Given the neo-fascism in the U.S., the raping of Puerto Rico, and North Carolina’s recent Republican coup, my twenty-year struggle to produce art for art’s sake versus political poetry continues. The evidence that keeps coming in is not good; now, what would you do with it? See below a performance video that I find inspiring: Karim Sulayman, an Arab American, across the street from Trump International Hotel at Columbus Circle on November 19, eleven days after the election.
Some argue that given the current sociopolitical climate in the U.S., it is impossible to produce work that does not take a political position: writing a poem about a flower, with seemingly no political strings attached, is a political statement: they would say this kind of poem signifies evasion, abstention, denial, neutrality, and the like; but I like flowers; and if I write a flower poem, I would not want to be accused of denying the dirty mess the U.S. is in or of having an irresponsible morally weak character. Can there be a balance?
Below are two of my poems that Counterpunch published in 2013. It irks me to think that the video above, my political statements, and the poems below may mark me as some deviant unpatriotic radical malcontent who does not love the U.S. I will not lower myself by trying to persuade anyone of my love for North America. I wonder how many people know on an experiential level what love for this whole country means and how different this is from self-interest or love of one’s particular religious sect or cultural tribe. I wonder how many people know what love actually is and how to produce and sustain it. Here is an idea for a new poem. Title: “The Mass Production of Love.” Because God knows what we are seeing now, in ever increasing dosages and devious packaging, is the mass production of hate.
Race in Education: Where do I Begin?
Here’s to aboriculturists and gardeners
with their bags of seeds and magic tricks,
because we need to talk now more than ever.
How do we agree on anything these days,
days of police in our hallways and minds,
days of teenage suicide and murder,
days of pretend and collective amnesia,
days of surveillance, torture, and drones,
days of burning forests burning forests?
Will you begin with eyes, with skin, a sound?
The day you learned a word could be a stone?
The day you learned a word could heal?
Here are my hands in the soil—I’m just starting.
I haven’t done anything of actual substance yet.
Will you join me? Will you bring along others?
Disunion: August 4, 2013
Is there code to escape this ear piercing
siren? Buddha? Tibetan singing bowls
with their long sustaining harmonies?
How did I arrive in this space this time?
I am here again in a merciless universe,
where a cold Black Hole is pulling
the top of my head away from the rest
of me; I am being insanely stretched out.
I am a long thin elasticity trailing behind
a grotesquely distorted skull projectile,
close to losing all feeling in this form;
I have become a trite cartoonish figure.
Then there is the familiar hungry ache
to walk barefoot in warm white sand,
without one lie visible on the horizon,
and all the lies behind me disappearing.
Who will reconfigure me this morning?
Is only a feverish wish for immortality,
stoked by naïve vanity and childish fear
enough to rescue breaking bones and skin?
In two weeks I will be fifty-five years
old; my grown-up son suggests therapy.
Until next time,