Saturday, December 03, 2011

the astronomical society



tonight the river is fat. it rushes by in deep black water, it is rocking high against the breakwater. it must be because it rained and snowed in the last couple of days. what do we mean by what we say? to say the water is high, to say it rained in the last couple of days? we are talking about other worlds, or this world, and the water. the muscles of the water. to stop and watch it. to just stay put and watch it in the cold night. then what is in front of one's eyes starts to take shape. there is a branch between me and the river i had not seen. the branch with its buds bursting twisting out from the thin trunk (buds in december? this morning i saw mosses still alive, green as all hell, even now, with not a single leaf left on the branches, they won't die until the frost kills them)

i am trying to capture these thoughts as they float up and my eyes go to the next thing. any casual thing could distract me from these fragile thoughts and make me forget the minute ago. they say it took a thousand years before it occurred to anyone to ask whether it was true that two bodies of different weights dropped from a great height would land at different times. newton went and did it. and it turns out, the heavier body does not fall faster than the lighter body. they fall at the same speed. or maybe lots of people knew that, and the knowledge never made it into the books. or maybe no one thought to try. from what i've seen of people, i'm not surprised no one thought to try.

i've got not much to do, so i went to the astronomical society meeting in town. the average age was 70. a lot of grey hairs and bellies. i sat in a corner and watched them figure out the proceedings for the society. the president said i was lucky because tonight they brought coffee and cookies. they had an interesting meeting, trying to elect officers. it was hard because no one wanted to be secretary. the outgoing secretary had arthritis and couldn't type very well. he kept mishearing what people were saying as he was taking minutes. one guy who had a giant coffee stain down the front of his strange white t-shirt, stretched to the limit by a happy belly accessoried by a happy grey beard, was pressured into taking the post. he was not interested, though clearly he was a driving force of the society. he did talk of how spectacular the transit of jupiter was not long ago, how the little moon ganymede would cross the surface of the great giant and cause the pimple of a shadow to fall on the face of jupiter - all this through a telescope. they discussed putting on a big to-do for the meteor shower in august. they had an anti-light pollution committee no one wanted to be on except the one autistic 16-year old whom no one trusted in a position of authority. the librarian was retiring. the treasurer said they made $251 last year.



the president was a fatherly fellow who wanted to make sure people got together to look at the stars. the society soon glowed after its initial awkwardness with an easy warmth, hidden away from the rest of civilization. a very old man rambled on for a long time about how the streelights used to be covered to prevent light pollution for stargazing, and everyone listened, despite the fact that no one was sure when the rambling was going to end. it kind of drifted into silence and then started up again, coming out of him like weather. another very old man was not sure he had been nominated for secretary (though he was) but he declined anyway. i was surrounded by the most gentle animals in the world, and they wanted to gather together and keep warm and look at the universe from lonely dark towns in december, this crazy, vast, unfathomable universe they were in and call it spectacular when one blob of light eclipsed another blob of light through a crude telescope. what do we mean by the things we say? it is spectacular because we are seeing one giant planet move through the universe with your own eyes. you can see the universe move, like a giant mystery.

i am sure they have quiet but difficult lives out there beyond the cities that they try to make beautiful for the handful of people they call their families. they are far from the screams i have heard from a thousand heads. i love them. i wonder what it would take for me to stop being nice to people. i can't stop being nice to people. but they have been such atrocious egotists. i can't help but see all their fragile innocence, and i think it breaks my heart to scar it. i know this is a strength and a kind of foolishness, and if i had to be hard i would want it to be pure, but this purity never comes. i would only hurt people with truth, and i have so little of it, its easier to take their blows.

a woman laughs at the bar. amazing. in books, they always say, someone laughs at the bar. why are they laughing at the bar? why is this significant?

because it is an echo of a whole other universe of a person you will never know about. why did she laugh? did she mean it? what was the joke?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

a mother that eats its children

the old timer said there are spirits of things in the world. there is a spirit of the east. there is a spirit of the sun, who makes the spring by flapping his wings slowly across the frosty ground. there is a spirit of winter. spirits can act good or bad.

when you walk in the winter, you are walk on the insides of a spirit, its cold wind running its claws along your face is it touching you, but also extending in all directions, down away where you can't see, up in the hazy sky of afternoon cold suns, and winter has its own generations. the winter of last year is the same spirit, and its mother the autumn, the earth its father. there must be other spirits too, spirits that have only come to life in the recent past. spirits of nations, spirits of concrete, spirits of trafficlights.

i stood on the edge of the silent trail, overhung by cedars and dead branches, yellow reeds wrapped around my legs. looked across the black and gleaming water at the jutting subdivision on the far side, brand new, crawling towards the edge, silhouetted against the sundown of grey november. there is a bad spirit of suburbia, eating the land and defecating a hard row of new houses.

i got lost in a subdivision more than once. in small towns the subdivisions are even harder and deader, their spirit is strong. the sidewalkless streets have blank expressions. the people live in them in sick gratitude. they think - this is the good way to live, this is the only way. we live in a beautiful place. its hard not to suspect their hearts are rubble.

in my own opinion the environmentalists took the wrong strategy in emphasizing global warming. they did it so as to scare greedy and selfish people into behaving themselves. environmental destruction will lead to destroying the wealth of the world, so you should slow down or you too will pay.

it would have been better to tell them- you have lost your hearts. power has eaten your eyes. you can't see the living world anymore, everything you see is part of something that is controlled by humans. cities, computers, factories, ideas. long straight lines digging holes into the future, changing the earth. if you could see what you ate to make these things, you would fall on the ground and weep. if you could see the old trees that glowed in bare forests like great fat heartbeats, the spirits of the river and the country, the robin and the slow town, if you could see water, wind, trees and mud, you would have stopped. not because it would have benefitted you but because you loved the least blade of grass cutting out of the young black earth in april that you would have preferred civilization stop in its tracks. you would have lost all desire for control over the spirit of this bottomless land and fallen on your hands and knees in trembling awe and prayed for the privilege to die a bug hanging on a single leaf at dawn

of course, some assholes think that makes no sense

Friday, November 11, 2011

a dog barks and then

a dog barks on the street. woof woof woof under a full drunk moon. you are still a mystery.

when grandma died it was last year, near to now. they laid her up in one of the old people's hospitals on the edge of town. her room didn't feel like she was going to die to me, it felt like any other room in a hospital. her life had been long. she had been thinking about dying for a long time, you could hear it in her voice, even if she didn't speak of it. even though she had like eight healthy kids who all more or less went on to live good lives and even though she survived everything you could do to a person, she didn't seem particularly impressed with the world. when they told her they weren't going to treat her cancer because the cure would probably do worse damage to her vulnerable body, all she said was "so that's it, then."

so then they put her on morphine and killed her. no one said it but it is done by wise nurses and wiser families. they kept giving her morphine for the pain until she didn't move, and every time she moved they gave her morphine. they overdosed her - a mercy and still legally a crime. it all had to be done without being conscious of it, we still living under the tyranny of hysterical people i guess. so her lying there was a cemetary, i feel like there is a cemetary in me, of all the people gone.

my irish side came in and did around the clock vigil, she was barely awake for most of it, but maybe the warmth of our mortal souls needed to be there. the eldest daughter was there as if some ancestry of her body demanded it beyond all grey advancements of civilization, the green hills of ireland drove her to motherly watch over her mother and the rest of the clan. grandma was barely alive for most of it. i held her hand often in the last couple of days, as often as i could, i thought that at the end was when the most of one's heart should show, but not in melodrama but in the most humble acts. so i held her hand. i remember my cousin holding her other hand and looking across the bed and our grandmother's body at her. she was pretty torn up, but we were doing the same thing. my grandmother's hands were so soft at the end. the most softest things, i have ever touched. there was no way to tell if she could feel us, we didn't know if she wouldn't have liked that, we were kind of imposing our love on her.

in good fashion, my uncles and aunts brought neverending supplies of beer and wine and whiskey. when she was awake, we administered whiskey to her in little doses of water. we were hammered most of the time. in the night, we all sat around her bed, like savages, drunk and serene. they made my sister sing jock stewart. she was afraid to because of the words. she didn't understand that drunkeness makes for instant immunity to indignity. so she sang

my name is jock stewart,
i'm a canny gaun man
and a roving young fella i've been

(chorus)
so be easy and free
when you're drinking with me
i'm a man you don't meet every day

i have acres of land
i have men at command
i've always a shilling to spare

(chorus)

so fill up your glasses with
brandy and wine
whatever it costs i will pay

(chorus)

well i took out my dog
and him i did shoot
all down in the county kildare


(chorus)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

the star

of course, while all this was going on the stars were out there, hanging in a big black void. i get born some years ago, and they were still up there, i learn to crawl, walk and talk. i learn to think. i hurt people and help people. they say that the distance of the earth to the sun is 150 000 000 kilometers, just a bunch of black space between.

