story-telling

TAKE A DEEP BREATH by Igor Goldkind and Frederic Iriarte


The Cure for Pandemania is Here! 

An Album of Original Spoken Contemporary Poetry and Music

– Making Sense Where Nothing Else Does –

Original poetry by Igor Goldkind
Music by Frederic Iriarte and Igor Boyko

Launching September 5th at The 2020 International Beat Poetry Festival (Normally in Boston, now virtually everywhere!) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCilhqGXf2CAARg7N7EjwNQg

The Festival Will be streaming 3 original music videos from the album for the first time.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH is available for download  exclusively on Bandcamp 

9 Tracks, 40 Minutes, $18.00   $15 EU

Original Words, Music, Video and Antidotes for Living With Uncertainty


Internationally renown fine artist and producer Frederic Iriarte and American Poet Igor Goldkind have collaborated on 9 original tracks of musical interpretations based on Igor Goldkind’s forthcoming collection of poetry also entitled TAKE A DEEP BREATH
The album of 9 tracks is being launched as a complete work at this year’s International Beat Poetry Festival and will be released for download at midnight  this coming Saturday, September 5th.

This unique multimedia work was written and produced during the pandemic in Stockholm, San Diego and Moscow.  It is intended as an artistic attempt to help us live with uncertainty and survive catastrophe living.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH is most important piece of Spoken Word Art to come along at just the right time: right when we all needed it the most!” 
–  Henry Rollins

TAKE A DEEP BREATH and step out of your comfort zone.
Just don’t look down.

2020 has been a year of both social, economic and psychological upheaval.   Humans have been required to adapt to drastically changing circumstances without forewarning and without certainty as to the outcomes. 

We are being challenged as a species to adapt. 
Adaptation is our genus but it is also painful  and exhausting. 
TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a guidebook:  a pause for a moment of reflection.   Take a break from panic and get a clear view of where we are as individuals, as a people and as a species.

Covid-19 has literally attacked our humanity however in doing so has done us the service of reminding us of our shared humanity, our common mutual vulnerability.  These are hard lessons to learn and uncomfortable changes to be made for us to survive.   TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a pause in the gloom  and a chance to regain our strength and resilience to  all carry on.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a step backwards in time when poetry and music were used  and appreciated as tools for contemplation, meditation and reflection on the most crucial factor in our lives.  Now that we are being confronted and overwhelmed with multiple catastrophes,  is the time to return to using  poetry for what it is designed for: 

Reflection, Meditation, Contemplation
Self-Healing and Recovery

We will survive.


The Science of Irrealism


“The truth is always an abyss. One must — as in a swimming pool — dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again — laughing and fighting for breath — to the now doubly illuminated surface of things.”

Franz Kafka

We quest for meaningful truths about our existence and what we bring to bear upon our environments. Mathematics, science and technology enable our mechanical ability to crunch big numbers, calculate near infinite possibilities and deliver probabilistic results.

To be able to knowledgeably predict the multitude of buying behaviors of literally millions of customers using Amazon is an impressive computational accomplishment, in the service of consumer capitalism.
Or to be able to use peoples’ most personal and intimate preferences and tastes as unstructured data, to be sold onto those who would better manipulate our preferences for profit.

Profit motivates the interests of those who control data to use it in order to steadily limit the range of free (unpredictable)choices to achieve more predictable decisions. The more predictable the judgements of choice, the better the profit in meeting those wants. The freer the will, the wider the spectrum of discernment between what is needed and what is merely desired. Not ideal customer relations if your goal is for the customer to buy exactly what you tell them to buy and have already prepared them to buy.

But the truth is that we are all free to make choices, even when there isn’t much to choose from.

We are still free to deviate from the predictable norm and exercise our wider, human judgement in our choices. But to do so successfully is to break down the predisposed contexts to our decision making. We would need to embrace the fact of Uncertainty, unpredictability and see beyond the unreliable predilections of Causality. We must, so to speak, break our causal chains as they have been manipulated in advance by pragmatic and diabolic conventions.

To live outside of predetermined contexts, to break out of the “real world” into the actual world, where we really exist necessitates first the understanding of context in the service of truth. To understand the dichotomy between perception and interpretation we should adopt a new vocabulary: The study of interpretation is called Hermeneutics, which is the scrutiny of language mainly text, in the context of interpretation.

However, language is not limited to text.  Much of human history (of consciousness), has been devoted to poring  over sacred and heretical texts; but  there is also the language of dreams and music which are open to both reading and expression.

Then there is of course, the language of the image. The useful lie of representation, predating photography by some 30,000 years.

In so far as hermeneutics is the study of text and its interpretations, Irrealism examines the language of images by posing  that no one account or one representation of a reality can accurately account for that reality apart from that one possible narrative.   But there are millions of narratives, millions of representations of any event or occurrence in reality.   There exists a vast multiplicity of perspectives and vantage points of which no one of which can be designated the sole  “true” representation.   Namely because the quantum diversity of perspectives is fundamental to that singular truth.   This is one of infinite possible worlds but the only truth that can be found in this assertion is within the context of an infinite number of real possibilities.

Thus we each  stand on a ledge overlooking the infinite, the universe waiting for us to take a step in whichever direction we choose.

Irrealism casts light on this distinction.  There is no one reality or real event, but a multitude of infinite possibilities, some more probable than others in terms of  predictive outcome.  But to understand this and sustain it visavis perception requires first a relinquishment of the notion of one sole truth or truthful perspective.  The truth is not found in once account, one representation; nor it it found in accumulating and theoretically distilling all possible accounts and perspectives.  Instead, the monotheistic idea of one truth needs to be exchanged for the greater truth of infinite diversity in limitless combinations.   

Irrealism is a type of existentialist literary artform for which the means are continually and absurdly rebelling against the ends that we have predetermined for them. The whole causal relationship between means and ends is brought into question and we gain the insight of restraining from linking events, so as not to fill in gaps with significance.

If we can easily detach significance from coincidental events and understand their own phenomenal existence without added meaning, then equally we can detach significance from events that just happen to follow each other in time. By freeing events and objects from the phenomenal artifice of a causal chain of meaning, we gain an irreal insight into the true nature of events and objects as they exist.

Like existentialism, Irrealism has presented itself as both a philosophical argument and a work of art in which the philosophical principles are demonstrated by the fictional subjective experience of a protagonist. For examp0le,  In THE MALTESE FALCON, Dashiel Hammet’s existential detective, Sam Spade is a free man as he is free from the compulsive and lethal greed of the antagonists.   At the end of the film and novel, Sam chooses the virtue of duty over love .

By proving the reality of an existential choice as a empathetic human choice, the fiction delivers a more visceral universal understanding of the underlying principle.  

Some lies reveal deeper truths. 

Breaking attachment to one true account or representation permits the “irreality” of circumstance to become our context.   This is akin to wavicle theory in which light is not reduced to one structural account but rather we adapt our contexts to fit the data.  Sometimes light behaves like and can be measured as particles and sometimes it cannot.  It can only be measured within the context of waves. So is light either a particle or a wave?  Well neither, nor both.  The truth is that light exists outside of our realm of contexts.  It is not unreal to describe light as a particles, but it isn’t solely true either.   Nor is the fact that light consists of waves soley true.  This quantum perception  version Schrodinger’s Cat does not dwell on the mortality of the cat but rather on our ability to perceive beyond  uncertainty.

The awkward term “wavicle” is a contrivance of vocabulary: there is no such object as a wavicle.  All there is,  is a misleading  name to make it easier for us to measure and understand the phenomenal nature of light, not its physicality.     In this light, so to speak, Irrealism addresses the false  dichotomy of physicality vs the phenomenal.  Yes, the universe is a physical one and objects and events have gravitas and yes, the universe is merely comprised of what we perceive and subject to the limits of our own perception.  The universe is neither singularly physical nor singularly  phenomenal; nor is it both.  As both interpretations hold weight in their individual contexts, neither are false but again neither by itself is true.  The perception is not one of unreality (or falsehood or fantasy) but of irreality, reality is not above what we perceive and experience, but behind it.

So it  is with irrealism.  The philosophical premise of Irrealism is that both the physicality of objects and events is one context, whereas their phenomenal content, our perception occupies a separate but parallel context.  Objects and events exist in both worlds’ the physical and the phenomenal.

Irrealism demonstrates the irreality of events and objects by demonstrating existence as neither/or.   An irreality demonstrates objects and events outside of their contextual rules.    Viscerally this can be expressed in Art & Music  and cognitively,  in philosophy and poetry.

In philosophy, the belief that phenomenalism and physicalism are alternative “world-versions”, both useful in some circumstances, but neither capable of fully capturing the other.

Irrealist art and literature features an estrangement from our generally accepted sense of reality.  Which explains the often welcome sense of discomfort or unease that often accompanies taking in an irrealist perspective.  SF and Horror are good examples of that unease and rumbling anxiety as entertaining.

An example of this would be Franz Kafka’s story The Metamorphosis, in which the salesman Gregor Samsa’s plans for supporting his family and rising up in rank by hard work and determination are suddenly thrown topsy-turvy by his sudden and inexplicable transformation into a man-sized insect. Such fiction is said to emphasize the fact that human consciousness, being finite in nature, can never make complete sense of, or successfully order, a universe that is infinite in its aspects and possibilities. 

Irrealism is the Impossible and the Unexplainable laid as foundation for an art form that can directly communicate, by feeling rather than articulation, the uncertainties inherent in human existence  and the irreconcilability between human aspiration and human reality.

This suspension of the temporal extrapolation of causality requires a vantage point outside of the law of causality, (that every phenomenon and corresponding qulia has a predetermining cause).  

The balls falls down because you threw it up because of therule: what goes up must come down. This fundamental layman’s interpretation of Newtonian laws of motion  of course derives from a specific time frame that is  pre space travel.  To travel back to this context and suggest that this law may not always apply universally and that there are contexts such as weightlessness for which the causal relation does not exist,  is an example of irrealism.    

To suggest to Newton that what goes up doesn’t necessarily come down is to express an unreality to Issaic based on the context of his understanding.  Moreover as Newton’s laws of motion are universally adopted as convention, to assert this truth too loudly will get you locked up in a mental asylum.

Those of us living Newton’s Impossibility know that whether or not the ball falls down is completely dependent on the existing context.  To suggest a state of weightlessness to Newton’s context is an irrealism.  It is false within the given context but true in  a greater but remoter context.   What we call ‘real’ appears to be exterior to us and perception-independent when in fact, it is neither.  Irrealism exposes the mythic unreality underlying our virtual fixed world, the world we  manifest with our minds by responding to certain stimuli in our environment.  These stimuli and their interpretation  sketch  the internal map of our presumed outer world experience.

It is because of this  out of context impossibilities that Irrealism is considered to be dream-like in nature, which is a justifiable description so long as we remember that the Irreal representation does not relate  a particular  dream that we might have had but instead evokes aspects of the dream-state within the work. Irrealist  objects occupy our dreams as props for symbolic meanings much as one reads the symbolism within a medieval painting or a   film wherein every object captured is there for a meaningful reason.  

 To understand that reality exists both outside of and inside of perception,( not in one or the other soley nor both together),  is to glimpse the tapestry of infinite possibility divorced from the coincidences of causality.   Quoting the American  philosopher Nelson Goodman “as much as we might try to order our world with a certain set of norms and goals (which we refer to as the real world), the paradox of a finite consciousness in an infinite universe creates a zone of irreality.  The Irreal  is that which lies beyond [or behind], the real”) that offsets, opposes, or threatens the real world of the human subject.

Irrealist art highlights this irreality, and our fascination with it, by combining the unease we feel from a world that doesn’t conform to our desires; with the narrative quality of a dream state wherein safe and familiar realities are being constantly undermined.  

 “We are not speaking in terms of multiple possible alternatives to a single actual world but of multiple actual worlds.] Goodman makes no assertions regarding “the way the world is” and that there is no primary world version i.e. “no true version compatible with all true versions.” nor world-versions” of the world”.  Instead he describes worlds as “made by making such versions”. As Goodman says, “Not only motion, … but even reality is relative.”

Irrealist art shows us this.

A successful irreal work of art, music  or literature confronts its audience  with a perception that cannot simply be translated as merely a fantasy, speculative  or as a symbolist work. . Thus cut off from the familiar context of what is possible and ultimately explainable, impossible, one is left alone in the company of the absurd.  It is thus communicates directly, “by feeling rather than articulation, the uncertainties inherent in human existence or, to put it another way… the irreconcilability between human aspiration and human reality.” 

The artist Tristan Tondino writes, “Realism is an Irrealism. Reality is plurality – we partially create it, and we must open our universes and our perceptions to all possible versions of it.     

Irrealism is a vaccine for living with the truth of uncertainty

© Igor Goldkind 2020. (all augmenting quotes are attributed to Nelson Goodman)

Thanks to Franco-Gallic Irrealist artist Frederic Iriarte [Frederic@iriarte.info] for the loan of his work. All images are © Frederic Iriarte and cannot be reproduced without his permission.

Thanks to Franco-Gallic Irrealist artist Frederic Iriarte [Frederic@iriarte.info] for the loan of his work. All images are © Frederic Iriarte and cannot be reproduced without his permission.


On the Southside of Border Town


13,200 brown children are detained.
Taken from the arms of their parents by American immigration authorities.
Infants are held tightly, cared for by other children
In dirty, neglectful, and dangerous conditions
That scar the southern border of the American Dream
The SCOTUS Jenny Flores settlement mandates by law that children must be held in safe and sanitary conditions,
“Moved out of Border Patrol custody without unnecessary delays”.
This is the Federal Law
Except children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town

The conditions the human lawyers found, they found inhuman
Flu and lice outbreaks left untreated,
Children filthy,
Sleeping on cold floors,
Guarding each other from the guards.
Most have been there for weeks.
Constantly switching blankets between covers and floor mats.
Everyone is crying, crying all the time
Only children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town

Across El Rio Grande; across that lazy river
A scared little girl stands on the safe American shore; then jumps back in El Rio
To reach her father and cling to him as he swims back to Mexican shore to retrieve her mother.
El Rio’s currents care not of human intent;
The river just flows and it flows and it flows,
Until the little girl and her father are washed up, facedown on the shore.
Her arm still protecting him, curled around his neck.
You know, just like your daughters and mine have done countless times before.
Dead children are taking care of their dead parents on the south side of Border Town.

A treacherous river divides this nation
There are twisting bends and perilous nationalist waters to traverse.
When death took the scared little girl and her father, I hope he took them together
So that they can be forever together
If only in the little girl’s dream.
When will we stop murdering the poor just for being poor?
The only document you need to prove you’re human is the record of your deeds
While children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town

A 2-year-old boy locked in detention, wants to be held all of the time.
He has wet his pants and has no diaper
He is wearing a mucus-smeared shirt.
He does not speak.
Two detained girls, ages 10 to 15, have been doing their best to feed and soothe the clingy toddler.
Children taking care of children
The 10 year old girl speaks for the quiet boy:
“A Border Patrol agent came yesterday and asked me’:
‘Who wants to take care of this quiet little boy who nobody wants?’ So I said us.
Because only children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town



“Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” ~ The US Constitution


Second Hand Years


Haven’t you noticed???
I’ve been pulling my hair out not knowing who to call.

They’ve suckered us in with another used year!
Sure, it’d been refurbished and looks a lot like a new year,
but don’t be fooled,
This is a counterfeit year being passed off as a real one.

Sure, the surface looks sharp but its purely cosmetic.
It won’t load the latest OS
Its warranty has long lapsed.
And its connectors are outdated.

Don’t be fooled by fake years.
You’ll forget the real ones.
Do something! Call somebody!
Don’t just sit there lamenting.

Demand refunds and store credits!
Stomp your feet and threaten court actions.
But whatever you do, don’t be fooled by second-hand years
When what you really need is a new one.


5 Submissions of My Latest Work


 

 

Life is Always Replaceable46fc84fcf9e45dafffb0ea2b92376a36

You might have lost something or broke something
You know you can always look for it or fix it or get yourself a new one
That doesn’t crunch her popcorn in bed.
And shoots farther & quicker than you ever thought possible for a bullet from a gun.
You know, what isn’t replaceable or even predictable is this Stream of events pushing past us
Like panicking strangers in a crowd
Or even worse, engulfing us, trampling over us, nearly drowning us,
Pushing us back from whence we came.
Then leaving us choking for breath on the shore.

Being is Becoming Still220px-Oresme_Spheres_crop

Existence is a limitless screen of emptiness,

Ecstatic contemplation
And gratitude for the joy in rolling a boulder blissfully up a steep hill
Tripping over our thoughts like loosened cobblestones,
The truth is a truce we have struck with uncertainty.
After losing the desperate struggle
To cling to some kind of hope buried at the root of our own awareness.
I am fearful of fully failing myself
Although I love myself best when I am alone with eternity.
I am safest and most secure in this clarity I call awareness.
 

