Feb 12, 2011


My beef is that I’m sick of not understanding, not even imagining, a scenario that explains such hyper-focused, rapacious Me-ism. I’m sick of not getting it. TG&S!, I don’t want your moronic hoarded stuff; I want to know what makes you tick. Of course, what would I do with that information--go fall on my sword?

I guess I’m being downright quaint to wonder if a good passage of poetry or thirty minutes a day with Earl Scruggs or Beethoven or Buddha or film of the Packers' training camp, where it's more about skill than vanquishing . . . I'm peculiar to wonder if those might have been The Gift that slaked their thirst.

So what might have worked? 72 virgins? Hell, give ‘em 73. I’ll pay for that last one if it’ll make them retreat to their mansions, put away their guns, and shut up. But I don’t count on any of that—these guys need something they didn’t get, and they don't know what it is any more than I do, but it’s bigger than a virgin, bigger than a breadbox. There’s a hole in the middle of them, and they can’t fill it up.

So let’s return to the fact that much of our culture is rich with Gifts that weren’t stolen from Grandma’s pension. Banjos. Parks to walk in. Games to play or watch. Paintings and Poems? They might disturb us internally. In fact, they should; they cause troubling self-examination. But that means they challenge us to do better, too see both ecstasy and injustice better than we did-- and they comfort us in our failures. None of that has anything to do with exploiting others to gather more trinkets for our pile of stuff—unless you count our books.

So let’s go give ourselves some cheap, invaluable Gifts—gifts we can quote or hum or envision because somebody else has been better than we are at expression; somebody else has been exquisite here and there. Try to share this with those poor CheyneyBushRove boys down the street, for they are victims—someone ripped out the middle of them, and they want to rip back.

And don’t forget cuddly Rush and puffy Glen. They never intended to hate everyone and everything that doesn’t gleam like chrome, to sell fear and hatred like two flavors of popcycle. They just don’t know any better; the carny act is their only skill. They don’t understand grace or passion. If the goal is not acquisitive, they don’t get it; concepts like “Enough” are too lofty for a whole lot of people.

Therefore, some of them incline toward weeping. You know, if you cry a lot, you must be sad, and Sad is just the other side of Mad—even in Congress, even on TV.

Maybe I should compose country music about all this. And, imploring the hillbilly Muse, I could quote Wallace Stevens, for poems don’t plead for money and mansion. Instead they beg from gods in swamps: “in me, come flinging/Forms, flames, and the flakes of flames.”

When a song works, it blows off the top of your head. Emily Dickinson said so. Yet songs and poems are cheap, and you don’t need to beat up on anybody. You go there to be conquered.

Nomad Exquisite by Wallace Stevens : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.



Brenda's Arizona said...

Great imagery "You go there to be conquered."
Your rant wording is great, too! The Red/Blue issue has divided my family - to the point where the Reds won't talk to the Blues, won't share holidays, etc. So we non-BCR lovers stay home and listen to Beethoven, watch old Packer highlight films, read books and poems that conquer us. In a quiet way, with thoughts of hope, not anger.

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, thanks again. I gotta say, I liked stumbling onto that wording. I don't know how OFTEN actual conquest actually heppens, but I know it's sometimes, and I know that's why I keep going back.

Best wishes to you re: the family. My family and I didn't get to quite that extreme, but there was a LOT of . . . negotiating, and some of it's been loud. Maybe we all just need archived Packer film to watch? :)

Lovers' Lane