013111 cultural tendencies

January 31, 2015


poetic medium of my ironies
concrete oceans, polluted streams
damn the rivers, do you hear?
will we wince as the last salmon screams?

complex forests, beautiful trees
ship them out in board-feet, please
it’s not just the land we feed
to satisfy monster economies
everyone here will sacrifice, bleed

conquer your dependencies
reify our social tendencies
from lush and green to harsh and mean
bring the planet to her knees

and when there’s nothing left to eat
no water to drink, no air to breathe
make the workers make-believe
because false hope is comforting

action without agency
consequence without responsibility
so much work, so little pay
betray your brother, blame your sister
the boss’s best pet may get a raise
our chains are when we think this way
embrace the lies and live like a slave

erase the highs, look around
no surprise with open eyes
we’re already under ground
buried six to an unmarked grave
nothing to lose, no names to save
consider this, our judgment day
look away, go back to sleep
shine away the dark
with fearful light
or stay, wake up, see with us
leave the cave and fight

022311 gentle beauty

January 21, 2015


time says spring but it’s winter in my soul
i have a house, but not a home, and nowhere else to go
so i wander in the snow, roaming through the weather
never knowing if tomorrow will be worse or will get better

my mind is set to “never” as the chill seeps through my clothes
gnawing at my chains, scratching at my tether,
every flake a tear, frozen falling down in droves
whiteout courses through the land damping noise
and numbness creeps into my bones

eyelids heavy, hear the joyous laughter
in the distance, i see the love i’m after
so i take her hand and follow
toward the welcome warming glow

i’m not asleep, i’m dreaming of the day
i’m not alone, i’m in an honest place
with all the gentle beauty we could know

she smiles and all my worries melt away
a blink, my body lying, and i learn to let it go
footsteps leading to it, desperate shouts become a whisper
and calmly disappear just like the rest, in time, beneath the snow

031411 spring ahead

January 13, 2015

i have a pretty antagonistic relationship with time
we’re often not on the same page
and it’s not through any fault of hers
and not through any fault of mine

it’s the fault of mechanistic industry
serving as an intermediary
distorting each time we try
distracting thought by thought,
derailing, line by line

“ethan, it’s time, wake up”
but you went to bed too late, you fuck up
“ethan, it’s time, plant alliums and brassica seeds”
no, go to work, make money, pay the rent
pay messed up corporations
pay your late fees and usury rates
pay the wealthy men in time you spent
indoors, underneath fluorescent lights
climate-controlled, days become nights
summer, winter blend together
into the ink-black scape of oil in front of me
as opaque as our ability
to see the limits of our prison
our ability to envision
our escape into the waiting arms of time
not free, just surrender
unto the chaotic beauty of time,
unmediated by anything less than divine
unfiltered, that’s the introduction to my rhyme…


spring ahead, fall behind
AST through ZST
what a messed up way to be
i’m sick of all this BST
stop the clock
pull out the battery
put your pennies in the sock and swing
to reclaim your sanity
it’s not time we’re dismantling
it’s the shadow abstract of industry

it’s the seasons, sun, moon and tides
who define the meaning of time for me
who inspire a meaningful rhyme for me
and conspire to teach us to thrive, let’s see
what life’s like past trying to survive
when we celebrate the time we spend alive
as a community…

041511 basic needs

January 1, 2015


we’re hatching plans to meet demands
all i see are outstretched hands
the world is watching, people are hungry
and we demand some dignity…
so if you disagree and try to stop me:

we plant fools like you neck-deep in the sands,
leave them for the rising tide
and let others decide if they live or die
it’s no matter of pride, i just don’t care
we’ve got bigger fish to fry
there’s more important things i’m juggling

the whole globe is local, struggling
still alive, trying to survive
nowhere near being close to thrive
we have unmet basic needs:
good food, shelter, friends, family;
a relationship with the land beneath our feet;
and deep-seeded sense of community

from clothes for kids to souls to feed
those are my goals, this is my creed:
i reframe what grows in our space
and name what contrains our sense of place
no more GE free-trade misery
give me the dynamic native weed
dandelion: fritters, wilted greens, wine, tea
make a wish, let it be-

-come, we’re planting seeds that will succeed
in spite of what insanity the toxic leaders spray
or what poisons their mindless minions bleed inside the fray
these are seeds they can’t eradicate
that live on through their fear and hate
we terraform land, we cultivate fate
and do whatever it will take, with or without you
to make sure there’s good food on all our plates
to sustain this drop in the rain we call the human race

i try to live my life right,
burning bright all through the day
until i embrace the dark at night
and while i sleep, i’ll dream a way
to integrate tactics, strategies, praxis, play
but i can’t do it alone
it’s who i’m with that let’s me say
the life i live is home…

