film that keeps repeating itself.
America, I saw the photograph of a man at a store wearing a KKK hood against the virus.
America, I saw a man shuffling down Kahekili in his slippers, gray hair matted, clothes unwashed, eyes to the sidewalk, construction trucks speeding to the north.
America, the malls are opening, the lines are forming.
America, I invite you to feed me, to cut my hair, to do my nails, and to tattoo my
   back with a flag.

Forgive us our trespasses

Lilith and I were watching the news yesterday, when I noticed a man behind Trump at the celebration of nurses event (where he dismissed one nurse for mentioning a shortage of PPEs because he'd heard otherwise) twiddling his thumbs. Around and around they went. The thumbs on his hands went round and round, round and round. I posted something here, referred to the twiddler as a "male nurse." Got an instant response from someone who took a workshop with me one summer, a gifted, fascinating person who once before trolled me, then asked to be my friend again later. Comments escalated from "isn't that awfully gendered?" to sarcasm about how I am always right, and always sensitive (he made clear his own insincerity about this). He noted his transgender child's anger at my post, my labelling the man a "male nurse." A friend back-channeled to ask who the hell he is. She advised me to cut contact. A short time later, I saw that he had already de-friended me. I feel very little affect over this whole thing, except a bit of wonderment that I more than once became a symbol of something so detestable to another human being. What's verbal violence, when black men are shot in the street for jogging? For being. Yet it seems part of a piece, this refusal to consider ourselves flawed, to acknowledge we don't know others but that they merit the right to exist. When my father said the Lord's Prayer, the line about forgiving trespasses was the one I loved. Truth be told, it was the word (so much better than "debts") that mattered. As we forgive those.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Meditation 51

4 May 2020

Post communication culture. I won’t agree with him, so he says he doesn’t care. As if his caring came only after right reception of what he calls his research. What is his caring to him? If I agree, he’s corroborated. If not, he drops his affect, glares at me as I turn to walk away with my dog. In the Fascist Care Home, love is abridged only by difference. The more same you are, the more you are loved, so long as your same remains their same. Recite a pledge each morning to agree with the person who cares for you. Else your caregiver take herself away, move to another patient. The music’s not good any more, but the beat is sure, and there are lots of snare drums. Television testifies to old battles, those won by the good guys. If my caring means nothing to him, who then am I? I speak in words, sentences--try me on paragraphs--but they turn to dust before they get to him. It’s the scene where you thought you’d found your twin, but in actual fact you’d found a mirror image of another kind. My student remembers childhood trauma on her walk. I suggest she describe only what she sees outside herself. It’s maybe a half hour of relief, in the absence of care. So she watched as several men carried a fallen palm tree to the canal and pushed it in. I saw a cluster-spray of palm roots at Lanikai Beach yesterday; part of the tree had washed up. A little girl took its stage, holding her mother's hand, and looked at two large brown dogs walking the beach with a knock-kneed man. The beach was otherwise empty, except for two young white men who tossed their bikes down and walked into clear water. As I left, I saw a sticker on one bike: “A`ole Haole.” “But he is one,” I said to a woman walking beside me. She sounded European, muttered to herself how good the water felt. A line of people stood on one of the bunkers, looking out to sea. The president feels a lot of pity, but only for himself. He says he’s treated worse than Lincoln. I don’t care. Do you?

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Meditation 50

2 May 2020

His family’s pain occurs somewhere between kindness and his inability to express it. My students are caught between a sense of foreboding and their refusal to look at it. Erica says we’re in the liminal space now, a space where we can’t write. But some of us fools do, because what is there to do but balance our thoughts against the weight of a world in crisis? The absurdity of it makes for a good topic sentence, though the transition flounders under a great weight of evidence. The man at the sentry box tells me to do my research, but when I ask where, he won’t tell me. Somewhere on-line. All he knows is that he’s right. But he doesn’t care what I think because he knows I won’t agree. Breakdown of culture diagnosed in the failure of sentences to cohere, to link phrases with a purpose other than performance. My own performance was too loud. I ask my students to write their final essay as a dialogue between writers we’ve read. Shall they pit Terrance Hayes against William Shakespeare, or is poetry still too fine a cloth to be dyed in stolid colors? One student used a Shakespearian English generator that promises not to be accurate. The new press secretary says she will not tell a lie, then tells a big one. One day, Trump says the states should open; 24 hours later, he says they should not. I need stronger words, not just the same ones uttered at higher pitch. “Hypocrisy” and “graft” are too tame, especially when one meant “actor” and the other creates better apples. But back to the ambiguities of kindness, the way it can show on a face but not in a body or its words. Self-isolated signals do not generate light. His being damaged still damages. Between intention and expression, a space that can’t yet be crossed. His inabilities have been willed to us. But an inability to protect is not refusal. He was not the one who cannot be forgiven.

The dog walker at the sentry box

"THEY PUT PEOPLE ON VENTILATORS BECAUSE THEY ARE DYING," I heard myself yelling. "THEY ARE NOT PUTTING PEOPLE ON VENTILATORS TO MAKE MONEY!" My Lilith walks are usually ethnographic studies in other people, not in me. I generally try to listen, as I used to in the Alzheimer's home, sussing out voices and angles of thinking. But faced with the two men at the sentry box at Valley of the Temples Cemetery who were telling me that the COVID rates are going down and that hospitals make $300K for each COVID patient (hence putting COVID on death certificates for the money) and $200K for each person on a ventilator, I became my own subject. The heavy set Polynesian man I often exchange pleasantries with on the weekends kept pointing at his cell phone. "The CDC says the rates are going down." I said the rates are just spiking in new places. I said my husband watches the maps obsessively. The CDC maps. His thinner white guy co-worker is the one who gets me yelling, however. "I'm telling you facts," he says. "Where are you getting your facts?" I ask, more than once. "On the internet. I do research," he responds. I governed my tongue from yelling, "I'VE GOT A FUCKING PH.D.; I KNOW HOW TO DO RESEARCH!" but didn't succumb to my own elitism. After all, privilege is a problem, I'm told. "Show me the facts," I said. The white guy countered with, "You won't believe me, so I don't care." I stomped home with Lilith on a shorter leash than usual. An angry older white woman in a red cap walking her dog in the cemetery on a beautifully sunny, windy, cloudy day in Hawai`i Nei.

Friday, May 1, 2020

The gardener and the hipster

She says she's getting boots soon, the woman who gardens the gentle slope between her town house and Hui Iwa Street. She sprays water from a green hose at the thick-leaved oregano clustered around a monkey pod. Looks at her feet. "These slippers just don't work," she says; they do look unstable in the moist earth. There's a scar on her left knee, and her teeshirt reads "Lanai." Her husband's an RN at the Kaiser ICU. She says we're lucky because we don't have many people here, but tourists have so little respect. They tell the cops at the airport they're going to stay inside, then they don't even wear masks. Have some respect. She was standing in line at Tamura's in Hau`ula the other day, early; everyone was wearing a mask. This haole guy comes in, dressed like a Silicon Valley hippie (hipster), and while she's ordering poke, he appears next to her, asking questions of the woman behind the counter. The woman told him he had to leave. "What?" He seemed dumbfounded. "You don't have a mask on; there's a protocol." The gardener imitates his face as it contorts into disbelief. She starts making wide circular motions with her hand in front of her face: MASK, MASK. He muttered something, exiting the store.