ok, not just a bunch of black space. the black space is filled with light. how about that. but light is so weightless it might as well be nothing. its the shine. its the shine on the void.

but if i were to take off this body and step off this planet and walk immortal the 150 000 000 kilometers, i would arrive at the sun. well, i've always been wrapped up in the sun's arms. the magnetic field of the sun - it's pull, it's "come closer" extends far beyond the solar system. computers say it looks like this:


the god with it's arms wide looks like this, maybe.

but near the sun, i would walk into the corona. its just a bunch of hazy wind, hot, blind, wailing light waving like grass. get up in the morning, there is all that light hitting the apartment buildings, the strangers going to work, the effort to repeat, nothing - the sunlight hits wordless forests somewhere. the corona is gushing light, hot as hell, about 3 000 000 degrees kelvin. of course, a nuclear bomb is about 10 000 000 degrees, about three times as hot as the corona. if they set off any of the thousands of nukes lying around like apocalyptic driftwood, the earth could theoretically bleed stars. but all of that is just something you have to live with. the corona looks like this:


this is an eclipse. the sun isn't black. the sun is so bright that if you took the black disk off of this picture, it would blind you.

I can't send messages, my body is gone. i would have to ask the corona to trace words on the wall but the sun is beyond me. we have no language. i can't speak river or mountain, and they are just earth. the sun is an alien. i walk along the corona's lines and step onto the photosphere. this is the sun we see in the sky. it is cool here. only 6000 degrees kelvin. its like a big ocean on fire. its serene, red waves lapping up against my feet. dog dreams - serene. the sun with little changes makes the earth shudder with life. i cant remember the earth anymore. the sun's surface is like a big sea. prominences are bleeding out its back, curling high into the sky. the stars are gone



i walk on the surface. the earth is far.


then i dive down into the water. i swim downwards, and i guess everything is dark like in the water and glowing. im exagerrating. its more like falling through clouds. it black as night. the convective layer, the skin just underneath the skin, the sun is pushing big fountains of light to break at the surface and cooler fire is falling in big black waterfalls towards the core. if the astrophysicists made this all up it would still be the craziest and most beautiful lie ever.

but they have a pretty good idea. i swim down 200 000 kilometers, it takes me a few years, catching the falls of black fires down, see the bright fountains twisting up around me in the far distance, far away in the blackness like tornadoes on the horizon, glowing cinders in the heart of the fire, the core comes near.

you can't see. not even with these eyes. the core is about 15 000 000 degrees kelvin. i can't swim any further, its a perfect solid landscape in the darkness, a darkness made by too much light. molecules are crushing together, you can feel them trembling. the emptiness that makes an atom is shrinking, here is the heart of life, life - the things between the void. the little squeaks of light in a sleeping blackness, here they are squeezed together, and what do they do? hydrogen becomes helium, helium becomes carbon. things are being born. a thousand earths of little tiny things being born. all the time

Thursday, October 27, 2011

occupy



me and my sweetheart walked hand in hand down the middle of the street in the financial district, looking with slow eyes at each other. we were with about 2000 people, shouting, roaring, drumming, singing, sometimes crying but mostly feeling little fires come on in our bellies. they cleared the cars away like gentlemen - the volunteers in rags and orange armbands, like soldiers, while we our mob lurched and slouched down the street towards bay street. they called out to the bystanders the civilians the proles "come join us!" called out to the windows, almost begged "come join us!" most just stood there, half smiling, confused, one young skinny guy with a smoke dangling out of his mouth stuck his hand out to a streetcar driver who shook it "hey there, sir, i'm an anarchist and i'm out here every day fighting for your freedom and your society and i appreciate the work you do, just remember us" and moving on

at the head was a pickup truck driven by a 300 pound transvestite with blond hair with two gigantic speakers on the flatbed. a microphone dangled over the edge and a row of mohawk elder women sang sacred songs and drummed. these songs, i think, have never been sung in the financial district of any city, and the sound echoed through the streets - a declaration of the coming of the earth, the heart, the spirit - this is a declaration of the coming of the soul to the steel. the wailing and the boom boom boom of the drum like the heartbeat of a giant waking up crawled up the walls of the financial district, reverberated across the hard canyon of steel and glass and money and death. the echoes flew ahead of us down the long streets that were now mostly empty except for us, loping along, crashing into each other, smiling at each other, no violence in anyone's heart but a very serious willingness to go all the way i think, i feel. the flags that waved in front were twinned anarchist and mohawk warrior flags. the powerless are finding each other just when the powerful have begun to push things too far

this revolution or whatever it is has no words. this is its strength and its weakness. it comes from the belly into the world, learning what it is even as it begins to breathe. it is our guts come awake. it is what we always wanted, us becoming in charge of ourselves, us coming together against the nightmare of greed. there is a fear of politics - rightful too - because politics is so dirty and crazy. but that fear is only true if it is a fear of meaningless politics - heartless politics, ruthless politics, ideological politics. but if you run from your brothers and sisters when they are sincere, then your fear is unfounded, will sour into apathy, and you will miss a rare chance to feel part of a real justice on this wild earth

they won't let it stand, be sure of that. the cruel and the selfish always play this game better than we do. but we can be part of something that is better than that, in our heart of hearts we can know our lives meant something. but we have to believe in each other for any of this to mean anything

Thursday, October 20, 2011

everything you'll never know

if i cross the streets of downtown again i will wonder where they all are. a million faces going blank looking as if nothing beautiful lived but all that mattered was the great dreamless sleep of the roads, crawling and growing into the forests. its those types what make the world go round, what make the roads crawl. i wondering down the street, the cut up sky, the bad world out of the daylight. everyone always seems to be hiding so much more than what they are, the aortas of survival are in not feeling what you feel but feeling what you want to look like you feel.

they met their tricks, their dealers and their cops here, there they smashed his head against the tiles, there they were hungry and homeless and broke, on this spot they broke up, met up, forgot their parents, talked of tattoos and mutual hatreds. whole civilizations of junkies go on in hiding, there are crumbling sphinxes being turned into condominiums down the main drag.

masters of self-destruction, their each day was still like a great poetry that would make nirvana blush. it seems i knew so little about them, and i don't think anyone knew most of anything about them, their old days secrets they were wishing to make clear on their faces, which they did sometimes in scars. but no one ever understood the scars, least of all the little magicians that put them there.

and what about me? i always knew i was mortal. i always took the buddha seriously for saying that knowing you are going to die, how can you quarrel? for as long as i can remember, i felt with precision how lonely everyone really is, how they couldn't handle the warmth of each other even if they wanted to, and they didn't want to. the pricks rule the world, and as the great madman himself said, it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. but i learned you could give parts of yourself if you always had a place to escape to. some put a sign up that says god. some just have kids.

i myself found the wind. it sounds like everything i'll never know.

so i left that back in the city. its what the city does. a few dozen poets who don't know it, but the ones who do know it usually get paid and it makes them ugly. i remember a lot of angels, unnoticed among a million blank faces, going about the business of building a world of roads that will carry the city into the last remaining forests of this world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

otherworld








in myth, the stories make no sense, unlike our stories, which try desperately to make sense. men turn into crows, women are swallowed by witches and born again, coyotes pull the sky around them like a blanket. the myth was the news for longer than america has lived or will live, even if it lived three lives.

myth became the news. the story creates the world. the story never represents the real world, it represents the dreamlike nature of living in the world. the news becomes a myth striving for accuracy but always prevented by the nature of storytelling.

there is a new myth, that tripoli fell and gaddafi was defeated. a mad king gone down by swarms of young men with new guns and old shoes. its like present day archaeology. bombs were dropped from airplanes, but no one is sure where. men fought and murdered each other, but no one was sure for who. the pieces are spread out across the world like shredded newspaper. there are secrets and conspiracies, we only see their faces now and then dart from the edge of the screen into vision and back out again. now they cheer and cry out victory. but for what no one is sure, not even them.



a long time ago, old men and women sat among the young and told them stories of the world out there. the trees and the mountains and the skies and the plains made a great frontier between the home of life and the world that was bigger and aliver than all of them put together. They could see it out there, moving, waving in the wind, dark and wet and secret. unknown.

