Striving Like Blake
Your innocence will be crushed by experience,
While only a mature mind knows how to retain what’s great in innocence,
As fresh experience rushes in to destroy what works
In foolishly desiring to be great.
A shadow looms over your bed,
Scatters maniacally like light,
And all you did was wake up with the pleasant discomfort
Of the residue of a naughty dream.
No wonder one might have that feeling of living in a world turned upside down;
Where a rigid word that grew as if out of fears of miscegenation
Can still hang like the spirit of good over the horrid truth of the past.
We so hate the feeling of dead time
That we would rather be in a rush,
And perhaps both represent some fear unconsciously.
A desire to be anywhere but here.
Is it you time, the very concept,
A more acute awareness of losing or gaining,
A notion in the very tilt of the clock hand,
Or arbitrary angle of the number’s design.
Or price fluctuating on a necessary commodity,
That conditions us into the alienation from ourselves?
Out of Mind
Anything deep will take you straight to the material,
And so superficiality is the denial of this.
What is there to be gained from sticking to a glossy sheen?
It is no less than material enrichment.
Factoring all the ways to manufacture a rationalization
is a full time gig.
So is being homeless by the way.
The Appearance of Getting Laid
I could not sleep in her bed,
I would hear the rattle of her depression medication
Across the hall, as I lay there, anticipating her return.
And then in the morning I would go back to where I did not live,
And the sound of birds would be somehow offensive.
The Magic of Oppression
A child of luxury,
Who is not taken in by these commodity
And fetish. Let him go live on the street,
Then he will see the necessity to live communally.
For the street is merely an artificial commons,
Which becomes the ugly mirror
Of what the commons used to be.
Drained of all use,
By a bureaucracy backed up by force,
You can’t grow money out here.
And it is ultimately this image,
A mere abstraction of a promise,
That reduces what is priceless into nothing.
Light Through The Cracks
In my solitude,
I pen the names Julian and Stella,
And think of the sadness from son to father,
The warm noble face of John Shipton,
And imagining that an Empire of lies will fall
As a family is reunited.
I have been alone in my worries
As long as you were captured and imprisoned for publishing truth,
As long as the apathy of a nation has been amnesiac
Of the crimes of their government,
For as long as waking up to truth, in the imperial core,
Is as the construction of a solitary jail cell.
Rather than the deterioration of your person,
May these structures collapse in all their evil glory,
Around the sky and the star.
Ends And Means
Truth in art is like nature,
Simply there for all to see
Although it cannot be told entirely why.
So for as much as one may try to explain it
Or cover it up with artifice
This will never work.
You can lie to people and tell them that art is true
But the science of it will one day prove you to be a liar.
I’ll get to it partially,
Dash out my feeble song
But make no claim on its wider significance
For I doubt it has none.
Otherwise I’ll probably have to die for some cause,
Because I can’t see how I can afford growing old.
Outsider With Your Orange Liqueur
A device on the cool wet grass under a misty moon
Plays Bob Marley, where I’m not welcome,
Though this was home and I wrote a poem
About the hills of Appalachia and colonialism,
Probably sometime around Chinese National Day though I am in America,
Where they call you exhausting for suggesting
Things like Columbus Day is bullshit.
There are always a constellation of current events,
Though these get interpreted as narratives and myths
That serve the broader agenda of the Heavens,
Those who govern us common people from above.
Like the Lord who owns the Washington Post,
Whose stories fill the pages of the Sacramento Bee
And a singular agenda gets disseminated to a tee.
When I gaze up at the stars
I’d be a lunatic to see myself here at its center,
But this is what propaganda does.
It needs a node like an ego that is nourished from flattering lies.
When I think of the tilt of the earth,
And think of all the wondrous diverse people living there,
I would be a lunatic to think
It should all have a capstone in Washington.
But this is what an Empire does.
And when I think that you would be ostracized for saying such things,
I realize how well
A machine like this is working,
Making a heaven for a handful of folks
By keeping the rest of us in hell.
Is not the main idea keeping the world from changing
The thought that it never will;
As well as the material oppression that makes one want to believe in astrology?
Thank Capitalism for Mental Illness!
Three dollar afternoon
A bit like a Happy Meal
A quart of Miller High Life.
Takes me back to slumlord dwellings
And a cheap meal first thing in the afternoon.
Alleyway couches, bottles were relics,
The girl I knew was suspended for putting a lighter to one
During a block party.
My friend she went to school with lost his mind,
Like my former roommate had the quarter before him.
These were the glorious days of the opioid epidemic,
Youngsters dying, or getting shackled with student debt.
They’re compelled to tell you “2 for 5?”
Just like “Would you like fries with that?”
As if you were getting a “deal.”
Sometimes more is less.
She Would Drive Me in Her Car
It’s an expensive cigarette, the one you buy an entire pack
For that you then cast out in the bin.
And the honey that really does seem like it comes from the gods
Has gone up several bucks from inflation.
