monday poem

October 15, 2007

Dream Song 105

As a kid I believed in democracy: I
‘saw no alternative’—teaching at The Big Place I ah
put it in practice:
we’d time for one long novel: to a vote—
Gone with the Wind they voted: I crunched ‘No’
and we sat down with War & Peace.

As a man I believed in democracy (nobody
ever learns anything): only one lazy day
my assistant, called James Dow,
& I were chatting, in a failure of meeting of minds,
and I said curious ‘What are your real politics?’
‘Oh, I’m a monarchist.’

Finishing his dissertation, in Political Science.
I resign. The universal contempt for Mr Nixon,
whom never I liked but who
alert & gutsy served us years under a dope,
since dynasty K swarmed in. Let’s have a King
maybe, before a few mindless votes.

~john berryman

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moving to wordpress

October 15, 2007

and hoping it doesn’t suck the way blogger did.

hoping to start blogging a little again.

new year

January 2, 2007

2006 was a big year for me, but it doesn’t feel that way.

the biggest change was that i stopped being a christian. it doesn’t feel like such a big change because it all just fell away like so many bricks. i didn’t decide to stop believing, i just could no longer see the world thru that point of view. and all of the questions that i had been suppressing suddenly seemed so big and unanswerable.

and, mostly, i just stopped feeling ashamed. i never realized how much of my faith hinged on being ashamed. ashamed of my desires, my feelings, my actions. and it was largely my realizing that i wasn’t ashamed of things the church and the bible told me i should be ashamed of that led me to realize that i didn’t believe in christianity any more.

i realized that the biggest pull of religion is the community aspect of it. that you get this instant group of people who care about you, who are your friends, who are willing to help you thru just about anything. people to hang out with, to call when you’re lonely, to cry with, to share life with. that is so appealing and why it took me so long to pull myself out of the church; and the hardest part of not believing is not being an automatic member of that community.

so, what do i look forward to in 2007? new friendships, new relationships. more time for engaging in my passions of working toward a better world–the one that we live in, rather than the one to come.

my concrete goals are to start an under the sink composter. woo, worms! and to start a bit of container gardening. i’d like to start with one veggie, plus some herbs and tea plants. it would be really nice to make some homemade dried herbs and teas, perhaps even to give away as christmas presents next year.

for a rainy new years day

January 1, 2007

Jersey Rain

Now near the end of the middle stretch of road
what have i learned? some earthly wiles. an art.
that often i cannot tell good fortune from bad,
that once had seemed so easy to tell apart.

The source of art and woe aslant in wind
dissolves or nourishes everything it touches.
what roadbank gullies and ruts it doesn’t mend
it carves the deeper, boiling tawny in ditches.

It spends itself regardless into the ocean.
It stains and scours and makes things dark or bright:
Sweat on the moon, a shroud of benediction,
the chilly liquefaction of day to night,

The Jersey rain, my rain, soaks all as one:
it smites Metuchen, Rahway, Saddle River,
Fair Haven, Newark, Little Silver, Bayonne.
I feel it churning even in fair weather

To craze distinction, dry the same wet.
In ripples of heat the August drought still feeds
Vapors in the sky that swell to drench my state–
The Jersey rain, my rain, in streams and beads

Of indissoluble grudge and aspiration:
original milk, replenisher of grief,
descending destroyer, arrowed source of passion,
silver and black, executioner, font of life.

~robert pinsky

i almost agree with dobson

December 13, 2006

Time magazine has an opinion piece this week by James C. Dobson about Mary Cheney and her female partner, who are now pregnant with their first child.

of course, dobson feels that this is wrong and bad because babies need a mommy and a daddy and it’s been this way for more than 5000 years, and science says so. disregarding the fact that nuclear families are not nearly as traditional as dobson would like to believe, i want to focus on one point that he tries to make.

in trying to create evidence that children need a parent of both sex, he says:

“…researchers have determined that boys are not born with an understanding of ‘maleness.’ They have to learn it, ideally from their fathers.”

although he doesn’t say which researchers have determined this, i am very willing to believe it. however, i think that dobson is conveying something which he is very much not intending and that is: gender and sex are two different things and are not inextricably linked.

little boys are not born knowing how to portray what our society deems masculine behavior, just as little girls are not born knowing how to act “feminine.” they are taught by being told to “act like a lady” or “take it like a man.” They are taught to wear dresses, or not depending on sex* and culture. They are taught to either be emotive or keep their feelings to themselves. They are allowed to manifest physical displays of affection, or not, again depending on sex* and culture.

i’m glad dobson understands this, even if he doesn’t really understand this.

one nit i’ll pick, even with this short statement is that dobson never explains why they have to learn it; or why it’s best that they learn it from their fathers. given that our whole culture is saturated with messages instructing you on how to act in a properly gendered fashion (i.e. your gender matching your sex*) it’s hard to miss this lesson.

*sex here really means perceived sex.

the return of the poem?

December 11, 2006

i was going to post this poem last week, but it seems even more apropos today.

blk/rhetoric

who’s gonna make all
that beautiful blk/rhetoric
mean something.
like
I mean
who’s gonna take
words
blk/beautiful
and make more of it
than blk/capitalism.
u dig?
i mean
like who’s gonna
take all the young/long/haired/
natural/brothers and sisters
and let them
grow till
all that is
imp’t is them
selves
moving in straight/
revolutionary/lines/toward the enemy
(and we know who that is)
like. man.
who’s gonna give our young
blk people new heros

[. . . .]

