A Day in the Life of an Inspoken Poet
What happens in life never really unfolds like a story. Events are chaotic determinants by forces; more than you can recognize at any given moment. Forces,”energies” bouncing, conflicting competing, compromising and resolving while constantly falling forwards in time.
We are forever falling forwards in time.
But this still isn’t enough to satisfy our minds. We demand answers! Sometimes with clenched fists shaking at the heavens: Reasons, Causes, Meanings, Sense. So that we can understand how it all fits together and possibly improve our fortune at the next turn of the carousel. At the next “happening”.
We need to make Sense.
We need to investigate, to explain, to decipher our dreams, not merely dream them. So we strive to find stories in our rearview mirrors. We create links between events and project pattern, structures, relationships, understandings onto a blank canvas.
We make things up from what we feel then recount our stories first to ourselves and then to each other.
This is how we *make* sense of our lives.
Today, I feel sad.
Alone and sad.
Tell me, is it still allowed to feel sad and lonely on a sunny southern California day? Do I need to get a sad permit or risk my sadness being towed? I’ve had this sadness in my family for many years and I don’t want to lose it or have it stolen by someone fed up with happiness.
I already feel as if my emotions have been impounded.
I am sad for and from events; exhausted from the strain of holding my head up in this churning karmic current, just so as not to drown in the Red Queen’s swimming pool.
Yesterday started as a warming of the air. The first signs that Spring is calling out to Summer. I had started my day by flying 70 mph down the hills of La Costa, curving around the Cardiff lagoon while the Carlsbad state beach winked and waved at me from the western horizon.
Soon I will be ending my days by plunging into the burning sunset of my mother’s arms. No, not suicide; rebirth and the cleansing of the accruments gathered from the other seasons, now no longer needed.
I am moving forward on the highway numbered 5 looking forward to my rehearsal with gifted collaborator John Kingsmill who understands sound as breaths. He understands me, what I’m trying to do and since it’s what he’s trying to do we get along fine. My mind is thinking of the piece he has orchestrated which we have yet to practice, much less perform. Then further on to the Misfit Gallery in La Jolla where we will perform to an unknown number of people looking at art.
Suddenly my wings begin to fail me. (Oh why didn’t I listen to Daedalus?) My engine slows down, I pull to the side of the freeway and turn off the engine and turn it back on again. Hey, it works with computers! But not this time. Now my mind begins to race, instantly recalculating my day. I am on the side of Highway 5 just past the Leucadia on-ramp. I have 20 minute’s to get to John’s to rehearse the one poem the organizer hates and told me not to read. Yes, yes, I know. I’m a rebel without applause.
What the organizer has to her credit is the sheer scale mounting an original exhibition in such short time. That is truly awesome; and you know I never use that word! It nearly brought tears to my eyes the day before in the gallery seeing not just the individual canvasses for the first time but the urgent, pressing social beauty of the exhibit as a whole. I was at home with these artists fighting for social justice; we are comrades with many arms trying to change the world into a better place, a fairer place: each one of us different, each one of us in our own way.
One canvass, one poem, one dance, one book, one note at a time.
But right now I am furious. I’m at the side of the freeway, space vehicles whizzing past me and I must get to Encinitas, just a couple of miles up the road. I am furious with my mechanic who had only recently returned my bike to me supposedly repaired. I am infuriated with myself for not having planned a contingency. I am infuriated at the passing cars who are free to go anywhere they want to, unlike me. Then I stop and recall my practice. None of this anger is solving the issue.
It crossed my mind how motivating my own anger was. My father told me once that the only way to overcome, to cancel out an overwhelming, overpowering emotion is with another equally strong emotion. All it takes to stop a ‘bad’ emotion is one ‘good’ one, to borrow from the NRA. So I put that emotional “energy” to use, slipped my Victory into neutral and began to push it to the next off ramp down the road: Encinitas, just another 2 miles to find parking.
Sweat drenching my best shirt, every few yards I would stick out my kickstand, and turn over the engine. Nothing, which gave me more adrenaline and more strength to get my bike to Encinitas. To John, to La Jolla, to the Misfit Gallery, and most of all to the organizer who I had made a commitment to: To bring poetry to the public space, to an art show and make it work!
Sisyphus would have been proud of me if he didn’t have his own Herculean labor to perform. And yes, I was beginning to like it. To sweat against the odds, to face resistance and overcome it. The sheer exertion of raw muscle to the task. This was my Will taking center stage. This was so much better than hopelessness!
There is a comfort to take in hopelessness which you can only know if you’re paying rent there. It is the comfort of one’s own courage, the bottom-of-the-barrel resolve that not only survives but is strengthened in the face of adversity and injustice. In spite of the powerful forces aligned behind the injustice, in spite of how weak, how haggard, how exhausted, how old, or how frail you may feel, at the very least you are standing up and shouting “No!”
And that is the greatest political power of them all: Basta!
As Emma Gomez (the Joan of Arc of the resistance) cries out, “Enough is enough’! And with that cry called forth the spirits of every American, every person who ever fought for Truth, for Liberty and for Justice.
Just like in the comic books.
Just like in your high school civics class, just like at the signing of that great document in Philadelphia, the capital of the United States. Where freedom’s bell still rings loud and clear; regardless of the visible cracks.
We refind the courage in ourselves that connects us to the sake of others, for the sake of our brethren who are equally ravaged by the same foul-smelling winds: The Long Great Fart of capitalism. Only then are we truly liberating ourselves as much as we aim to deliver freedom to others.
No one will be truly free until we are all free.
Free of want. Free from terror. Free from greed, from avarice, free from war, free from our own self-destruction.
When we stand up, we all stand on the same ground, the only ground that ever covered this planet; this tiny blue marble in the sky.
And I got through. I got through to Encinitas, legs slightly bent. I got through to my mechanic who would dispatch a truck to pick up my bike the next day. I got through to John and rearranged our spontaneity. I got through to the organizer who generously sent her boyfriend dressed as Che Guevara to collect and deliver me to a room brimming with Misfits.
I got to hear my favourite Persian poet Ari Honarvar. (I like her more than Rumi because she’s still alive;~) And then finally the true consequence of my efforts. The real reward for my persistence and determination. Something I would gladly have pushed a ton vehicle a hundred miles to find:
When I read my work, I got through to the audience.
They heard me! They heard me paint a portrait of a shooter and reconnect to their own empathy and complicity. They heard me lament the dehumanization, the tyranny of automation and shine a light on the chains around our ankles we barely notice anymore.
They heard me speak to and of, their own lives. Their own seemingly private rituals in front of their computer screens, replicated by the billions.
When I read, we were all up close and personal. Can there be any intimacy at an orgy? I think sometimes there might be.
They heard me and I got through!
Halleluja, Halleluja, the long hard road is still worth travelling, that is with a better bike that won’t break down.