Insomniac Awarenessimages-10

We who are hiding in our second bedrooms,
Licking the silver from the backs of our screens,
Are living in a different time zone
Of Insomniac Awareness.
Sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes four or more
Lives are lived and lost each night.
In our rooms, by ourselves
Sitting precariously at the edge of our beds.
This is our legacy
The lasting perpetuity of our sensory species:
The glow that contests the light that once shone from our eyes,
Right up to the surface of our understanding.
What is not yet known.
Or what was known and long since forgotten.
Dances across the screen you stare into.
Tripping over your coded memories; in Real Time.
Who are you reading this?
Do you know
What perturbs your sleep-walk into the night?
Or are you merely waiting for the screen to pull you through?
Into your own quiet world,
Where things that count never change.
And no one is dreaming you, but your mother
Who has left you now for another child.

 

The Last Halo of Hope.IMG_4798

Hope is mortal, not eternal.
Though it may feel like eternity
Sitting in a chair by the window.
Gazing up and down the path that leads
Up the hill and down to the canyon on your doorstep.
Every morning, every evening, every day.
Awaiting an answer to your prayer for your hope to be restored.
Resilience rewarded
Patience still burning brightly
Under your old photograph on the wall where you live now.
I’m not sad.
No, sadness is just a passing rain to irrigate the eyes.
Instead, I’m a new planet
Ringed by the last halo of hope
Wrapped tightly around my head.

 

Pebblesstone-soup-blog1

Thoughts are merely pebbles
Being gently washed by a passing stream.
You are the stream.
Thoughts are merely pebbles on a beach
Being gently rounded by crashing waves.
You are the waves.
Thoughts are merely pebbles in the sand.
Being gently worn away by the passing wind.
You are the wind
My words escape on.
Words are merely thoughts
Being gently read by a passing eye.
Yours are the eyes
That can read my thoughts.

Meditations on My Self


 

This morning after sitting around and paying attention to nothing for a long while, the pedestrian thought that loitered and would not keep moving down the sidewalk became a realisation.

My self, which I know is an illusion, a trick of perception, occupies too much of my time. I know this fully with my mind even if my heart still clings to safe delusions.42264995_10156899714172755_3271701164613173248_n

The easiest thoughts to dismiss are the good ones, the comforting ones. The memories of past loves long gone. My mother’s unconditional love, my sister’s devoted, admiring love. The eulogies and compliments I’ve received over time from those who have borne the patience to get to know me just a little bit beyond our facades.

The pleasure I took in surprising my friends with my true nature is easily exiled, easily erased from the Book of Illusion resting on my dusty shelf. But today I awakened to the fact that so it is of the slings and arrows my memory flings at me. The regrets, the failures, the self-loathing for being so much less than I imagine myself to be.

I have welcomed hatred like a long lost friend. When I am targeted by malice or false accusations, I somewhere believe that I am well deserving of acrimony; that deep within me is a broken porcelain doll wearing a torn, stained dress.                42280406_10156899719217755_8873110727947190272_n I have sought refuge in self-hatred, in depression, in the idle futility of it all.

After all, cynicism is just another mask worn by our own complacency.

This morning, the light shone on me and I laughed at how insidious my vanity  could be. To soak in self-loathing is as deluded as celebrating false glories. None of my past is real apart from what I insist on carrying into this present like a troublesome burden; weighing down my footsteps. Stalling the will to keep on moving,  with the current, a little further down the road. Misery, the sister of Narcissus, loves company and the good liquor I buy her. But she’s too needy and crazy and no real friend of mind.

I may feel brave wrestling with my demons but they are in truth, made of the same scattered dust as my angels.

My Buddha tells me that enlightenment lies in the transcendence of seeming dualities. The trick of mind in seeing beyond black and white  to the full spectrum and subtleties of the colors surrounding me.  I can hold my inner sense of self, both magnanimous and self-damning, one in each hand and then bring those hands together, accepting both as one simultaneous truth.
I can know myself completely, even the parts left out.

Rumi says that beyond right and wrong, beyond good and evil, lies the desert of disillusionment.

At the end of the desert there is an oasis and in the middle of the oasis is a fountain and that fountain is the source of all Life.

Do me a favour, next time you feel down about yourself, undeserving of love, miserable and useless; do not blow the feelings away but rather hold them in one hand.  Then with the other hand conjure the feelings of pride, of self-worth of glorious love. Hold each sense of yourself like a ball in each of your hands while substituting either/or with both/and.   Now bring your hands together in gratitude for the whole of who you are.

Tell me how that feels.

Write it here, just beneath these words.


Being is Becoming Still


human_soul_by_lumixdmc850-d48ee36

 

 

Existence is a limitless screen of emptiness,
Jubilant celebration
And gratitude for the joyous exhaustion in the rolling of a boulder up a steep hill.
Tripping over our thoughts like loosened cobblestones,
The truth is a truce we struck with uncertainty ages ago.

After losing our desperate struggle…
To cling to some kind of hope buried deep at the root of our own awareness
I am fearful of fully failing myself.
But I love myself best when I am alone with eternity.
Secure and supported by this very clarity.

Andrew-Ostrovsky_George-Redhawk_GIF


Your Soul


 

 

So who is this Soul that you sing of?Andrew-Ostrovsky_George-Redhawk_GIF

This silent witness

Who counts the leaves off  of trees

 

Instead of gathering them?

And raking them into a funerary pile,

Into the giant pile that your better self will set afire and then fall from,

 

Or jump into.

Up to your eyeballs,

Up to your own personal crown of thorns.human_soul_by_lumixdmc850-d48ee36


Image

A Short History of Poetry Therapy: Practice and Perfection by Igor Goldkind


On FaceBook, a discussion where questions are posed and answered:  https://www.facebook.com/realpoetrytherapy/

The healing effect of words has long been recognized. As far back as 4000 BCE, early Egyptians wrote words on papyrus, dissolve them in liquid, and gave them to those who were ill as a form of medicine. In more recent history, reading and expressive writing have been employed as supplementary treatments for those experiencing mental or emotional distress. Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital established in the United States, employed this approach as early as the mid-1700s. 565263b60c258b2297259258628f7262

In the early 1800s, Dr. Benjamin Rush introduced poetry as a form of therapy to those being treated. In 1928, poet and pharmacist Eli Griefer began offering poems to people filling prescriptions and eventually started “poem-therapy” groups at two different hospitals with the support of psychiatrists Dr. Jack L. Leedy and Dr. Sam Spector. After Griefer’s death, Leedy and others continued to incorporate poetry into the therapeutic group process, eventually coming together to form the Association for Poetry Therapy (APT) in 1969.

Librarians also played a major role in the development of this approach to therapy. Arleen Hynes, one pioneer in this area, was a hospital librarian who began reading stories and poems aloud, facilitating discussions on the material and its relevance to each individual in order to better reach out to those being treated and encourage healing.  In 1980, all leaders in the field were invited to a meeting to formalize guidelines for training and certification. At that meeting, logo-with-pegasus-and-sloganthe National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) was established.

As interest grew, several books and articles were written to guide practitioners in the practice of poetry therapy. Hynes and Mary Hynes-Berry co-authored the 1986 publication Bibliotherapy – The Interactive Process: A Handbook. More recently, Nicholas Mazza outlined a model for effective poetry therapy, also discussing its clinical application, in Poetry Therapy: Theory and Practice.

The Journal of Poetry Therapy, established in 1987 by the NAPT, remains the most comprehensive source of information on current theory, practice, and research.skeleton_hand

There is also a relationship between psychological healing and incantations; either repeated as a musical chant by the patient or in fact recited by the attending medicine man. Modern medicine and science of course scoff at the notion of magical incantations having healing or restorative powers as so much superstition. But this, of course, begs the question that if recitations and incantations had no evidential resort and no beneficial property then why would every single human culture have adopted the method and repeated it for several thousand years? Surely if there was nothing to vibrating air with the sound of one’s breath as well as the added stimulation of associative meaning being read cognitively by the patient’s mind; we would have given it and its sisters, singing and chanting aeons ago.

I am 30123926_10215993633815156_874551244336406748_nnot advocating a supernatural or spiritual causation for the effectiveness of poetry as a healing agent but rather the supra-natural mystical cause which is grounded first in human nature and behavior for which can be a myriad of imprecise explanations; none of which explain why it works.

Today, poetry therapy is practised internationally by hundreds of professionals, including poets, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, educators and librarians. The approach has been used successfully in a number of settings—schools, community centers, libraries, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and correctional institutions, to name a few.

How Does Poetry Therapy Work?

As part of therapy, some people may wish to explore feelings and memories buried in the subconscious and identify how they may relate to current life circumstances.    Poetry is beneficial to this process as it can often be used as a vehicle for the expression of emotions that might otherwise be difficult to express

•Promote self-reflection and exploration, increasing self-awareness and helping individuals make sense of their world

•Help individuals redefine their situation by opening up new ways of perceiving reality

•Help therapists gain deeper insight into those they are treating

• In general, poetry therapists are free to choose from any poems they believe offer therapeutic value, but most tend to follow general guidelines.

It is recommended selected poems be concise, address universal emotions or experiences, offer some degree of hope, and contain plain language. Some poems commonly used in therapy are: “The Journey” by Mary Oliver “Talking to Grief” by Denise Levertov “The Armful” by Robert Frost “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman “Turtle Island” by Gary Snyder The poetry of Alan Watt, Allen Ginsberg and others.poem.brown_

Although the selection of material is often by the therapist, those being treated might be asked to bring to therapy a poem or other form of literature they identify with, as this may also provide valuable insight into their feelings and emotions.

My Technique in Poetry Therapy

A few different models of poetry therapy exist, but the  one I’ve had the most success with is a Four Phased Progression of Attention:

Recognition – Focus – Intention – Action

In the receptive/recognition phase, the poet therapist merely guides the subject to focus on their issue. The aim is to establish concentration and cognitive focus on the details of the issue which are not revealed to the poet/therapist. Only until the poet/therapist feels confident that the subject is cognitively attuned to and non verbally focussed on the problem or issue of concern that they begin to ask suggestive questions as to how the subject feels, not thinks about their subject.

00404_jYm78IsVoM9_600x450

This provocation of emotion usually comes in three distinct phases of emotional content:

I. First is the one of the predicament, then the subject first becomes aware of the existence of the issue. This is the gateway phase where anticipatory feelings are registered and ideally conveyed through the prompting of the poet/therapist.

II. Then there is the full throttle stage when anticipation of the issue has given way to full experience of all emotions related to the issue. This is usually overwhelming (or it wouldn’t be “an issue” in the first place), and it is tantamount that the poet/guide leads the subject through distinct words to describe the layers of emotions experienced by the subject. Language and the use of the words is the key here because emotions always come in clusters of complexity that make it difficult for both poet/therapist and subject to distinguish and focus on underlying and suppress emotions.

“What kind of anger do you feel?”

“How would you describe your sadness”

“How much shame do you feel?

“What would you compare it to?”

IMG_433100l0l_kJFj2yv382Z_600x450

Are typical of the questions a poet therapist would ask the subject.

This is a sophisticated method of word association but rather than creating bridges between seemingly disparate words, the goal is to drill down to the core emotions about the issue by uncovering and refining the language the subject has chosen.

Achieving exactitude of description is the task at hand. The Poet/Therapist makes careful notation of everything the subject says towards describing their emotion. It is important to keep them focused and not to succumb to intellectual distraction. Thoughts are illusions, emotions are facts.

Getting the subject to correctly and precisely describe the emotional facts of the matter at hand  is the objective

III. The final phase is the exit strategy.

How do the feelings commence to recede? How does the issue recede back into the background? What are the parting emotions? Is there anxiety about the leaving? The anticipation of an issue yet unresolved? Or is the issue impermeable and subject to a rhythmic return?

Again, the subject’s wording, their adjectives, adverbs and phrases are the material of the poem.

At this point, there is usually a short break to give time for the subject to recover from the emotional transitions and for the Poet/Therapist to briefly skim their notes and begin to focus on the flow of adjectives. It is preferable if possible, to compose what amounts to a first draft, a flow of words which the poet can read back to the subject to confirm the accuracy of the flow.

At this first reading stage, it is possible to start interjecting logical bridges between the emotional descriptors. This is the creative factor unleashed. The Poet must be led by the subject to link coherent sequences between the emotional states. The poet suggests and the subject confirms or vetoes the phraseology, one line at a time.

Now we arrive at a second draft which is the property of the subject. It is their poem for which it is crucial that the subject now read the poem aloud and take ownership of its content. The subject can redraft the poem a third time in making it their own.   But the physicality of uttering the words they have chosen to express their emotional state is an act of ownership and closure.

The Poet/Therapist can either email the finished poem to the subject, hand them his/her notes or rewrite the poem into a legible form.  In any case, it is important that the Poet/Therapist ascribes the authorship of the poem to the client.  If the client is hesitant to put their name to the poem than something is lacking in the poem and must be redressed or indeed started over again.

The key to the entire exercise is freedom of expression, honesty and then refinement; exacting the poem.IMG_4323-1

Other Approaches and Other Models

The process of writing can be both cathartic and empowering, often freeing blocked emotions or buried memories and giving voice to one’s concerns and strengths. Some people may doubt their ability to write creatively, but therapists can offer to support by explaining they do not have to use rhyme or a particular structure. Therapists might also provide stem poems from which to work or introduce sense poems for those who struggle with imagery. A Poet/Therapist might also share a poem with the individual and then ask them to select a line that touched them in some way and then use that line to start their own poem.

In group therapy, poems may be written individually or collaboratively. Group members are sometimes given a single word, topic, or sentence stem and asked to respond to it spontaneously. The contributions of group members are compiled to create a single poem which can then be used to stimulate group discussion. In couples therapy, the couple may be asked to write a dyadic poem by contributing alternating lines.

The symbolic/ceremonial component involves the use of metaphors, storytelling, and rituals as tools for effecting change. Metaphors, which are essentially symbols, can help individuals to explain complex emotions and experiences in a concise yet profound manner. Rituals may be particularly effective to help those who have experienced a loss or ending, such as a divorce or death of a loved one, to address their feelings around that event. Writing and then burning a letter to someone who died suddenly, for example, may be a helpful step in the process of accepting and coping with grief.

How Can Poetry Therapy Help You?

Poetry therapy has been used as part of the treatment approach for a number of concerns, including borderline personality, suicidal ideation, identity issues, perfectionism, and grief. IMG_4328

Research shows the method is frequently a beneficial part of the treatment process. Several studies also support poetry therapy as one approach to the treatment of depression, as it has been repeatedly shown to relieve depressive symptoms, improve self-esteem and self-understanding, and encourage the articulation of feelings. Researchers have also demonstrated poetry therapy’s ability to reduce anxiety and stress in people.

Those experiencing post-traumatic stress have also reported improved mental and emotional well-being as a result of poetry therapy. Some individuals who have survived trauma or abuse may have difficulty processing the experience cognitively and, as a result, suppress associated memories and emotions.

Through poetry therapy, many are able to integrate these feelings, reframe traumatic events, and develop a more positive outlook for the future. People experiencing addiction may find poetry therapy can help them explore their feelings regarding the substance abuse, perceive drug use in a new light, and develop or strengthen coping skills.

Poetry writing may also be a way for those with substance abuse issues to express their thoughts on treatment and behavior change. Some studies have shown poetry therapy can be of benefit to people with schizophrenia despite the linguistic and emotional deficits associated with the condition. ravenskull_1x

Poetry writing may be a helpful method of describing mental experiences and can allow therapists to better understand the thought processes of those they are treating. Poetry therapy has also helped some individuals with schizophrenia to improve social functioning skills and foster more organized thought processes. It is important to note in many instances, especially in cases of moderate to severe mental health concerns, poetry therapy is used in combination with another type of therapy, not as the sole approach to treatment.

Training for Poetry Therapists Poetry therapists receive literary as well as clinical training to enable them to be able to select literature appropriate for the healing process. While there is no university program in poetry therapy, the International Federation for Biblio-Poetry Therapy (IFBPT), the independent credentialing body for the profession, has developed specific training requirements. Several studies support poetry therapy as one approach to the treatment of depression, as it has been repeatedly shown to relieve depressive symptoms, improve self-esteem and self-understanding, and encourage the expression of feelings.

Concerns and Limitations of Poetry Therapy

In spite of its widespread appeal and broad range of application, some concerns have been raised about the use of poetry therapy. Some critics have pointed out it is possible for people to analyze a poem on a purely intellectual level, without any emotional involvement. This type of intellectualization may be more likely when complex poems are used, as a person might spend so much time trying to decipher the meaning of the poem that they lose sight of their emotions and spontaneous reactions. Poems that are unoriginal or filled with clichés are unlikely to stimulate individuals on a deep emotional level or challenge them to think in ways that promote growth. Just always keep in mind that poetry therapy may have little or no value for those individuals who simply do not enjoy poetry.

The Advertising Pitch:

IMG_4325 copy

Words are the Most Powerful Magic There Is

Sometimes Your Mind Has a Will of Its Own

With PEGASUS POETRY THERAPY you can

Learn How to Read Your Own Mind!