( instead of quick/fucks
in the hall/way of
white/america’s
mind)
like. this. is an S.0.S.
me. calling. . . .
calling. . . .
some/one.
pleasereplysoon.

~sonia sanchez

same shit

December 11, 2006

i saw a brief snippet of fox news last night (no, i don’t regularly watch fox news).

it’s about a conservative publication at Tufts University, The Primary Source, changing the words of “oh come all ye faithful” to “oh come all ye blackfolk” in order to “start a discussion” on the issue of race based admissions. (as far as i can tell they have taken it down from their website at least.)

First BU, now Tufts.

according to this, the number of black students in the fall 2006 class was 53 out of over 1300, or about 4% of the class. you know those blackfolk, they are just taking over.

anyway, i like this post that amp put up last week over at his site to the accusation that whites are suffering so.

i subscribe to my college newspaper via email. even tho i graduated several years ago (nearly five, wow) it’s a nice way to keep in touch with what is going on there.

today’s headline article is:
BU group offers white scholarship

nice. guess which group is offering this “white” (altho they are sure to call it “Caucasian”) scholarship? yep, the college republicans (BUCR).

Applicants must submit two essays, one describing the applicant’s ancestry and one describing “what it means to you to be a Caucasian-American today.”

first we need to make sure you’re really white, and then we need to make sure you’re really proud to be white in this here culture where everything is being taken over by those brown folks. but to be clear: the BUCR “are not doing this scholarship as a white-supremacy scholarship.” no, no. that’s crazy racist talk. and they’re not bigots, you know.

a member of the Admissions Student Diversity Board responds well (and kindly) with:

“While I can see the controversy over scholarships toward specific ethnic groups, we need to keep in mind its intention,” she said. “The [group-specific] scholarship is there to increase the interest of students in that group to continue their education and reach the equality that we all strive for.”

and then the BUCR and their friends (another group of CRs who did a similar stunt a few years ago) start talking about hypocrisy and blah, blah, blah. cuz you know, white folks are so opressed. that’s why we need things like white history month, and maybe even white male history month. to balance all that learning we do about george washington, and thomas edison, and…oh, wait. i got confused for a second.

and then we have “comedian” michael richards who was heckled by some audience member for being not funny. so he got angry. and, like we all do when we get angry, he started shouting racist crap. oh, wait. i got confused again.

Richards described himself as going into “a rage” over the two audience members who interrupted his act Friday at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood. Richards responded to the black hecklers with repeated use of the “n word” and profanities.

but, the best part is in the apology. of course.

“I’m not a racist. That’s what’s so insane about this,” Richards said, his tone becoming angry and frustrated as he defended himself.

so, if calling black people the “n word” and making other very sick racist comments doesn’t make a person a racist, what does?

trying to catchup

October 20, 2006

wow, haven’t felt like posting in awhile. still don’t, but feel i should just so…well, just so.

in any case, these are the things i’m interested in today.

jessica, over at feministing, is publishing a book. go here to check out the cover.

nubian, at blackademic responds with some of the things i was thinking.

why not just call it a young WHITE womans guide to WHITE feminism?

as feminists, i feel we should all try to be aware of…well, we should just try to be aware. and if i’m going to subtitle a book “a young woman’s guide…” to anything and then put a white body on the cover, emphasizing the naked skin of it, shouldn’t i be conscious of how women of color will view that?

secondly, why the need to put a sexy, headless female torso on a the cover of a book about feminism at all? don’t i get enough of that on ads for lotion, for nail products, for underwear, for…well, everything and everywhere? i can look everywhere to see female commodification. now i can even get it with my feminism.

*********************************

reclusive leftist posts the entirety of a column by bob herbert in the NYT. which kinda made me cry, so i’m linking to it.

these were just girls, and we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less to be expected. Stories about the rape, murder and mutilation of women and girls are staples of the news, as familiar to us as weather forecasts. The startling aspect of the Pennsylvania attack was that this terrible thing happened at a school in Amish country, not that it happened to girls.

**********************************

and finally, this morning, there is some hubbub about michael j. fox ads supporting democrats in several races across the country. cnn reports:

The risk, Jamieson adds, is that the ads could appear as using Fox’s hopes for a cure for political gain, as some claimed was the case when the paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve lobbied for stem cell research before his death in 2004.

oh, right because the republicans never use human life for their gain (hello, terry schiavo). i guess it’s only bad to do this because it’s for democrats, who are actually supposed to have morals, which no one expects of the republicans.*

*let’s note that i’m not a democrat, and don’t actually think they have very much political moral principle, but it is my general perception that the “left” is considered to behave more ethically in these sorts of things.

exactly why we need unions

September 15, 2006

the boston globe is reporting that the transportation authority is going to save a little money this year… by taking it out of the pocket of non-union employees.

one way of saving money?

Ending a policy that gave employees one floating holiday a year, a savings of $16,000.

i mean, talk about cheap.

considering that his predecessor made $223,000 a year, it seems he could chip in a little bit of savings in order that these workers could at least keep his holiday.

and yes, this is the transit authority overseeing the $15 billion dollar Big Dig project.

that, yes, is still plagued with problems.