“I really don’t care. Do you?”

I’ve been calling them shakedown years since about two thousand and fifteen. It feels like the tipping point between words and reality finally took a topple toward words. We’re supposed to listen to and respect someone’s right to conversation, in complete deference and willful ignorance of all their words definitions. You can tell it, yell it, scream it in my face, but if I don’t see conservation in your life, in your philosophy, decisions and actions, I am not going to call you a conservative. If you pull into my driveway and explain how you’re a christian as you apologize for calling me a waste of life and telling me I’ve disappointed my deceased grandparents, you may not actually be living up to the definition of the word Christian.

I hear you. I probably smiled, nodded, maybe gave you an ‘I don’t know’ headshake, or a ‘let’s agree to disagree’ grin, but I saw you. I see you. And the day will come that you might ask me to read you. And I won’t paraphrase. Your complete way of life is beside the point.

I don’t care about your opinion on abortions. If you wanted me to, you needed to go to school, and earn that right.

I don’t care your opinion on illegal immigration. The end result of that line of thinking will have us walling off our states, standing in line outside of our own hometowns providing bonafides and credentials just to be let in. If I drew a line in the sand and said no one could cross it, I still wouldn’t be surprised when someone does. Such is the nature of lines drawn in the sand.

I don’t care that you dislike black people. Or that you would like to casually comment degrading, disrespectful remarks about people who are different than you, in every way except their willingness to suffer and die for their identity. That, you have in common with everyone.

I’ll care when you give me something worth caring about. When the issue on your lips is one we all need to pass over ours in order just to maintain not caring for another day. Our society skipped right over any form of discussion about the basic daily life essentials we’re all scrambling to acquire. Our society has slipped its way between us and our earth and is selling it back to us piece by piece as we grow up and recognize our needs.

Government is crushing farmers, because government does not want us to farm. It wants major corporations to take up those arms, and they’re hesitant. Because growing food is hard. Keeping clean water, and more animals than you can count in your own backyard, is expensive. And, farming has this neat effect on the human life. It gives us a different, more dutiful, dependable and fair master over our time and labor. Nature. And government does not want nature to be anything more to us than a recreational activity.

Well. I am done. Done pretending this is the way it is. The founders of this nation had nothing even remotely similar with which to compare our current way of life. The fact that almost all of us would start to starve the instant grocery stores stopped filling up. The richest aristocrat of George Washington’s era still had chickens in his yard. Still used horses for a car. Still knew the soft snap of green beans and the smell of soil turned over for the first time after winter.

A farmer is a producer. And a producer makes an inconsistent consumer. And our society, our government, in no evil or malicious manner, simply doesn’t benefit so much from a population of producers as it does a system filled with poorly educated, ravenous consumers. That’s as simple as it gets.

If you want to talk about freedom, there has to, I repeat, has to, no option otherwise, be a way of life at the very base of our system, in which a person can eat good food, sleep safe and warm from the weather, and drink as much clean water as they could ever need, without using any form of currency. Apart from their humanity. And whatever morning choring those things require.

This idea. What is freedom without forty acres and a mule? Perhaps that should be our golden rule. Before we sail off into this corrupt, divisive, consumption based, product placed future, we all need to know there is a piece of land set aside for us. A way of life fruitful enough to provide for us. A simple, quiet life in the country.

The economy of want is not appropriate to manage the economy of need.

I refuse to talk about building walls, renovating bathrooms, or putting in a new kitchen sink, until the foundation of this building has been surveyed and repaired.

I am not saying anyone is right or wrong.

I am saying that until the conversation includes providing a base level of survival resources or environments for every citizen in this country, it is my right not to care.

Apes with big brains and too much time on their hands.

We’re sticking out sideways on a salty rock with dry patches shifting like rashes from so much tectonic scratching. Everyday we move menial amounts of dirt, and waste, and value, and paperwork, and then we go home tired, pretending there’s no tomorrow until tomorrow is honking beside the bed at six in the morning. It’s not nothing. And yet, it’s also not the something we imagined it would be.

It’s just apes with big brains and too much time on their hands, with a highly developed imitative faculty, building termite mounds and anthills, while failing to cite their sources.

We’ve invented nothing. We’ve failed at conquering our own backyards, let alone any frontiers. We are infants, evolutionarily speaking. We’re bees. Who forgot all the scavenging we’ve been doing for fifteen thousand years. We believe we’re actually shitting out honey.

