An Arguable Truth

See It Sewn

A misty eyed mystified look across twenty four young faces. Masks make you realize how it all always was in the eyes. Skepticism. Judgment. A narrow fold of scrunched justices when brows get pulled down together. A good orator sits back in the seat where they stand. Let them stew in it a bit, before easing the queasy feeling of questioning what it was they just heard. A crooked smile is like a wide-brimmed hat, one should never leave the homeplace without it. 

The love a partner hands over after forty years of marriage is the same love McDonald’s believes people have for its sandwiches. There’s no formal distinction between these two uses of this one word. I love my mother. I love Saturdays. Equitability doesn’t just raise the bottom, it lowers the top. Levels the heap. Squashes the pile flat as the earth was before we rounded down its corners.

Assigning students to produce in a room designed for them to receive. Sit quietly. That thing in your pocket that is quickly becoming your voice, it’s contraband in this space. You will use it to speak through for the rest of your life. It connects you to anyone who loves you and would fight for you no matter the stakes. Make no mistakes, your phone will save your life perhaps even from those publicly sworn to serve it. But if you glance at it during class, to check the time, no time to ask, you’ll lose it. They’ll take it. And you refuse to, they’ll send both of you home till Tuesday. 

Then this kid thinks, well I can’t go to college. This school thing is not for me. I can’t go four more years, my voice held hostage while I’m demanded to speak. Kids forming their perceptions based on tired, saggy, complaintive old people going through the motions is a recipe for the slow motion disaster being served at all our tables right now. 

I get it. School is a two bird, one stone design. Built primarily with babysitting in mind. But it is also a teacher trap, a catchall for those called to the one field government never sacked the revolution on: educating future generations. It is amazing. How far we’ve come. How drop-dead smart we are. And yet we haven’t figured out how to make a door we can close behind ourselves and once we do, no one can ever come through ever again. We can’t figure it out, because the universe is created in such a way where it can not be done. If a nation is formed of revolution, then it will be plagued by revolution until its dying day. The line stops when we find there’s a real plot to dumb down our children. I will not see mine censored into societally induced stupidity. 

A good orator is not in it for the applause. Jesus knows who rocks the boats, he doesn’t fear water, his time is set in stone. Before the end, you just want to know, there’s a touch of what was in you still out in the world, and if you don’t see it, a good orator will shell out the right words, and see it sewn.

Same Salt

When you go West across North Carolina, you don’t leave the ocean behind
it climbs into the sky and weather misbehaves like a roily child.
On the outer bangs of wisdom there lives a hermit who uncovered the secret to enlightenment.
The lights turn off for a reason.
We’d rather call them seasons.
Than admit we belong to a slapped sideways birth.

The ombre of approaching storms. The tangerine sheen after a rough one.
Languid, pale yellow, bruised banana, soaked bandana summer days
no one remembers anyways. Something about the weather today
wipes away the warning off yesterday’s. Don’t claim to understand it.

North Carolina has tried and some here you’ll find look just under deep fried
but for the time clouds keep cropping up and our limping, lopsided farmer
with a sloshing watering can. Our ocean in the sky has high and low tides
and waves crash and wash out a summer garden easy as beach sand.
Five hours from the coast.
Same salt stinging in our eyes.

Little Boy’s Beauty and the Beast

Why would you want a fancy prince when you already have a fearsome beast? You have the girl and the castle and servants all immortal, all entrapped within their service. What makes it a fable is the imaginary assumption anyone would try to fix the curse. Beauty and the Beast is a patriarchal vision. The whole thing starts with a kidnapping of an accidental trespasser who is then locked in a personal dungeon. Then, leveraging the old man for his young intelligent daughter. What is a redemption arc when it becomes twisted? Perhaps more of a redemption roller coaster with no resolution at the bottom, just little boys begging for another ride who will soon be carried to the car in tears for answering their parents’ fears.

Without a harrowing repentance, there can be no redemption. The greatest fiction is that a man turned beast at this point in his authentically cursed existence, is capable of innocent, consensual, passive and pacifistic love. To what gain? His cruelty to women is what birthed in him unimaginable magical power and prowess. He lives in a little boy’s paradise. In a world where our choices surrounding love will one day turn us all into monsters. Some unfortunate little girl dreams she’ll scheme to change the theme and turn the beast.

Like a Jekkyll and Hyde in reverse. Super human ability born of a curse. The tragic hero with the power to make the changes the world needs, but a slave to the sacrifices that power demands.

Beauty and the Beast could be a cautionary tale for father in laws, maybe, a fantasy for beast-taming bookworms, perhaps. But for little boys it is all about the beast. The ability to fight off wolves in the night. How those sharper claws don’t ever fully retract.

How having the power to protect also endangers the ones we love.