the unknown is so dark that it makes an infinity. darkness is the best light in which to see infinity.

the old men and women told them stories about what went on out there, in the immortal land outside their circle of light. where the stones and trees were alive like they were alive, where the animals were magicians. and that there is the otherworld, the world beyond us. because the great truth of the otherworld, of the land and the sky the universe and the bottom of the ocean is that it all lives, much more than we do. and this sense of a living, awake unknown suggests that we are small and unknowing, no matter how many roads we build into it. No matter how many walls of houses we surround ourselves with and say this is true. this is true and nothing else. this cross, this computer.

the mystery of tripoli falling is that it is a city in the desert. it fell because men in other cities pushed it over with their long arms. but none of them know what for. and the men with guns on the ground maybe seek only a paradise they know is not this, but not what it is. and the otherworld looks on. if only we talked to the otherworld as the haida did, walking across the mountains with their long legs and staring up into the wheeling stars and moving graciously like the land itself. i had a dream last night, of falling into the ocean and falling through progressive layers of fish, down farther than i could go, to where the water went black, and there were great whales and monsters passing by me, and i sank farther than that, and the fish still swirled around me, past surviving.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

the idea of anarchism



one of the things that attracted me to anarchism is that it is almost incorruptible. any time anarchists get a suspicion that things aren't pure, they get ornery and walk away. this also explains anarchism's legendary ineffectiveness, producing exactly one coalition government in the 20th century and a bunch of revolutionary cells that went nowhere. and even then, spain's anarchist roots in the andalusian mountains relied more on a peasant culture that understood anarchism as a somewhat spiritual mission rather than an ideological and economic programme.



it's hard to describe exactly what makes anarchism a political ideology. it's strength lies in that it is an ethic. you can hyphenate anarchism with just about anything, anarcho-whathaveyou. there are anarcho-libertarians and anarcho-communists. you can't find political ideologies that span the spectrum the way anarchism does.

anarchism is an ethic. it is inherently suspicious of power and authority. so you can be a libertarian that rejects corporations or a communist that rejects the Party. anarchism affirms the paradox that while everyone is an equal in the community regardless of ability, everyone is also absolutely free and unique as an individual that cannot subsume to the community. this is possible because in anarchism, what is good is not rooted in an absolute. The good shifts times, places and ideas constantly, and its spirit must be continually sought out. The individual's inherent authority over their own life must at all times be humbled by the elusiveness of goodness and truth.

because power and authority are facts of human life, anarchists are realists - no government is eligible for loyalty and obedience. at the same time, anarchists are mostly socialists because this ethic is rooted in being responsible to one's brothers and sisters: the community is an essential part of being.

realism is the idea that all human politics are governed by the interests of power. all states and individuals are in a condition of competing for power. the most simple analogy is, suppose you find a gun in the wilderness. you look around, not knowing what else is out there. to pick up the gun is to claim power over human life. to refuse to pick up the gun means risking that someone else will, perhaps someone with less good will than you. this is a dilemma with no happy answer. if you pick up the gun, you will be compelled to use it or threaten to use it, usually with very good reasons. you will be in a position to dominate. and it is there that the corruptive effect of power begins. soon, you are addicted to wielding the gun, because it becomes the essential tool for your survival. if you don't, you allow that you are risking something terrible to happen to yourself or others at the hands of another unpredictable, confused human being in an unpredictable, confused world.

anarchism faces this question. at it's best, it understands the gun. and it understands that one must never trust the man with the gun, even if it's you. maybe especially if it's you, because you are your own best deceiver. anarchism is an ethic rather than an ideology because it requires that nothing can have absolute authority, not even an idea, and so is open to being changed, rejected or renewed. there are fanatical anarchists, but they destroy the spirit of anarchism.

anarchism's answer to this problem is to take the gun and learn how not to need to use it. but to be a hell of a good shot

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

sirens


people don't remember anything. sirens every night. they're sending a new satellite to jupiter. it will sail around a planet a hundred times the size of planet earth. it will see its red storms, storms the size of the earth. there is a sea of darkness that goes on forever between us and it.

i was walking the street last week and a young fellow smoking a joint who slept in an rooming house down on yonge street and was going crazy because there are no walls, just dividers and a tyrannical asian woman who scratched up his arm looking for crack in his gymbag, he said he thought something big was going to happen soon. i said something big is always happening. he said yeah but like the end of the world. i said it is always the end of the world for someone somewhere.

then we speculated that everything was run on electricity. if you cut off the electricity you could plunge the world into chaos. all some terrorist would have to do is stop the electricity. all the computers would go down. all the lights in all the cities. all the phones. bank records would be gone. the sirens would go silent. we agreed we would get out of the city as fast as we could. we would catch fish and hunt and learn to do things.

generators might run some things, but everything would be back in darkness. then there would be fires to keep out the darkness. then the fires would spread. nasa would lose contact with its satellites, and it would drift, sending back messages now and again, asking, are you listening? are you listening?




Tuesday, August 02, 2011

fiume



"in this mad and vile world, fiume is the symbol of liberty"
- gabriele d'annunzio

In the last weeks of summer in the year 1920, the italian poet gabriele d'annunzio marched with a small army of deserters on the ancient city of fiume on the adriatic sea in what is now croatia. d'annunzio must seem almost drunken, raging in his world war one fighter plane, ranting about nietzsche and his heart pounding with the beauty that fascism might give birth to in the world.

when he marched into the city and confronted the van of the defending army, he demanded they kill him first if they chose to stop his army. instead he was embraced and he strode into the city to the adulation of the italian population, who flooded the streets like a mob of children.



d'annunzio was furious that his beloved italy had given up fiume to yugoslavia, but since his beloved italy would not listen to him, he mesmerized a brigade of the italian army to follow him there and seize the city in its name.

this strange conqueror created a state out of his own imagination. maybe for the first and last time, a drunken poet was the law of a country. in the constitution, a muddy, ecstatic contradiction of fascist and anarchist principles, music was a first principle of the state, dedicated as a social and religious institution, whatever that means. but choral and orchestral celebrations were held for free. freedom of religion and atheism were protected. in the constitution, there were guarantees for a beautiful life, the development of spiritual man, women were guaranteed freedom from husbandly authority,

the state was dominated by nine corporations, each one representing each of the major industries of the state, accompanied by a tenth for the "best people" reserved for the "mysterious forces of progress and adventure."

fiume was the island of the futurists. wandering down its ancient avenues, tyrannized by artists, soldiers drunk on the corner, the tyrants carousing and pleading with the people to take up the glass and the guitar into the late hours.

as the italian government in its embarassment blockaded the sea ports and pressured d'annunzio to abandon the city, he sought out and employed pirate bands to attack the blockade and raid towns.

by december, with the regular italian army marching on the city, d'annunzio capitulated. capitulation in war gets rough treatment. often it is the best of the worst, and saves many lives. for this d'annunzio deserves credit. hell, eventually mussolini made him a prince. the aristocracy in any given place rarely suffers. one can only imagine the jails of fiume were filled with many proletarian princes in the years following no one will commemorate a stamp or a statue to.

fiume, the tyranny of artists, was born and died in a season. in the autumn of 1920. one wonders how long it could have lived, one wonders if anyone worked very much. the world can be so easily changed with a single gesture, is so easily created. and just as easily collapsed.

the world was then as it is now, choked with the fault lines of empires, every wilderness dominated, everything living hunted down and cataloged. then, fiume was mad

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

the black bloc





pretty solid tactics, really


every so often, in the hearts of the earth's wealth, where the humans keep their lights and their steel, in the cities, there is a demonstration by people against the tyranny of stockbrokers and chief executive officers. the demonstrations are occasioned by times when the suits get together to show the people they are making the world a better place. usually this means giving money to each other.

these people are not like you and i. they find five-star hotels commonplace. they sometimes forget they make calls on cell phones from the backs of limousines. they live in castles of the future. these are people who rarely walk down the street, who don't do their laundry and try to find the other sock, who only get on a subway as a novelty, and then not without a big ex-cop beside them. if then. with a nod they can change the lives of thousands of humans, take jobs away or confer them. annihilate whole towns with mining projects.

these people are real, you just never see them. why would you? you are nothing to them. plus, you couldn't get past the gates.

some people are offended only by the idea that such people claim the right to determine the fate of other human beings, that they can build Dubai and destroy a river, that they can tell us what is good and force your grandfathers into a cartoonish blue apron and hand out coffees like a teenager. that they can call themselves lovers of equality and close the gates behind them.