You won’t get me on your hamster wheel,
I’ll continue running every morning;
Everything falls apart,
And then it comes back together.
I won’t let it break me down
Or label me abnormal.
Hope is ultimately the most essential desire.
The sweet scent of a memory, like when
We stepped out of the hotel room
To buy our chosen packs
Together. You wore creamy tan tights, under a skirt,
Coming undone for me, very deliberately.
She had that smoker’s laugh which makes a hot lady
Seem much older,
And yet as libidinous and reckless as you.
An English charm,
Makeup in the Japanese fashion,
Sexy Chinese journalist.
I wrote a poem about the Hukou Waterfall
The instant I fell in love with you.
The rushing brown rapids churned,
The immense slick muddy rock faces
Poured their cascades like a steaming teapot.
Oh how would the human race keep revolving
Were it not for crazy and reckless decisions?
No Material Lullaby
When you’re starving food is like a fix,
And shelter is the same way
But when you inflict a gap of alienation
In the social order; and hijack
The will to live with drugs,
And other commodities; you train
A nation not to give a shit
About each other,
A nation of freedom-loving slaves.
Your freedom in this sense
Is merely that ability
Not to give a shit.
Desirous of more of that, we
Thank God for that legally-sanctioned high.
The insomnia haunted me like the memory of a ghost
I’ve convinced myself didn’t exist during the day,
But which comes back around right on schedule.
The loops it throws us into,
And the loops it denies us
Critically capitalism you are an invasion
Of our sense of control,
You make us desire the freedom of your domination.
Won’t you lull me to sleep;
There is always something behind your magic shelves
That can do the trick.
When what is keeping me awake
Is simply the spell you’ve put me under
That makes one a maniac to buy things.
I would drink like three bottles of wine a night,
Write a veritable symphony out of a single song
When I first met her, and not much more
Than a year later
I would smoke a lone cigarette out under the moon,
Longing for her on the other side of the world.
The Loneliness of a Hangover
One so desires to be all right
They trigger excessive doubts in the brain.
And heart, why do you doubt that your very beating is good,
To where you ratchet that up
And fear becomes the dominant emotion?
We need not feel inadequate about ourselves
If the society conformed to our desires,
Rather than the other way around.
By letting go,
I have reminded myself,
That when I do,
There is no one there who can actually lend me a hand
When we, inevitably, fall.
Like dancing alone;
Or trying to perform a play,
By one’s self,
To an audience of me only.
When did the recognition of a kindred spirit
Get warped through the short-circuitry of fear,
Because in twenty-first century capitalism the only
Meaning available to us is paranoia.
We are living in times when holding a blank piece of paper
As the mere suggestion of a protest sign,
Can see one detained.
The clear crisis we should all fight back against
Is as obscured by propaganda
It’s like a virus of consciousness.
How much are you propaganda like a psychic wound
Akin to a governing disorder?
How much are you social order the infliction of this wound,
The narratives of this propaganda driving
Its psychotic reproduction?
My synapses are as tied to your billboard
As a naked body, across a desolate beach,
Littered with refuse.
My environment is the historical context in which
You’ve stranded our species
Like a doomed expedition into the void of the cosmos.
How could a world so crowded with the teeming space of life
Be afflicted with an epidemic of loneliness?
And the answer is
Of course because of you.
Aim Low To Aim High
How delicious is simply water,
When your stores stack sodas to the wretched ceiling,
When your workers aren’t viewed as people who need to use the bathroom,
When properties stand empty because that’s valuable,
When every meal, every purchase, is an extension of the ego,
And not a single commodity ever fills the void,
Which is largely the point.
How badly do you need that cup of sugar,
And when did we stop asking each other for it.
How beautiful is simply life,
How relieving to jump in a pool,
And have a toilet you can go to.
There’s a place you can do it that makes you a criminal.
There’s a place you can do it that makes you civilized.
But don’t do it on my time.
Spend what I transform yours into at less than what you put in on this soda.
And drink it before it gets hot.
You can’t address a crisis without first knowing where the money will come from,
Nothing can be done for its own sake,
Not even saving the world.
How much of the consumer’s anguish is in feeling they don’t enjoy enough,
An unhappy person sits around on a weekend and feels they’re wasting their life,
While other folks in the same affluent nation don’t have potable water,
And a pointless person writes a poem about it.
How much is it the ego that actually separates us,
Like the ritual of exchanging digits for what I need to survive?
How much is it this identity you’ve foisted on me
That makes the recognition of one human being to another
There’s a heatwave,
I’m simply sitting around
But at least I can take cold showers,
I can drink a glass of water.
To think there was one day we all shared things with each other,
To think it’s possible to at least get through the day,
Let alone attain to the most basic level of socialism.
There is something you will never enjoy,
That is nonetheless worth aiming at it
Existing one day in such profusion
It was as ubiquitous as the sea.
The Same Poem Twice
Every small room at a hostel,
Every budget hotel room,
A memory like home.
