dijous, de setembre 29, 2005

Mother's Embrace (English)

In an old miner's house on Diaz Avenue
in the kitchen
The tiny borough of Nesquohoning stretching out across the valley below
visible from the back windows
its beginning and its end well defined - discriminated as a Daoist might say
six crosses peeking out above the rooflines

My mother said:
"So where do you think you go when you die?
Don't you think you go somewhere when you die?"

James said:
"That's baloney. You wanna know where I'm goin' when I die?
When I die I'm goin' right up there on Bear Moutain.
I'm gonna be cremated and Barbie and Wimpy are gonna take me up there.
That's where I'm goin'."

Where do we go when we die?
Gilgamesh 4,000 years ago wanted to know
He walked the length of the dark tunnel
crossed the great sea
and still he never got his answer

He staid beside the body of his foster brother
his lover
until the worms came and Enkidu never rose from the dead

I went to see my old aunt Arwilda
amid her passionless death throes
her soul, whatever that might be, long gone
her eyes blank and still beseeching solace
We laid her in the mother's cool embrace
it was a dry March that year
the frozen grass in Stroudsburg Cemetery brown and matted

For many winters and springs
falls and summers
I brought roses to her tomb
I waited in the world above her body till the embalming fluid turned her flesh to soup
And Arwilda never rose from the dead

I don't know where we go when we die
we go somewhere
maybe nowhere more than into the earth
into mother's cool embrace
our limbs
and guts
brains and sinews
our genitals
hopes, dreams, memories
of lovers and family
of friends and jobs
of joy and sadness
our strengths and our frailties
our pain and our anguish
our joy and bliss
all dissolve down into the dust
and come back in new bodies
of fish and foul
rose and hawthorne
stag and doe
rock and rain
atom by atom we return slowly

I don't know where we go when we die
James says he's going to Bear Moutain
My mother says she just wants to disappear
She doesn't want to feel pain any more ever

Me, I don't know where I will go for sure
Some of me should lay down in the flowers behind my church
and some of me should lay down in the leaves of the valley where I played as a boy
and some of me should lay down in the northwest of Wales where the sun sets over Ireland

Someday the mother who bore us all
will hold me in her cool arms again
wherever else I should go
I will go back to her
Someday all too soon I will find out just what that means

Someday all too soon
the mother will hold me in her arms
and never let go of all of me

dilluns, de setembre 26, 2005

Pour eux (English / French)

For their sake
I pray for an eternal soul
They who would not venture out
They who would not embrace desire
They who would not dare to be wreckless

For their sake
I seek a God who may not be
They who would not not love as men
They who would not fuck like beasts
They who not drink with sagacious abandon

For their sake
I attempt faith like a boy in a stick-shift car
They who would not stand up to tyrants
They who would not stand up for themselves
They who would retreat as children or Victorian scullery maids

For their sake
I strut upon the stage like a fool and a maniac
They who would only watch and never act
(Il faut, quand même, agir!)
They who would wait for tomorrow
Because tomorrow might be a better day to live

For their sake
I prostrate myself before the altar of hope
And yearn for them to see
The world and all they will ever know is now
Tomorrow is a shallow dream of yet unborn ghosts

Il ne faut pas tarder
Au jourd'hui c'est, en fait
le dernier jour de ta vie
pour tout ce que tu peux en savoir
Fais la fête, danse dans le bal
Ce n'est pas encore trop tard....

diumenge, de setembre 25, 2005

Autumnal Musings 2005 (English)

In the internal lanscape of my being
it is still high summer
barely the middle of July
with long trails of midsummer
and first harvest before me

Outside in the great world
the year has lurched forward
and the leaves turn golden
auburn, ruddy brown
on the air are perfumes of death

The night time smells like New Orleans
in the middle of winter
the mix of a cold northern kiss
and warm southern mud with the hint of roses
Sweet magnolia and rotting wood

In New Orleans the winter never really comes
a moist version of the old peoples' Summer Lands
at least the guise of eternal youth flowers
between the threat of ultimate, watery destruction
and hope for human salvation

In the Fall I have dreams of love
Embraced by lust like Spring never gives
in the sweet smell of earthly demise
the souls of millions of flowers, weeds, trees
plants of all nature release and ascend returning to mother's lungs

And I, I dream of finding love
it is always this way
When the last rose of winter comes
I will marvel at it
Until then I enjoy the autumnal funeral's colorful pagent

If Fortune smiles upon me
I will enjoy the autumn as much
the day it comes to my internal world
when my own summer ends and gives up ghosts of youth
enjoying the year before it and accepting the Fate of the Winter to follow...

dijous, de setembre 22, 2005

Updates (English)

So many days have passed without an entry, but this is the norm when life's other bits and pieces begin to consume too much of my life.