the protesters come as they are, hold a sign, wave a fist, and go home. work starts at 9am. kids don't feed themselves. there are others more serious, mostly younger, who come to fight. they come to smash a cop or the window panes of a bank. fighting is for fun sometimes. sometimes it just feels good to face your enemy for once, even if its some cop who just wants to bust bad guys and protect his city. since all cops are just people with guns, some are cops to push people around and some just to fight evil. since all cops are instruments of violence, they are exposed to and are purveyors of agony on a daily basis, until they are numb to it. they have to be. being instruments of violence, they are deployed by the state without being consulted, and must pathologically feel both powerful and helpless. At Seattle in 1999, I remember the riot cop, among a hundred exactly like him, suddenly sigh a long sigh that lasted the duration of the world. he thought he had to be there.

the black bloc go for a fight, hoping to run into a bullycop and get their hands bloody. they go to kick in the window of the bank that funds rapist businessmen. maybe they think it will do some good, certainly its better than sitting on the porch shrugging. of course it wont do any good, because its not what's needed. i admire them for having the balls to stand up to the cops, who are better armed and better covered in the newspaper. they are our only representatives in the streets. they are romantics, and i always stick up for losers.

what's needed? we have to profoundly change how we live. our gaze is compelled upwards, to the suits. we have to wrench our eyes from the overlords and turn them to each other. we have to turn them to the land, to the past and the future and not the amnesia of instant gratification. we have to be willing to take risks, face danger, try to build things. we have to learn to do things for ourselves, and then do them for each other, and stop praying to the god of business and elections to save us. or making demands from that same fickle god.

in this sense the hippies have it right, with their farmer's markets and their fair trade. they're building a whole economy that represents a power that the fat can only take by force, and the fat ultimately are afraid of anything that take wealth from them. until then they'll destroy the earth, and we'll wonder.



the black bloc know this and don't know it. they still look up to them, looking for a fight they can never win. but none of them plan on dying, and everyone is wellfed, or they'd bring guns instead of sticks. just like they do in Iraq.

Monday, July 18, 2011

fuck the word

ah fuck the word. all these little symbols strung together, there is no harsh antiseptic definition for each one of them. each attempt at precision outside of the sciences is a lost cause. you must listen for the spirit behind the words, as if a monkey could gesture to a stone and mean an earth. the wordless often makes better speeches, usually when there's a good breeze. the word is a babble contrived to gesture to a spirit. take the word fuck. the word fuck has endless meanings. you can shout fuck and mean fuck(that is good) or fuck(that is bad). you can say fuuuck, (i am awed), or fuk (i understand). you can say fucking to mean sex, or fucking to mean emphatically so. and most interestingly, to fuck, to have raw sex, is the foundation. to turn into an animal and splay for pleasure beyond restraint, to fuck. maybe in our most abandonment we found a word that liberates us from the idea we should live in the appearances of our life. the surfaces of words are their least interesting features, unless studied like arrowheads or potsherds.

and i dont mean read between the lines, for christ's sake, nothing is more self-projecting than what we paint over dark spaces. Between the lines is mystery, pure mystery. And if you could see between them you miss the spirit of them. But of course lobotomization is a popular pasttime. not the words, not not the words. the spirit that flows in everything, including words. words are as much things as trees, stones, sky and water. universes are not made of units but of continuities. just because we're so small we have to figure out one thing sweetly at a time does not mean the universe is interested in our logic.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

firefly

the subway broke down between two stations. the lights went out. the only light were the bare bulbs from the caves outside. he was sitting across from me, rolled up a newspaper and lit it like a cigarette.

"wine?"

i drank from his bottle, it tasted good, like wild tomatoes. there were sirens in the distance.

"well, i feel safe" he said, and grinned a a grin of green teeth.

"there's not enough heart" i complained, drinking the smoke "there's no fight in these people. no wonder suits run everything. maybe nuclear war is a good thing, it gives everyone a sense of doom. you fight when you've got nothing to lose."

he flicked a firecracker down the dark alley of the train car, it crackled and left dying embers dancing against the windows like they were alive, fireflies.


he shrugged and traced a black hole on the ground. it looked an awful lot like a galaxy.

"it's a mystery to you," he said empirically.

"tell me about the war" i asked.

"ah well" he warmed to the subject "the War. well, the old man thought that obedience was a virtue, you know. like most old people. we should all be grateful or something. be glad i dont kill you, he would say. and i would say i'm not grateful for that. you little ones will never learn that way. you'll end up eating the earth. so we rebelled"

"i get so tired of this crap" i said and lit my eyes "the earth made us. made us like this. it made us all voracious. everything we do, its the earth doing it. we are just dirt and water, bones are dirt and water, so are brains. we are the earth, satellites that fly around saturn are just pieces of earth, sent out by other pieces of earth, the earth is evil. the earth is good, the earth eats itself,"

he got up and danced around in a spot, made a little moon bounce in his hand. he passed it to me and i put it where my heart is. nuclear bombs went off on my palm, six of them. they lit my gaze like a bonfire.

"more!" he shouted happily.

"the good earth is creation and destruction, destruction innocent like a puppy. good is beyond that. good is in defiance of death. good is endless wisdom."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

a maybe

let us begin here in this moment of the present. here you are, reading these words. we can see already that we are drifting away from the place where we began. the strangeness of the present is that it is this continual moment of creation, a continual giving birth to the future, and a continual death of the moment. we cannot stop at any moment, we are propelled, blown forward by the force of What? It seems so mundane, to just, wake up, to pause

don't worry, any time you want, any time you get lost, you can start at the beginning, and return to the present.

here is the irreversible thing about the present, it is a precipice, it can only happen once and then is gone. take now for example, you stand reading this on the edge of now, where an infinitude of possibles sprawl out before you, so many millions upon millions upon millions of futures. you decide to keep reading, or you get up and walk away from the screen, or you pause and wonder about anything. you can take only one path, and therein you have made an irreversible groove in the air, and in the same way you are given license to make many of these mistakes, decisions, wanderings.

once the moment has been trespassed, however, that present is gone, the world including you a bit older. you look back and that moment is behind you, burned into the earth and air in footsteps, irrevocable, permanent, forever. so back then, the world was full of possible blacknesses, unknowns, unmades. now it is a little more created. records are just shards, history just a ghost town, full of dead parts. the harm done, the good grown. what is done is done, the vanity of knowing what happened, well it happened whether we ever know it or not (and seldom do, despite our editors, the truth is real).

if you lived back then, maybe in 1784 and what it made you, all that history of 200 years was yet unmade, still could be's, no aeroplanes or launch pads, or televisions, still a possible, a maybe, a giant, universe-size maybe, but we always live against that edge, against the blackness of maybe, all the while a you a me, a me a you a maybe

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

wind and airplanes

the clouds are all broken up in the toronto sky. pale blackness. the wind is a song, a talking wind. all the trees talking to each other. an airplane motors cuts through it. it flies over, faint and low, a-goes off over the city, becomes a star, moves, stops then is gone. flickers of white light like far lightning in the clouds it goes into. i dont know what they are.

it must take a million to run a city. i once figured out it would take you a month and a half to count to a million, one number a second.

the numbers on mental illness, etc. go up all the time. most people go to the hospital for nothing medical, they go for their minds or what have you. its true. i don't think its because people are more mental, its because it never counted before. if you were fucked up in 1895 you didn't go to a hospital or a psychologist, you went to a priest or you just walked around fucked up. the papers didn't know you and society just trampled over you while it built railways into the heart of the dene mothers. i guess they trample you over now but they say sorry and pick you up, send you to the mental ward, keep you off the streets where people might look at you and spill their coffee.

it's still better. and worse. if a kid gets molested and can't say so, they stick ritalin in their belly and tell them to do art therapy. that is terrible but in 1895 you ended up in a room with cardboard walls getting beaten by the landlord for owing $3.00 in back rent.

the ritalin kids are the shame of the western world. they all end up seeing demons and hiding in dirty apartments, so is it better? that we even know, certainly. that we don't care, same as before. that's progress.

these are all forces we can't see, and you can't blame the government, or even the fascists that want corporations to sleep with your mother. they're all just peons. rich peons, but still dumb as shit. all rich people think they earned it. no one single individual can possibly be worth more than $500,000 to society. and that would be like ghandi or einstein or someone else no one listens to. rare.

really, its not their fault. its all nature. we are mother earth. mother earth spawned us, gave bloody birth to us and dropped us in her verdant morgue. she makes em and chews em up. she made all the beauty and all the ugly. and maybe down at the bottom of the noose its all beauty and we can't make sense of the ugly. but pain is real, even if it is all in the mind. hurt is as real as the fabric of spacetime, and tragedy is real because people's hearts are intrinsically innocent, you can't tell me different because i've seen love gushing like blood from the stab wound of indifference, usually around 1130 on a subway between st george and bay street. but try to tell a businessman that and he'll blink.

and they say you should vote or you can't complain.

i hate voting.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

viva zapata


today: a writer, not me, but someone like me. subcommandante marcos:

We know What We're Doing;
It is Worth It

LA JORNADA, DECEMBER 13, 1994, PGS. 8-11

Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Mexico
December 1994

To Whom It May Concern:

" I am the escaped one, after I was born They locked me up inside me but I left. My soul seeks me, through hills and valley, I hope my soul never finds me."
FERNANDO PESSOA

I write this, while reports from our companeros arrive about preparations for the advance of our units, and as I burn a last stack of unanswered letters. That is why I write to you now. I always told myself I would respond to each and every letter we received. It seemed to me that it was the least we could do, answer so many people who had bothered to write a few lines and risk putting their name and direction on it hoping for a response.