Confusion bringing you down?

Is manic depression touching your soul?

You know what you want, but you just don’t know how to get There?

Poetry therapy is what you need when the medication, the yoga, the guided meditation, the crystals, the chakra alignment and other Somatic treatments just aren’t working.

Some things only work when you let them work:

• Restore Self-Confidence

• Achieve Closure from Painful Relationship Breakups & Lost Loved Ones

• Find a More Meaningful Direction to Your Life

• Get Unstuck and Out of Your Own Way

• Overcome Fears and Anxiety

• Control panic attacks

• Change  Addictive Behavior Patterns, like OCD

• Re-Write bad Scripts

 Recognition > Focus > Intention > Action

cc3a9851_origThere is no trick to listening to yourself and learning how choosing and rearranging your words can unlock darkened doors, de-clutter basements and clean out the attics of your life. Sometimes in merely one session.

Every Tuesday from 11:00 am until 6:30 pm at the

Inner Temple Inner Healing Center

at Eve’s Vegan Cafe 575 S. Coast Highway 101 Encinitas, CA

Contact:   realpoetrytherapy@gmail.com or

Call 858 349 6429 for an appointment.

$50- 1/2 Hour $80 – 1 Hour eve-logo

EXAMPLES & ENDORSEMENTS

PEGASUS POETRY THERAPY  has only recently launched its online version via FaceTime, Skype or Facebook video.   downloadJust add <poetry therapy> to your Skype contacts and schedule a date.   Payments accepted through PayPal or Facebook cash.  Here are some examples of the poetry achieved through PEGASUS POETRY THERAPY:

I.

Narcissus in a Nutshell

I’ve lost the person locked within the situation

Like a nut dwells within its hard shell of fearful anger.

Escaping vulnerability

Hiding from the unknown.

Hard shells, hard feelings, hardness itself

The excitement of living days in the present

Belonging to the past

I will not let go of what I can recall but not relive

My belonging to that which encompasses myself

Another nut within its shell.

To belong is to exist

Without belonging there is Nothing and

I fear nothing most of all because I do not know it

And I fear what I do not know more than

I would remedy the pain of this loss  with trustworthy tools

When two liquids are bonded  as one

A single drop of poison poisons the whole glass

And betrayal  is always poison no matter how little or how much

The glass of Narcissus’s tears is now empty

He has blinded himself rather than drink his own poison.

Instead he has left me to sip the bitter poison

Of fading better days.

Like a cat

Poised in stillness

Distracted by nothing

Ready  to pounce

I will not surrender the pain.

I will not surrender the pain.

Because the pain is my memory of the happiness

We’ve now lost

A sweet nut within a bitter shell.

II.

The Martyr

Last night I saw you beatify a martyr

With a magical brush of gold belief.

You were serious and determined

But your brush strokes were light caresses

On a sky blue span of canvass

As you gently coaxed another image into being.

You remind me of my mother earth

Stern in her compassion

Willing to tolerate just so much from me

Before reining in my love

With her brushes.

And where you have drawn your line

‘Be careful’, you said to me on parting

But all the care in the world could not stop

My bulb from bursting

Rendering me blind in the speeding night

But still seeing with the golden light

Of the martyr you have shown me.

III.

Snake Heart

This sadness, this hopelessness

Will not be swatted away

Nor drowned by the busy work

Of the day to day.

It persists

Even when I am submerged in my bathtub.

The warm water rising from the bottom of my lungs.

Until I lose the will to breath

And the sadness becomes anger

Rising to the very top of my horns

Of my red-hot raging exhaustion.

How good to be angry!

I used to be afraid of snakes but no longer.
I am hissing from the centre of my snake-heart

As you try and step over me.

Your eyes fail to see as you tread on my tail.

On my snake heart.

On my resolution without confrontation.

Without the owning of emotion

All that’s left for us is the hissing sound of machinery.


The Woman I Never Got to Love


 

 

I never really knew Hannah Northedge apart from our Facebook exchanges. I think it was she that first started commenting on my postings. I read her comments with bemusement and replied.   Earnest, sincere, a bit young girlish but always quintessentially English. That refined contrivance that is both over-mannered and elegant at the same time.  And yet we shared a sense of humour, which is an astonishment between an Englishwoman and an American.

31880675_10156077867485609_4580787757411991552_n-1The real English, the softcenter at the core of the cracked, hard surface, English remind me no one more so than of the Japanese. Both island peoples deeply suspicious of foreign invaders and both sewn tightly within an intricately embroidered fabric of ritual, custom and politesse. Both peoples’ have a tea ceremony; one with boiled spring water and green leaf powder, the other with scones, clotted cream and jams.

I did not really know Hannah Northedge but I knew what she was like. A middle-class Midlands girl from Leicester with financially nurturing parents and an early gift, really, a passion for music. She must have dreamed as a young studious girl coming to the Big Smoke, to London to make it big as a chanteuse, as a professional jazz singer. Hannah’s own cover version of Dick Whittington sans cat. This would have been for her a dream logically constructed from sturdy childhood building blocks. Each carefully poised upon the other, pushing gradually upwards into a stern, determined tower of accomplishments.

Hannah would teach music on the side, to students both male and female to make ends meet in a rapidly escalating London that had long driven me from its financial borders. Living in London is not an easy thing. Not for any young man or woman and certainly not for a high strung, talented musician intent on being the best at what she could already do quite well.

The dedication of an artist is blind. Blind to all things that do not further the acts of creation. There is no greater earthly power than to suddenly plug one’s hours, days, years of practice into an unearthly circuit that seems connected to the very essence of one’s living. That sudden bursting propulsion ever further, and ever greater into what you had always wanted to attain and seemed now to be as effortless as a second nature. Suddenly you are living your higher nature!

Any artist, any writer, any dancer and any musician will tell you that this moment of being ‘experienced’ of being played upon what feels like the very aesthetic strings of life is at best indescribable. This is much more than being “in the zone” as an athlete or card player might venture. This is about the zone being in you and all around you; in every pore and molecule of your being until it would take more effort to stop the momentum than to just let yourself keep falling forwards. Pulled into the very gravity of creation.

The Red Shoes is a 1948 British drama film written, directed and produced by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and based on the story by Hans Christian Anderson about a pair of red shoes that are enchanted and when worn enchant the ballerina dancer into dancing more powerfully, more perfectly than she has ever danced before. Until tragically in the end, the dancer cannot stop the shoes from dancing her to her death. A glorious death brought to life by a magical realism. One that many would gloriously surrender to just to be swept up in that dance unto death.

Hannah had no red shoes to speak of, but her throat, her lungs, her diaphragm and her instinct for music were as enchanted as they were enchanting. They were her soul and at very least they enchanted me. I never really liked what she sang. Of course I never told her that; (why would I?) To me, perhaps unfairly, it reeked of nostalgia and a wonting for a long disappeared time. Her numbers were swing, pre-integrated jazz; the time of Louis Armstrong and grinning happy black men.

This music came to England via the American GIs that were stationed there, much to the resentment of the male British population and much to the erotic delight of the female one. Courting and bedding an English girl was the kind of overseas exotica an American GI could handle, easily overlooking the cultural gap by virtue of a common language; in fact magnetically attracted by that difference of language and nuance. We said elevator, they said lift; we asked how many blocks; they answered how many streets; what could be more enchanting? All to the sound of swinging jazz.

Hannah in many ways embodied that stalwart and determined optimism of the English. Being bombed by a vastly superior air force, on the very brink of invasion and yet somehow, against every indication to the contrary, still anticipating a break in the weather. Raining bombs on old London town. By the time American GIs were deployed to England the response of the British and I can hear Hannah saying exactly this, was “About bloody time! How nice of you to finally show up for the party!” “Better late than never, I suppose!”

This was the playful sarcasm of the English by which they kept themselves and each other bemused whilst coping with the obstacles at hand This has always been lost on my American comrades. We think it’s rather mocking, which of course it is; it’s merely a democratic mockery, a Monty Python hysteria at the awesome absurdity of Life and it all. When it comes to jokes and putdowns and the English, no one ever gets out alive, no less so than the English themselves. Self-effacement and self-mockery are not part of the American skill set and we would be fortunate in having few English Life Coach instructors to teach us a thing or two about the proper positioning and placement of the ego.

But I digress from my digression. Hannah was quintessentially English, youthfully so. Although merely some ten years younger than me, she somehow always made me feel that she was much younger than that. A child’s wide-eyed openness beaming from a woman’s face I believe that that child-like disposition, as well as her nervousness and constant stress, were hand in glove with her talent. She desperately needed to keep performing, to keep belting out those numbers because her life really did depend on it.
31913061_10156077869360609_7280322213599772672_n
I was supposed to take Hannah out on a date this Spring in London. Not really a date, more like a shared joke. Both of us had frequently traded our frustrations with the opposite sex and one night I asked Hannah to describe her perfect London date to me. It involved dinner and dancing and her description was so lighthearted and life-affirming fun that I immediately promised her that as soon as I got to London I would take her out on that exact same date. I made that promise not to impress Hannah or woo her but because what she described sounded like such god damn fun that I wanted in on it! Hannah’s lust for life was infectious. Most important of all, Hannah laughed at all of my jokes, even the ones that didn’t merit laughter.

Alas, our date to laugh is not to be. The one woman in 3 years who had finally agreed to go out with me, drowned herself instead at the very prospect. Now that’s a good joke. One that Hannah would have heartily laughed at.

What can I say about suicide? And I understand as of late through a mutual friend that that is exactly what Hannah Northedge had planned in advance and self-executed (so to speak). Albert Camus said that the only question worth asking in life is whether or not to commit suicide; each and every morning when we awake we should ask ourselves that very same question. Because in all honesty, in asking ourselves that question we are never freer. Simply because if we do not choose to end it all; (and I assume that anyone reading this has chosen other than that), then what we have chosen is everything else instead. Because we could have chosen the only alternative to living there is, but we did not to.

I don’t know if Hannah asked herself that very question waking in her luxurious hotel room in Eastbourne, near Beach Head, Britain’s top suicide spot. She certainly had chosen a fine hotel in which to waylay her return to London. Perhaps I will pay that hotel a visit just to catch that final view of the sea we might have shared and toasted. I do not know what state of mind she was in when her parents sent her back home to London from her childhood home in Leicester. English parenting can be harshly stoic at times.

All I do really know for sure about suicide, and in fact, that is what Hannah committed herself to, is that it is an act of self-agency. You may not want to hear this, but please listen because it’s true. Take this bitter pill from one who knows: Suicide is a determined act to strike out against a world of pain and futile injustice. It is not weakness nor surrender that causes one to take one’s own life. It is instead the ultimate act of defiance, an act of unnatural courage and entails a great act of will against all instinct; against the very will to survive.

To look at the universe that gave birth to one’s own conscious mind and in full consciousness scream “No!” “No, this life was not worth the pain, the agony, the empty suffering of my existence!” “You can just take it, just have it all back”. “This was never going to be good enough and I’m putting an end to it here and now because it is my choice my freedom, my volition to do so!”

I do not know of Hannah’s pain apart from what she told me of it. I do know that her despair at romance and at its betrayal weighed heavy on her. If there is any lesson to be garnered from her passing, be it what I tell my own daughter time and time again: never ever believe that you will ever need a man to be happy as a woman.

It’s possible to have both, but by no means mandatory; nor is a man ever the sole path to happiness. We are at best unreliable and at worst, much worse than that.

Hannah did seem determinedly desperate in her remaining months; determined to be believed and desperate not to be dismissed as a hypochondriac lunatic. Which from my own experience with medical authorities. their tendency to treat the symptoms more urgently than the patient surely is lacking some benefit.

I know that there are those of us who in trying to find some salve for our confusion and our anger will demand answers from doctors, from landlords and mould experts; from Hannah Northedge’s own family, even. I know that righteous confusion first hand. To you, I say what my baby sister’s widow said to me at the time of her untimely passing: “nothing that we do, nothing that we try, no matter how hard is ever going to bring her back”.

We need all to find our peace with that.

Igor Goldkind © 2018


“We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names, of symbols, signs, conceptions,  ideas and numbers.”  ~ Alan Watts


The Numbers Game

In the end, it was the numbers that did us in.
They lined us up into military rows
And assigned us all numbers
One after one after one after one after one….
How many, nobody knows.
You see, it’s a numbers game
It’s all the same
You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Let me explain how it’s done,
And how this game can never be won.images-1

See, there are good numbers and bad numbers
High numbers and sad numbers.
Sometimes high numbers are good and low numbers are bad
And sometimes low numbers are good and high numbers are sad.
It all depends on who is counting.
Not you or me
Not the numbers either.
They don’t know, they’re just numbers after all.
Although…
The numbers are counting on each other.
Just not you or me

Because we will never be free
Of Big Numbers and small numbers,
Negative numbers and imaginary numbers,
You see, it’s a numbers game.
It’s all the same
You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Let me explain
How it’s done.
And how this game can never be won.
downloadPrisoner number…

Credit Score number
GPA number
SAT Number
Zip code number
Blood pressure number
Heart rate number
DOB & TOD numbers
House number
Gas number
Phone number
Electricity number
Room number
Water number
Dog tags number
Social Security number
Bank account number
Table number
Sibling number
Temperature number
Flight number
License number
Vehicle registration number
Alcohol level number
Height, weight and age number

I hear you scream:
“I’m not a number, I’m a human being!!”
Sure you are,
Now take a number.
It’s for your own protection
There’s safety in numbers.

Numbers can answer all of your questions:
How far, how long, how deep, how high, how many,images-2
How often?
Just not ‘how come’?
Anyone can count,
But you can’t count on anyone.
See, it’s a numbers game
That can’t be won
It’s a numbers game
It’s just how it’s done.
It’s all the same.

You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Now count to ten
And start all over again.

For Rob Thompson who asked me if Numbers occupy Space.


Why Thomas Paine Would Shoot Donald Trump if He Were Alive Today


Yes, indeed that’s a provocative title; but this ain’t click-bait my friends.  This is the real deal.  If Thomas Paine were alive today, he’d be in the nation’s capital with a pistol waiting for the selected president.  Of course, he’d be waiting a long time considering as far as he knew, the capital of these United States was in Philadelphia.  I have a vision of old globalist Thomas standing outside Ben Franklin’s door, knocking as hard as he could, shouting

“Benjamin!  Benjamin!  Come out, our nation’s in trouble and its much worse than the British.  Forget the kite!’’.  Kind of like the scene in Street Car Named Desire where Marlon Brando is standing outside Stella’s window in the pouring rain in his soaked white T-Shirt.

JA11_Page_18_01_webMarlon Brando would have made a good Thomas Paine in the film, the graphic novel and the computer game but this doesn’t answer the question embedded in the title of this diatribe. Why would Thomas Paine if he were alive today,  track down Donald Trump and put a bullet in the back of his head?   In principle this would require Donald to be on his knees, facing away from Thomas with his tiny hands wrapped around the back of his head.  I suppose you, dear reader, are ‘en-titled’ to an answer as the to why and the wherefore; but stay with me as we savour the moment.  The ultimate retribution of history: to be shot in the back of a head by one of the Founders of this revolutionary nation, ironically with a pistol no less.  One that Thomas didn’t have to register or submit to a background check to acquire from the antique pistols and muskets booth at the gun show a couple blocks away.

So before Thomas pulls the trigger and the tiny lead ball propels from the pistol’s mouth through his dense skull and lodges somewhere in the soft tissue that Donald referred to at his “brain”, let’s pause and assess the situation.   Let’s skip over the time travel details as to how Thomas Paine got from the late 18th century to the early 21st.  We’ll leave it to the graphic novel to explain that bit; him jumping a little over two centuries in time.  Although we really don’t have to figure out anything at all.  Thomas Paine’s words, his ideas and his rebel spirit not only jumped but survived intact more than 2 centuries and the soul of our national sovereignty.   So if Thomas Paine were brought back from the dead by some mysterious force, it could only be due to his words, his ideas, the nation he fought for being under threatened.

And that, my reader, is precisely the point being made by my title and the words you are reading now.  Today, not 2 decades into the 21st century, the essential values that built this nation, this American experiment by a motley crew of post-enlightenment landowners, orators, tradesmen and inventors is at risk of being destroyed.  Not by Trump himself, you realise.  But by Us, by We the People in our impotent complacency to stop him.  

We are not revolutionaries, we are the revolution Thomas and his friends dreamt up, drew the blueprints for, and built on the hot blood that soaked the green countryside of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Carolina  who’s names are only possible because of the stubborn bravery of these idealists, these socialists, these men of vision that had the hubris to build a nation founded not by the right of kings or church or even the wealthy, but by the enlightenment values of Liberty, Justice and Freedom. 