The Purpose of Life

Chores to do. More to move. Horse to shoe. Oh wait.
Horsefly and shoo. Sure. I’m up. Not firing on all fronts.
It’s early. There is energy.
But here I sit. Front porch writing.
Trading grips between a pen and a ceramic lip.
Trading discomfort hip to hip on a hard wood rocker.
Seat of power seems oxymoronic.
Though I am sure that it isn’t.
If more people with power sat on it,
there would be less obstacles to the simple, family-centric
lifestyle poor folk have fought for far too many manly centuries.

It is crazy people pretend we don’t know the purpose of life.
Yet so many live identical expressions of it for the same motivations.
If life had a purpose, why would it be distant and hard to grasp?
No. It comes bubbling up out of us.
Grumbling deep inside of us when we do not feed it enough.
These chores. That bill. This meal. And its cost.
No one can give freedom. In that sense, freedom does not exist.

Freedom is the only sanctioned slavery.
It is ownership of the self.

Hide. (part 3 of 3)

But I’m here now.

We will peel apart the atom like an apple and discover a seed in its center that is carved somehow with the chicken-scratch autograph of what can only be called God. Though that moment will ruin the word, it will rescue the world, and religion will mean story again.

Every action you commit to in this place creates the brightest light. Burned, pulled into the electrons that energize and power you on. And you will remember, lest ye be remembered, by the lives of all you have eaten, the lives you ran down in the road, the lives you put your hands on without permission. There is life, and consciousness, inside the atom, and therefore memory, and the ability to make decisions.

Push. Pull. Hide. That is what an atom can do. 

Ask yourself. Is that so different from you?

Pull. (part 2 of 3)

All of our mass is here in the proton and neutron. They are together in the nucleus, but distinguished from one another, for example, one is electric, and one is, as far as can be seen, not. The proton pushes, positively charged, like a young dad with bulging arms carrying all the beach toys, neutrons follow his lead and hug his wake and bask his shadow all in tow. But he put his call over the ocean. Heard it answered. A push to pull, a negative to his positive, a farmer for the garden, the electron may very well be the only seed God planted before it slank back into the hammock that rocks above every barrier the beanstalk never broke. Yet.

Am I Jack? Climbing a hairy vine wrists wrapped in red rash, pulling, pushing, hiding when I have to, searching for a slithering piece of snake-like thread that unravels this shape and pulls it apart so completely, such a threat, the giant feels its hammock shift among the swayless trees, in the windless ether of the realm of all-observance, where life was once a dream, but now we’re hushed, because its favorite show is on the tv screen, I scream so that it finally drops both feet and shakes this blanket of blank grass and weeds we’ve been scattered across like a fist full of seeds. I will make the farmer show face and explain itself.

I don’t believe the answer can be found the way one can trace and track the color of a flower to the nutrients in the soil. Because of flaws in the equipment. Because of the limitations of perspective. Our minds weren’t molded to uncover transcendental, universal understanding and Truth. Just survival. That’s all.

To achieve enlightenment we busted apart a telescope and took out the bulbous lens and until now we’ve only been using it to burn ants. 

Push. (part 1 of 3)

Push. Pull. Hide.
I’ve been thinking about atoms again.
I’m thinking that they are alive.
They do things. They push. They pull. They hide.
Just those three things. Almost the same as me.
We fight. Take flight. Or die.
These three fundamental directions are the primary articles of atomic particles.
The invisible specks that make us tick. There is consciousness in the very brick.
So that the thoughts of this old house are like a roaring waterfall of individual droplets,
decisions being made by the foundations. The color of every flower was drunk up
from single cell mouths lapping the boots of Hades clean. Our eyes are the only thing
that makes this confusing. The brain has already drawn the most impossible thing
humans invented.

The straight line.

There can be three temperatures in one bottle of water.
Endless range within the spectrum of existence. But at the base.
When broken down to the source, it’s three. Always a trinity.
Never a traditional binary couple.
The threeway seems to be the preferred union of physics.
And all subsequent interaction, some kind of sex.
Conversation. Groping stars with eyes as light climbs deep inside your mind.
When you see something, the light off it, it touches onto part of you
and your eye converts it into an image the way mitochondria cook bread into sugar,
and it feeds pretty pictures like chocolate covered strawberries to your brain.
The light of every candle you ever lit, every shooting star, lives inside your head.
You’re pregnant with it.

Push. Pull. Hide. Proton. Electron. Neutron. I’ve tried to wrap my mind around it but it is quite like trying to define a term by other terms when all you’ve ever known is one term. It’s like constipation. I imagine it is like birth. Like feeling held hostage by what is inside you, and you know you will surely die if you fail to bring it forth. Why are the hardest pieces to break into pieces so obsessive over one another, why do they relationship so consistently in threes, so violently, hold themselves together by tearing apart their neighbors, or keeping their little triangular shapes but slamming jamming against identicals and forming larger globules and the eventual elemental structures which could in some ways be described as the ancient jagged originators of life. Why?