The war is imminent. I definitely cannot save these letters. I should destroy them because, if they fall into the hands of the government, they could cause many problems for many good people and a few bad people. Now the flames are high and their colors change. Sometimes they are an iridescent blue which never fails to surprise this night of crickets and far-away lightning which announces the cold December of prophecies and pending accounts. There were quite a few letters. I managed to answer a good part of them, but I would barely shrink a pile when another would arrive. "Sysiphus (who was doomed to roll a stone uphill forever)" I said to myself "or the vulture eating the entrails of Prometheus" my other adds, always opportune in its venomous sarcasm.

I should be sincere and confess that, lately, the little pile which arrives habitually was growing smaller. At first I attributed it to the nosy Government agents. Then I realized that good people get tired..and they stop writing..and sometimes, they stop fighting..

Yeah I know that writing a letter isn't exactly an assault on the Winter Palace. But the letters made us travel so far. One day we would be in Tijuana, the next in Merida, sometimes in Michoacan, or in Guerrerro, Veracruz, or Guanajuato, Chihuahua, Nayarit, Queretaro or the Federal District (Mexico City). Sometimes we would travel farther to Chile, Paraguay, Spain, Italy, Japan. Well, so those trips that gave us more than one smile and warmed cold sleepless night or refreshed the heat of the days, are over.

Anyway, I have told you I have decided to respond to all the letters, and we the walking gentlemen, know how to keep our promises (as long as they're not a romance). So I have thought your generosity would alleviate my heavy guilt if all of you accepted one solitary and overwhelming missive in which you each find yourselves as the solitary recipient.

Vale, since you cannot protest or express disagreement (you could do it but I won't learn about given the mail and etcetera will be useless), I will proceed then to give free reign to the insane dictatorship which takes over my agile hand when it comes to writing a letter. What better way to begin than a few verses from Pessoa, curse and prophesy, which say, I think...

"The gaze, which is looking where it cannot see, turns: Both of us are talking What was not conserved. Does this begin or end?"
Such and such a month of the ineffable year of 1994,

To Whom It May Concern,

I want to say a few things about what has happened since January. Many of you wrote to say thank you. Imagine our surprise when we read in your letter that you are grateful that we exist. I, for example, whose most affectionate gesture from my troops has been one of resignation when I arrive at one of our positions, was surprisingly surprised. And when I am surprised by a surprise unusual things happen. For example, I will bite my pipe too much and the stem breaks. Then, for example, as I look for another pipe I find some candy and commit the grave error of crackling it, a sound which only cellophane-wrapped candy makes and which that plague called "children" can hear from dozens of meters away, kilometers, if the wind is in their favor. It so happens for example, that when I raise the volume on the little tape player to drown out the noise from the cellophane with a song which says..

"The one who has a song
will have a storm,
company,
solitude.
The one who follows a good road
will have dangerous points
which will invite them to stop.
But the song has worth,
good storm
and the company
is worth the solitude.
The agony of haste
is always worth it
though the points
are filled with truth."

In the little room (all these things invariably happen in a little room with a roof of tin or cardboard or grass or nylon) appears Heriberto. He has a face of "I found you". I pretend not to see him and whistle a tune from a movie whose name I can't remember. Anyway, the hero had good results with his whistle, because a girl, who was [as good-looking] as Cejas said, smiled and came closer.

Then I realize that it is not a girl but Heriberto who comes near. Next to him comes Tonita with her corncob-doll. Tonita, she who gripes about a kiss because "it itches", the one with the cavities, who is between five and six, the favorite of the Sup. Heriberto, the fastest crier in the Lacandon jungle, the one who draws the Anti-SUP-marine ducks, the terror of the large red ants and the Christmas chocolate, the favorite of Ana Maria. Heriberto the punishment which some vengeful god sent to the Sup for being a transgressor of violence and professional of the law. What, wasn't that it? Well, don't worry about it...

Attention! Listen! Heriberto arrives and tells me that Eva is crying because she wants to see the singing horse and the Major does not let her because he is watching the BEDROOM OF PASSOLINI. Of course Heriberto does not say the title of the movie but I can guess by his description which is "..the Major is watching naked viejas.." For Heriberto all women who wear a skirt above their knees or higher is "naked," and any woman above the age of four like Eva, are "viejas". I know that this is one of Heriberto's sneaky schemes to take the cellophane-wrapped candy which rang like the siren on the Titanic in the middle of the fog. Heriberto and his ducks are coming to the rescue, because there is nothing sadder in this world than a candy without a child to rescue it from its cellophane prison.

Tonita, on the other hand, discovers, a "mud-proof" rabbit, in other words it's black. She decides to submerge it in a puddle which, in her estimation, has all the necessary characteristics to distinguish it as a quality test.

Before the invasion of the "general command of the ezetaelene" I play dumb and pretend like I'm very absorbed in my writing. Heriberto finds out and draws a duck. He titles it irreverently, the "Sup". I pretend to be offended because Heriberto argues that my nose is just like the duck's bill. Tonita meanwhile, puts the muddy bunny on a rock next to her corncob and looks and analyzes them with a critical eye. It occurs to me that the results don't satisfy her because she shakes her head with the same obstinacy she does when she refuses to give me a kiss. Heriberto, confronted by my indifference, seems to give up and I am satisfied with my complete victory. Then I learn that the candy is gone, and I remember that Heriberto made a strange movement as I gazed at the drawing. He took it from under my nose. And with this nose, that says a lot! I am depressed and more so when I learn that Salinas is beginning to pack to leave to the "World Trade Organization". It occurs to me that it was unjust when he called us "transgressors." If he knew Heriberto he would know that, compared to Heriberto, we are much more law- abiding than even the PRI leadership.

Anyway I was talking about my surprise when I read those "thank yous" in your letters. Sometimes they were written to Ana Maria, Ramona, Tacho, Moy, Mario, Laura, or any of the men and women who cover their faces to show it to others and show it to others to hide from everyone.

I rehearse my most reverent thoughts to appreciate so many thank yous when Ana Maria appears in the doorway. Heriberto is crying and holding her hand. She asks me why I won't give Heriberto any candy. "Not give him candy?" and I look at his face. The tracks of the candy has been covered with snot and tears which have won Ana Maria to his side. "That's right" says Ana Maria "Heriberto says he gave you a drawing in exchange for candy, and you didn't keep your word." I feel like a victim of an unjust accusation, and I put on the look of an ex-president of the PRI who is preparing to take over a powerful government department and climbing to the podium to give his best speech. Ana Maria, without comment, takes the bag of candy where the original came from and gives it! all! to Heriberto. "Here" she says "The Zapatistas always keep their word."

They both leave. I am reeeeaaally sad because that candy was for Eva's birthday. And I don't know how old she is because when I asked her mother she said six. "But the other day she told me she was going to be four" I complained. "Yes but she becomes four and begins to be five, in other words she's around six", she responded firmly. She leaves me counting with my fingers and doubting the entire educational system which taught you that 1+1=2, 6x8=48 and other transcendent things, which, in the Southeast mountains of Mexico, obviously do not hold true. Another mathematical logic functions here.

"We Zapatistas are very other " declared Monarch once when he told me that when he ran out of brake fluid, he would urinate into the container and get the same effect.

