Saturday, March 30, 2019

Three Poems in Two Journals

Three poems to add to the collection of published works by yours truly. One is in Cacti Fur and is about a view in Harlem I haven't seen in nearly a year. Two more are in Local Nomad. The recent issue is themed around the concept of temp work and the precariat experience. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Objection, Warning, Acceptance

There's a poem out there. A poem called Objection, Warning, Acceptance. A fine little work, in a fine little journal that comes out right before the trees begin to bud. That publication? Orson's Review. Its issues have a crisp, crumb coating. Wait...that's terrible. How does an online journal have a crumb coating? I mean, the crisp is fine. I wouldn't direct any living actor in Shakespeare this way. This is not the finest French champagne...I'll be in my trailer.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Part of the Conglomerate

A poem of mine "Cher Sunny" is in THE CONGLOMERATE. You'll have to search or scroll down to find it. Come on, you can use the online exercise. You've been spoiled all these years by direct links. On the way you can enjoy art that features ravens, or crows. I can't tell the difference. Believe it or not, ravens don't actually shout "Nevermore!"

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Entitled to a Presentation of My Works

Happy Sunday morning. Are you feeling disoriented from Daylight Savings Time? Put that to good use by reading some poems of mine in the McKinley Review to put your world back together.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Short Story Time

Bored with too much time on your hands this weekend? Go over to the Potato Soup Journal and read a short story I wrote. It's called "I Mustache You a Question."

Thursday, March 7, 2019

I'm Big in Malawi

Pictured: Not the current flag of Malawi
Three poems of mine are on a Malawi-based literary site: Nthanda Review.It case you've never heard of the country before, here are some facts about Malawi to share.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Brooklyn Is Berning, Bernie Sanders’ First Campaign Rally: A Review

He's above the blue hoodie
Of course it had to snow. As Bernie Sanders would put it, we got Vermont weather in honor of his visit to Brooklyn. Of course, it’s not that strange to get snow in March. Oregon Trail taught me that, which is why it’s better to leave Independence, Missouri in April. We think somehow because there’s been a change in the page of the calendar, spring is suddenly supposed to be here. March is as good as May, just as early September should be exactly like late November. Nevertheless, I went to the rally this Saturday at Brooklyn College.

Authentic Brooklyn snow
I couldn’t trust the sidewalks. Otherwise I would’ve walked there. Many of them were slushy and icy, while every intersection seemed to have the kind of puddles made famous by Groundhog Day. That meant using the buses or trains to get to the rally. I opted for the train since taking buses involved transfers, and I would be above ground, dealing with the cold and snow all over again. But using a train wasn’t’ a quick fix either. Thanks to the legacy of Manhattan’s imperialism over Brooklyn, there wasn’t a direct way to get there. All lines lead into the city, instead of crisscrossing the borough. I had to take the Q north, then get on the 2, and using Atlantic Avenue as a slingshot to get down to the campus.

The weather gave me mixed feelings. I’m not sure if there’s a name for it. The snow was a disappointment on one hand, and a blessing for me on the other. I wanted there to be a big turnout so the event would be a success and get coverage. On the other hand, I wanted fewer people there so I could get a good view. It’s like how you want everyone in the world to use public transportation, just not when you want to get on the train or the bus. When I reached the end of the 2 line and got off, I saw lots of people moving with me. That was the first time I got a sense of how many people were going to the rally. It was a lot.

Of course, none of us knew exactly where to go or how to get in. As I left the Flatbush Avenue Station, I headed into the part of Brooklyn I call Little America. Traffic was coming in all directions and Berniecrats stumbled around looking for the college. Eventually, I got my bearings and found a side street that took me to the entrance. That was not enough though, there was a line to get in, and it snaked around the block and then some. I’d never seen anything like it before. It just went on and on with no end in sight. At one point I thought maybe I would end up all the way in Canarsie, or Dead Horse Bay, freezing and hardly feeling the Bern.