Here are some recent updates:

1) Things with the new house are going well, and more or less according to plan, albeit a more expensive plan than I had counted on. Fortunately one flat is already rented for October, and it seems like I have someone for the other one as well. Hopefully both will pan out, but at least having the upper rented will cover the mortgage and a nice slice of the taxes, so I won't really be feeling a dreadful pinch.

2) Classes are still going well. I've probably stabilized at 200 students, and still have the two idiots I had to begin with. Nevertheless, they are rarely a source of true annoyance yet, and an idiot level of 1% is extremely good. Most of the classes have had their first assignments by now, and in general, all looks well.

3) All the people in my circle who had been going through rough times seem to be coming out of the darkness well, and this is a source of great joy, especially Bill, whose cancer treatments are going quite well. He's on radiation and oral chemo, but not feeling any real ill effects.

4) Love, however, is still a cunt...

diumenge, de setembre 11, 2005

Newydd Dorri - This just in... (English / Welsh)

Nearly a week without so much as a siw na miw...

Here is why:

1) School has started again, 220 hungry brains to feed, ignorance to battle, etc.

2) The new house is consuming way more time and way more money than I would like.

3) I'm still trying to maintain a social life on a reduced budget and a reduced schedule.

Sheesh, when's my next break??

Sometime on the relative near horizon some terrible elucidating thoughths should be come to the fore. One happy note, I have heard from Barbara. She is a alive and well in Alabama waiting to see what the next stage of her life will be.

dilluns, de setembre 05, 2005

Meddyliau dros Orlians Newydd (Welsh)

Mae Orlians Newydd wedi bod yn fy meddyliau ers wythnos rŵan, a'r cyfeillion sydd yn byw draw. Mae hi wedi bod yn wythnos heb newyddion odd wrthynt, ac wrth gwrs rwyf yn meddwl amdanon nhw, yn ymofyn os ydyn nhw wedi dianc rhag y llifogydd. Rwyf yn siŵr y bydd ychydig mwy o amser yn mynd heibio cyn i mi gael gair o gwbl amdanon nhw. Dyna sut mae pethau ar hyn o bryd. Mae newyddion am bobl o'r ddinas yn brin ac mae pawb yn ymdrechu i weld beth sydd ar ôl o'u bywydau.

Bydd Barbara yn pryderu, rwyf yn siŵr iawn, ac yn ymofyn os ydy hi'n werth y trafferth i fynd yn ôl i'r ddinas Gantre'r Gwaelodig i fyw - efallai bydd hi'n ymddeol a mynd i ffwrdd i fyw efo'o merch yn Atlanta. Fel yna, byddai hyn i gyd yn ddiwedd oes iddi hi ac i mi - oherwydd amswer mor faith 'mod i wedi bod yn mynd yno.

Dwi'm yn gwybod - does dim meddyliau dwfn gennyf i sgwennu am ail ddinas hoff fy nirgel ddyn. Does dim on gobaith heno i le mor agos imi a'i phobl...

dijous, de setembre 01, 2005

Reflections on the Recent Fuel Prices, or "Time for Change"

"Time for a Change"
by Gwyddno Schenectady

I spend a week or two almost every summer in Wales. This summer I was paying between $6.04 and $6.40 a gallon, given an exchange rate of $1.77 to the pound. It would easily cost me $60 to fill up my little 4 cylinder 5-speed Vauxhall Corsa that I was renting. That sounds pretty awful.

My main car is a 1998 Saturn SL, also a 4 cylinder 5-speed which, like the Corsa is unable to get out of its own way. It also averages about 42 miles to the gallon on the highway. Even so, coming home to higher prices than those I left was a bit startling, but not as startling as the current $3.29 I paid today at our local Getty. Already in Upstate some prices are nearing the $4.00 mark for regular. Atrocious, outrageous, and dangerous for our, and the world's economy, yes, especially if the prices stay that high. However, we haven't been dealing solely with a national economy for the last century, if even then.