Not how. We can observe that. By pushing, pulling, and hiding.

The Monopolization of Need

It takes the greatest power to give up power. It is the rarest trait witnessed in Mankind. There are those in the world in the grip of lesser power who scoff at the idea that anyone would give it up, they laugh and they deny the existence of those who would refuse to drink from their rim-stained cup. They hate their lives, which they’ve turned into never ending seeks and never ending hides, and their new friends are always their best friends until they find new friends and it never ends that they always end. Haven’t called their mothers in months. But will sit on a barstool and sob to strangers such strange confessions that no one knows what they are listening to, crimes or allegations. 

It is a well-funded, well-dressed, and quite sober seeming lie, nonetheless, money alone has never made anybody happy. Look at the lives of celebrities. Look at the lies of politicians. They hate their lives. Their words will deny, but look in their eyes, it is the terror of someone who has claimed their neighbor and called them their slave. There are conversations that happen in safe rooms where rich people say things that would bring a protest down on their ten acre lawn. We’ll forego the American letter-writing version, and go straight to la révolution française. They will never make it right because that requires confession and repentance. They will desire to quietly have things change and never admit their level of complicity in deciding large factions of us will live in perpetual poverty so that the few of them won’t have to look at their choices on their morning commute.

Fear has no muscle except grip. That’s why it’s easy to let it steer the ship. But it won’t let go when time comes. When that wind and ocean turns and that rudder doesn’t, there is no ship under fear’s control that can stand an instant against it.

They will not give it up. They have the government. But the people have the power. And no one wants to share what is only ours. When slaveowners had their say in the shape of our economy, they left their mark, to say the least. They ultra-defined the top and middle classes, but left the bottom dark and murky. There is no profit, not anything like we see today, without some form of slavery, without someone’s labor going unpaid. By people who can not feed their families or their selves without the work. Who have no free, accessible environment to survive in, only an economy, a few dollars buys something like dinner, two hundred pays the water’s bill. May not get to the rent this month.

I’m not being deep, or philosophical, or idealistic when I state, slavery. Our modern economy is a form of human trafficking. Because of the lack of any option to survive otherwise. If you want to live a full happy human life, outside of your government’s economy, where does that happen? On the land you’re taxed just for having? In a State or National Park where the wildlife has more rights than humans.

Freedom means living freely with no cost other than the effort required to access the resources required to sustain productive, fulfilling life. Food, water, shelter, hopefully from sources that naturally, or with a little assistance, replenish. If that option does not exist, then this is not freedom.

I can’t say it any more plainly. By definition, if the resources required for life (we die without them) cost money and are not available from any other naturally reoccurring source, then we are not free.

This is not a monopoly of a product. The crime I described here is the monopolization of the need.

Fear and Pride as Strengths

Plants will hold up cups above their heads to catch bees in but bury their roots beneath the soil so that half the rain runs off before it soaks in. Trees will grow up tall and huge and heavy and spread out thick green sails from their oaken masts and dare the wind the topple them: perhaps they push the continent, perhaps it is why we still sail across the Atlantic, why California continues to be nibbled by the Pacific. If a human were a tree it would grow wide and flat close to the earth where no wind could tickle it. If a human were a plant, they’d put their bright colors beneath the ground in fear for anyone finding them. Lift their roots up to the elements so they can feed freely and never learn why their seeds bear no germ.

The Spotlight

The spotlight is not on. The switch has been flipped and it turned on.
But it clicked off before it was hot, and now it is not. Someone please
turn the spotlight back on. The tricks and switch-flips that turn things on.
Theater. A play. The one kind adults can do respectfully.
Sit in a seat and stare at a stage and give eyes a feast
of only the things that eyes like to eat. The tongue is the eyes,
the teeth are the ears, slurp down every sight,
chew up every word you hear.

There’s a dance in how an actor walks
and a song in how they talk
and if an actor knows their place
they’ll look the audience in the face
they’ll pull them up on stage
they’ll give them up their rage
and clone their tears in you.

That’s the only way you’ll smile later.
For the joy that is tied to sacrifice, some happiness conceives in pain.
The baby born is gut-busting laughter, oh wait, it’s twins, we’re in stitches.

The switches flip on and this time they stay. Two actors eyes locked backstage
tighter than a lock. More like a chestnut. No key quite like a hard object.
They crush it. And uphold buried treasure in the palms of their hands
before frozen styrofoam mannequin face-spaces on the fronts of hollow heads.
Fill them up with likenesses of whatever frightens them
and reminding them of events hard to live through
but delightful to behold through the refracted lens
of other people’s problems.
It helps to spotlight the drama.
We cork and ferment our trauma.
That is why it is opening night.

And after all these years, I find the theater
a place I can play with my pain
and raise a toast to all my fears.