We’re surprised.
Every time.
We remember why
we’re the only apes
that live in hives.

Terrible things

I said this thing to Ashley the other day. Talking about our son. I said you take Roan so personally, and I take him so plurally. Every sound he makes moves her. And if he is upset, she can not settle. I admit, I laugh at him in his little tantrums a little too often. But I look into his eyes, the only part of him that really doesn’t appear all that infantile, and I see a million other sons. And daughters. And naturally, a lot of parents take their kids so seriously they never get around to pluralizing the experience. Recognize it has a unifying effect on the people who have been affected. It’s social adhesive. Procreation. A biologic gauntlet, that in this particular instance, we sort of tripped over. And thank God for that.

But I can’t look at my son and not see my society. I refuse to fail to imagine the world he will come into knowing. A world that seeks to make a product out of him. Exactly as it has successfully done to me. And I desire nothing other for my son than for him to be free.

Fully free, in the one mainstream definition we all seem to forget when we use the word politically. But economically speaking, I want my son to be free. I do not want to feed the worst impulses of my society’s fear of other societies, and fuel money into the military instead of fixing my path as a nation, so that my footsteps aren’t leaving huge indentations.

I imagine all our enemies, no matter how awful, still look at their children the way I look at Roan. I imagine if they’re fighting this hard, right or wrong, they have some powerful motivation. I don’t have to apologize for, forgive or pretend to understand them.
But if I’m ever going to end this war,
I am going to have to heavily reconsider calling them my enemy.

I have a sneaking suspicion once I do that, I’ll fix my own life in such a way
that enemy is no longer their name.

I see all that in his navy eyes. In the skeptical lines as he stares me down, typing. He likes the sounds of the keys clacking. So do I. We have that, and a whole lot more in common. We all do. We could stop right now, and lay down our arms, and pull back limbs like tortoises into all of our shells. I am speaking globally. About many nations. We are fighting unending conflicts with the exact same motivation.

I knew it the instant I held my son in my hands.
I realized the source of the fear that now rules the land.
And it is the purest love I have ever felt.

And I would do terrible things to protect it.

Life is Brian

What if the revolution doesn’t have to touch the system. Finds it isn’t necessary to replace any of the words we’re currently using. What if revolution did all of its work, instead, on definitions. Let me give you an example. Our definition of the word life is insufficient. We define it like it is a state. And any of us full on the food we just ate, knows the word life doesn’t functionally describe all the work we are doing just to keep alive. Life, as far as we know it, is a process. Every human you experience is somewhere in the midst of an ongoing equation we all share in. Adding water, hopefully in the right amount, to carbon-rich nutrients, boiling in a leaky furnace we’re always working hard to regulate the temperature on. To call this massive, overlapping story some vague and singular thing, like Brian, is misleading.

I hope that example helped some. Because the point I’m making is crucial.

You haven’t done anything for Brian if you set him down on land he doesn’t own, no job, no clothes, no home, no food. You haven’t helped Brian either, if you bury him in the clogged heart of a city where anything he might eat or drink will depend on little green pieces of paper in his pocket. You see, Brian is not an isolated occurrence. Brian is actually a complex equation. Anyone who claims to create a system intended to feed and assist him would do nothing more than protect the elements of that crucial pursuit Brian is perpetually caught up in. Same as the rest of us.

Brian is all he has. Selling him the basic necessities for his own survival, is by definition, a monopoly. We don’t have to change that one. But life, on the other hand, is a definition we will need to update. Let me do that.

Life is harrowing plotline, with complex villains and heroes, the dragons that seek you and monsters for your enemies. As soon as you settle, you’ll be spurred on by hunger, and as soon as you’re sated, thirst will wrest you from your seat and set you digging wells and chasing rivers.

We’re all free. Correct? I mean, I think I read that somewhere, buried by our country’s waxing constitution. So. If we’re all free. Then I suppose society’s intention isn’t really to police human freedom. It must have been created to assist us all in the tedious writing of this complex novel we call living.

Then why does all food cost money?
Why does all water cost money?
Why is housing one of the most expensive, and essential, resources to come by?

Hmmm.

Why would society set itself up, and establish economies around selling us products
we die if we ever dared to boycott.

Some big questions there. Our definition of life should be big enough to answer at least a few of them. And we are falling short. Life is not a state of being. The same way we discuss freedom. We act like we’ll fight one war and have it for good for all our family for all eternity.

