Middle-Class Middle-Aged Male Blues

Another Cup of Coffee Before I Shower

Guitar and Coffee Cup digital art from photographs (c)2015 Michael Dickel

Guitar and Coffee Cup
(c)2015 Michael Dickel

It’s nine in the morning and I’ve been going for hours.
The ground shook in Nepal, the riots in Baltimore
the preachers praise the winners then they blame the sinners,
but all I think about is another cup of coffee before I shower.

All I want is another cup of coffee before I shower.

It’s nine in the morning and I’m already weary.
The politicians jockey with faces serious and sallow
they stitch up innocence from the pockets of the rich,
but as I stare at my screen my eyes just become bleary.

All I want is another cup of coffee before I shower.

It’s nine in the morning and my work sighs and waits.
The bankers line up, the merchants sell their weapons
Syria, Libya, Iran, Irag, wars with customers for the stores,
but I worry about my retirement investments’ sorry state.

All I want is another cup of coffee before I shower.

Nine in the morning, or maybe nine at night.
The chaos dances to the wild fire light, the darkness
wraps us in its smothering traps, depleting what’s left
of meaning and hope, but I, I just survive with my fright.

All I want is another cup of coffee before I shower.

It’s nine in the morning and I can’t put on my shoes.
I don’t understand why I feel so depressed, do you?
My screens bring me the news, entertain, I see a lot,
but I sit and I wonder, I wonder who invented the blues?

All I want is another cup of coffee before I shower.

It’s nine in the morning, I’ve been going for hours.
The ground shook in Nepal, the riots in Baltimore
the preachers, they praise the winners while they blame the sinners,
but all I think about is another cup of coffee, another cup of coffee

before I shower. All I want is another
cup of coffee before I shower.
All I think about is another cup of coffee
before I take my morning shower.

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Poem: Fun-house mirror universe

Fun-house mirror universe

Time / Emit 2 (c) 2015 Michael Dickel

Time / Emit 2
(c) 2015 Michael Dickel

i
Today they accidentally warped
space, bent it faster than light-speed—
our future joy-ride mirrors the past in a
reflecting universe from the omega-alpha.

Mirror-time runs from the future.
We scurry from the past, dance
in some now to big-bang tunes.

Time / Emit 1 (c) 2015 Michael Dickel

Time / Emit 1
(c) 2015 Michael Dickel

ii
Big-bang music plays, lots of horns,
rhythmic chords jazzing the space-
time continuum to sultry vocals and
background choruses—fancy-dance.

Fancy brass resounds, a present
about halfway between birth-death,
end-beginning. Desire seeks continuity—
entropy choreographs standing ovations.

 

Time / Emit 3 (c) 2015 Michael Dickel

Time / Emit 3
(c) 2015 Michael Dickel

iii
Glass-water dances over mossy rocks,
wears away mountains. Crust
stretches to the sparking sun,
rushes clear, cold blood down its skin.

 

Time / Emit 4 (c) 2015 Michael Dickel

Time / Emit 4
(c) 2015 Michael Dickel

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The Guise of “Religious Freedom”

Under the Guise of “Religious Freedom”

As a child, my family used to drive from the Chicago suburbs to the Philadelphia area once or twice a year. In the winter, we would start out in the evening, after my father came home from his last day of teaching before winter break. I remember the drive by Gary, Indiana, and the huge smokestacks all lit up in the winter night, billowing and belching into the sky multi-colored gases. As I grew up, I learned that toxic fumes made up those earthly dragon-clouds and what had appeared beautiful was killing the planet. By then, the environmental movement and the Clean Air Act had brought about a massive reduction of the noxious fumes.

A number of years ago, I drove through Southern Indiana, far from Gary, going to an academic conference. I recall wooded areas, hills, early spring flowers. The loveliness surprised me somehow, although I can’t say why. I think it contrasted so sharply with my memories of Gary’s smog. I had left the Chicago suburbs at age 17, and while I still occasionally drove through Northern Indiana, I had little reason to see other parts of the state.

