We went to Grammy’s. She has a place down by the lake. We love Grammy’s. Sequin everything. Little copper dollar store statues. The good vintage barbie dolls. Grammy keeps those put up for special occasions though. Or if we behave. Everyone gets an elegant plastic little woman to have and to hold, and put back inside the Tupperware container soon as we’re done. Music is like carbon dioxide. We make it, but it is a slow kind of seductively suffocating poison, as well. In other words, music thrives best when it isn’t the only presence in the room. Not in a vacuum. Music is informed and refreshed by topics and content that are not in any way music. And yet, by the time an artist is through with it, the connection is undeniable.
Grammy has an insanely eclectic record collection. At least once a year we go there, shoes off by the door, playing them one after another, some of them so fresh, this has to be the first time they’re outside the cover. Grammy doesn’t always have time to listen to them all. Just knows how much we smile over shiny plastic. She stacks the ones that really pop on top of the pile. Grammy’s good like that. Not everyone has a Grammy who can pretend-listen to so much rap.
I do wonder sometimes if Grammy picks her music by the air someone was breathing, and not their creation, their poison. The carbon dioxide. Slowly filling the room. Making us all light headed and silly. Forgetting there are seriously billions of dollars sitting in Grammy’s living room listening to vinyl intravenously feed sound and poetry into the air. I love going to Grammys. I enjoy the music. I like the atmosphere there. I listen. I really do. I’m one of the few.
But nothing I ever heard at Grammy’s should have made someone a millionaire.
Let me try to explain. Do you know this guy, the person who uses duct tape and rubber cement to fix burst pipes, and then leaves it, for months, until it breaks again. Or who saves money on plumbing piping to use as electricity conduit, or paints over grounding wires. Have you met the guy who uses his friends to do a construction job even a contractor would hire a contractor to do. Just to save a buck.
These people voted for Trump. They call themselves conservative. They pretend they’re running businesses, which are just dressed up opportunities to talk down to other people, while bleeding money into the companies that sold them the supplies to get started. See. Those companies are run by liberal-minded individuals.
They’re not panning for gold in California. They’re selling you the pan and a shovel and inventing denim pants.
Conservative today, burst pipes, rusted wiring, and slow sinking foundation, will be the most insurmountably expensive option moving forward. The word conservative might be applicable for a year, two, maybe even a decade, and then, with shrugged shoulders and skeptical grin, we’ll be right back at the same problem. Again. Checkbook in hand.
It is not conservative to half ass a project today praying you won’t still be around to fix it tomorrow. Liberal-minded people put money on projects preemptively, recording in the long run just how much they saved by their spending. And almost every social program put forward in the past century has done just that. Taken severe chunks out of violent crime rates, filled in some of the recession pits so we don’t hit bottom so hard. I have personally seen this attempt to provide affordable health care bring millions of the youngest, and interestingly enough, oldest members of the workforce, out of the shadows and into the limelight. We were reminded, there is a current of movement in this nation that still slows down for us. The people.
I don’t see that conservative minded individuals could ever look at us as an investment. As an opportunity. Helping in our hard times is at best their charity. They don’t see how I come out of it swinging. Working. Inventing. Changing. I’m not saying conservatives don’t want that, but they’re sure as hell not going to put money on it before it’s a sure thing. Conservatives are giving away their agenda, offended that we’re offended by phrases like minimum wage. They’re stocking up on duct tape. Come on. The tires are bald. The wiring is exposed. We can damn near see sparks.
I am no Democrat.
But on a timeline, again and again, they have proven themselves to be the true party of conservatism. Instilling policies today that have saved us incredible amounts of time and money moving forward.
Republicans are arguing fiscally conservative in the moment quick fix applications, that end up costing exorbitant amounts in the future. And once we have no choice, because the machine has finally just shut down, they are quite liberal in increasing the national deficit tremendously. You know, one wouldn’t have to work that hard to put up a decent case that on a timeline, Republicans, in every way, socially, fiscally, morally, are a far more liberal party.
And this is where I’ll end. Where I usually wind up. Arguing over timelines. Like every other prophet. Essentially committing entire lives to promoting the philosophy of composting.
These terms, conservative, liberal, don’t hold up the same way on a timeline.
If intelligent life from the other side of the universe showed up on earth, they are not going to believe the party arguing against family leave, fair pay, the basic freedoms of women, also known as half the entire population, electing sordid pseudo-celebrities and teasing nuclear holocaust, is the more conservative party.