These values, of course, aren’t just American, although they are the foundation stones of our democracy.  Thomas Paine author of Common Sense, The Age of Reason and the Rights of Man who’s title alone reveal the nature of his philosophy:  to build a nation on Reason, not religious superstition.  It’s not that Thomas Paine didn’t believe in the Divine, he just believed in Reason more:

“It is by the exercise of reason that man can discover God. Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything.”hqdefault

Later, a member of the French Senate, he would lend his hand to writing the Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s version of the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789, along with Thomas Jefferson.  Rousseau’s Rights of Man became the basis of the UN Human Rights Charter as well as the EU Human Rights initiative.  So next time you hear some jackass complaining about Liberals going on and on about Human Rights you might want to mention that they’re disrespecting the  Founding Fathers, two of whom (Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine) contributed to the declaration.

In fact, Universal Human Rights is the soul not only of our Constitution but the Declaration of Independence, the UN Charter and the adopted law of all members of the European Union.    Human Rights is the one thing that Donald Trump can’t abide because he has dedicated his life to the accruement of power, power for its own sake.  Trump really isn’t that bothered by actual money in spite of his public persona.  What he is dedicated to is what money buys:  people, power and governance; and this is exactly where we have gone astray from the origins of our nation.  We have handed our own governance over to banks, corporate interests and the uber-affluent who can afford to buy a Congressman or a President.   

Mueller’s investigation will very shortly reveal the origins of the money that bought Trump his presidency.  We know already that the NRA contributed 30 million dollars early in his campaign.  Do you remember that lie about how Trump said he was incorruptible because he could afford to fund his own campaign?  I know, I know, it’s hard to remember all the lies Trump has spouted.

Do you know why the Truth is better than a lie?

Why? Because it’s easier to remember.

But going back to the pistol Thomas Paine is holding against Donald Trump’s head; no, I didn’t forget my premise.  Imagine it with me.  There’s Thomas Paine, his hand steadily holding the cocked pistol, fully powdered and loaded with a small lead ball.  Tiny, but big enough to leave a good sized hole at such close range.  And there’s Donald Trump on his knees, shaking.  He’s already wet the pants of his the suit he’s wearing.  He tries very hard to hold back his urgent need to defecate and fails. 

Now Donald Trump is soiled.  Soiled himself the same faeces he’s been feeding to the American voters for years.  Soiled by his indifference, his empathy deficit, his reckless, unfeeling impulses, his sociopathic disconnect from the human race.  Remember, Donald, to say ‘I hear you’.  It fools them every time and leaves plenty of time for self-gratification at the expense of others.  Trump is soiled by his own inhumanity, his unbridled carnal greed to accumulate, wealth, power, women.    He assaults women not because he can get it up anymore but because they have power which he needs to dominate. 

Look at his wife.  I haven’t seen such a blank dead look of a hostage to circumstance since Patty Hearst.  It was the money that bought her and (like some particularly gruesome episode of Back Mirror), she got exactly what she paid for, with her integrity her  and self-respect.   Imagine the morning she awoke to the dawning denouement.   Sure she could leave any time, with her child.  But where would she go?  What would she do?  In the afterlife of existence everyone writes a book and sells it.  When things go badly; when the world seems to be against me; when I lose; I always remind myself – it could always get worse and at least I don’t have to fuck Donald Trump. 

The thought makes me feel better but my heart tears up when I think of her suffering.  It is the suffering of the affluent.  The ones who have accommodated everything they were told they needed to be happy.  Everything they worked hard to acquire in lieu of happiness only to find that very object  eluding them.   That’s the horror of the denouement, you reach the summit of your life’s ambition and now the only thing left to do is jump off.  Because Happiness is not an object or an objective.  It flits effortlessly in and out of our lives like a butterfly, briefly lingering on a flower and moving on.  Ever try to chase a butterfly?   Exactly.

Back to Donald Trump having shit and pissed himself while one of the Fathers of our country held a pistol to his head.  Perhaps at this point Donald would beg for his life.Like the scene in Miller’s  Crossing.  “Please, Thomas, Please.  Look in your heart, look in your heart.  You don’t want to do this.  You’re not that kind of man.  Look in your heart, for godssake !”.

bb5357582397e9a25fc3653a7b4a5232dfc079fbGod is a natural place to go to.  After all, the divisions we are now facing in our country are by no means recent.  They’ve been brewing for decades.  The divisions are not entirely geographic although the 3 states that assured Donald of his electoral victory does have a concentration of post-calvinist  evangelicals.    No are they solely cultural; after all, Donald Trump is the epitome of the urban gangster.  A smooth talking, wheeling dealing property developer soaking in the comfort of Manhattan luxury.  He should be anathema to his base of supporters.  But he’s not, instead he speaks their language; the language of PT Barnum and Charlie Chan both as fake as a wooden nickel but master showmen to a ’T’ (Only white actors played Charlie Chan which ironically was invented by Earl Derr Biggers as  an alternative to Yellow Peril stereotypes and villains like Fu Manchu).

And Trump talks about God.  He doesn’t so much talk about his beliefs (if he has any), but about the threat that nonbelievers and other religions pose for Christian Evangelists, particularly targeting Islam.  Trump runs his own Circus of Fear and the punters are more than happy to pay to be scared or at least have their irrational fears affirmed. Donald Trump should be played by the late Robert Mitchum (if he were still alive. Hey, we brought Thomas Paine from 2 centuries ago; a zombie Robert Mitchum should not pose too many difficulties).  To be exact, Robert Mitchum in his role as the greed-laden preacher in the class American Gothic The Night of the Hunter in which he plays a psychopathic man of the cloth bent on money and murder (in that order).  He pursues two children who hold the secret to a hidden fortune down a river in the south, riding a donkey and singing hymns.    A fake, a demon, a creature of merciless malice.
images
So is Thomas going to shoot Trump in the head for using religion to accumulate power?  Of course not.  Thomas was a believer but not in God, in Reason.  “It is by the exercise of reason that man can discover God. Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything.”  The reason Thomas Paine is holding a cocked pistol against the back of Donald Trump’s head is not God; Trump hasn’t blasphemed against Faith; he’s blasphemed against Reason.  Trump has spent his entire career disseminating the appearance of things, not the truth.  Truth is the enemy of Donald Trump, because in Truth, he is an insignificant man in the scheme of things just as we are all beholden to the significance we manufacture and some of us have made peace with that.  Donald Trump has not.   Like a Hungry Ghost Donald is compelled by desire, call it lust, a lust for significance.  This is why he builds towers, not to house offices or hotel rooms, but to prop up as high as he can his name: Trump.

At the start of this year, we had a crisis

in authority due to the steady lies being pumped from the Whitehouse by Tump.  The first rule of autocracy is to shake people’s belief in authority so that they only can believe in you.  Donald Trump is attempting to destroy the pillars of the 4th estate.  Now we’ve entered a period of  crisis in competence.  When the very ability to address real-world problems by Trump and his stooges is dubious at best. 

Remember that the balance of powers  in the Constitution is all beholden to having a Free Press in which people can report the truth and express their opinions of their government.  That’s what Thomas Paine counted on in drafting our rights.  Each right has a corresponding duty. Paine said our first duty is to be kind to others. Paine also said that a person’s corresponding duty is to allow the same rights to others as we allow ourselves. From this basis we can use our abilities to promote mutual understanding. These expanding circles of reciprocal duties and rights weave a tapestry, built on democratic norms, of liberty in the context of societal interdependence.  It’s called a society based on equality.

Did you know that Thomas Paine was the very first American abolitionist? In 1775 he wrote “To Americans: That some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilized, nay, Christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising; and still persist, though it has been so often proved contrary to the light of nature, to every principle of justice and humanity, and even good policy, by a succession of eminent men, and several late publications.”

“Our traders in MEN (an unnatural commodity!)  must know the wickedness of that SLAVE-TRADE, if they attend to reasoning, or the dictates of their own hearts; and such as shun and stifle all these willfully sacrifice conscience, and the character of integrity to that golden idol.”

Thomas Paine was the first white citizen Member of Black Lives Matter.  He and his pal Thomas Jefferson originally included an amendment to the Constitution ending slavery.  They wanted to create a revolutionary society in which ALL men are created equal.  As usual, women would have to wait.   Ofcourse this amendment was vetoed by the southern slave owning states.  The same states suspiciously from which Trump derives the concentration of his base support. 

But the point being that the Founding Fathers, if not all, enough wanted to establish an egalitarian society in all respects.  Paine referred to this, as did the other Framers as ‘the common good’ something the alt-right abhors the notion of as they translate it into control by some body that isn’t them.  Nonetheless, contrary to Constitution literalists the “common good” involves a mental posture taken by citizens in their deliberations where they account for, yet transcend partial interests to look at the good for each and all in their decisions.

Even in business, Trump’s claimed turf,  the right of commerce was seen as transforming the mind-set of feudal, dependent relations between men and their government. It helped transform subjects into confident citizens. Trade was viewed not as laissez-faire, but in a web of social interdependence. It was seen as a major modality for individuals to use their Reason (not Faith), to develop better mutual understanding of others interests in society. While aware that too much indulgence in commerce could lead to the decline of spirit and patriotism, making reason subservient to commercial interests,   Paine felt that man would use his religion of reason to place commerce within a broader quest for lifelong education in the arts, sciences, engineering, and philosophy in order to progress to a universal society and universal happiness.

Paine believed that man’s highest spirit of reason in its motives and applications such that it does not have to be concentrated solely in pursuit of commercial interests. Art, science, and commercial enterprise can be placed in service to humanity and universal happiness.  Moreover, each individual deserves minimal dignity and a minimal economic base to pursue their natural rights. Like Paine and Edward Bellamy advocated two hundred years ago, some form of guaranteed minimal annual income ought to be adopted for each citizen, regardless of wealth or other distinctions.   Imagine what Thomas Paine would make of the modern day commercialized medical establishment!

Sounds like a socialist that Thomas Paine, don’t he?  Not at all really, just your average post-Enlightenment philosopher and thinker.  Or only as far as Socialism is dedicated to the fairer distribution of resources so that everyone might enjoy Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness more equally.  “Some men and women, through greed or disproportionate natural or social advantages, will contribute to others being systematically impoverished in the imperfections of manmade civilization”

”The earth is the common property of the human race”; thus each human being is equally entitled to have dignity and minimal share of the earth’s bounty, including clean water, air, and access or rents from land  Thus, men and women must discover those laws operating in society which will create a greater harmony of overall interests. Democratic communities will have to choose to redistribute some minimal baseline of societal resources to those at least most vulnerable not as charity, but as a right in the name of social harmony.”

Paine conceived of autonomous democratic nation-states forming alliances of mutual aid. Mikhail Gorbachev has said that we ought to have a balancing of interests, not a balancing of power on the global stage internationalization, with the primacy of nation-state alliances, is a major alternative to the trends of corporate economic globalization. In the myth of a “flat” world of economic globalization, where the world is made safe and frictionless for capital expansion,

Citizens and nations do not vote for corporate influenced governmental-military-industrial-media alliances and trade agreements which establish “the rules of the game” subtly conditioning the thinking of the masses. 

These are not ancient words.  These are the principles America was founded on and without which we would have early on taken the road to the same form of despotism and autocracy  that Donald Trump is trying to lead us into.   Trump only wants power.  Power to control what is true and what is not.  Power to determine the fates and existence of as many people as he can.  This is why he loves the idea of a wall, the decoration of undocumented long term residents and the border checks at airports that targets people of the Muslim faith, as well as people that white people think look like Muslims!

In his own way, from his visionary perspective, Thomas Paine was what the right wing calls a Globalist or even more bizarrely a statist.  Of course the founding father were statists, they constructed the blueprint for the United STATES.

Bernie Sanders was right. Trump isn’t Conservative or moderate, much less liberal; he’s an autocrat who has no respect for the Constitution and has failed as commander and chief to protect this country from a foreign antagonist.

Back to the curb where Paine is holding Trump hostage to the imperatives of history and the gentle squeezing of Thomas’s trigger finger.   Because Donald Trump is a traitor to his state.   He has been under the influence of a foreign antagonist Vladimir Putin since at least 2014, shortly after he first announced his attempts at the Presidency.   He needed money to run a campaign for President and he didn’t have any.  No bank would loan him money because Trump always welched on his debts.     So he had to turn to Deutsche Bank, the same bank that Putin and his oligarchy use to  make money disappear and reappear wherever is most expedient.  In this case it was the Presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. 

This will all become very shortly apparent as soon as the next wave of indictments are issued by the DOJ.   Trump is in a jam that he can’t get out of.   Mueller’s investigation on behalf of the federal department of justice is very far from being a witch hunt. Read the indictments, all the evidence is published there, enough to hold up in federal court. Mueller, if you recall, is a conservative Republican of impeccable integrity.

BTW, I don’t detest Conservatives; some of my best friends…etc. But Trump isn’t really a conservative, he’s a con man playing the GOP for whatever he can get away with. I don’t hate conservatives, I hate liars who shamelessly lie every day they open their mouths. I hate incompetents who can’t even keep one national security advisor on board during his first year and whose family and campaign advisors were meeting with Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign.

At this point in the event, Donald Trump moves his head slightly.  Thomas steadies his hand.  Testing Thomas, Trump slowly turns his head enough to glimpse Thomas’s steely stare.  As unflinching as Mueller’s investigation.  Once again Trump pleads, begs for his life.  “What do you want Mr. Paine?  I’ve got money tons of money.  What about women?  I can get you the most beautiful models in the world.  What about an audience with the Queen of England, she’s easy.”   Thomas pauses and for the first time speaks to Donald J. Trump:

“I want my country back.  I want the nation myself and my brothers built out of Reason, Compassion and Equality back.  I want what this nation is meant to be, not what you have defiled it as.”

Trump knows his goose is cooked.  He can’t repair the damage he’s caused.  It will take others, long after he’s gone to rebuild our country.  Others who are younger than a 70-year-old patriarch.  Others who have grown accustomed to being one nation in a physically interconnected  world.  Others who aspire to rise above the fumes of spiritual superstition to the level of what Paine himself called “our living awareness of the Infinite Presence.” by means of Reason.  Science, the Arts, the cooperative nature of our fellow hairless apes.  The high school students who have stood up and proclaimed “enough is enough”  The women who no longer cover their mouths and stifle their words when being subject to interpersonal tyranny.  These are the children of Thomas Paine.  These are the people he fought for and wrote for.

As a species we survived and dominated this planet by virtue of our complex means of cooperation, not competition.  That complex is what we refer to as a Society and those who reject the notion are, well  just anti-Social.

Donald Trump speaks to Thomas Paine one last time.
“Please Thomas, I promise to be better, I promise to live up to your virtues, I swear I’m a changed man.  Look in your heart Thomas, look in your heart, Please!….”

He speaks his  last four words to the man on his knees in front of him:

“I have, you traitor.”

Thomas pulls the trigger.

©Igor Goldkind 2018


Victory is Ailing but Still Not Defeated!


11895232_10153652408982755_5922705933682661300_o

This blog is now my sole cognitive link to the outside world.
At least today it is.

I can’t physically be where I need to be so I’m posting here thinking that if enough people read my status, that it somehow puts me in the real world of social transactions and mini Games of Thrones.

Victory is not defeated but ailing.
I put my black steel steed in the hands of Spencer, the young mechanic who plays my Sancho Panza in this story. He’s humble because all of Victory’s afflictions are his fault. But I don’t rub it in.
“Sancho,” I say. “There’s no point in wasting time in pointing fingers. It’s never really just one cause, usually a combination of factors. I’m just glad that you’re willing to drive out here at 7 in the morning to take a look”.

I help Sancho Panza push my bike up into the back of his truck.

One good reason I’ve found for being nice (or civil, as I used to call it), is because so few people really are. Oh, they want to be taken for nice people alright; and would be highly distressed to find that others might think otherwise. Being nice provides a tactical advantage.

Although, I liked Spencer the young bike mechanic. An engineer in practice if not in credentials. My bike is first up this morning so if it can be fixed, it will be fixed in time for me to hit the 5 for San Diego and the Pancakes and Booze Art Market where I’m exhibiting some of my mother’s works for sale right next to Mario Torero. Sell some watercolours, some pastels and loads of books I hope.

I enjoy the role of an “art-barker”.
It feels like an honest effort for very little pay; however, the rewards are luxurious.

There are so many jobs that aren’t so and so many professions that once were and have since gone astray into the mercenary end of pure commercial exploitation. Marketing people use the term ‘exploitation’ to refer to the product they’re peddling but what they really mean is the market they want to buy it.

“Don’t say you support the arts, buy some!” is my shill.

So if my Victory is assured and returned to me by 3, I will make my way south on the 5 lane asphalt ribbon to the City on the Bay.

Last night I missed the ceremony for the official induction of 3 copies of IS SHE AVAILABLE? into the central library’s local author collection. Not just me, but that of my historic friend Chris Ernest Nelson, as well. His book Harvest lying right next to IS SHE? in a glass case.