Don’t get me wrong, Northern Indiana has some natural beauty that I also have had occasion to appreciate, in particular the Indiana Dunes, along Lake Michigan. On the last trip I made through the area, almost ten years ago, Aviva and I stopped at the dunes in both Indiana and Michigan. An early snow flurry painted the dunes white as we walked along them one fine fall day.

Unfortunately, the recently signed, so-called “religious freedom” law tries to paint a less pleasant white-wash over the State, and returns Indiana to the days of spewing toxic waste, something that the Koch brothers might not mind, but certainly the rest of us would prefer to steer clear of.

The U.S. Constitution Establishment Clause already guarantees that the Federal government cannot burden people based on religion, and that clause historically includes restricting religion. Many of us believe that it also means that the government cannot require that citizens have a religion, although at least one recent right-wing Tea Party legislator has suggested that the government should require church attendance. I think she simply forgot to read the Constitution.

Article I of the Indiana Constitution, titled Bill of Rights, actually has six sections (2–7) that provide ample protections for religious freedom. Section 3, in particular, seems to address the reasons Governor Pence has put forward for signing the law (emphasis added):

No law shall, in any case whatever, control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.

Case closed? Hardly. Pence continues to argue that Indiana requires a Religious Freedom Law. The sharp point: there is no reason for a law protecting individuals from State intrusion on their religious beliefs. The U.S. and Indiana Constitutions already guarantee those protections.

So what does this law do that the Constitutions don’t?

Here’s one item, from the law (emphasis added):

Sec. 5. As used in this chapter, “exercise of religion” includes any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.

What then does it mean to “exercise” a religion, if not to practice its system of belief? It is anything. If it is not compelled by or central to the system of religious belief, it doesn’t have to even be a religious belief, does it? This language is so broad that any act could be claimed as an “exercise of religion.”

Further, the law expands the definition of “person” just as broadly, but so have recent Supreme Court decisions. It makes it possible for corporations, groups, associations, and communities to refuse to follow State Law on religious grounds, and it gives those organizations the right to sue the State for undue burdens. What’s more, the law allows these corporate and association persons to defend their actions, even if the State is not involved.

A revealing clause of the law prevents lawsuits against employers, if workers want to claim burdens on the their freedom of religion (emphasis added):

Sec. 11. This chapter is not intended to, and shall not be construed or interpreted to, create a claim or private cause of action against any private employer by any applicant, employee, or former employee.

The KKK used to, and other racist groups still invoke white supremacy “Christian Identity” beliefs to justify their racism. Does this law mean racist associations could use a religious claim to defend against charges of hate crimes and discrimination—even if their interpretations of Christianity are not “central to” a Christian belief system (put your mouse cursor over the Christian Identity link above to get a taste of these beliefs)?

Yes.

If an employer forces a worker to attend Christian prayer meetings and to join in the prayers, even though this would be a burden on a central principle of that worker’s own religion, could that worker sue for protection of religious freedom under this law?

No.

And, closer to the real point of the law, does it mean that anti-LGBT organization and homophobic company-owners could discriminate against LGBT individuals? And even sue LGBT couples who legally marry (even in religious weddings) for “burdening” their ideological definitions of marriage just by being a married couple?

Yes and yes.

Beyond the homophobia, behind this law lurk some very dangerous forces pushing toward fascism. The same individuals [1, 2, 3] who currently express support for this legislation also want to gut environmental protections, to limit workers’ rights, and to privatize public services. The GOP-controlled Senate has attached an amendment to the budget to allow states to seize and sell off wilderness lands belonging to us, the people, for example. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker used his union opposition to demonstrate his future ability to stand up to terrorism.

These and other actions move the U.S. further toward a disturbing oligarchy of rich corporate interests using religion and new laws to promote their own power and wealth, while pushing working and middle class America deeper in thrall. And so, the political winds blowing through Indiana that brought this law into existence might well spread toxic gasses, literally and metaphorically, to the rest of us.

Unless citizens of the United States and around the world once rise up and take back the oligarchic, Corporate-Feudal colonies the States—and indeed the “developed” world—have morphed into in this dangerous political climate, the old Gary, Indiana, may be the new rest of the world, spewing smoke and toxicity everywhere. Stop this nonsense now. Don’t let this go on.

Why? Homophobia. ©2015 Michael Dickel Open Commons, all non-commercial uses allowed. Please cite.