They’re going to laugh a little at how we are still being used by our own words. And then. They will try to find anyone who can functionally think on a timeline.
And why is the sky so often that color?
Like a cross between tomato and pumpkin or something.
Is it city lights blended into cloud laden snow choked night.
Or the moon. Low. Around six thirty. I hope.
Might surprise me just how bright it is still this early.
At the very edge of the Tug Hill Plateau.
Tugged along hundreds of miles
and laid heavy into rest right here.
At the western edge of Adirondacks.
Fizzled out and given away a long time ago
to the broken banks of the lucrative Ontario.
Thick. Weighted. Snow. Clouds.
Hold on to color.
Could be from anywhere.
Could be light left behind by yesterday.
in the swollen bellies
of yesterday’s snow.
I could write a horror movie about how chilling true love really is.
Truly loving can be quite disgusting. First off. Everyone shits.
Even leaves the door open just hoping no one will walk in.
Love is not being someone’s everything.
It is being someone’s own personal no one.
Attention buried in a book. Praying
you just do the dishes of your own
accord. To have and to hold and
don’t ask for any help. Don’t
you dare get sick at the same
time as me. Love is touching damp
tissues that are not yours stuffed between couch cushions.
And chipping fingernails against dried-on egg.
A horror movie. Standing in the kitchen. Blood dripping.
From a paring knife in stitches trying to decide whether or not we need stitches.
Love is locked out of its own safehouse. Testing windows. Out of town.
And the pipes all froze. On your belly in the crawl space of love.
Mouse turds and torn up insulation. They don’t tell you this stuff
about houses when you buy one. We bury truth in our foundations.
We’re expected to figure it out all on our own.
Love is like that horror movie scenario.
The one where you’re at home. All by yourself.
Not a soul around for miles.
And your phone lights up.
Ego is tricky business. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s an accident. It isn’t. Nothing in existence is. Ego especially. Self-belief. Confidence. Soul and body dance. Energy that is timeless, moving in a biomechanical cocoon that will inevitably break open too soon. And ego. Just might be the only shape the energy that is you knows to take. Self-belief. Soul-knowledge. An overabundance of spiritual confidence. Walking on coals. Stepping into the unknown. Ego allows you to break the thick mold of ceaseless self preservation. The little liar in your heart who tells you you’ll be fine. Go ahead and take off on an adventure. No one has landed one before. But then again, there has never been anyone quite like you.
It’s like the cape on a superhero’s back. It’s like their tight little red underwear. It’s like the only shield police officers carry are badges. Symbols. Ego was the only thing the Wizard of Oz had to offer the last four pilgrims to his temple.
Whatever it takes to get you to fake just enough confidence to put a foot through the door.
And more, eyes open, head forward, take on a world of villains who by all means are probably shaping their identity purely in unveiled attempts to antagonize yours.
You can’t adopt it all the time, and you definitely dare not abandon it either. Ego.
Being functionally egotistical. It’s like a raincoat. Just enough to persuade you to step out into the rain. But if you wear that raincoat all day, you can bet on sweat. You might have been better off without a coat at all. But you’re egotistical. Your belief in yourself is astounding. The whole wide world full with starving people. Every day they get a little thinner. And you. To them.
Look just like chicken dinner.
Ego should be light as feathers. Subtle as spurs. The spark of orange fire in the eye.
Everyone wants you for the worst of reasons. But that doesn’t exempt you from being.
Ego has every reason to stay quiet, sleep in. Stay hidden. But it doesn’t. No.
Ego wakes up and crows.
People say good morning.
Those featherweight wrinkles that frame your words like quotation marks
will start to linger. So much so people will think you stole someone else’s words.
Liver spots will dot your cheeks. Cross little tee’s from that face you make
like you’re about to sneeze. And all of these lines will be written in ink.
Your forehead is journal paper for time.
The color around your pupils will remain bright.
But teeth will turn taupe. Hair grows thick gray and grainy.
Like an old black and white movie.
The audio will not always line up with their lips.
Falls will fall harder against hips.
Eyes will lose their taste for your skin.
White fields framed by nighttime trees. And city orange.
Awash in fluorescent yellow. Eyes can leap where feet will never go.
And leave oval footsteps in undriven snow. Covering many miles though.
