Archive for December, 2010

Happy Holiday

a seasonally apt poem for ingesting slowly…..

Hard Rain

By Tony Hoagland

from the volume of poems entitled Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty


After I heard It’s a Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

played softly by an accordion quartet

through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,

I understood: there’s nothing

we can’t pluck the stinger from.


Nothing we can’t turn into a soft-drink flavor or a t-shirt.

even serenity can become something horrible

if you make a commercial about it

using smiling, white-haired people


Quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes

in the Everglades, where the swamp has been

drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course

with electrified alligator barriers.


“You can’t keep beating yourself up, Billy,”

I heard the therapist say on television

To the teenage murderer,

“about all those people you killed –

You just have to be the best person you can be

one day at a time –“


and everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,

because the level of deep feeling has been touched,

and they wan to believe that

the power of Forgiveness is greater

than the power of Consequence or History.


Dear Abby:

My father is a businessman who travels.

Each time he returns from one of his trips,

his shoes and trousers

Are covered with blood –

but he never forgets to bring me a nice present.

Should I say something?

Signed, America.


I used to think I was not part of this,

that I could mind my own business and get along,


but that was just another song

that had been taught to me since birth –


whose words I was humming under my breath,

as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.



With all that said, I still wish for you all in the New Year: joy and satisfaction in work well done,  good spirits, fruitful endeavors on the road to resilient living,  contentment in love and  peace in purpose.


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After reading some posts on the “Energy Bulletin” website:

It is insufficient and perhaps even counter-productive to just natter on and on about energy and efficiency and sustainability and carbon footprints and food miles. All of these are merely engineering and logistics meant to promulgate a model of living in the world that is based on corporate thinking, industrial/ bankster financing, and consumer spending and servitude. A way of living that continues, if only on a slightly diminished scale of plunder and occupation, the ills, injustices, and insults we are suffering already, right now. But if that’s your preference, so be it. But, re-thinking and then re-configuring the way you live doesn’t mean just adding insulation or exchanging a more efficient, if more toxic, light bulb for another, or substituting bio-energy for fossil fuel, or even going all organic with your diet, though all of these are useful as well as personally invigorating and rewarding. Yet maybe that’s the limit for most of us right now. In truth, though these gestures may affect your wallet and push up the numbers on your green scorecard, they really only kick the can down the road or push the fur balls into a dark corner, under the flat-screen TV. Why not turn it off and have a good read?

Are you able to think about genuine change? Maybe the words below will orient you in a new direction. If you can take the time to read the ingredients on a can of soup, surely you can take the time to read these.

[These are three stanzas (#s 2, 6, & 7) from “Some Further Words” by Wendell Berry

You can read the entire poem here: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~pfa/poemquot/berry.html ,

though they haven’t separated the stanzas accurately.]


Neither this world nor any of its places

is an “environment.” And a house

for sale is not a “home.” Economics

is not “science,” nor “information” knowledge.

A knave with a degree is a knave. A fool

in a public office is not a “leader.”

A rich thief is a thief. And the ghost

of Arthur Moore, who taught me Chaucer,

returns in the night to say again:

“Let me tell you something, boy.

An intellectual whore is a whore.


When I hear the stock market has fallen,

I say, “Long live gravity! Long live

stupidity, error, and greed in the palaces

of fantasy capitalism!” I think

an economy should be based on thrift,

on taking care of things, not on theft,

usury, seduction, waste, and ruin.


My purpose is a language that can make us whole,

though mortal, ignorant, and small.

The world is whole beyond human knowing.

The body’s life is its own, untouched

by the little clockwork of explanation.

I approve of death, when it comes in time

to the old. I don’t want to live

on mortal terms forever, or survive

an hour as a cooling stew of pieces

of other people. I don’t believe that life

or knowledge can be given by machines.

The machine economy has set afire

the household of the human soul,

and all the creatures are burning within it.

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And so it goes

I just wanted to share this man’s thoughtful and on-target words. Check his poetry out online or take out a volume from your local library.



Then one of the students with blue hair and a tongue stud

Says that America is for him a maximum-security prison


Whose walls are made of RadioShacks and Burger Kings, and MTV episodes

Where you can’t tell the show from the commercials,


And as I consider how to express how full of shit I think he is,

He says that even when he’s driving to the mall in his Isuzu


Trooper with a gang of his friends, letting rap music pour over them

Like a boiling Jacuzzi full of ballpeen hammers, even then he feels


Buried alive, captured and suffocated in the folds

Of the thick satin quilt of America


And I wonder if this is a legitimate category of pain,

or whether he is just spin doctoring a better grade,


And then I remember that when I stabbed my father in the dream last night,

It was not blood but money


That gushed out of him, bright green hundred-dollar bills

Spilling from his wounds, and—this is the weird part—,


He gasped “Thank god—those Ben Franklins were

Clogging up my heart—


And so I perish happily,

Freed from that which kept me from my liberty”—


Which was when I knew it was a dream, since my dad

Would never speak in rhymed couplets,


And I look at the student with his acne and cell phone and phony ghetto clothes

And I think, “I am asleep in America too,


And I don’t know how to wake myself either,”

And I remember what Marx said near the end of his life:


“I was listening to the cries of the past,

When I should have been listening to the cries of the future.”


But how could he have imagined 100 channels of 24-hour cable

Or what kind of nightmare it might be


When each day you watch rivers of bright merchandise run past you

And you are floating in your pleasure boat upon this river


Even while others are drowning underneath you

And you see their faces twisting in the surface of the waters


And yet it seems to be your own hand

Which turns the volume higher?


Tony Hoagland, “America” from What Narcissism Means to Me. Copyright © 2003 by Tony Hoagland.


Does any of this resonate with you?


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