Why? Homophobia.
©2015 Michael Dickel
Open Commons, all non-commercial uses allowed.
Please cite.


Update 31 March 20:50 Jerusalem Time

From WCPO—Cincinatti

 

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis City-County Council approved a resolution opposing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Crowds cheered after the resolution was approved 24 to 4 at Monday night’s meeting.

 

The resolution, drafted by Council Vice President John Barth (D), states that RFRA is “not a true representation of our city as a welcoming and inclusive place” and is bad for local businesses.

 

Proposal 120 also encourages the Indiana State Legislature to amend the civil rights section of the Indiana Code to include sexual orientation or to specifically exempt locally enacted human rights ordinances from Senate Enrolled Act 101 (RFRA).

 

<a title="Proposal 120 also encourages the Indiana State Legislature to amend the civil rights section of the Indiana Code to include sexual orientation or to specifically exempt locally enacted human rights ordinances from Senate Enrolled Act 101 (RFRA)."
 
Read more

 


Update 02 April

From LA Times
By: Michael Muskal and Matt Pearce

 

The governors of Arkansas and Indiana on Thursday quickly signed revised versions of their respective religious freedom laws, hoping to quell a national uproar that united business leaders and gay rights activists who fought the measures as potentially discriminatory.

 

 


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My free poetry book (a poem)

This is my free poetry book
                                for those who ask…

So many things to say
so many bargain books,
books online, bookshops
turning into used books,
book store-chic nostalgia
as the textbooks turn
electronic, old books
burn to heat the house.

And no one wants to buy books
anymore, so many free books—
a book free of thought
free for all, English poems
in demand among poems
of love, poetry for kids,
a poetry book less desirable
unless it’s a free book.

Poetry out loud only a
YouTube search away,
poetry book publishers
self-interested producers
of self-publisher havens.
Yes, I, too, published
myself, songs, words
of myself or not.

Social media poetry, now forms
the foundation of the poetry
python code,  and poisons
poetry-sale fashion—
those poetry clothes
more wanted than
another book of poems.

Poetry journals for sale
on the internet arrive
in email, another poetry
sale item, sales statistics
of rare poetry antique
images of zeros and
ones, sad poetry in those
Poetry, Texas, homes
selling real estate poems

while words rest
in the bedrooms
on tables—piles of
Dante and Morrison,
Creeley and Bishop,
Lennon and Sexton
writhing on the floor

while old poetry book
sales, those free books,
fuel a fire hotter than
what we will ever know,
more intense than what
we will ever feel. It is this
that changes and doesn’t
change everything and
nothing all of the time.

This is the real business
of poetry, the free poetry
of business mere gold dust.

Text and Digital Image ©2015 Michael Dickel; a journal sits beneath a book of poems, the glass table top transparent as words are not—beyond, a desert, mountains, war dividing them all. And you ask for free poems, for my book, this land bleeding in its pages, children slain for ideas in exchange for coins that you would not give for this transparent poetry that hides everything and reveals nothing that you want to see—no, the flowers here are not offered for free— you must give your life to it, you must give your life for it—you must live and die in it

Free poetry—transparency Text and Digital Image ©2015 Michael Dickel

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This is not a poem

In honor of World Poetry Day, a poem. However…

This is not a poem

(cubist poem in entangled form)

Fake Sunset Music Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel

Fake Sunset Music
Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel

i

This is not a poem; it’s a fake.
Someone else’s words, images, metaphors
creeping on cat’s feet into my mind,
clawing their way to the top of my consciousness
as though they were mine, mined
from some experience unique at once,
universal twice, useless thrice.
This is not a poem. It is a fake:

a book of chords, some sketch of the words,
a chorus. Fake the melody, fake the rhythm
fake the music of sensory language
abstracted to censor sexual pleasure
of the mind. Or something like that.
Or nothing like that. Or nothing.

Fake spring flower sunset Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel

Fake Sunset Flower
Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel

ii

This someone: creeping, clawing as though from a universal.
This—a book, a chorus, fake, abstracted of the mind or nothing—
is not, else is, on cat’s feet, their way. They were mine, some experience
twice useless, not a poem of chords. Fake, the music to censor or something like that.
It’s a fake: words into my mind, to the top, mined, unique. Thrice: it is a fake.
Some sketch, the melody, sensory language, sexual pleasure: like that. Or nothing.
Images of my consciousness at once sketch, fake the rhythm. Metaphors.