I didn’t have to travel that far, but it was still a good distance. Good for Bernie, I thought, good for America, bad for me, but then again, I too am America or something like that. It was hard not to be in a Whitmanesque mood. Everyone was upbeat, including the campaign volunteers. Even the people selling buttons stuck to umbrellas seemed happier than normal, as well as the cranks shoving newspapers and poorly xeroxed manifestos in our faces. Sure it was cold and wet, with snow clinging to the branches. Nevertheless there was a sense of excitement and anticipation.

It only grew as the line inched closer to the East Quad, the site of the rally. The path to the event was lined with campaign volunteers who thanked us all for coming, then high-fived us. I admit I was a little restrained at first. What was I getting myself into here? So many genuine people, what was the catch? As a Millennial, I’m not used to such displays without a catch. I remember plenty of occasions of forced fun throughout my years in school, college, work retreats, and summer camp bondings. Energy and enthusiasm for the lamest of things like new regulation coasters, corporate sponsored trust falls, and cheers about how one particular student government association was going to kick the ass of another particular student government association.

In my head I went through the possibilities. Was I being led into a cult? I know a thing or two about them and I couldn’t say this was one. There were no matching uniforms or rhetoric. I heard no code words and twisted forms of grammar. I had a clear example of a cult outside of the event too. In addition to the members of other Leftwing groups, there were LaRouche supporters. I saw them while I was waiting in line to get in. One of them had a sign that read: THE GREEN NEW DEAL IS SUICIDE. Another had a shirt that asked WHO IS LYNDON H. LAROUCHE? “A dead man!” I wanted to yell at him, but I didn’t. (Don’t engage with LaRouche supporters folks, just blast music at a non-scientific pitch at them).

The other possibility? My mind went to Disney. That’s the only other example I had to go with. All these smiling people, excited, and welcoming me forward, they were leading me to Bernieland. Or maybe Sandersworld. On the other side of the gate would be rides and games. I could play whack-a-Bezos and go on the equality-coaster, which would just go in a circle on a level track. Of course, this idea was nonsense. As soon as I reached the East Quad, I saw nothing but signs, bleachers, flags, and a crowd of people nervously waiting for Bernie to take the stage. This is what faith in democracy looks like, I guess.

It was a diverse group, though it was younger and Whiter than Brooklyn as a whole. It was still a far cry from the stereotypes from 2016. College-aged Berniebros were there for sure but their voices didn’t dominate or drown out anyone else during the event. I saw people from all walks of life from the borough, including people too young to vote. There was also a snowman covered in merchandise for the campaign. Bernie Snowmanders, if you will.

The Whitest Berniebro 
The event opened with the Star-Spangled Banner. It reminded me how much I hate the Star-Spangled Banner. It’s a terrible tune about a mostly forgotten war that expresses nothing of value about America. We fought, the flag was still there, we’re great. Don’t ask any questions about the people in chains living in the shacks next to the home of the brave. Plus it just leads to people showing off when they can manage to sing it. I wasn’t sure why Bernie needed to open with it or who would be convinced by it. I mean, who is on the fence thinking he’s the incarnation of Lenin but would support him now because of that song? From now on it’s going to be This Land Is Your Land (including the verse about private property), and nothing else.

A series of speakers went before Bernie. I understand why they were there and they all said good things. However, it was cold and I wish the introductions were a little bit shorter. I’m sure everybody prepared their remarks for warmer weather. Jane Sanders went on and talked about Bernie’s roots in Brooklyn. I learned about Bernie’s support for a strike in Pennsylvania from a union official, and received pep talks from Nina Turner and Terry Alexander. Shaun King spoke about Bernie’s history in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. I learned about his protests against the Willis Wagons, which were substandard trailers used to house Black students in overcrowded redlined schools in Chicago.

Waiting for Bernie
Throughout the whole time, any mention of Brooklyn led to massive cheers from everyone, because it’s the law that when somebody says Brooklyn, people from there have to make noise. None of the other boroughs do this, I think. Anyway, this habit backfired at least for one person in the crowd. Shaun said that Bernie was “born in Brooklyn, the year the Holocaust started.” He paused after saying Brooklyn, and somebody cheered right after, which made it sound they were happy about the Holocaust. Who knows if that will be used for fodder to claim Sanders or his supporters are anti-Semites?