Just like William Blake at the British Library when it used to be a separate building from the British Museum. And Joe Orton’s mutilated library books for which he spent prison time inside, now under glass inside the Islington Library in London, the very library he stole them from in the first place. In England, they put both the author and the work behind glass. In England, people go to jail for unpaid library fines. And mutilating books into art collages.

So I missed by success at convincing the library to take my book which they rejected at least twice. Once because it didn’t fit into their category system, the second because of Michael S Kane‘s Andy Warhol/Jack Kirby Madonna and child. But no child, just Mother Mary nurturing a revolver.

It’s been the image that has caused the most alarm and offence amongst bookstores, book buyers and of course libraries. I have been closing high order deals with chains on more than one occasion, only to have the buyer happen to land on Shaky’s spread and immediately handing my book back to me. Atta-boy Shaky, I’m living on desperation row thanks to you!

Shakey KaneThe irony is that our intention from the beginning was to apparently offend. There is nothing specifically offensive or pornographic about the image of a pre-pubescent blond girl holding a big pink gun. Not even the word ‘Vagina’ standing out in Rian Hughes‘s sculptural typography of the text to the poem.

In fact, there’s nothing offensive or shocking about the image at all, just the impression that one will be shocked. And of course, the real content, the real meaning of the poem and the illustration is that gun-violence is what we should really be offended and shocked by and yet are no longer. Judge for yourself below.

At any rate, I am home alone; sound but unsafe, calmly nervous by events beyond my control that are inevitably unfolding. G/d will pretend, when the time comes, that the end of the world was what he had planned all along.

Everybody improvises their intentions.

Just wait and see.


Nobody Talks to Me Anymore   


Has been entered int the Realistic Poetry Contest and thus is no longer available on my blog as it is defined as non-exclusive or previous publication by the contest rules.

Who knows, I may even win.

Either way, it returns once the contest is over in February
Tune In.

DLKBRPMWkAIXppy


Speculative Realism: What It Means, What It Is and Why You Need to Know About It


Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is really the best TV on your screen. It quite literally holds up a black mirror not just onto our society but to each one of us as components, now data-cogs, of the society we can no longer see anymore without the aid of mirrors.  We are like goldfish in a goldfish bowl kept rotating by the shortness of our attention spans and never even realising the wetness of our environments.

Charlie Brooker, his cast, co-writers and the producers at Netflix are doing us the moral service of reminding us of the remnants of own moral outrage and how our own ethical boundaries have long since been trespassed by the dark consequences of convenience and more efficient processing.

The machines never took over, we just surrendered.

Andrew-Ostrovsky_George-Redhawk_GIFWe are like commuters stuck in traffic complaining about the traffic that we are actually both part of and complicit in. Even though from our subjective vehicles, we cannot see it. Traffic controllers retain the power however it is a remote distributed, bureaucratic, systemised power that is no longer subject to one human’s judgement. Who do you alert when the traffic lights stop working? You don’t have to, they already know.

I have as of late, paraded the term Speculative Realism, borrowed from the French post-idealists. Who understand that the only way to view ourselves clearly is no longer as mere individuals but as components of a larger neuro-ecology that contains, constraints and ultimately defines us. We are the furniture that a system beyond our own subjectivity keeps rearranging “on our behalf”, “for our own safety”. “for your security”.images-1

I have only slightly re-engineered the term in the context of a literary genre, of storytelling, perhaps the sole remaining respite of human freedom. A story is a purely human phenomenon untainted by machine efficiency as machines don’t need to tell each other stories. But we do, and in doing so we may be flexing the last quiescent muscle of our humanity. A story is comprised up 3 interlocked elements: The storyteller, the story and the audience (or to whom the story is told). At least two of these components are human, subject and object; the rest is merely synaptic grammar.   images

When a story is told and heard, a condensed complex of information, human knowledge and near spiritual wisdom is transmitted in a compact instant well beyond the speed or circuitry of a microchip. Remember, we are the minds that created and defined data. It is that creative mind that is both alert and receptive to the information that is vital to our survival, as a species and as sane human beings. Storytelling is our salvation and Poetry is better than prayer because you don’t have to pretend that someone is listening.

Speculative Realism is just my tag for vital, survival information being conveyed by storytellers. As essential as where the next herd of buffalo might be. Speculative Fiction has here to provide the luxurious canvas for our imaginations to ponder possibilities. But Speculative Realism is not what you might do ‘if…’ but what you will have to do ‘when…’ To survive, to retain your own identity and perhaps even your sanity. Speculative Realism is imperative, it carries the mental equipment we need to survive.

imagesBlack Mirror is a series of short cameos of Speculative Realism. The term is beginning to gain traction since I first observed the emergence of this genre in film, fiction and screen entertainment. I have since read a reference to Neil Gaiman‘s work described as Speculative Realist in his use of double vision, (the seeing of two apparent contractions as one), in his characterisations. I don’t know if he thinks that, you’d have to ask him.

Cyberpunk auteur Bruce Sterling, in Wired, refers to Speculative Realism as Philosophy Fiction, which is as good a handle as any because Speculative Realism defends the autonomy of the world from human access in a spirit of imaginative audacity.

In his recent Edinburgh University Press publication Speculative Realism and Science Fiction, Brian Willemsuses a range of science fiction literature that questions anthropomorphism to develop the Speculative Realist position. He looks at how nonsense and sense exist together in science fiction, the way in which language is not a guarantee of personhood, the role of vision in identity formation and the differences between metamorphosis and modulation.

hqdefaultThese are useful critical and academic insights. But the real meat is in the eating and Black Mirror takes you to the centre of the Speculative Realist banquet, piling your plate high with outrage, moral panic and cautionary tales of horror. I suggest tasting a sample as we’re all going to be eating from this same table for the very foreseeable future,
the future that has already arrived.

© Igor Goldkind 2016images-2


A Drinking Song: The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present


 

Last night was kind of my XXXmas eve, being a Saturday night, with no ghosts to placate until Monday morning. So I took my Victory out for a long ride, 46 miles down to Chula Vista to drop in on my drunken-angel-poet-brothers Alex Bosworth and Chris Vannoy. As I told them, I’ve never stopped in Chula Vista before,  only passed through it; well on my way to crossing the border between Mexico and Madness.

Back in the Beatnik Days, when America was still a Great Shining Beacon of Golden Intentions and jail-breaking freedoms, going south of the border was a euphemism for leaving the straight rational world and exploring the psychedelic corridors and hallways of the unconscious mind, where the muses played poker to the sound of Gabriel’s saxophone under a streetlamp, playing for spare  change, playing for the end of time. Kesey, Cassidy, Timothy Leary had all spent time south of the border, hiding from the authority.

But I wasn’t going all the way south or crossing any borders. Instead, like a Boddhisatva practising the discipline of worldly compassion, I was riding south on the great American highway stopping just short of going over the edge. Stopping long enough for the rest of my sentient species to hop on board and cross over with me.   How long I gotta wait?   The blur of the wind in my eyes transforms Inter-state 5 into a two-lane river of white headlight diamonds on one end heading towards but past me and on the other end,  a torrent of glistening rubies speeding with me, flowing around me,  carrying me forwards in one high speed direction.

I was carried on a slipstream of glistening rubies last night.  Chilled legs wrapped around my angel in flight, carrying me aloft above all thought, beyond all hesitation, in that dangerous living moment when every half second of thought is solid and real with consequence; and any distraction is a trap door thumping open under the hangman’s rope.

That is the fury of mediation. That is my arrival in this moment that we all share. The calm at the center of chaos.  Join me, dear reader, at the centre of chaos.

So I’m heading south armed with an unopened bottle of rye, the spirit of the season travels with me. Good whisky is about as spiritual as I get these days.  It is my usual Xmas tradition to grab a bottle of good booze and head down to the Greyhound station, or the street corner, outside a homeless shelter or an alleyway or anywhere I can find and join a cluster of the disaffected, the homeless, the pointless, the ones left out of family portraits. Just to share a drink, a joke and the dregs of our mutual humanity.

But this year, not particularly in contrast,  I’ve chosen the company of Deadbeat poets, failed self-construction workers, mental hospital misfits, suicide skippers and gravel-voiced prophets capable of predicting the present with uncanny accuracy. Cassandra’s children muttering under their condensed breaths, scratching their prophecies from the oracle down for the benefit of anyone who still remembers how to read; or how to listen. Tonight these are my brothers (and sisters), in arms. Raging against a sea of struggles, believing that by opposing them, we will end them and wrap our soiled blankets of peace around this cold, shivering world’s shoulders.

Chris Vannoy &amp; Alex Bosworth

Dead Beat Poets

I make it to Main Street much too early and agree to meet my comrades in a bar called Sanctum. I have no currency apart from my still untried bottle of rye so I stand outside on the pavement near but not too near two young women smoking butts and laughing. ‘Merry Xmas’, I venture.

‘Merry fucking Xmas to you too’, is their reply.  So I listen. A skill I am still mastering.   The raven-haired beauty of the pair is recounting her love life to her friend. Telling her how she had met her intended’s eyes at work, a burning penetration in time and how happy she was that at least she knew, that she knew that she knew that there was an unstated passion, thrilling at the unstated, as yet unenacted attraction between them.
The bittersweet anticipation of passions yearned for but still yet to come.

I wanted to tell the dark-haired young woman how lucky she was to be free to express such yearning to another woman. Jealously,  I wanted her to pity my poor lame masculinity and the political mindfield I had to traverse to even come close to sharing such a pure moment of true emotion and affection.   But I didn’t. Who wants to hear another pitiful man’s story anyways? This was the year of raised female voices. Voices raised in anger, in righteous retribution for all the wrongs accrued., in demand of recognition. Voices of freedom insisting on justice, insisting on equal treatment without unwanted trespass.

Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink. . . .

So instead I pulled out my weapon of virtue, my great equalizer of man and woman, my bottle of rye from my bag and asked if ‘You ladies would like a drink”. “Hell yes”. And for a brief instant, I felt just like St. Peter patrolling the earth and giving comfort to lost souls.

This murdered the time until my wordly brothers finally arrived. We poured from the bottle into bright red dixie cups, swigging them down in the parking lot before entering the warmth of Sanctum Ale House to talk poetry, performance, and what we were going to do with the rest of our lives.  This was beginning to feel a lot like a rendezvous of fallen angels pausing for a drink and brief reflection before hitting Hell.

Beatnik Approved!

Beatnik Approved!

There was no reason to take a picture or a selfie or even take note of the time. We drank, we talked, we tried to make each other laugh and we indulged in our common humanity; a focus on what we shared more than what we didn’t.

My mind spun back in time to the many drinking conversations I had with my late great friend, the writer David Halliwell.   The only man I had ever met who had got drunk with Sam Beckett.   So David told this story of buying a bottle of good Irish whisky and taking the train to London, from Yorkshire. Easily a 4-hour journey.  On the trip, David got nervous opened the bottle and drank half the contents on the way down arriving completely cut up the King’s Road party where San Beckett would be.  He did find Beckett apparently and immediately sat down to finish the rest of the bottle he’d brought.  David got so drunk he couldn’t remember a word that Sam Beckett had said to him.

Last night, I told Chris and Alex about the year that David called me up to join him for a Xmas drink and The Bull Tavern in the little North East Oxfordshire village of Charlbury, whose village council insisted on calling it a town because it had 4 pubs, a pharmacy and a post office.

Advance Review pdf of IS SHE AVAILABLE_Page_50

I walked down the unpaved bumpy road to the tavern, past the Egyptian cottage with the papyrus reeds of Isis, the Goddess, not the terrorists.  I reached The Bull pub and Inn, Opened the heavy oak door and walked into a movie. The pub was nearly empty save for the bar that featured David on his bar stool holding court with his mates. Only his mates were images burnt on my retinas since childhood: John Hurt, Ben Kingsley, David Warner, Freddie Jones and his son, then unknown now better known than him, Toby Jones. I remember blinking in disbelief. I might as well have walked in on Lewis Carrol, Tolkien and CS Lewis downing pints all who had also frequented this pub some hundred years previously.

I remember David smiling, laughing his phlegmatic cough and motioning me over to introduce me to these faces from the screen. “This is Igor, he’s another writer; he’s a Yank but he’s alright”. I was just another writer in the company of actors, everyday workers taking a break from toiling in the star-maker factories behind the popular film. I was handed a bulbous goblet of glowing ruby wine and the rest is hard to remember. But I do recall making them laugh and David Warner towering over me and reminiscing about his one appearance in a two-part Star Trek opposite Patrick Stewart that had earned him enough to comfortably return to the stage for 7 continuous years. Apart from young Toby, these were board strutting actors; indifferent and virtually contemptuous of their movie work save for the vast sums Hollywood paid them for peddling their trade of packaged emotions.

The next year most of them would be dead, David Halliwell included. I would empty his cottage with a Scottish actor of his while his Yorkshire sister wept inconsolably on his stairwell. In England, people let you weep and leave you to the dignity of your grief out of respect for the exceptional display of emotion. If you openly weep in England its because the pain is so hard that you really can’t hold it in.

Back in the Sanctuum, I explained to my companions how David had taught me the true meaning and value of the literary arts, which for David included actors who tell stories with their faces.    Storytelling’s  place in the human universe, keeping the stars locked in their firmament and the cosmic spheres in perfectly balanced and meaningful rotation. David Halliwell wasn’t famous. He died a virtual pauper, alone, estranged from his sister, a Yorkshire man with an RSC accent from wanting to be an actor, who wrote every day of his life before heading down to the pub to argue with me.

But he was a great success, albeit not by any kind of American Calvinist standard. Rather he succeeded in staying true to his art. He never sold out to better-paid mediocrity.  He stayed true to his art, to himself and he survived with the respect and admiration of his fellow artists. When he died, I wrote and read this eulogy at his memorial, after Harold Pinter came up from Hampstead to say a few words about his departed friend. As did Stephen Frears and Scott Hampton (author of Les Liaisons Dangereuses).

I read this poem to David to my friends Alex Bosworth and Chris Vannoylast night. And in my mind, I went hunting and visiting my own xmas ghosts to remind me of the true joys of this season.

Daedalus Afraid to Fly.jpg

 

Daedalus Afraid to Fly

David, you bastard, you’ve left me
Understanding here alone,
With only these words falling out of my hands
When it is yours I want to hear again.

Words of your mastery, not mine.
So what was all the swearing about then, David?
What were all those Northern fumes really burning from?
I told you the songs of Yorkshire would never play in LA

Or London for that matter):
Two cities equidistant from your Yorkshire mother.
Tell me, David, why didn’t you just sell out?
You could have bought yourself a much better pint of beer

With all that money for old knotted ropes and
Still, have coughed up the phlegm to laugh at us all.
Is death your idea of some kind of joke?
Did you finally track down the film rights to Malcolm, David
And cash them in?

Are you really, secretly living in Barbados,
Making beautiful women miserable?
To think of all this wasted sorrow and
Empty glasses of beer.

You did say that you always wanted to visit other places.
But Daedalus, you were afraid to fly.
If you had been born upside down in America
You would have been a southern writer living in some Northern town.

Spilling your southern drawl over a rum and coke in a New York City bar.
Sitting elbow to arm with Williams, O’Neill, Baldwin and them all.
Your America was always an America of the mind.
So why fear the flight?

Your America David was where Charlie Parker
was forever sharp shooting pool with Humphrey Bogart
in some room behind a neon-splattered bar
Where Chet Baker never jumped or fell but flew, man!

He just flew away.

Just like you.

So you’re off then, David?
Back up the bumpy road,
Turning the corner around the Little Egyptian cottage
Navigating the reeds of Isis, Long past the close of time.

A brown duffle coat ship, bobbing on an unpaved surface,
Weaving a few well-spoken thoughts into your
Captain’s cap.
Can you tell me, David:
Were you X-Centric, or
Merely Eggs Essential?

How about this time I tell you, David:

The spark was always there.
But not like Daedalus, like Prometheus.
The living punishment of Truth,
Chained to your bar stool,
That eternal pint of Carlsberg lager gnawing at your liver.

Like Prometheus David,
The spark is always here.

 

For the late, great David Halliwell; poet, playwright,

author of Malcolm’s Struggle Against the Eunuchs.

I can only miss you when you’re gone.

 

David Halliwell (replacement).jpg

 

 


Insomniac Awareness


Recent rewrite. When I first wrote and posted it, no one seemed to know what I meant by it. But now it’s becoming a favoured read aloud piece:

 

Insomniac Awareness

We who are hiding in our second bedrooms,Image may contain: plant
Licking the silver from the backs of our screens,
Are living in a different time zone
Of Insomniac Awareness.

Sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes four or more
Lives are lived and lost each night.
In our rooms, by ourselves
Sitting precariously on the edge of our beds.

This is our legacy
The lasting perpetuity of our sensory species:
The glow that contests the light that once shone from our eyes,
Right up to the surface of our understanding.

What is not yet known.
Or what was known and long since forgotten.
Dances across the screen you stare into.
Tripping over your coded memories; in Real Time.