Fake music flower sunset Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel

Fake Sunset Flower Music
Digital art ©2015 Michael Dickel

iii

This is not a poem; it’s a fake:
A book of chords, some sketch of the words,

someone else’s words, images, metaphors,
a chorus. Fake the melody, fake the rhythm

creeping on cat’s feet into my mind,
fake the music of sensory language

clawing its way to the top of my consciousness,
abstracted to censor sexual pleasures

as though they were mine, mined
of the mind. Or something like that.

From some experience, unique at once,
or nothing like that. Or nothing.

Universal twice, useless thrice.
This is not a poem. It is a fake.


This poem originally appeared in Drash Pit, April 2013


By the way, if you’ve arrived this far and it’s still March 21, 2015—poets can pay for coffee with a poem at cafes around the world on World Poetry Day 2015 as part of Julius Meinl Coffee’s promotion Pay with a Poem.


Dust Storm Sunset Digital image ©2015 Michael Dickel

Dust Storm Sunset
Photo ©2015 Michael Dickel

#WorldPoetryDay #PayWithAPoem

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Two Ekphratic Poems

Greenland by Judith Appleton ©2014 Judith Appleton

Greenland by Judith Appleton
©2014 Judith Appleton

Land of Ice

Hyperborean form—frosted
by pastels, disturbed by shadow
strands—calls unending dusk-dawn
in sacred colors. An indeterminate
matrimony desires fire inside
a wood cabin, order restored
where upheaval emerges
from swells against the sky.
Yet, the stroked shape and
blended palette structure
a syntax of blood, a semantics
of nerves inflaming lonely
twilit-snow, liminal moments
of memory with promises of
maize-tinted nourishment,
hope from the midnight sun.

 

Dead Sea Cave by Judith Appleton ©2014 Judith Appleton

Dead Sea Cave by Judith Appleton
©2014 Judith Appleton

A Philosophy of Stone

Aleph-tav—alpha-omega—as an inception
of mud swells along architectonic vaults
and girdles a basalt grotto-door that swivels
from a face adumbrated by place. Luster
and umbra texture worlds, lambent reality
perceived as words over matter. Perhaps
here we contrive Plato’s trace, a slight hint
of volcanic certainty steaming out of grasp.

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Flash Surrealism

Programming cultural DNA

The troglodyte tree emerged from its cave exactly when three lights lit the evening sky on the New Moon that fell before the birth-month of mother owl. Just a hatchling of course, in her first month, and a growth to maturity away from motherhood—but she arrived in the world as an archetype of herself. The tree prepared nesting branches, anticipating need layered behind an urge, urgently rooting its words to the future. A dance of hikers climbed out of the wadi, cars lost in gloom when the sunset faded, but they failed to notice the rhymed shout of the waddling crow or the emergent present of a deciduous hermit. Shadows slid like blackhole-mercury over rocks to escape the leaden footfalls, but caught the corners of eyes just enough to pull at small fears caught in past anxiety. Branches snapped in bushes to the counter-rhythm of hikers’ hearts as the circadian cycle wheeled around the corner into mythic headlamps. The schism parts a sea of rock that waved out from the mud under great heat and pressure, a rift that shifts semantic considerations into syntactic synapses sparkling with possibility. The owl mother raises her brood in the arms of the old woman while the dark ink-stains test the psychological nature of night in Rorschach irregularity. The hikers dream strange narratives disrupted by correspondence to rather than with, while the flight of lava spans only a second of memory, seconded by the sergeant-at-arms who grew tired of standing at attention. The rhetor no longer senses anything and begins to tongue language into a frenzy of aurora borealis framed by a moonless expanse above a dwindling plain, matted with a white foam of stars. Thus, a scroll, parchment from a cracked amphora, unrolls a story about raptor rapture, tree delight, and generations of sublime song—a cultural blueprint that makes us (again).

Cultural DNA ©2015 Michael Dekel

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