The other day for example there was a birthday party. The "youth group" got together and organized "Zapatista olympics". The master of ceremonies declared that the long jump competition was about to start, which really means who jumps highest. The high jump was next; which really means who jumps the farthest. I was counting on my fingers again when Lieutenant Ricardo arrived and told me that they had gone to sing happy birthday at dawn. "Where was the serenade?" I asked. I was happy that everything was returning to normal since it was logical that happy birthday be sung at dawn. "..in the cemetery" answered Ricardo. "The cemetery?" I began to count my fingers again. "Yes, well, it was the birthday of a compa who died in combat in January," Ricardo says on his way out (the drag races were next).

"Good" I said to myself "a birthday party for a dead person. Perfectly logical..in the mountains of Southeast Mexico.." I sighed.

I have been sighing with nostalgia, remembering the good old times when the bad guys were the bad guys and the good guys were the good guys. When Newton's apple followed its irresistible trajectory from the tree towards some childish hand. When the world smelled like a schoolroom on the first day of class: of fear, of mystery, of newness. I'm sighing with true emphasis when, without previous arrangement, Beto comes in to ask if there are any balloons. Without waiting for my answer, he starts to look among maps, operative orders, pieces of guns, ashes of pipe tobacco, dried tears, red flowers colored with pen, cartridge belts and a smelly ski-mask. Somewhere Beto finds a bag of balloons and picture of a playmate, pretty old (the picture, not the playmate). Beto stops for a minute to decide between the bag of balloons and the picture and he decides what all children do; he takes both of them.

I've always said that this is not a general headquarters but a kindergarten. Yesterday I told Moy he should install some anti- personnel mines. "You think the soldiers will come all the way here?" he asks me, worried. I answer trembling "I don't know about them, but what about the children." Moy nods agreeably and begins to tell me about his complicated design for a booby trap, a fake hole, with stakes and poison. I like the idea, but none of the children are boobies so I recommend that we electrify everything and place machine guns at the entrance. Moy thinks a while and says he has a better idea and leaves me..

What was I saying? Oh yeah! About the candy for Eva which Heriberto took. There I am talking over the radio so they can look in every camp for a bag of candy for Eva. Eva appears with a little pot of tamales which "my mother sent me because today is my birthday" Eva says to me with that look that in ten years or so will provoke more than one war.

I thank her profusely and ask what else I can do for her, then say I have a present for her. "Whereizit?" she says-asks-demands and I begin to sweat because there is nothing more terrible than a look of "moreno" anger. Eva's face begins to transform itself like in that movie of "El Santo against the Wolfman", and all I can do is stutter. To make things worst, Heriberto arrives to see "if the Sup is still mad" at him. I begin to smile to give me time to calculate where I could place a good kick on Heriberto when Eva notices that Heriberto has an almost-empty bag of candy.

She asks him where he got it, and he says in a sugary and slurry voice the "Chup". I don't realize that he means the "Sup" until Eva turns and reminds me, "and my present?" Heriberto's eyes pop out when he hears the world "present". He drops the bag of candy, which by now was empty and gets near Eva to say with a sticky cynicism "Yeah, what about our present?" "Our?" I repeat as I figure where to kick him when I notice that Ana Maria is hovering nearby, and I quash my intent. So then I say "I'm hiding it" "Where?", asks Eva already tired of the mystery. Heriberto, meanwhile views this as a challenge and starts to open my backpack. He tosses out my blanket, altimeter, compass, tobacco, a box of bullets, a sock. Finally I stop him by screaming "It's not there!" Heriberto then starts on Moy's backpack and he is about to open it when I say "You have to answer a riddle to know where the present is".

By that time Heriberto was getting fed up with Moy's backpack and he comes to sit at my side. Eva does too. Beto and Tonita come near, and I light my pipe to give me time to measure the size of the problem of the riddle. Old Man Antonio comes near. He makes a gesture to point out a tiny statue of Zapata made of silver sent by sandal, and repeats...
THE STORY OF THE QUESTIONS

The cold is harsh in these mountains. Ana Maria and Mario are with me on this exploration, 10 years before the dawn of January.

The two have barely joined the guerrilla. I am an infantry lieutenant and it is my turn to teach them what others taught me: to live in the mountain. Yesterday I ran into Old Man Antonio for the first time. We both lied. He said he was on his way to see his field, I said I was hunting. We both knew we were lying and we knew we knew it. I left Ana Maria to follow the path and I went towards the river to try to find a very high mountain and Old Man Antonio. He must have thought the same thing because he appeared at the same place where I found him before.

Like yesterday, Old Man Antonio sat on the ground, and leans against a patch of dark-brown green and begins to roll a cigarette. I sit in front of him and light the pipe. Old Man Antonio begins.

"You're not hunting"

"You're not on the way to the field" I answer.

Something made me speak to him in the proper tense, with respect, that man of undetermined age and cedar skin who I was seeing for the second time in my life.

Old Man Antonio smiles and adds,

"I've heard of you. In the canyons they say you are bandits. In my village, they're upset because you are here."

"And you, do you think we're bandits?" I asked.

Old Man Antonio releases a huge puff of smoke, coughs, and shakes his head. I'm encouraged and ask him another question.

"So who do you think we are?"

"I would prefer if you told me" he says and looks into my eyes

"It's a long story" I say.

So I begin to talk about the times of Zapata and Villa and the revolution and the land and the injustice and hunger and ignorance and sickness and repression and everything. And I finish by saying so "we are the Zapatista Army of National Liberation". I wait for some sign from Old Man Antonio who never took his eyes from my face.

"Tell me more about that Zapata" he says after smoke and a cough.

I start with Anenecuilco, then with the Plan de Ayala, the military campaign, the organization of the villages, the betrayal at Chinameca. Old Man Antonio continued to stare at me until I finished.

"It wasn't like that" he says.

I'm surprised and all I can do is babble.

"I'm going to tell you the real story of Zapata".

Taking out tobacco and rolling paper, Old Man Antonio begins his story which unites and confuses modern times with old times, just like the smoke from my pipe and his cigarette which mingle and converge on one another.

"Many stories ago, in the time of the first gods, the ones who made the world there were two gods who were Ik'al and Votan. Two were one single one. When one turns the other could be seen, when the other turns the one could be seen. They were opposites. One was like the light, like a May morning in the river. The other was dark, like a night of cold in a cave. They were the same. One was two, because one made the other. But they didn't walk they were always stationary these two gods who were one. 'So what do we do?'. 'Life is sad like this', they lamented the two who were one. 'The night won't go' said Ik'al. 'The day won't go' said Votan. 'Let's walk' said the one who were two. 'How?' said the other. 'Where?' said the one.

When they did this they saw they moved a little bit. First by asking why, and then by asking where. Happy was the one who was two. Then both of them decided to move and they couldn't. 'How do we do it then?' One would move from the other and then the other would move. So they agreed that in order to move they had to do so separately. And no one could remember who moved first, they were just happy that they moved and said 'What does it matter who is first as long as we move?'. The two gods who were the same one said and they laughed and agreed to have a dance, and they danced, one little step behind the other. Then they tired of all the dancing and asked what else they could do and saw that the first question was "how to move" and brought the response of "together but separately and in agreement." They didn't care much that it was so.

They were so happy they were moving until they came to two roads: one was very short and one could see the end of it. They were so happy they could move that they decided to choose the long road which then brought them to another question. 'Where did the road go?". It took them a long time, but the two who were one finally decided that they would never know where that long road took them unless they moved. So they said to one another 'Let's walk it then" And they began to walk first one and then the other. They found it was taking them a long time and asked "how will we walk for such a long time?' Ik'al declared he did not know how to walk by day and Votan declared that by night he was afraid.

So they cried for a long time, then finally agreed that Ik'al would walk by night and Votan by day. Since then the gods walk with questions and they never stop, they never arrive and they never leave. So that is how the true men and women learned that questions serve to learn how to walk, and not to stand still. Since then true men and women walk by asking, to arrive they say good-bye and to leave they say hello. They are never still."

I chew on the now-short stem of the pipe waiting for Old Man Antonio to continue, but he never does. In fear that I will disrupt something very serious I ask "And Zapata?"

Old Man Antonio smiles "You've learned now that in order to know and walk you have to ask questions." He coughs and lights another cigarette and out of his mouth come these words that fall like seeds on the ground.

"That Zapata appeared here in the mountains. He wasn't born, they say. He just appeared just like that. They say he is Ik'al and Votan who came all the way over here in their long journey, and so as not to frighten good people, they became one. Because after being together for so long Ik'al and Votan learned they were the same and could become Zapata. And Zapata said he had finally learned where the long road went and that at times it would be light and and times darkness but that it was the same, Votan Zapata, and Ik'al Zapata, the black Zapata and the white Zapata They were both the same road for the true men and women."