There’s the album I always listened to before hitchhiking
That I continued to listen to around the world
Playing from a phone on the ground,
A big glass of bourbon next to me.
How some things change
And others stay the same.
The conservative changes out of youth
To deny others change.
When to see that we are inwardly the same
But in as much appearance as experience altered;
Clinging to the innocence which once was,
Power tries to enshrine
A cult to the good old days.
There is a beauty to carpets,
Organization has an aesthetic.
Vodka and red wine will give you a headache
Have some vegetable juice,
Go for a swim,
Have a beer in the middle of the day.
Did you know a vast majority of people are gay
But only a minority owns up to it?
Singing karaoke is good for the soul,
Have a spirit, live.
Enjoy the simplicity of touch.
Is it wrong to wake up hungover and still decide
You’re fine with yourself?
Who decided living was wrong;
Who defined what was right?
Who’s definition is going to impeach the president,
What official hearing is going to hold capitalism accountable;
What reformism is going to halt a fascist march.
What is this June going to add to the record heatwaves
And who’s household will one day recognize, Sacramento,
That every person is a miracle?
After they exist,
This is the point.
We need to care for them.
We need to not let them be murdered by a profitable
Weapon of war, it goes without saying.
Your self-help ideologies have failed
Where radicalism would have done the trick,
If one had fundamentally changed society.
What was stopping you, what
Impeded the movements that we have to
Repeat now, as fascism marches on
With a flag. As a state or white nation,
You will always have slavery.
It’s funny that our parents
Thought we were free.
It’s funny that one can so easily buy
The things which will kill
Us, and certain emancipatory ideas are outlawed
In the sense of a pathology regarding
Socialism. You thought it was bad
For you! You believed a pathology made you free.
You believed that a fairy tale
Made inequality inevitable,
And so you bought
The things which used to be freely sought.
Could Use A Fan
Fame is the uneven spread of love
In a world plagued both with starvation and obesity.
California is like its gold pan.
Shiny monads of affluence throng in the circuitry of roads,
where nowhere leads to the compassion of our basic needs
And everywhere leads to capitalism.
The one hand controlled by an insatiable desire,
the other it’s the conquest of its safety.
While some fight to see their name in lights, for others
it’s to be seen as a person at all.
have you ever seen such handsome homeless men?
Feeling the burn on your skin increase
Like the frequency of wildfires.
Scorching our vain neglect of a future that is certain
to view us most infamously,
who stuck their white necks in the ground.
A majestic Tuscan villa
the classiness of which is in its unoccupied space,
Reminds me of those quaint little towns in Burma.
The elegant and orderly palms stand like pillars
As if lines of famous literature
Or a heartfelt speech that makes for the activist a career.
But there’s no more of it to go around.
We hiked under the bridge.
When bikers rode across it, the sound was like thunder.
I took a piss in nature not far from Folsom prison.
Off the bike trail, there was a homeless camp.
Cans of duster lay on the ground, I heard the sounds
of madman chatter,
And soon the Easter bunny will come.
When the community seems to look on
One like a prison guard to an inmate,
Your old bed feels like a hotel
And you know you’re on sacrificial land;
That is sterile with money and judgment.
When you left your bags packed for three years
And the amount you’ve changed is staggering
to the degree that no one thinks you do anything.
When the world has always been this insane
but it’s you who’re scorned for life-long
Defiance, the cold land gives you
Only disdain like a father.
The one who somehow started it
And yet couldn’t even tie his shoes
When fear was born
The Album From One Decade Ago
I simply went out
on the balcony.
I simply went out
for the first time
in some time,
probably not since
bringing in the garbage cans on Thursday.
The garden was desolate.
The garden that never
amounted to anything.
I looked over the railing,
I wrote a poem once
in a hotel room in Mandalay.
I was in Wushan
when you died,
or when I heard the news.
I hold his yin-yang pendant to this day.
A very barren winter day
Outside, I feel like that
In my room.
When the snow no longer spreads out
Leisurely, like it belonged there.
My mind cycles in broad sweeps.
It seems we are rodents on treadmills
when stuck in an environment of patriarchy.
I will meet a girl on something of a date,
who is separating from her wife;
Where will we go, and is it unmanly
If I’m nervous?
Private Thoughts on Property
When what you have to look forward to
There’s a painting on the wall;
its shades of green are similar to
Those on the Mayflower moving vessel
And the crates of pages on pages of
Printed out material is always collecting dust.
Overcast glare on a taupe branch curving up,
A dog barks
Haven’t seen the stray cat in months,
A neighborhood of individuals who basically know I exist
But in principle I don’t.
One branch wavers heavily in the wind,
Thick dry chestnut leaves bog it down.
How can change frighten the prisoner,
who is free so misery is of our own device?
Inessentiality of Names
An environment which denies me my change,
Like the indifferent passings-by of violent masses,
Society in the grip of self-delusion
And stationary raindrops cling
Outside the pane;
A slick black pavement shades to gray
And white, dotted with autumn leaves
In the last warmth, the
Middle of December.