Who are you reading this?No automatic alt text available.Do you know
What perturbs your sleep-walk into the night?
Or are you merely waiting for the screen to pull you through?

Into your own quiet world,
Where things that count never change.
And no one is dreaming you but your mother,
Who has left you now for another child.

©Igor Goldkind 2017


IS SHE AVAILABLE? Get My Book and FIND OUT.


NOTHING has prepared you for This.  Nothing ever will.

Because whatever is happening Now has never happened before.

This is  a web-nurtured collaboration with 27 artists, sculptors and musicians from the world of Comics, Fantasy, Fine Art and Jazz, including Bill Sienkiewicz, David Lloyd, Liam Sharp, Glenn Fabry, Shaky Kane, Lars Henkel and the cutting edge sculptural typography of the highly acclaimed book designer Rian Hughes.

IS SHE AVAILABLE?  Cover

by Bill Sienkiewicz and Rian Hughes ©2014

This illuminated book is a contemporary Dante’s Divine Comedy; a journey through the confessional landscape of a masculine identity. It uses poetry to construct a narrative that explores themes of death and loss, sex and love, and the modern American and Jewish identity design: by the UK’s eminent graphic designer, typographer, illustrator Rian Hughes.

The music is composed and produced by iconoclast, ex-Israeli, Middle-Eastern jazz virtuoso Gilad Atzmon, along with five other jazz artists.

Written by San Diego native Igor Goldkind, this illuminated book will revolutionize the way you view poetry by meshing comics, art, music and animation in a truly unique way. It uses poetry to construct a narrative that explores themes of death and loss, sex and love, and the modern American and Jewish identity. The book is available for download on the iTunes Store and Google Play, as well as in a 166 page,  fully illustrated in colour hardbound edition available  ORDER HERE.10689672_732000606836698_9129833884739632966_n-1Advance Review pdf of IS SHE AVAILABLE_Page_29

The eBook edition pushes the edge of what is possible with present EPUB3 technology. It is not an App, it is a true book that marries pop art, comics, avant-garde, jazz, spoken word poetry, video and animations, and type design in a manner that we have not seen before IS SHE AVAILABLE? has the feel of an artefact from the near future – a seminal work of a new genre-fusing poetry, graphic art, music, and animation.

Sample interior pages:

Advance Review pdf of IS SHE AVAILABLE_Page_08

What We Do

IS SHE AVAILABLE? RRP is $34.95, SHIPPING INCLUDED
Educational Discount for Students and Teachers: $29.95

Both deluxe hardcover edition PLUS  animated and musically scored eBook App edition of Is She Available? bundle:  $39.95

Go to http://Paypal.com/issheavailable/ and place your order directly through PayPal with all Pay Pal assurances and protection.

Shipping included in orders within the US and its territories.

If you are in Britain and/or Europe, please contact my European wholesaler Fanfare Productions who will take your order and dispatch to your address the same day:  stephen@fanfareuk.demon.co.uk

Reviews ?  Sure We Got Reviews.  Why You Wanna See Them?  Be my guest.

“Igor’s “Illuminated Book” is like a new genre.  It is a wonderful ekphrastic expression; a fusion of the arts.” — Poet Mel Takahara

“His collection Is She Available? has the feel of an artefact from the near future – a seminal work of a new genre-fusing poetry, graphic art, music, and animation.”             —(San Diego’s) City Beat

“Is SHE Available?” is an experiment, and reading it feels more like an act of discovery… nonetheless there’s a thrill to scrolling through its pages. It’s an ambitious step toward what digital media can (and will) be.”—The Chicago Tribune

You Tube samples:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRnmT_aE0acoowdNBvFtK_VW2OkNN2wWp

SoundCloud samples : https://soundcloud.com/igor-goldkind/sets/is-she-available-spoken-word

The  166 full colour, fully illustrated hard cover deluxe  edition is available in discerning and eclectic independent bookstores everywhere.  Including Fahrenheit 451 in Carlsbad, Soulscape Bookstore in Encinitas, the Upstart Crow in San Diego, Verbatim Books  and Mysterious Galaxy also in San Diego, City Lights and the Cooperfields chain in Marin County and Sonoma County, amongst a growing number of independent book stores.

Order direct from PayPal and shipping is included!

https://www.paypal.me/issheavailable

PAYPAL

Https://paypal.me/issheavailable

images-4

 


Sleepy Mind; Awake Mind


And Zen-some!

The only way to explain Zen is by describing the sleepy mind. The sleepy mind describes a tree in terms of attributes and data: the number of leaves, the leaf shape, the number of branches, thickness of the trunk, the colour of bark. Which birds make use of the tree etc.il_570xN.270252441

All these observable and measurable attributes are assembled as data by the sleepy mind and voila! the sleepy mind thinks it knows what a tree is. The sleepy mind can give arguments with citations about the validity of its data. The sleepy mind works well with other sleepy minds.

And the sleepy mind isn’t totally wrong, the data it compiles in reference to ‘tree’ are all real and quantifiable features of the tree. But no matter how exact or comprehensive, the data is not the tree nor even the experience of the tree.

The awoken mind merely says “Look, a tree”, and points.
Because there is no data that conveys the experience of that tree in the moment of your apprehension. The awoken mind, sees the leaves, the branches, the colour of the bark, the thickness of the trunk, which birds fly in and out of the tree as much and as well as the sleepy mind does.

But the awoken mind also sees that the spaces between the leaves are part of the tree. The negative space surrounding the tree. The unseen roots spread beneath the ground are part of the tree. The sunlight reflecting off the green of the leaves are part of the tree. 4518466f7d0a7be63357a972e6f5fca6The seat waiting to rest your back against the trunk is part of the tree. The awoken mind ‘see’s the tree; the form of the tree; the tree itself in all its ‘tree-ness’, the tree as a child sees a tree; not what the sleepy mind contrives to substitute as its surrogate.

I think this is the closest I can come to describing the Zen disposition. I say disposition because too much is made of practice and the philosophy of Zen when all are merely aids to assist in the unravelling of illusion and self-deception. Zen is not an acquisition of skills, rituals, garments or ideology; instead, Zen is relinquishment. It is a reminder to keep paying attention.  Not acquiring but letting go: unravelling, stripping away layers of calloused skin, leaving your baggage behind and not looking back over your shoulder. In the words of the bard:

“My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip
My toes too numb to step”.

Zen TreeBuddhists will talk about the Buddha-nature as universal, the same as our original nature. Don’t listen to them. The face that first looked up at your mother’s face is still there, submerged and (sometimes suppressed), within you. All that Zen suggests is that we are encumbered by needless worry, anxiety, expectations, daydreams and nostalgias that have buried your true self under the rubble of your crumbling castle and keeps you from seeing the world and your place in it, with any clarity.

We are all distracted by anxieties and worries about money, about jobs, about partners and children. That distraction is manufactured by the powerful in the society we live in to keep us consuming, acquiescent and very sleepy! It doesn’t matter if you meditate or not; if you read poetry or not; if you drink tea or practice martial arts or not. It doesn’t matter how you get there or what you wear; just that you wake up and experience the miracle of persistent and unwavering creation. The universe is created, then destroyed then resurrected millions of times a second, faster than you can blink; so try and keep your eyes open!
I leave you once again with the immortal words of the Nobel Prize laureate:

“Then take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind

Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves

The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach

Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free

Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands

With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves

Let me forget about today until tomorrow.”

– With Compassion, Igor Goldkind, 2017

Please feel free to share and copy this.

I’m just trying to help anyone who’s read this far.f4a36a1a7f69fa29bbd2d7bf3f66cdaa


I Feel Pretty, Oh, So Pretty, I Feel Pretty and Witty and Bright!


Here’s your chance to come and hear me read from my collection of Graphic Poetry IS SHE AVAILABLE?  and some new poems and a short story at ComicKhazi Comics Shop at Liberty Station, San Diego on September 1st starting at 6.00 pm.

I’ll be reading, signing and dedicated hard cover copies and generally corrupting youth.

Come and have a gander!

IS SHE AVAILABLE? Hardcover edition

IS SHE AVAILABLE? Hardcover edition

https://www.facebook.com/Comickaze2/

Advance Review pdf of IS SHE AVAILABLE_Page_58


Image

A Great Review of IS SHE? in Printmag


Beyond the Graphic Novel: Is She Available?

HDL-020516-468


You don’t need Seymour Chwast, Chip Kidd and other designers to tell you that cartoons and comics are vital sources of creative inspiration (although they do that here). So maybe you’re thinking about exploring the graphic novel realm, but you’d like something more exceptional than usual, more out of the ordinary. Well, here’s the first of a series of suggestions that either defy or disregard categorization as comics. And the first, Is She Available?, is an eBook that also challenges conventional book classification in the process.

Avail-00_MargaritaZuniga

As you scroll through, you hear 1950s cool jazz in the background. Then gunfire blasts out of nowhere. A choir sings. Dogs bark. Bombs drop from the sky. And all the while, letterforms unexpectedly appear, tilt, transform, and vanish while spoken words interweave with the music and sound effects. Is She Available? is a trans-media poetry collection, one that pushes at the limits of eBook technology. It’s also comics, kind of.

Its author, Igor Goldkind, is a 2000AD comics sci-fi writer. He describes his 50 or so poems as “a contemporary Dante’s Inferno… that explores themes of death and loss, sex and love.” He’s included a couple of standard, panel-sequenced comic book narratives, including one rendered by V for Vendetta’s David Lloyd. But the bulk of the book is enlivened with music and other effects that enhance the moody illustrations and minimalist animations from a diversity of other skilled artists. The lineup notably includes Judge Dredd’s Liam Sharp and Shaky Kane as well as Bill Sienkiewicz of Daredevil/Elektra fame. Most impressive is the overall design, by accomplished comics illustrator and self-described “commercial artist” Rian Hughes. With graphic flair and acuity, Hughes proves himself to be a worthy digital age successor to Stéphane Mallarmé and Robert Massin.

And for traditional readers, Is She Available? is also available in hardcover.

Is SHE Available?Avail-02_RianHughesAvail-03_ShakyKaneIs SHE Available?Avail-05_RianHughesIs SHE Available?Is SHE Available?Avail-08_RianHughes


S0553 (1)If you’re interested in comic books, chances are you’ve heard the names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. After all, their partnership paved the way for the Golden Age of comics beginning in the 1940s. With The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio by Mark Evanier, learn more about the duo who invented noteworthy characters like Captain America and Sandman, conceived the idea of romance comics, and created a new standard for the genres of crime, western, and horror comic books. Take a look inside the various aspects of their career, and see some of the works that defined them.

CATEGORIES

http://www.printmag.com/comics-and-animation/is-she-available/


THE DARK CLOUD by Igor Goldkind; illustration by Bill Sienkiewicz; music by Gilad Atzmon; Motion by Madefire.com


Deviant Art

Motion Book

ORDER YOUR COPY SHORTY @ WEBSITE:  IS SHE AVAILABLE?     $24.95
IS SHE AVAILABLE? Cover.logo copy 2


PLATO’S RETREAT by Igor Goldkind; Illustration by Rian Hughes


Plato’s RetreatPLATO'S RETREAT IGOR'S BOOK FLAT

I want to be just like Socrates,


Grow a long beard and

Do what I please.


And be asking you allot of questions….

For a living.

I want to be just like Socrates

And not know for sure
 If I’m really real

or merely an altar In Plato’s temple.

I want to be just like Socrates,


And stand in the forum all day.


In the blazing sun that surrounds us,

Under the azure Athenian skies.

And philosophize,

To anyone who bothers to listen….

For a living.

I want to be just like Socrates

Corrupting my own youth in a hemlock cocktail

Every Friday night,
 2, 4 1 before 7 ….

For a living.

I want to be just like Socrates,

On a Saturday night
…

Asking, “hey you, at the bar”:

What is justice?

And where can I score some tonight?

After hours
..

Long after the widening sliver

Of your mind’s eternal dawn.


Image

IS SHE AVAILABLE..? by Igor Goldkind A Collection of Poetry, Art, Music and Motion in eBook, Hardcover and CD Spoken Word Editions COMING FOR THIS XMAS!!!


THIS IS THE HOLDING PAGE FOR THE OFFICIAL IS-SHE-AVAILABLE.COM WEB-HUB LAUNCHING DECEMBER 6, 2014

On this page you will be able to order the book directly in time for Xmas; Download the eBook; pre-order the Wall Print Portfolio and the Music CD IS SHE?  

BOOK MARK THIS PAGE AND GET SPECIAL DISCOUNTS FOR BLOG-FOLLOWERS AND FACEBOOK FANS

CHECK OUT SAMPLE FROM THE EBOOK AT MADEFIRE.COM   HERE

THIS IS THE COVER ILLUSTRATION FOR THE BOOK AND THE POEM THE DARK CLOUD

by BILL SIENKIEWICZ  © 2014Copyright Bill Sienkiewicz 2014 for the collection IS SHE AVAILABLE? by Igor GoldkindI

am

the

Darkness.

I

am

the

Darkness.

I

am

Oblivion.

I

am

the

MeaningDK4

of

Meaning,

Which

is

Nothing!

I

am

contempt

incarnate

I

am

the

self-loathing,

the

wriggling,

The

squirming

of

your

soul

I

am

the

reason

you

are

suffering

Because

IDK1

enjoy

the

show.

I

am

the

Darkness.

I

am

the

Darkness.

I

am

Oblivion.

I

am

the

Meaning

of

Meaning,

Which

is

Nothing!

I

am

the

dropped

eyes

and

fallen

smile

of

your

mother

When

she

realizes

what

a

little,

masturbating

shit

you

really

are!DK2

I

am

sickness.

I

am

despair.

I

am

the

hope

you

hide

behind,

Strangled in thin air.

am

the

Darkness.

am

the Darkness.

am 

Oblivion.

am

the Meaning

of

Meaning,

Which is

Nothing!

You

are

the

particle,

I

am

the physics

You think

you matter?

Am the Matter,

Dark Matter!

I

am

where

all

energy

goes.

Entropy is my mistress

and

fuck her every day!

DK4

I

am

Where

you

come

from

Where

everything

comes

from…

am what comes to you all.

I

am

where

you

go

when

you

don’t

really

know,

When

you

can’t

recall

Who you are anymore.

am the Darkness.

am the Darkness.

am Oblivion.

am the Meaning of meaning,

Which is Nothing!

Stop

talking

now.

Stop

thinking

now.

Stop loving and living and dying.

Come with me now.

Come with me now.Raven and Woman Branch

Come with me now.

There’s

no

denying

what

you

already

know,

What you’ve known all along.

I am the Darkness.

I am the Darkness.

I am Oblivion.

I am the Meaning of Meaning,

Which is Nothing!

There’s

no

You.

There never was.

It was always

Me.

YouMan pulls cloud are just trick of the

lights that

own.

You are nothing,

You are the 

                                                                 Nothing

You are me

You belong to

ME.

Now come quietly now,

Come take my hand, now.

Out of the darkness,

Out of the darkness,

Out of the darkness,

Out of the darkness,

Where you belonged.

Out of oblivion,

Out of the Meaning of Meaning,

Out of the darkness,

into your Light

And come

Home.


FLASH BACK ’78


Basking in the Broken Down Casino of Americana the grated dead reside in.scan0015

Reading the Bones of old contentions…looking up at primary  school-lights; the ones that never change…looking down at the floor tiles; an endless sea of wrinkled faces….too many people to breathe in…

where’s the Exit Jean mentioned?…

Sound…check…test…test1…test2…test3…

Now!

Go You Sun of a Gun!

Locomotive train thunders through your head…groping… stumbling…tripping forwards into that warm glowing rush of the great unknown.  There’s a tunnel!… there’s a tunnel…there’s a tunnel up ahead.  We’re goin’in…we’re goin’in…we’re goin’in.watch your head!

Watch: Your Head.

 Gone!   Washed away under the Lowest Bridge:

The consummation of illusion onto the lockjaw of your reality.

Still falling forwards…forwards with time…moving…with no body…no mass…no mind…beating…truckin’…making that Bend-On-the-Road…past the Dooh-Dah man….Right turn….left turn…back turn…back-where-you-started-from turn…It’s happening man…all around you…all the time…with you…without you…no-you..no- more…no-you-no-more….KNOW-MORE-YOU!..Don’t look left…don’t look right…don’t get scared…

Dawn follows the Night…head straight into the Light… up ahead…right where you came from…another train comin’ down your track…Head On Tight!grateful_dead_skeleton__pencil_by_frozenpinky-d2ek9j0

One More Stop….

Farther Down the Road.

Just keep on truckin’… don’t fall ahead and do not fail…one…two…onetwo…want-to… want-to …onetwothree..….chugga-chugga-chugga-chew-chew…One-Two Three….chugga-chugga-chugga-chew-chew

One-Two-Three….

One-Two-Three….chew-chew:

you’re dead.

For shaky kane,  you better watch your head…


THE BORDER OF YOUR MIND


Sometimes I just see patterns.

The field of endeavor; the day-to-day rhythm of endless steps towards complacency becomes too much for me.