Old Man Antonio took from his backpack a little bag of nylon. Inside there was a very old picture from 1910 of Emiliano Zapata.

In his left hand Zapata had his sword raised to his waist. In his right hand he had a pistol, two cartridge belts of bullets crossed his chest, one from left to right, the other from right to left. His feet are positioned as though he's standing still or walking and in his gaze there is something like "here I am" or "there I go". There are two staircases. One comes out of the darkness, and there are dark-skinned Zapatistas as though they were coming out of something. The other staircase is lighted but there is no one and one can't see where it goes or where it comes from. I would be lying if I told you that I noticed all those details. It was Old Man Antonio who told me. Behind the picture, it said;

"Gral. Emiliano Zapata, Jefe del Ejercito Suriano.
Gen. Emiliano Zapata, Commander in Chief of the Souther Army.
Le General Emiliano Zapata, Chef de l'Armee du Sud.
C.1910. Photo by: Agustin V. Casasola."

Old Man Antonio says to me "I have asked a lot of questions of this picture. That is how I came to be here." He coughs and tosses the cigarette butt. He gives me the picture. "Here" he says "So that you learn how to ask questions...and to walk."

"It's better to say good-bye when you arrive. That way it's not so painful when you leave" he says giving me his hand as he leaves, while he tells me he is arriving. Since then, Old Man Antonio says hello by saying "goodbye" and leaves by saying "hello".

Old Man Antonio leaves. So does Beto, Tonita, Eva and Heriberto.I take out the photo of Zapata from my backpack and show it to them.

"Is he climbing up or down?" says Beto.

"Is he going or staying?" asks Eva.

"Is he taking out or putting away his sword?" asks Tonita.

"Has he finished firing his pistol or just started?" asks Heriberto.

I'm always surprised by how many questions that 84 year old photograph provokes and that Old Man Antonio gave me in 1984. I look at it one last time and decide to give it to Ana Maria and the picture provokes one more question; Is it our yesterday or our tomorrow?

In this climate of curiosity and with a surprising coherence for her 4-years-almost-five-or-six, Eva asks "What about my present?" The word "present" provokes identical reactions in Beto, Tonita and Heriberto. They all start yelling "Where's my present?" I'm trapped and at the point of sacrifice. Ana Maria who saved my life in San Cristobal almost one year ago (in other circumstances) saves me again. Ana Maria has an enormous bag of candy with her. "Here's the present the Sup had for you" says Ana Maria while she gives me that I-don't-know-what-you-men- would-do-without-women look.

While the children decide, or fight over how they will divide the candy, Ana Maria salutes me and says:

"I report. The troops are ready to leave."

"Good" I say as I strap the pistol on. We will leave as always--at dawn. "Wait" I tell her and give her the picture.

"What's this for?"

"We need it"

"For what?"

"So we'll know where we're going"

Above flies a military airplane..

In conclusion I will answer some questions you are surely asking;

Do we know where we're going?
Yes.

Do we know what awaits us?
Yes.

Is it worth it?
Yes.

Whomever has answered the previous questions with a yes can surely not sit and do nothing without feeling that something deep inside is tearing.

Vale.
Health and a flower for this tender fury, I think it deserves one.

From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.
Sub-Comandante Insurgente Marcos.
Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Mexico, December 1994

P.S. For writers, analysts and the general public. Brilliant pens have found some valuable parts in the Zapatista movement. Nevertheless they have denied us our fundamental essence: the national struggle. For them we continue to be provincial citizens, capable of a consciousness of our own origins and everything relative to it, but incapable without "external" help of understanding and making ours concepts like "nation" "homeland" and "Mexico". They will chime in during this grey hour with small letters. For them it is all right that we struggle for material needs, but to struggle for spiritual needs is an excess.

It is understandable that these pens now turn against us. It's too bad, someone has to be responsible, someone has to say "no", someone has to say "Ya Basta (Enough)!" Someone has to leave prudence to one side, and give higher value to dignity and shame, than to life, someone has to...Well, to these magnificent pens; we understand the condemnation which will flow from your hands. All I can argue in our defense is that nothing we ever did was for your pleasure, what we did and said was for our please, the joy of struggle, of life, of speech, of walking...Good people of all social classes, of all races and generations helped us. Some helped to relieve their conscience, others to be fashionable, the majority helped because of their convictions because of their certainty that they had found something good and new.

We are good people, that is why we are letting everyone know what we are about to do. You should prepare yourselves you should not be taken by surprise. This warning is a disadvantage for us, but not as great a disadvantage as would be a surprise.

To those good people I want to say I hope you continue to be good. That you continue to believe, that you not allow skepticism to bind you to the sweet prison of conformity. That you continue to search, to seek out something in which to believe, something for which to fight.

We have had some brilliant enemies. Pens which have not been satisfied with the easy condemnation, pens which have sought out strong, firm coherent arguments with which to attack us. I've read some brilliant texts which attack the Zapatistas and defend a regime which must pay and dearly, for the sake of appearances for someone to defend it. It's a shame that in the long run, you wound up defending a vain and childish cause which will be demolished along with that building which is crumbling...

P.P.S. On horseback and with mariachi, Pedro Infante sings that song called "They say I am a womanizer" and ends with...

"Among my sweet loves
One is worth more than others
which has loved me without rancor
of my tarariraran...
A sweet old woman
Who I don't deserve
Who with all her heart
Has given me the most divine love. "

In front of a grandmother one is always a child,
and it hurts to leave..
Goodbye,
grandmother I am coming.
I've finished,
I'm beginning...

Translated by: Cecilia Rodriguez
National Commission for Democracy in Mexico
USA

Thursday, May 26, 2011

nothing saints

"a civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself."

- edward abbey



garbage is the most significant part of the city ecology. under the cutglass face of the sprawl, under this greasy everfalling rain and the gliding cars, is the dark wet sex organs of the city, the ash stained guts. among the debris all these children live, scurrying from the light of the towerskin, remote and killer distant, future and abandoned towns.

a madman on the street once stopped and told me he was satan. he said he made the city. he said he made it a trap to trap his future wife, who would breed his children.

the momentum or impulse towards increased expansion of human power over nature and over itself has created a thing beyond its control... this replicating expansion has hybridized with a wild emotioned mystery called the human. the land is eaten up to make way for industrial farms, urban sprawl, mining projects, hydroelectric projects to build cores of light and steel and plastic.

in these cores white towers of conception excrete ideas, images and impulses. they radiate hallucinations. at the top, on the 33d stories of high rises, long limbed women and men move gracefully in noiseless dances, in the glare, in the hums of dreams. they build longer towers, more land is exterminated.

this girl ran away from her parents, who beat her every day. this girl went to the city, in a month she was hooking and shooting meth. the needle is made by a factory. the machines wrap the hot plastic into a shape of perfect precision, wrap it around an inch of perfect steel with a sharp point at the end. the machine does this 5000 times a day. she takes the machine and finds a wounded beaten vein and purges her light from her body. she is the book of revelation. over and over .

again.

this one deals meth out of a hotel room. when he is caught, he takes all the charges so his girlfriend goes free. it will send him to a concrete madness of torture. we call this the democracy of the fat.

this drug is an explosion of ugly euphoria, it comes from the city and is the city. if there were no city there would be no meth. the science that made the downtown made the meth. the same humans made it. so they inject the city into themselves. they inject the rain and the bleach and the cars and the indifference and the neon and pornography and the vanity and the television and the internet and the politics and the pollution and especially the pollution and the eulogy to the land


the kids are the city's garbage


and who or what is

a you

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

sally votes conservative

sally votes conservative and is a fire in the night to thousands of street forgotten children. the salvation army van groans and rocks at the stop in the downtown. wet rain on the street, shimmering light shadows zigzagging across the unreal asphalt. she comes out roaring, red hair and all. glasses cut across her biker face.

she hands out little cups of pasta to hard faced men - "what doya say?" "fuck you" he cries, half insane and ready for murder "ah ah" she pulls the little bowl back, the van rocks like a boat. he dazes, he dances, eyes wild like a muscled deer "i mean, thank you" "that's better" she shouts, he eats. she is a talking fire, she spins on the kids the mystery of jesus, how violence can become violent adoration, the strangest of all mysteries, only a blood bathed wise man can say them. this is not the religion of the pious, this is the madchrist, the one who rolled in broken glass and threw themselves into oceans. this is the badchrist, who sucks rags for water and eats rats for dinner maybe jesus should have had another gospel - and i crawled on my belly in the sewer where all the virgins go...

sally clasps me round the neck, exbiker, pillhead, foundgod, now feeding the starving while the fat man pays her bills - says the conservatives will save her kids. she is wild, wandering on to the bus while she waves around a knife and cuts white chocolate cake. sandy votes conservative to save the world. she tells the kids who will be eaten by the rich that the conservatives will save them. i try to tell her they will eat these kids. she doesn't believe me. that cannibal god will save them.

the kids need her to eat. she is the last stop. her boat is like a bus. it rocks among the waves. there is neon cutting the world of rain everywhere. she laughs and kisses them. "what's wrong?" she shouts at the sweet girl "nothing" the girl says "youre lyin to me" she roars "no" the girl says, brushing the rain from her dark skin "yes you are, come with me" they wander away from the bus, drunken, holy, lost. you cant be holy until youre really lost. if you dont get a meal with sally, you dont eat today.

christ is the religion of madmen, because madmen need religion. and the world is a sea.