Eyes begin to tread slow. Chug like four engines no lack of motive through frozen scenes.
Ice lined creeks and snow buried streams.
A pond any old sinner could walk on.
Stalked by great fractured double u’s formed of flocks of geese.
The hungry sound made by their thousands of beaks and wings.
Throats like hard rubber.
Navy blue cap pulled down over ears pierced by studded stars.
And that great gauged bone colored earlobe of a moon.
At the outset of winter. Seems the sun gets snuffed too soon.
Makes street lights sparkle embers on the ends of extinguished wicks.
A trickle of waxy smoke in our breath.
Town lights go on as far as eyes can see.
And stars. And snow fields. Stuck ponds.
And dark clouds that honk loud as cars.
They go on much farther.
Miles past eyes can see.
To be saved by a government program is to belong to it.
If band aids and ibuprofen are the only things keeping you alive.
Another word for that is dying.
Sustainability is about predicting future need.
Another word for that is pessimism.
Government serves many basic functions.
And a lot more that are redundant.
They want it that way.
The word is enslaved.
And for the longest time
it has been the surest sort
I have been had by a dream.
That one day I will wake up out of and truly see
a world where humankind is free. And every nationality
on the planet can finally fit within one species.
I have been had by a dream.
That our leaders will be caught dreaming.
Up late at night scheming.
Earmarked nightlights though
their smiles are beaming.
I have been taken by sleep.
And placated by dreams.
Ever since my eyes were opened.
And in the dream I woke from.
Judging the living from the dead.
Was only a government program.
How can we be free if we don’t voluntarily pay taxes. When we end up in jail if we don’t hand over however many dollar bills correlates to the life services we purchased in order just to stay alive. How can it be freedom, if it isn’t actually free to merely subsist within this system.
You have no answer for this. You could use a thousand words to prove to me you have no good answer to these words. You don’t. Fear of war. Fear of violence. Imagination that the symptoms plaguing our nation existed prior to the formation of things called nations. They didn’t. How do you fix society, when grouping a species as heavily dependent on ferocious individuality into too tight knit communities caused the problem in the first place.
It is simple. Humans need to be free range. And we’re being pastured in lots so small the grass is gone and we’re ankle deep in muck, eating thrown out Christmas candy, corn in every form but corn. Cages and barns and fence lines they say can change but never do.
Rural lives don’t need to be taxed at the same rate.
We’re not provided public transportation, or the daily services we depend on
to move trash and pump water and repackage a planet into suppertime.
There has to be place in this place where a human can just go and human.
Freedom means free access to the resources that support and sustain life.
By definition, freedom will never be provided by capitalism. Never.
You could use a thousand words. You will never change my mind.
A human is not an isolated existence, but a delicate balance struck between nutrition, hydration and environmental security, within a complex ever-changing universe that produces all of them. You can scream the word freedom until blood vessels in your face start to burst. But humans do not exist in a vacuum. When you mention a human, or look at a human, you are looking at food sources, water tables, and shelter structures that protect against weather and predators.
Without those things, you are not looking at a human.
You are only looking at a matter of time.
Food, water, and shelter are liturgical. They are God-given.
It is not America. It is not capitalism. Or democracy. It’s dinner.
It is your next breath.
I just think we should reconsider using the word free
when we are describing this much debt.
There is more to the present than a gift.
Wrapped in red gold green paper.
The whole universe.
As long so you don’t know what is in it. It is everything.
The greatest gift there ever was.
Only as long as you don’t know what it is.
What’s under the tree isn’t Christmas.
There isn’t a tree alive big enough.
They were all cut to the ground years ago.
No one ever leaves a present wrapped too long.
Which is why all the great gifts are gone.
It’s hard to wrap a song.
Or a poem. Or a thought.
Or both of them. They’re odd.
Loose in the corners and dense in the center
and the tape just won’t stay on.
I appreciate the thought.
But was hoping for something to tear open.
Or even at least a pressed paper box.
I know that’s asking a lot.
But this is a particular season.
When no one needs a reason.
To ask for more than you’ve got.
Not just any present moment.
Ready to be torn.
For on this day maybe two thousand years ago a child was born.
Torn up wrapping paper on the floor.
And soon, that baby grew.
And said we will have earned the kingdom
the very hereafter
the very moment
we can discern a gift
without having to see
it torn open.