Screens and chimes and pleasant bleeps lull me into mindless, not mindful sleep.

It’s then that the field breaks down.

into shivering, electrical abstract shapes.

Form with no narrative other than energy.

Images that just to seem to connect remote dis-relations into pattern and recognition.

The patterns, the connections; look for the connections.

Like Borders.  Lines.  Fences. Walls.

The bricks that must be removed one stone at a time.

In Gaza, along the Mexican/American frontier;

Borders seem to define.

Here’s my line:

1303941810-the_border-promo-web_2

THE BORDER IN YOUR MINDdesert.gi

by Igor Goldkind

 

The Border in your Mind,

The dividing line,

Between you and you

and you and me.

The Borderline we hide behind.

 b01_85427302

The crying child on the dusty road without clothes,

Heading toward you,

Reaching out to you;  Is you.

Don’t you see?  

Can’t you see?

What causes all this misery?070312-A-6950H-002:

 

The Border in in your Mind.

That’s the only dividing line between

You and you and

You and me

And me and me.

 

 la-oe-0402-selee-immigration-mexico-20130402-001

 

F8.large


THE GODS by Igor Goldkind


THE GODS

th-1In the trees, in the trees

I can feel them in the trees!

The Gods, that is;

The ones who prepare us for the Passage Out of Time.

 

We are Osiris, you and I,

Scattered fragments of Life’s desire;

Long ago recovered from the deserts shifting sands,

     One hour glass at a time.

 We are nothing but our longing, my friend.

We are merely the sum,

The cost of our own yearning

To be tethered to the Whole.

 

Meanwhile, Isis reassembles her lover,

Carefully locking fragments of memory back into time.

Interlocking the broken puzzle of our lives,

One piece at a time.


Image

I Once Knew A Woman Thrice; in Santa Cruz, Paris and Philadelphia


recently returned some poems I had sent her from far, far ago when we ere young and in lust and barely able to bare the sight or scent of each other without fainting into reverie and floating together; clouds that had long since let go of their rain.

It is a gift to visit ancient ports and distant shores.

Time is as big as the world it passes by.

So it is with words:


mad dog

hiding in the rain.

sharp stone

never show your pain.

some kind of innocence

is nourished in your fears.

you don’t know how much

I’ve tried just to hold you near.

(there is no way out-

-there is no way out).

the poet earns his keep

from reading the pain in others eyes

while his eyes are fountains

of tear drops and shattered sunlight.

Igor Goldkind 1983


You love me, I know with your own hands

For I am faithful to your fingertips.

When you pierce me with your wide-eyed glances,

I am stilled.

The earth grows roots around my calves,

And my body is made of branches.

Your gaze shivers their leaves like an Autumn breeze.

Igor Goldkind  1977



Zen

you are

the vessal

made usefull

by the emptiness

within

Igor Goldkind late 70’s


And then Paris,  1986:

10013981_10152778885237755_3592292321445791211_n


THE SEED by Igor Goldkind


I’d like to take a pause from buying things.

Not that I don’t like things; or buying them,

I like things, lots of things.

Not lots, but many things.

But I’d like to take a pause from buying things,

The Seed by Pawel Jonca © 2014

The Seed by Pawel Jonca © 2014

Or borrowing the money for the many things I must have

That I will never really own.

I ‘d like to take a pause from buying things,

Take stock of what I need;

I need to check my bank account and count the monthly leeches that I feed.

I ‘d like to take a pause from buying things until I know exactly what I’ll need.

Hey, would you like to take a pause from buying things,

Just to measure what is real?

Go ahead, take a pause from buying things;

Till you’re certain you have enough ground

in which to plant this seed.


CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY


My work in the late 80’sand 90’s in the British publishing industry led to the engineering and successful marketing  of the Graphic Novel genre; a new format of  hardcover and trade paperbacks of graphic fiction that bookstores would stack on their shelves.  It was my job at Titan Books to do so, for which I was paid some £7,500 a year by my employer Nick Landau, to do.

After I was given a raise by Titan Books to £8K per annum , I learnt solely by chance, that my work had increased the revenue for my employer by some 7 figure sums and that the rest of the publishing industry were all cashing in on the work I was doing in promoting 9-5, the new publishing category.   Cashing in, but not adhering to  to the implicit quality standards the likes of Moore, Gaiman, Morrison, Speigelman and other auteurs were actively pursuing.

The Medium, as we used to call it back then, had failed to live up to its own promise.

So I got out; for that and personal reasons.

Now when I read the interviews with my former partners in CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY crime in the press complaining that the industry had failed and that the term Graphic Novel  was just a manipulative tool wielded by the Moloch of Comics Publishing932f83ea7108237da3f82c1b8ec82261

(Batman in MOLOCH!  Wonderwoman in MOLOCH!  The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galazy, Superman and the Xmen are all drowning in the vomit of MOLOCH!)   

Which I believe, the premise of the new cross over series written for DC by Grant Morrison.Tree-Man-A-1000x1000

The most admired (and crafted), writer in comics ever, in particular; (someone I worked with closely with on the presentation of his seminal forensic crucification of the American superhero genre to a mainstream audience, refrains from even addressing me by name in print when he lambasts the CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY that still pays him a living), has repeatedly condemned the  publishing category Graphci Novel, as  effectively, just another  CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY from the publishign industry.

I have news for the revered scribe:  you may have relegated me to the dark side, but take a look in the mirror, man: you’ve been here with me all along.

[Added 9.18 for context], I realise now that the above might be interpreted as some kind of opening volley against the distinguished author.  Far be it.  I will always both  personally  and publically assert that Mr. Moore was the change in comics back in the late 80’s.  No single other artist in the medium at the time was so intelligently treating the medium like a literary and artistic platform for expression.  Most craftsmen (and women), I met at the time were desperaely trying to hustle their next wok commission.  Not Mr. Moore.  His posture was different:  he related to editors, collaborators and others  as an auteur sans pretension.  Intelligent, articulate and demanding of  ones wit and focus.   And from I observed, never intimidated or swayed  by the money or more often, the promise of money from publishers.

Just to make absolutely clear about my statements regarding this author:  I learned everything I know about comics by just listening to him, during interviews, casual conversations and direct discussions.  A the time, this man was a walking sandwich board for the the new comics,  the Graphic Novels, chiefly because it was only his writing (and that of a handful of there), that even came close to qualifyng as a novel or even literature.   I never was nor have ever been a Comics Fan (Senator and members of the committee), but I have always been a fan of literature, drawn or undrawn.    Which is why I cntinue to read, enjoy and learn from Mr. Moore’s work.

Although I do take exception (mildly, not really that seriously), to his most recent public damnations of the Graphic Novel, and it’s origins; it’s not that I object to his opinion as much as I question the accuracy of his recollection of events and of the times that he was actually there.    I don’t take issue either with Mr. Moore’s take on the industry  and publishing in general; in fact the more experience I gain the more my views align with his.

But regardless of the vocabulary used (or the fact that I was being paid a paltry wage at the time), I accomplished my task to his and his collaborator’s direct professional and financial benefit.  Not to mention the real world benefits: the successfull dissemination of the term Graphic Novel into the mainstream brought to literally thousands of other free lances in the form of royalty checks for the graphic novel edition of their work; a  now standard of the comics industry throughout the world.

I do not benefit from the use of the term of from the money generated by its use.

Bird-With-Letter-A1-1000x1000But I do not regret not hiring that CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY lawyer that would have secured my trademark on the use of the term and perhaps a penny off of every new Graphic Novel sale; which is what the business side of the industry tells me I shoudl have done.

I did not “create” the term graphic novel; as an outsider to the industry, I found the term on the back of a Will Eisner book and used it as the keystone of a campaign to bring new comics, well written, adventuerously drawn comics.    But yes, I coined the term Graphic Novel; having borrowed it from the back of a low print-run Will Eisner compilation of The Spirit.  His clever NYC publisher was struggling to get Eisner’s work into the bookshops too and had tried the term connotating Literary fiction: a novel.   My use of the term was different as messieurs Gaiman and Moore can both attest to; Grant got it about the same time but more remotely, in Glasgow.  Graphic Novel  was meant to mean  NEW Graphics, new graphic literature, new comics.

Coining, (in the sense of creating common usefulness; IOW: monetizing a vocabulary term into the common currency of language of transactional communication).  It derives from the coining of money by stamping metal with a die. Coins (also variously spelled coynes, coigns, coignes or quoins), were the blank, usually circular, disks from which money was minted. This usage derived from an earlier 14th century meaning of coin, which meant wedge. The wedge-shaped dies which were used to stamp the blanks were called coins and the metal blanks and the subsequent ‘coined’ money took their name from them.

{Coining later began to be associated with inventiveness in language. In the 16th century the ‘coining’ of words and phrases was often referred to. By that time the monetary coinage was often debased or counterfeit and the coining of words was often associated with spurious linguistic inventions; for example, in George Puttenham’s The arte of English poesie, 1589:

“Young schollers not halfe well studied… will seeme to coigne fine wordes out of the Latin.”

Shakespeare, the greatest coiner of them all, also referred to the coining of language in Coriolanus, 1607:

“So shall my Lungs Coine words till their decay.”}coin a phrase

Tree-Man-A-1000x1000

The NEW comics of the late 80’s and early 90’s that derived from Moore’s early work for DC, Spielgelman’s dabbling at biography in NYC, Miller’s pushing the edges out on Dare Devil and most of all (for me), Bill Sienkiewicz’s explosive rendering of ELEKTRA ASSASIN!  I had never seen anyone take the convnetions of comcis illustration like Faugere Egg and take a sledge hammer to it the way Siekiewicz did, literally splattering the edges of the pages and frames with the remnants of comics conventions.  Sienkiewicz brought commercial  art and later fine art sensibilities to Graphic Novels, something his admirer and pioneer in his own right Dave McKean would further in his career just like in a real popular arts medium.

These were the Makers of New Works.  I’ve forgotten everyone:  Brendan McCarthy, Jamie Delano, Pete Milligan, Frank Miller, Joe Sacco, Harvey Peckar, Gilbert and Jamie Hernandez . . . .  they all were making, new different work outside the stulpifying conventions aesthetic conventions.  So like superheros, they need a new name and Guardians of the Galaxy was taken, so instead you got Graphic Novelists.

I resent nothing.

It was my own fault for being more naive and less carnivorous than my employers.

So instead I have to work for a living; for which I have no complaint as at least I have work to do.

I did learn something valuable (whenever someone fails, they  always say that they learnt something valuble),  and that is to sell a product whatever it might be, you have to create a place in people’s minds and desires where they want that product.  The most intimate and subjective of products: the books we read, the music we listen to , the films we watch: you must give people a reason for looking an understanding for what they may see.

That is why a coded term like Graphic Novel works; it’s a cut through, short cut signifier that puts anyone who wants to know or needs to know in the picture immediately: you know what you know and now you know what it is.

In the case of Poetry, we have a different problem.

Everyone knows what  Poetry is, right ? It’s that stuff you had to memorize in school and  analyze with Mrs. Humphries who always crossed the naughty words out like ‘sweat’ and ‘blood’ and ‘toil’ with a thick, black, fascist marker pen.38_image_v2

Or it’s what you penned to your wife when you were courting her; or received form your husband, your boyfriend, you lover.  Anyone one of those people in your life who felt such passion, such ardour for you that they could not tell you, they had to find words from some magic place to convince you, to persuade you, to seduce you into the beauty of the passion they could see in you.

Perhaps a Poem was the only form your shattered thoughts could take at the loss of someone so precious to you that you would choose the pian of being hewn by swords than endure the truth of their permanent absence from this world.

Perhaps you have nearly gone mad and found Poems, like steps out of the abyss of self-loathing into the stark light of realisation and hope for your self.

There is no greater hope to lose than the Hope for Yourself.

So Poetry has a signifier, a pretty universal one; unfortunately it doesn’t point towards anything like what Poetry actually is.

Poetry is an art form, not a craft.

Poetry an aspiration to derive music and pattern from our deepest thoughts, the language of our dreams and the whispering, the lamenting, the singing, the moaning and the laughter of our souls.

Poetry is Liberation.  The words will set you free.

I am a Poet and to sell my ware  (my GRAPHIC POEMS ;~),   I must show people what it is that I do, that others do that is so far removed from the common currency of the term Poetry.   So this is not only a CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY, but a sinister sales strategy as well!   To get you to read my words, I must first who you what they are ouside the barriers of  your preconceptions.

So, come to a picnic and hear what Poetry is and the vital importance it has always played in our social and political lives.

*Poster for Marathon Rimbaud-100-THOUSAND-POETS-4-CHANGE-by-Henrik-Aeshna

September 27th, 1 pm Balboa Park, World Beat Centre/ El Centro Cultural de la Raza

Come One and All, Come All in One, Come to the 100,000 Poets-for-Change Marathon!  (Picnic & Reading)

79-penseefasciste-mauriziocattelan-fotopedia

It’s your duty ;~)


GRAVITY’S CONQUEST


This is from my upcoming  collection of poetry, art and music entitled IS SHE AVAILABLE?  (Chameleon; October 31)

Artwork by the incomparable Liam Sharp (an ostrich, a rhino?  a toaster?  a xylophone?  See, you can’t compare him.)

This image, conjured from his reading of the poem below, is  Copyright Liam Sharp 2014.  

The poem GRAVITY’S CONQUEST may be reproduced widely without restriction,  as long as it is intact, attributed and appears in a place likely to  incite civil and/or psychological unrest.  Please write it on lavatory walls and biology school books.

Don’t fall too far from your self.

Who else is going to bend over to pick you up?

Gravity's conquest low-res copy

 

GRAVITY’S CONQUEST

 

You know, you’ve already seen the inside of your guts
Looking for a way out.
You know, you’ve already seen what you’ve seen:
You know what you know.
You know the truth like an elder brother.

 

You know, it’s usually right ‘there’,
The last place you looked.
The last place you wanted to forget:
Your bare feet,
Pasted against the concrete;
Gravity’s Conquest.

 

Nailed through the heels.
Poised,
Gracefully
On the precarious cusp
Between this death and that life.


SUICIDE IS PAINLESS!


mash_-_suicide_is_painlessThis morning I did cry for Robin Williams.  Not for long, I didn’t know the man except through his acting and performance persona.  

But he was such a familiar fixture in my tube zone from the 70’s onwards.  First as the alien Mork who merely by being an SF element on mainstream TV made me an instant fan.  it was a silly show but reeked of that 70’s innocence I would pay hard currency to recover.  

It was a memory and then I grew older and so did Robin and he became a hyper-ventilated, hyper-active, hyper-real stand up and I related to him.

By the time of Good Morning Vietnam, I knew and loved Williams as part of the anarchic fraternity that embraced  him, Andy Kaufman, Eddie Izzard, Lenny Bruce, Groucho Marx: that fearless plunge into the surreal.    Riding what we considered normalcy into its logical outcome: the absurd; he surfed that beach, skated that ice.   Late,r I grew to like him less but forgave the absorbing amoeba of Hollywood we succumbed to; he deserved success, what of it?  The drugs made him seem dangerous to me; that was atttractive once and then repulsive.  Now I’m more indifferent.  If I had been in his shoes, doing his career; sure, I’m sure I would have been a coke head too.  And the Alcohol?  I’ve got my own ghost stories to tell.

What made me cry for Robin Williams was that occasionally, during his film work or  talk show appearance, he would let the Harlequin’s mask slip and we would briefly gimpse this quiet, very contemplative man, honing his sense of attack, thinking his next line . . . the timing.  And I recall distinctly that look of vulnerable humanity and I felt touchd by him, like he would be someone I speak to if in the same room.  It was this Robin Williams I wept for, because I knew exactly what he was feeling as he took his own life.  

Or maybe it was nothing like what I felt when I took my own life at 16.

I felt  bad for Robin because I could imagine the moments as he decided, as his intent hardened to resolve, and the long run off the short cliff of the emotional, psychic plunge that he took.  I felt I was there with him like a ghost; out of reach, trying to connect—trying to just have a word with him.

I took my own life with  a cocktail,  over dose of my mother’s medications including lithium and barbiturates.  What my father’s doctor had prescribed her for her anxiety and perpertual angst from living in a perfect suburb.  

I say I “took” my life even though I am still alive writing this (barely).  Because the intent was there.  I was not pretending.  I was not seeking attention.

I waited until my mother had left the house to go shopping.  I crept upstairs to her medicine cabinet, took out all her plastic jars of pills and empied them into my mouth.  Just what the doctor ordered.    I then went downstairs to the den where my teenage years were to end.  Lay down on my bed, crossed my arms and prepared to die.  My typewritten note still in the manual typewriter on my desk.  I was prepared.

Then my mother came home.

She had forgotten something and then noticed that I hadn’t done the dishes.

Se knocked on my door.

I ignored her.

[I’m dyng here, for chrissakes!]