041511 righteous rage

December 31, 2014


it happened on a hot sticky summer day
to a small stranger in the smaller town of LA
sitting in the car across the street
waiting for some family
i watched the scene unfold…
for the rest of this story i will pray
Thy Justice be done, Thy Truth be told
about an incident nevermind how old
years ago, told in the first
this is how it went…

“from the safety of my distance
it started with what i could hear
a man shouting racial slurs and epithets
they made their way to my ears
in between the violent threats

i turned to look
and from what i could see
it was a customer and store clerk
white man was loud
white man was angry
white man was red in his face
while the clerk stood calmly, i thought
‘this is more than mere retail work,
what the hell is wrong with this place?’
white man still shouting, my thoughts continued
‘where do we keep that can of mace?’

after a minute of offensive infringement
white man left the place still pissed
i could tell from where i sat
because his panties were in a twist
the clerk was frantic, on the phone
and i sighed relief, thought it was done

but white anger soon proved me wrong
my hopeful belief a lone stupid song
there’s even more fun yet to come
he returned w/a younger one in tow”

i pray that kid was not his son

“more shouting, slurs, epithets
in between the violent threats
this time so the kid could know…
i thought, ‘that’s it, cracker’s cracked, he’s being mean’
so i stepped out, stepped up, stepped in between
intent to bust apart the scene

first i turned to the clerk and asked the obvious:
‘is this idiot bothering? are you ok?
a beef with you is a beef with me
and i’m getting tired of his douchebaggery’
but he didn’t seem to have much to say

so i turned next to the red-faced man
‘hey you, what the hell are you doing?
this dude is my cousin, you cardboard shoe
any beef you have with him
you have with me and my entire family
and i don’t have any patience
for the toxic shit you spew’
but for some reason he wasn’t listening

let’s get real:
i didn’t have any hope for change from this idiot
he’s too far gone, been drunk too long
on his racist misplaced rage
so i turned instead to talk to the kid
hopefully still innocent, younger in age,
mustering the calm contact of a sage, i said
‘hey, i know you know it’s hard
but don’t pay too much mind to the toxic crap he spews
or his parasitic worldview will infect you, too
and eat you alive from the inside'”

merely wishful thinking read anew

“that’s what i wish i could have said
but i was only five at the time
and the big people i was with
could only sigh uncomfortably
and shake their heads, as if to imply
‘yeah it’s wrong but…
all’s well that ends well
no one hurt, no one dead…’
or ‘who are we to try and change his mind?
it could be dangerous, so let’s leave
before the scene becomes a crime…’
or ‘it’s just the way the world is,
love or leave it, get used to it, kid'”

and so in the short space of an hour or less
a five year-old’s acute sense of righteous rage
turned into a chronic sense of powerlessness

what right do we have to fear for our safety
when we’re not the ones under attack?
and if i’m not there for others in need,
then when my turn comes, and they come for me,
who in Hell will have my back?

050711 New Yorker

December 29, 2014

A (somewhat-ironic open) letter to the “poetry editors” of The New Yorker, for their reifying leadership in nearly every aspect of the Poetry Industrial Complex:

The New Yorker tends to run bad poems by excellent poets […] many well-known poets don’t write what’s known in the poetry world as “the New Yorker poem” — basically an epiphany-centered lyric heavy on words like “water” and “light.” [The second] is what you might call “the home job”: the magazine’s widely noted fondness for the work of its own staffers and social associates.

I would suggest that a scarcity of nouns is not the problem. Apparently, it’s a scarcity of new things to write poems about.

If The New Yorker really wanted people to read the poetry they’d put it in the cartoons.


“i am a poet, i describe life:
virtue, vice, pleasure, pain
beauty, romance, romantic strife
using the unequivocable language
of metaphor, allegory, and
other literary device”

fuck that noise, i’m done playing nice
if that’s poetry, then i’m Saddam and Satan is my wife
examine the arbitrary free-form prose scene in a new light:
vapid lines, candied language by day are romance by night
that pollution and dilution leaves me spoiling for a fight

what do these snobs know about suffering for art?
care-free vapid lines, void of meaning
delivered DOA with voice like a dull fart
no rhymes, empty adjectival crimes
embarrassing and forced pseudo-quasi poetry
from a creative rut cloaked in unexamined class
like a house of cards crass, blowing in the wind
entitlement above the law, capricious strut, so walk
these thin-skinned fragile egoes with a glass jaw.

factory-fresh poet wannabes can accuse me of being mean,
or scoff and cry for mommy when i call them unweened
unoriginal rhymethieves, unheard, unseen,
my response to the whining of these poet-type beings:
that’s just the way the world is,
and if they can’t take the heat emotionally,
and shoulder some of the responsibility,
they best be getting out of the biz
post-haste, read that S.T.F.U. A.S.A.P.

