Alas, Just an Asteroid

Moments after the words were said aloud
for the first time, and the tides turned
and the waters parted and the dark
was at last an entity distinct from the light
and the light could at last illuminate
the vastness of what had come between us,
light years and galaxies, time and space,
the cosmos of heat and frozen rock,
you were as distant as a thought
from the mind of an alien god, two moons
circling what we thought was our home world,
alas, just an asteroid, mineral and mass.

The Gratuitous Gratification of Wrath

Rob Brezsny owns my heart. [Even more so now that I've spelled his name correctly. Apologies.]

In the forward to Richard Grossinger’s book, The Bardo of Waking Life, Brezsny — creator of Free Will Astrology and author of Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia — writes:

For years, much of my creative work was stoked by my rage against the machine for its soulless crimes of injustice and greed and rapaciousness and cruelty.

But as the crazy wisdom of pronoia overtook me in the 1990s, I gradually weaned myself from the gratuitous gratification that wrath offered. Against the grain, I experimented with strategies for motivating myself through crafty joy and purified desire and the longing for freedom. I played with ideas that helped me shed the habit of seeing the worst in everything and everyone. In its place I built a new habit of looking for the best.

But I never formally renounced my affiliation with the religion of cynicism. I didn’t become a fundamentalist apostate preaching the doctrine of fanatical optimism. In the back of my wild heart, I knew I couldn’t thrive without at least a tincture of the ferocity and outrage that had driven so much of my earlier self-expression.

Even at the height of my infatuation with the beautiful truths that swarmed into me while writing Pronoia, I nurtured a relationship with the awful truths.

Rob Brezsny, The Honey & Vinegar Tasters

I share this excerpt with you because I find myself walking similar ground, poking at the beautiful and the awful with the same stick, and wondering what it means.  This morning, after reading Brezsny’s essay, I turned to Michael Klare, who writes of madness and delusion and oil addiction, and — aside from wishing he hadn’t ended his piece on a banal 12-step note — I’m nodding and saying, “Well, yes, that pretty much sums it up.”

In his recent book Beasts author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson writes, “Humans are the only species that will act out fantasies putting themselves and others in danger out of pure paranoia.” Fantasies. Acting out. Murder, war, genocide, the annihilation of species and habitat, including our own.

Madness and delusion. I could poke at these, too (where is my stick?) tho I suspect they have already been well and thoroughly poked. What more is there to say?

Meanwhile, Pronoia: the antidote to paranoia. Having had my fill of Law of Attraction bullshit, I am uncomfortable with the idea that the world is conspiring to shower us with blessings. But I’m willing to suspend disbelief.

I suppose some of you will avoid Brezsny’s work because of his association with that woolly mumbo jumbo known as astrology. Understandable. Although to do so means you will miss out on a perspective that might ameliorate your own tendencies toward madness and delusion. Your call.

Coyote Calls

Coyote wants to know if you’ve ever seen the desert
and you tell him you dreamed it as a child
in a bedroom facing west in a corner of the world
where shadows fell across the hearts of good people
and made them fearful, made them weary,
made them lonely all the time.

And you are lonely all the time.

You see your mother so tired, your father a stranger,
your teachers hypnotized by the ghosts of their own forgotten souls
peering from the tomb of the classroom blackboard.
You ask to clap erasers and watch the dance of dust
in the dirty breeze.

Coyote calls and your heart rises in your throat,
catches on your breath and you cough through a pastel haze.

You saw him once, nosing through garbage
behind the Japanese restaurant high in the Hollywood Hills,
saw him again, loping along the side of the road
that winds through Griffith Park and ends up in a graveyard
marked with stones laid flat against clipped green grass,
the big mowers rumble and sweep them clean.

You followed him to the mountains,
caught sight of him in a sunsplit moment when you forgot
to think and there he was, his yellow eyes watching you,
the carcass of a small bird in his mouth,
he runs, dropping feathers.

You drove your car across the plains on a phantom journey,
your feet never touching the Earth from sea to sea,
you rolled on blacktop laid atop concrete, laid atop gravel,
laid atop the red rock ruins of another way to be.

Coyote ducks behind the juniper, a narrow hip, a flick of tail,
his head low, the fall of his footpads a tattoo
across the gathering gloom.

In a painted land you stood before the setting sun and prayed
for an answer, you spanned the sky with your outstretched arms,
“Where is my path?” you cried. “Where is my path?”
And the dust rose in four directions:
Here, here, here and here.

Coyote calls you on the telephone you carry in your pocket.
You reach deep and come up with a handful of feathers and red dirt,
the dance of dust in the copper gold light,
and you hear him laugh across the distance:
Here, here, here and here.

Wherever your foot falls, that is your path.
Coyote calls and you answer:
I’m coming. Wait for me.

With All the Thoughtfulness of a Sneeze

Alfie Kohn on the ranking of American students vis a vis the rest of the world:

If our reason for emphasizing students’ relative standing (rather than their absolute achievement) has to do with “competitiveness in the 21st-century global economy” — a phrase that issues from politicians, businesspeople, and journalists with all the thoughtfulness of a sneeze, then we would do well to ask two questions. The first, based on values, is whether we regard educating children as something that’s primarily justified in terms of corporate profits.

The second question, based on facts, is whether the state of a nation’s economy is meaningfully affected by the test scores of students in that nation. Various strands of evidence have converged to suggest that the answer is no.

And:

To focus on rankings is not only irrational but morally offensive. If our goal is for American kids to triumph over those who live elsewhere, then the implication is that we want children who live in other countries to fail, at least in relative terms.  We want them not to learn successfully just because they’re not Americans. That’s built into the notion of “competitiveness” (as opposed to excellence or success), which by definition means that one individual or group can succeed only if others don’t. This is a troubling way to look at any endeavor, but where children are concerned, it’s indefensible.

Read the entire article here.

From My Feed

Two items from my feed this morning, appearing back-to-back.

From Dave Pollard, at How to Save the World:

“They know that the best way for them to learn
is by making their own choices, trial and error,
not by being told or coerced or even shown what to do.
That includes learning how to relate to you.”

From Sandra Dodd, at Just Add Light & Stir:

They don’t live to grow up. They’re living in the present. They don’t relate to questions about what they will do later or be when they’re grown. They’re doing and being now.

~ ~ ~

At the poetry reading last night I sat with two professional educators, both employed by a local university. We were talking about poetry, and the communication of emotional content. The word “pedagogy” came up. I was asked my thoughts on education. It was late. I was tired, and we all had to go to work the next day. “That’s another conversation,” I said.

Really, I just wanted to enjoy the last of my glass of wine in the afterglow of poetic space. Not every opportunity to speak my mind requires me to speak my mind.

February

It would have been kinder
if you had died in mid-summer,
when the Earth is warm and soft,
and the rains have subsided
and the water table is low,
the mounding soil slow to collapse,
the bones beneath allowed to rest
in the dry heat for just a little while
before dissolving into the hedgerow
and the holly tree,
so many roots so hungry
for your leftovers.

Love Like Water

Perhaps it is too much to ask of love
that it surround us always, that it permeate
our days and leave its watermark on all we do.
Perhaps it is more of a privilege than we care to think,
to love the world and all of its daily obligation,
to rise and meet the cold concrete sky
with the same face we offer to the gilding sun.
Perhaps it diminishes love to expect so much of it,
that it solve all our conflict and soften every hard edge,
love like water, carving landscapes we cannot
always fathom, canyons we cannot always cross.