Then it was finally time for Bernie. I was losing feeling in my fingers, but I soldiered on. I had a rolled-up copy of the Independent and used it to make noise by rapping against my hands. That kept the frostbite at bay. I didn’t have a sign and I don’t know where they came from. They were everywhere though, and they came out to welcome the candidate. I was fortunate to have a good view of Bernie and saw him embrace his wife while surrounded by a sea of signs. They were white or blue, and the blue was either, sky, navy, or Dodger. It was a nice image. Sometimes you come across them in real life and wonder if you’re in a movie.

Bernie looked energetic, although I could see the pink in his face all the way from the back of the East Quad. At one point we began chanting his name and he shushed us. It was not about him, he said, it was about us and what we were going to do together. He pulled no punches and went after Trump directly. However, he didn’t just go on and on about norms and how the Orange man was bad. He made his attacks and then pivoted to the kind of campaign he wanted to run and what he was running for. He mentioned Medicare for All, college for everyone, a reduction in American intervention abroad, criminal justice reform, a $15 minimum wage, ending the Drug War,  and making it easier for workers to join a union.

We were all enthused, cheering, shouting, clapping, and pumping fists. I never thought I would ever get to hear a major party candidate say these things, and use this kind of rhetoric. Of course, he did in 2016 as well, but here I was in public, hearing it directly from Bernie Sanders. Talking about labor rights, and the struggle against the oligarchy in particular. Plus the military industrial complex. Who was the last to sue that phrase? Kucinich in 2008?  No vague platitudes and bromides about “opportunity” and the “American Dream.” A real vision and a road map to getting us to the kind of hope we need and real change we can use. Did he whip out charts and crunch the numbers in front of us? Certainly not.

This was no TED Talk. This was no corporate presentation. This was something more. It was a rally, in the sense that it gathered us together and boosted our beleaguered spirits. But it also needs to be pointed out that it was all about the ideas. Sanders had no slick production behind him (there were no Bernie Babe Dancers). He wasn’t young and bouncing around the stage, his hair was white, thin, and disheveled in the wind. There were no pithy or memorable turns of phrase. Just as in 2016, we were for Bernie because of the vision, not the man. It’s something a lot of pundits and commentators still fail to understand. He has charisma through his ideas, not apart from them.

After Sanders left the stage, we shuffled out through the campus. The Doobie Brothers’ “Takin It to the Streets” played overhead. Perhaps it was a nod to Sanders call for decriminalization of marijuana. It was followed by Jon Lennon’s “Power to the People” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” All of these superior to the Star-Spangled Banner. It was jarring to leave the collective warmth of the Brooklyn College campus for the hustle and bustle of Little America (i.e. Flatbush Junction). I watched as people carried their Sanders signs through the neighborhood and did their best to disburse. Some people waved the signs at the cars and buses, others held them close.

Since all the places to eat were packed by Berniecrats, I started walking back to Ditmas Park. The snow had started to melt, and I thought I could make it smoothly along the sidewalks. But it hadn’t melted enough. There were plenty of patches that remained, along with piles blocking the intersections. People hadn’t shoveled and it left glistening hazards behind. I guess it was evidence against the twin pillars of today’s Left. The snow was proof Global Warming is a hoax, and the fact nobody wanted to remove it showed Bernie Sanders’ socialism can’t work. Checkmate liberals...

...nevertheless the specter of Communism still haunts us

Friday, March 1, 2019

Call Me Brackets. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely, having little or no money...

I have two poems in the "Heroes" themed issue of Call Me [ ] (that's the way the title of the journal is structured that's why it's called Call Me Brackets in official correspondence, no, I won't explain it further). Not only that, there's an interview with me. So if you were wondering what the process is behind my writing, you can read about it!