The early harbingers of our Great Depression began in Europe after the first World War and spread globally. Already in 1930, we were dealing with a global economy, but the weakness of the European economies didn't begin to affect us till more than 10 years later. In our current ultra-globalized economy, drastic downturns in local economies could impact world markets in perhaps as little as 10 months. No, no - I'm not prognosticating another Great Depression - but a long lasting world recession, I wouldn't be surprised. If the price of automobile fuel in America stays at such high prices, prices reached in so drastically short a time, ordinary working and working poor Americans are going to be hard-pressed to spend what little disposable income they have on other things. Even middle and upper middle class Americans may begin rethinking where they spend their dwindling cash surpluses. The United States is, as you all know, a major market for everyone on the planet. If we aren't buying, others aren't selling, and they in turn can't buy. China, as much as it has grown economically, will not be unaffected by a drastic reduction in US spending. The money on our little blue planet is dynamic and travels in all directions, but if folks' pockets hurt, they won't stick their hands in to them spend any more clams than they have to. A drastic reduction in clams circulation will leave us all in the drink - never mind that rising fuel prices are quickly reflected in nondurable goods, such as the goodies we like to stuff in our faces and, god help me, alcohol (bath tub gin Anna and Daryl??). For those of us in the Northeast, especially here in good old Upstate New York, with fuel oil prices also likely to skyrocket, the winter of 2005-2006 might really be "the winter of our discontent."

All that from one storm that affected one relatively small part of the earth...

Then again, everything is relative, as this 2003 article from the Cato web site points out. For my part, I do take some cold comfort in being better off, relative to gasoline prices, than we were in 1920.

"The late great economist Julian Simon, a Cato Institute adjunct scholar, was famous for teaching us that it is most important to look at the very long term trends in prices of natural resources, if one wants to make predictions about the future. Here is what Simon's long term data on energy and gas prices tells us. Gasoline prices paid at the pump have been on a steady rate of decline since the 1920's, with the obvious exception of the 1970's, when we faced an OPEC embargo and gasoline lines. In 1920 the real price of gas (excluding taxes) was twice as high as today. If the price of gasoline relative to wages were comparable today to what they were in 1920, we would be paying almost $10 a gallon for gas. (See The State of Humanity, by Julian Simon, Blackwell Publishers, 1995, Chapter 28.)" Quoted from the Cato Institute's web site at URL: http://www.cato.org/dailys/09-06-03.html

Oh, by the way, it goes without saying that Blodwen, my 1983 4.2 liter 6 cylinder automatic Jaguar SJ-6 Vanden Plas is stepping out on the town far less frequently, although with two gas tanks, she's still rolling with gas that only cost me about $2.50 the last time I filled them up before I went overseas.

My point in this now long diatribe-cum-essay is that it just seems to me that it's high time we stopped accepting this chicanery. The world, especially not the United States, does not need to be dependent on foreign oil. We have enough arable land to grow enough corn to fuel E85 and E95 (which are mixtures of ethanol and 15% and 5% gasoline respectively) vehicles for decades if not for centuries to come! Moreover, we can physically convert our old cars to run on E85 if the EPA and the federal government would allow the higher emissions from the converted cars (see http://www.e85fuel.com/index.php for some interesting, and perhaps, annoying reading). Even though I believe in the motto of the Cato Institute and still believe in my pipe dream Libertarian society, I don't want to piss away the environment either. It's true that the converted cars will pollute more than they had before conversion. On the other hand, millions of cars are already E85 compatible, and in the coming decades more and more will be (interestingly one the of the big investors in E85 is Shell Oil - irony? I think not!). Eventually almost all the old cars would wear out and be replaced with environmentally friendlier E85 automobiles (technically known as FFVs - flexible fuel vehicles).

However the proof that we are not a truly free market society, functioning in the more or less Jeffersonian (voire Libertarian) model of government envisioned by our vagabond forefathers (Theists, potsmokers and/or fornicators such as the majority of them were - my apologies for anyone with Christian Fundamentalists revisionist tendencies...) is in the fact that no entrepreneurs are making it to the fore to proffer the obvious solution to the problem. Big Business is not on the side of Libertarian principles, by the way, nor is anyone else who chooses to squelch personal freedom, civil liberties or personal wealth for the sake of the so-called common good when it's merely a masquerade entitling a very few to a life of happiness and dross while the masses struggle to choose between the electric bill, the rent/mortgage, food and medicine.

Maybe this emergency will shock enough Americans out of their complacency to see an eventual major shift in our paradigm, away from the soft-soaping, sweet nothing platitudes of the Republicrats to an all out open dialogue, debate and battle of wills between people of conscience who identify themselves as either Libertarians or Greens, but mostly as actively engaged, real Americans, and not just kowtowing plebeians in a world dominated by status quo patricians reciting ad nauseam the empty words of errant patriotism, all for the sake of their pork filled pockets.

The end of my sermon, friends, Romans, countrymen, is simply, think the next time you flip that lever, poke that chad, check that box or click that mouse when next you enter your polling place. The American democracy is still working, and it doesn't have to be this way, unless we let it. The longer it stays this way, however, the longer and harder it will be to effect any appreciable change at all...