She banged on the door, yelled at me and then came into my room.  She wasn’t going to leave me alone to die or anything else.  I was still her child, her responsibility, her burden of karma.

She made me get out of bed and go do the dishes.

I did.

You had to listen to my mother or a metal spoon might find your bottom; or the back of  your neck might attract an open palm slap.  Once my other slapped me full in the face in front of others.  When I asked her why she told us that she didn’t like the look I had given her.  My mother has always lived the intuitive life, dangerously.

I started to wash the dishes, laughed and then woke up in hospital.

That’s what it seemed like at the time.

I survived.

And recovered.

It was my mother’s insistence on engendering my self-discipline that saved my life.    That, and the unwashed dishes.

I so deeply regretted my stupid, solipsistic, life-changing attempt to die, that I subsequently trained and worked as a suicide counsellor in San Fransisco in the early 80’s, while I attended SFSU.

A saw a notice on a board and I answered it.

I used to work shifts in a call centre-like set up near the Haight.  I would spend 4 hours taking calls.  Random calls.    Calls from women mainly, but then there would be evenings, usually Saturday nights when it would be nearly all male voices. Long, lonely voices.  Soft voices.  Tearful voices.  I took it all in.  I was a young man but I had been where they were and I figured I owed dues.  I owed dues to my mother, to my sister and to the ever loving pack of hairless apes that share my cage on this muddy spinning marble.  I oed dues to the life I had so nearly come so close to squandering.

At first I was shy and repeated the same “I’m Listening” cues, over and over.  But the one woman who’s husband came home each  afternoon and beat bloodly her in front of her toddler.  The patient dying of cancer.  The executive who stole money.  The teenager, like me: hurt, confused, in pain; not knowing where the pain is coming from.

Then, I got good at it.

I left the Suicide Center script behind and began to ask my own questions; harnessing Socrates and my own empathy and expereince of suicide to try and connect.  I spoke to suicides from the place of wanting to kill your self, not trying to talk you out of it.  When I left the center, the director gave me a certificate, a thank you and shook my hand in front of the team.  He looks like Alan Watt’s in my mind’s eye, but I’m sure that I’m confusing images.  He shook my hand and said “We are all fortunate to have had such an old soul amongst us”.  I had no idea what the hell that meant.

sisyphusIllustration for Sisyphus Shrugs (from IS SHE AVAILABLE?) ; by DIX

Suicide is never a cold, calculated choice.  But it is a choice.

I’m sure there as many reasons as there are suicides; but the step that one takes across the line from intent into action is a huge ascent.  It takes every fibre of ones will to align onesself to a task that goes against ones own body, one’s being.  This is precisely what is so incomprehensible to non suicides ; that the act of taking ones life takes such a great force of will.  If will is Life how can it will its own end?     Your body will fight you every step of the way; *it* wants to survive.  You, on the other hand, can think of better alternatives to merely surviving.  

There are classes amongst suicides and we don’t rate religious or insane self-immolators at all.  In fact we think they’re chicken-shits.    They tell themselves a story or someone does and next thing they know, they think they’re getting off at 25th street when it’s actually the upper east side.  KA-BOOM!!! 

No.  That’s not real suicide.  

Real suicide is when you know absolutely that you have no idea what happens next.  THAT’s the step into the abyss that takes a force of will.  A will, an intent borne into action more often than not as an alternative to the fact of ones existence:  A bully, a spouse, a bank statement.   How can I describe the agony of hating the world?  Chasing the orbit around the source of the confounding pain round and round like a mad dog chasing its own tail.   Try chasing your own tail for year, two years, five years in agonizing concentric circles of self loathing and pain and self-repulsion and then tell me how selfish suicide is; ok??

Most of us contemplate or will contemplate suicide at one time or another in our lives.

Fact.

But when’s the last time you shared any of your darkest thoughts with anyone?  What’s the matter, scared you won’t get an invite to the Prom?  Well yes, precisely.

You may be thinking about it right now as you read these words.

It can just cross your mind, a wandering Jew of a thought.   A casual, whimsical speculation that takes shape and form into something viable, no: necessary.  Necesssary to allieve the agony of this existence.

It’s time to speak out about this.

It’s a good thing.

it’s a natural thing.

Yes it is, it’s a natural thing to contemplate killing yourself; people have been doing it for thousands of years.

It’s part of the process we go through in becoming human beings, in gaining a greater depth of understanding of what it is that we are so willing to chuck away.  Life and Death are a mirage; it’s just 2 sides of the same deal, baby.  

But what exactly is the deal, huh?

Do you know?  

No, neither do I so who are you to tell me that you understand the value of my life better than I do?

I’m happy  to reveal what so many of us hide from their own polite eyes: that we are deeply unhappy with our lives, that we do not know why and that we are suffering, mostly in silence.  So many of us.  So many of us continue and persevere; so many of us don’t.  That’s the way the cookie crumbles

I am fortunate that I can translate some of these dark thoughts, impotent cries of anguish into words, poems that might invite you to open your heart and reflect: on your self, on your life, on your neighbor.  What’s his or her life like, I wonder?

But I am just one lonely poet.

An obnoxious one, at that.

This existential torment I describe is the privilege of the intelligent,  the sensitive, the insightful, the visionary, the artist, thinker, the Artist: All High Suicide Risks.  Robin Williams was an artist and an artist uses their metier not so much to exorcize their demons, as uncover them.    Williams crafted his art,  I’d like to think, as a shield, as his own private shelter against the raging cold of indifference that surrounds us.  

But we who lurk  at the center of the cyclone, where our care and concern  huddle at the tranquil center, are perplexed and confused.  “He had so much to live for”.

That is why I  try and describe these thoughts and  ideas and  sensations as best as I can,      I do so not out of exhibitionism; on the contrary, I’ve kept these facts about myself  secret for some time; I want to inform anyone who has been affected by suicide, either someone you knew or a loved one, or in fact yourself, what kinds of thoughts may cross your mind that make you want to take your own life.  If this gives some small respite or comfort to someone in their moment of profoundest grief, then it is no chore on my part.

It may seem displaced; it may even seem selfish and insensitive; but there’s an arrogance to the suicide  that does place us one step removed from the lives you are living.  Impulse and sheer clumsy stupidity aside, the intent to take your own life, with all the thought that that act entails, is not an easy course to stay.  

It is not, to the suicide, a real choice.  In the Camus-like sense of choosing every day to either commit suicide or NOT commit suicide as an exercise of free will.  To NOT committ suicoide is of course to choose Life and whatever else happens to you that day as something you have willingly chosen.  No, the existential blanket is often clung to but the act itself requires more desperation than merely a wanting to know how to live.

The same with the code of  honor or Bashido that motivated both Yukoo Mishima, Japan’s greatest post war poet and the executive in charge of compensation to the 400 families of the Japanese Boeing jet that went down in the water with no survivors.  The verdict was pilot error and the compensation payments were in the millions.  After filing the paperwork for the 400th claim, the airline executive neatly arranged his desk and then committed ritual seppukaas his personal apology to the families.  In this way the samurai, the man of honour makes his entire life a gesture, a conscious act of volition in ending it.  He knew what he was doing.

I did not.

I was a child growing up in 70’s San Diego.  Down the street from me was the school where the shootout that gave Bob Geldof Why I hate Mondays.  And of course there was Danny Alstadt.

Death-is-not-the-End_Wallpaper_1gtcz

I published my first poem entitled UNDER THE GIZMO in the California State Education Poetry Anthology describing my experience when my French teacher, a former Playboy bunny, discovered my poetry journal that had my imitations of Baudelaire and Nerval.   She called the school counsellor who called my mother who then got browbeat her into taking me to a child psychiatrists.  Upon the first ten mintues of meeting me and suggesting that a French Symbolist’s lifestyle was not compatibel with an academic career, he prescribed  medication.  Apparently, a 14 year old with a morbid interest in late 19th century French Symbolist poetry does not conform to the cirriculum standard and I was sentenced to be drugged.  

Fortunately my father had returned from his conference and was able to intervene where my mother’s English could not.

So I wrote a poem about the dehumanization of the state educational system.

So the state educational system published it in their journal state-wide.

My long term social alienation had been  augumented by my parents disintegrating marriage.

It was the summer of 1975 that my father moved out and it was later that summer that I took my own life.

When I went to 10th grade, before I was expelled for organizing a student demo (another story), I fell in with a group of older students who seemed to appreciate SF, poetry, classical music and art as much as I did.  They adopted me as a sort of odd mascot and I took pleasure in finally have found a social niche I felt welcome in.

B became my best friend  and it was B who enthisiastically invited me to the library after school one day to introduce me to S, his new girlfriend.  I had never met anyone like S before; half Armenian, half Jewish; S was the girl I had been dreaming of since I first started dreaming about girls.  And she was my best friend’s girlfriend.  And beautiful.  And intelligent.  And she new everything about Matisse!

Needless to say this fated triangle would not hold.  That summer was a Shakespherian torture of frustrated libido, yielding to honour.  Eventually B “gave” S to me.  It was during one of those ridiculous emotional roller coaster rides that S had called me to tell me that she had reached a final decision and was choosing to stay with B.  

We were all children at 16 and 17.  Children playing with fire.

I accepted this, hung up the phone and sat down to my typewriter to write my goodbye.

When I awoke in hospital, stomach pumped, having endured the enagelism of an all night Christain nurse wo kept waking me up to tell me how much I had disapppointed Jesus.  

[HE”S disappointed?  I would shout at her now.]

When I awoke to the pair of clear blue confused yes of my little sister looking at me, anxious and scared I realized like a freight train what my life was really worth.   At the time, it seemed like the only thing to do.  That morning, I hated myself and when I looked at the hurt confusion in my mother’s eyes, I knew that this could never, never ever happen again.

These days it merely takes a split second of my daughter’s face in my mind to assure my immortality.

But I’m with Robin Williams.  I know what that step entails.  I know what it means to make the final choice.  And it is something we must air out.  It is something we must allow to enter the public sphere.  We are all masters of our own destiny and the ability to choose to take our own lives is an act of assertion; an act of identity.  To label it as weak or sick or wrong is to deny your own awareness of your own identity and the need to control and detmin who and what it is that you are on your terms.  There are many things worse than death and there are at least a billion living it.  But is life is deemed to be precious, indeed the only value there is, then that value must be defined by its limits.

It is my life to choose to live it as I choose and to choose to die as I choose to.

Robin’s chocie may be tragic to us, but it is also a reminder that death rests waiting on all  of our shoulders.  There is no way out, is what we all share in common.   

Peace, and an ease to all suffering.


IT’S NICE TO BE 15 AGAIN . . .


hitchhiker. . . in nervous anticipation of the world.  Curiousity, tempered by peer acquired knowledge  butts against the barricades of adulthood.  We’re ready to storm the Citadel of your privilege!  We are the next generation and that world you’re holding hostage belongs to us!  (Now hand it over before anyone gets hurt.)

My daughter, Olivia is 15 and visting me from just outside Oxford, England where she lives with her mother and has never had less than a straight A+ report card.  She just took a flight by herself from London Heathrow to San Diego, at 15.

When I was 15 my parents were getting divorced, badly.

So I ran away from home.

I told my mom, my dad  had moved out, that I was going camping with my friend Barry Alphonso for a few days and I asked her if she could give me a ride to Pacific Beach where Barry lived and where his mom was driving us from.hitchhiking-1

I didn’t see my mother again for another 12 weeks. I met Barry alright in PB near the freeway on-ramp onto 5 heading north.  I had an overstuffed backpack, a golf club (for walking and protection), about $40.00 I had stolen from my mother’s purse: the source of all comforts.  At  15 I found myself standing on an on-ramp in Pacific Beach  holding my glof club in one hand and sticking out my thumb with the other.  Barry lingered, somewhat doubting I would hitch a ride and curious as to my sticking my toes over the precipace into the unknown.  Would I really jump or just go home?

hitchhiker-2

 

Me, all I had was the certainty I needed to leave my broken family behind.  There was too much incomprehensible grief, the loss of our house, our income, our home.  My mother and father’s loving looks twisted into evil eyes of anger, hatred and contempt for each other.  But me and my sister couldn’t help but suspect that we were the root of the problem.  After all, if they hadn’t had us; they could split up and both be happy somewhere else, with someone else.  Idiots think that children are somehow less responsible.

That’s not the problem.  A child is much too responsible, in our minds we feel responsible  for the world.

A delusion I have heartily welcomed back into my life at this late age.

At 15, I find myself standing on the verge of an open highway with my thumb sticking in the wind: the greatest gesture of hope and faith I have ever made in my life.  I had never hitchiked before and all I had were vague images of an Emerald San Francisco where my dad had driven us to years ago and near where my older brother was dodging tear gas on his way to class at Berkeley.  I had the swirling images of Bob Dylan songs and Paul Simon melodies to sing to my self on the side of the road.  If you really hit the groove on the song, you were always guaranteed a ride.  The joy of music and singing is infectous and hits the bubbled drivers like a laser, traveling 80mph!

This was also  still the time of war and the rice paddies and tunnels of Vietnam were making their way  underground into the California bread basket.

Hitchhiker JerichoLots of people I met on the road were veterans.  I hear its the same on the road today.  An army comes home to a lost highway.   Damaged souls with haunted eyes.  Hanging with  flea bitten ex fighting dogs and still wearing their green fatigues.  Some even still wore their dog tags that flickered in the sun and the sterno-light alike;  chained butterflies at the end of a beaded  neck chain .

Some of the sad were mad and would wander way from the fire or the on-ramp or under the bridge and howl at the sky.  No one ever paid them any mind.  it was impolite to comment on a soldier’s anguish.  These lost souls, these fragmented  men taught me so much about hitchhiking and rail car hopping, how to get a free meal at a road side McDonald’s in exchange for picking up the litter . . .  th

Which Jesus shelters were tolerable and which to steer away from.  (Generally, a meal, a sermon and a bed were tolerable.  Anythng more than that was considered risky.  I had a Christian woman visit me several times in one night in my bunk bed trying to convince me to accept Jesus while she  roamed her hands under my bed clothes.

Religion is allot like sex except that unlike sex, it gets it wrong.)

Most of all those lost soldiers, ghosts of events everyone wanted forgotten, they taught me how to forgive my father, another broken soldier who had taken out his white light rage on me and my brother, with his belt and with his fists.  Those men, may killers, taught me at 15 what I needed to know for real, so I could later tell my father what he had done to me  and I could look him I the eyes and forgive him because I knew and understood that  wasn’t his fault.

It was the War, the same fucking War that had crippled him.  The same War that crippled the ghosts from Iraq and Afghanistan.  The same War that is manufacturing new ghosts in Israel, in Gaza, in Syria.  It’s the same fucking War peeps, the same fucking War from the desert to the frozen tundra, through the jungle, to the rice paddies, to the streets of downtown LA.

It’s the same fucking War, peeps: when we going to call  it quits?

How much more do we have to endure of your arrogant greed, your inhumanity, your thoughtless disregard for Life?

I had adventures on that road to Oz.hitchhiking

Through the valleys of the Jesus people.

On the highway, pulling all sorts of motorised vehicles with my magnetic thumb.

Drinking beer for the first time at the cowboy ranch Bacchanal after the rancher’s hand picked up 5 of us hitchers in the back of his pickup truck, just to give us beer and music at the farm.  Being kissed by a girl who’s name I never would know, or need to,  for the very first time—There is no thrill greater than a fleeting one.    In the back of the Wizard’s goatee-ed van who dressed his poodle in a bright green doggy sweater and  offered to buy me dinner  later if he could show me his doggy tricks.

The biker under the bridge who’s hog had broken down in the downpour near the Oregon border.  And me, a drowned puppy carrying a golf club for protection, drenched to my bones and shaking like the Devil at Communion.

The big, bearded, bike-bear stared at me under the bridge for awhile and made me nervous.

This was his bridge.

HitchhikingAfter awhile, he broke his stare and waved me silently over across the road.  The only bikers I knew anything about were the ones that put Hunter S Thompson in the hospital because they didn’t like what he had written about them in his book.  Shit!

But ‘Lucky’ was a quiet mountain.  He gave me a green wool army blanket from his bike’s saddle bag and a Camel straight from his half empty pack; my first ever.  The rain was coming down steady, heavy and cold.  I had “smartly” chosen the month of November to make my break to freedom.  Lucky had a can of sterno, a metal cup and Nescafe.  There was water, water, everywhere and more than enough to drink.

Lucky didn’t say much but when I stopped shaking he poured from a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 into the hot metal nescafe cup and we shared it.  I did not know this quiet dark bearded man, where he came from, what his story was or even it was safe to hang  with him under this bridge in the rain.  But he was my older brother  in the moment we were in and when Lucky finally did say something to me it was a 3 word question:

“Do you play?”

I glanced down at the the minature wooden chess set Lucky had extracted from his saddle bag.

“Sure, I play.    I play ALL  the time”.

Paying chess with a leather suited biker under a bridge under the pouring Oregon rain.

That was what I was doing  when I was 15.