051511 bright feathers

December 26, 2014


winter is just soup and sourdough bread weather
so feed that plastic-wrapped heart-attack crap
back to the corporate bed-wetters
whatever they said, we do it better
renewal is just life with less fetters
straighten up, pull up your pants and forget that cheddar
we’re on the right track when we’re ruffeling bright feathers

the problems we face are personal and systemic, but
the will to be change is engrained and endemic
change happens one heart and mind at a time
empowerment is innate, natural and divine
it comes through blood and the courage to find
solidarity through work and understanding through rhyme

tap your innate ability and curiosity
as we come together and create community
undo our alienation, learn to see
no longer blind, learn to hear, listen actively
no longer deaf, learn to speak your fears publicly,
no longer mute, teach strength and vulnerability:
two words on the same sign

how many others like me fear betrayal,
dishonesty, abandonment, disengenuous portrayal?
it’s true i’ve been hurt before
kicked while i’m down on the floor
stabbed in the back, rumors
doublespeak behind closed doors

i’m always fighting the numbness i feel
cautious, defensive, protective
the pain i fear becomes real
ironic from my perspective
each time i refuse another chance to heal,
vicious cycle, abuse, acute pain turns chronic

it only takes one lie to turn a real person fake
one fake to poison the connections we make
my only solution is to trust and be trusted
stay open and honest, give back what i take
stay real as i discover and chastize the lies
no matter our choice, we’ll have a flood:
is it solidarity, or is it our blood?

051911 hungry curse

December 24, 2014


“All I want for my children is that they become
neither the destroyers nor the destroyed.”

civilization falls with no parachute deployed
back into the future with no knowledge of the void
heading toward a fate with only fear defining choice

pollute and misuse waterways to slake an undead thirst
abuse of food does not describe this hungry curse
turn around, find the ground, before it finds us first
the crash will carry all into an unfamiliar verse

the stars bear silent witness to the end of our complexity
finding those who seek the everlasting fame of anonymity
enduring strife excessively comes with the territory

but it’s just a part of life, the daily drama never ends,
even when i abandon Hell, our dys(u)topian ideal

i want you on the mend, as well — i need for us to heal

060611 bittersweet life

December 23, 2014


yesterday i helped a friend prepare for her plane
a last-minute flight, reluctant parting of our ways

i woke at five and walked another friend to the train
still stifling the flood of my emotional pain
although through its suppression i’ve got nothing to gain

i realized that i couldn’t go to work today
i took a personal day, slept the whole day away
abandoned all my worries, let my dreams lead the way
alone, lonely silence, hopeful thoughts holding sway

i dreamed of the day our heavy losses are repaid
when justice reigns supreme and every karma gets made
and the work we have to do so that our worries can fade:
end our self-destructive tendencies through the sensitivity
honesty and courage to see a spade as a spade

the challenges we face are always opportunities
when we care for one-another then we’ll face them with ease
it’s all monkeyspheres and moments, every one we should seize
go the long way, take your time, explore the possibilities

relationships will always be an incomplete imperfect feat
conditions where we meet through strife define for me
the taste, feel and meaning of a bittersweet life

061511 unfair burden

December 17, 2014


i spent the better part of the last several days
pondering and practicing all the ways i could say…
“it,” without ever actually having to say it to you

i spent so much emotional energy
stifling, deploring, dismissing, ignoring
what every fiber of my being told me,
“but that’s exactly what you should do…”

because i was too afraid to trade
a bird in the hand of emotional safety
for an hourglass of sand, and
through the counsel of friends and family, i knew…

half of my fears were justified
while you were fighting so hard just to stay here
telling you was irrelevant, an act of pride

but deep down inside i also worried
that there would simply be no reciprocity
no genuine, “i love you, too”
and that’s an unfair burden for me and for you

so i’m here through fate to say it now,
knowing you are not obligate to reciprocate.
and i have faith that you will do
with this knowledge
exactly whatever it is you choose…

i love you.