Friday, April 22, 2011

why i am an anarchist

because i'm in such good company. anarchism is fluid, hard to pin down, resuscitated back to life only with each person who takes it on. this makes it politics spun in poetry. each human being creates their life, and we all therefore create civilization, and one day when we stop trying so hard to be slaves to an ideal we might become poets of each other instead of good soldiers to our masters, whoever we have decided they are. anarchism is the belief that all authority is a delusion, part of the dream, part of the sweat-blind struggle just to survive. anarchism is a belief in one's life apart from its trade value, as a thing belonging to a great mystery and not subject to strange human made rules. anarchism is a paradox, a lovely growing and dying spirit that exists everywhere and has not yet blossomed. some of my favorite people are anarchists, sometimes only for a couple of years, before they went back to being things:

EDWARD ABBEY: national park ranger, sayer of the following, “anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.” ed taught about compassion coexisting with violence, and violence killing compassion. above all, ed taught that if you move slow, the world gets a lot more real. some snort at the praise of nature, but one can only assume this is because they are jaded. ed demanded we walk rather than drive, because you are one kind of thing when you walk and another kind of thing when you drive, and no amount of rationalization is going to help you understand what it is to experience to live now, not then or when. i remember the happiest moment of my life was drinking water in the bush because i was alive in the way i was supposed to be, and most dead in the squalid urban environment of the subway going to work and wondering why i would live this nightmare at all. no one wants to live surrounded by the screech of machines and the death of concrete, unless you think you can't get a square meal without it. if you believe that, you're fucked.


NOAM CHOMSKY: old noam has done more to break up common hallucinations of democracy and the nature of disinformation than any individual in the 20th century. for the most important intellectual alive, its hard to find anyone who actually reads or admires him. most people groan when they hear his name, as if it were pedantic to say that you live in a sea of lies. probably because old noam pointed out that every person has a moral obligation to work for the common good and to get up off your ass and resist the people who run your life, most people hate him.


EMMA GOLDMAN: sweet ms. emma, may they always remember when you said "if i can't dance, i don't want to be part of your revolution" she was pretty badass, getting down and dirty with the kind of revolutionary war here in the west that most people were afraid of, even though they accept the violence of the state most of the time. she was a warrior in the old sense, and puts the soldier to shame for killing in the name of an evil cause.



JOHN LYDON (aka JOHNNY ROTTEN): only really great for a few years, somewhere between 1980 and 1990 he turned into a strange clownish parody of himself, johnny almost alone created an entire culture. johnny spent a year in a hospital at age seven for spinal meningitis and claimed to have lost the memory of his childhood when he returned to school. somehow this created in him a kind of vertigo in which the savage and unjust behavior of the people around him didn't make sense, had no narrative. as a consequence he became abrasive and rebellious towards a world of people who were not honest, about their ugliness, about their weakness, about their condition of servitude. dressing as offensively as possible, johnny created a culture of defiance from being told to act or submit in any way, not just to the tyranny of expectations, but the tyranny of the fear in yourself to be what you are on the outside what you know you are on the inside. be yourself, tear down the curtains, johnny said, in pure rage of being crushed in your insides. youthful rebellion made real, and not just a joke to laugh about when youre old and cynical. then he became old and cynical. oh well, up until 1980 or so he was a walking advertisement for revolution.

well, i could go on, maybe i will, someday. here are four good influences on your soul.



















Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the first lightnings of spring

where are the birds now at this time of night & storm?

canada is a place of forests, cut by ugly long lines across its middle and up its breasts, where ones with guns decide to rest. and us - the rest - to cling to the warmth of furnaces, and easy food, but out there in the Dark, a few hundred thousand square kilometers of wildernesses, for all the holes we dug in the flesh of mother earth, she will still shake us all off like a street dog shakes off flies, i guess.

the gods of winter and spring are behind me, out my window, fighting their last war of the year - may i see you clash again in the next, always, like the last million springs we spent together, when i was a flea, a tree, a sea, now a me. always i side with spring, always she wins against winter gods' jaws and claws. now they are swirling into each other, cold and warm, there in midnightchildhood blackbelliedclouds demonfaces there entwining of wind and rain, trees bend, pines raise their branches higher in honor and wild abandon, little monkeys conspire in little city hearts, i wonder how big a cloud is, i think they are bigger than many mountains, i think they are bigger than my city, and the white house not big at all. they found these ruins once before, at giza, karnak, mojeno-daro, ur, all over the world...

who knows how old the war is above me, lightning and wild thunder the limbs of winter gods and spring gods? more than a million years, i think, those souls that have been being born and dying, winter staggers in the dark alleys on my way home, winter smashes me to the ground, wild eyed and unknowing, lets the icy white run down its face - winter gods pull down darkness from the sky with arms longer than kite strings, pull down black bellied mourning clouds, bruise the air near my face - spring, sexual spring, stamen and pistol spring - she comes in gusts of living, she spins, she erupts, she writhes in the sky, breaks apart, the branches bow before her as she undulates out of their grip, the spring girl gods always trying to pull down whatever winter tried to bury, snow, life, mountains, skyscrapers, hatred and love, ah spring girls give birth again and again and again, and right now she is a dark wet pregnant mother, all feral and writing on the storm, driving back the winter like an animal, our death singer, our mother, drives him or kills him or otherwise makes it possible for her children to wander aimlessly in a wilderness of skies.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

drunk in the afterworld

(the rain keeps hitting my hands as i smoke)

"ha i don't like to read. "he walks to the end of the street. he smells the air. he looks around." and i am like, ok done and i throw the book across the room." that's a pretty good impression of a book i said. it was in the bar of the hotel, all the bottles turned upside down and they poured the drinks out of cut glass, the caps still on, the corks, the screwtops.

its the bar the suicides drank in, i found it between two alleyways crossing each other. a shrine to the virgin mary by the garbage can with a dress shirt on fire as a sacrifice in front of the rain stained face.

heavens to betsy, i said. maybe They won, all the poets are segregated from the poor now.

yeah but who are They? asked the tranny, nursing her baby at the bar. it was a good question, They were never around. I could only look up at the TV and look cockeyed at the announcer. someone was flipping knives at the dartboard, at the keyholes. there you could hear the river outside, roaring like a mad dog. the water rising above the windowpanes.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

allmaziful

hell.

there's a word in finnegan's wake: allmaziful. there are a lot of brilliant lines in james joyce's finnegan's wake. there's a lot of pure nonsense in the wake. you have to read a lot of insanity to come across a bare line or two of pure brilliance, like the sun at noon blinding you with the eyes of life. yes, that's light.

finnegan's wake isn't that much different than living. in that respect, a lot of insanity for a few moments of being stunned by the allmazifulness of it all.

so i went to a conference on sex work. three current or retired sex workers - prostitutes - whores or hookers or what have you gave their witness of their lives. it sounded like hell. yet they spoke of it as a day in day out kind of life. they all had been raped, beaten, hated. not once, but many times. one started at nine. one started at fourteen. one at thirty one. the one who started at thirty one is the only one who stopped.

i am sometimes allmazed by how each of the six billion plus human being who live and die on this little benign island is a universe in themselves. most a universe we will never know or understand. and how many of these universes are hells. pure hells. where is hell? go down to the nearest anything and ask. someone there has a hell to tell you about.

the ones who started as children never stopped. does anyone?

and yet, they laughed. they cried, or showed love for each other. they lived there, in that conference room. now the lights are off, now they have gone off. to their respective universes.

they passed by here

all-maze-iful