Point being, if we have the right to life, we have free and equal access to the resources essential to even beginning to sustain a state one could call alive. Nothing needs to be rewritten, or changed. No new amendments needed. It’s just that word life.

We’re too close to see it clearly.
With a little adjustment to perspective, we could all come to know life
by it’s true definition. The full meaning of the word life.
And wouldn’t you know.

It’s Brian.

No More than a Dream

What if it was more than an accent.
What if southern meant different color.
Dark brown bourbon skin.
Patch of red on the back of the head somewhere low about the neck.

Living up north like a sore thumb blends into a hand.
People can’t stand anything that reminds them of an experience they lack.
Prideful ignorance. Whole islands of sand to bury your head.

We call it rural America.

Main Street U.S.A.
See some places are places you go.
But a small town town is somewhere you stayed.

If my skin were different, not just my legato accent.
Not just my laid back, get to it tomorrow disposition.
But a different pigmentation in my skin.
Not even a totally different color.
Even just a slightly darker tinge.

What if?

What a question that is. How many people in this country
have not traveled enough to at some point in time been the minority.
For any reason at all. Big or small. Voice or opinion or skin color or sexual preference.
Or me. A southerner. Up north. Learning what all those boys
killing each other during the civil war
learned once they got up close. We’re not so different
as our representatives would like us to be.

The greatest unspoken fear of every political career
is that all us people ever get on the same team.

Which happens the moment our eyes really open.

Otherwise, America will live and die
no more than a dream.

 

Shipbuilders

Our political system is having conversations that we, its citizens, are not.

We have used our collective, national imagination to finally do what we have always murdered prophets for doing. We’re predicting our pitfalls. Our future failures. It is a massive blow to the ego. But before we go building up the nuclear arsenal and battening down the hatches, remember, nothing has actually happened. Nothing whatsoever.

When the boat rocks, every hand is on deck. We don’t argue tax plans. We just start writing checks. What we call government is a pie crust of individuals incessantly campaigning to be popular enough to keep their careers. And really, the sanctity of their names. All on top of this massive creamy filling of neverending government office jobs. Courthouse clerks. Cops. Janitors. Receptionists. Those kids they hire to get their coffee. So surprised when something they did not stop at eyes leads their hands to committing a crime.

Our turmoil is their job security.
The last administration’s failures are always fresh fodder for this one.
How they explain away all the choppy water during this American expedition.
We’re all on deck still for yesterday’s storms.

But nothing has happened. Politically, globally speaking, there are blue skies and very few dark clouds on the horizon. We’re actually in good, clear, steady water, comparatively speaking.

Now is not the time to argue over captains, or suggest mutiny.

Before this bubble bursts, let’s get to dry land. Find some forests. Cut fresh timber.
Patch the holes in the sails.

Let’s build a better boat.
Not bigger. Not greater.

This last election turned a new generation of Americans on to politics. Politics, is an industry. Industries put on shows, and hide doubts, and even losses, in order to keep their stockholders confidence. They will decry and bemoan abhorrent figures into American history. Into great military power and media attention. A lot of people are making a lot more money because of how much we now pay attention. Spoiler alert. It is going to be a cliffhanger. There is always going to be part forty five, and forty six and so on. The new one will always blame the state of this nation on the actions of the previous administration. And by the time they’re out, let’s just say no one cares to see their tax return as much after that.

I don’t know. I tend to get deep, and preachy, and metaphorical.
But this needs a base. This argument needs water.

The current boat is the dollar. It is our national, global representative currency. And there are at least three things that can not be industries, because they will always be monopolies. Because they’re essential to our basic access for life.
Which is not a government, but a universally guaranteed right.

Food.
Water.
Shelter.

There is absolutely no reason other than our own obliviousness that these basic resources should be translated through a national representative currency before reaching us.

The end result is, if you have no money, you lose the right to life.
You do not eat or drink or sleep inside.

It happens to people all the time. The aid they receive is not connected to the environment capable of producing such means. Farms. Taxed for the land they work on. And hungry people. Fed by a government program.

The revolution is food production infrastructure.

Little cashless economies all across the country that end up supplementing most, if not all our basic dietary requirements. Water is tied up in food production. So is shelter. The idea of someone being homeless, or unemployed, could be laughable. Farms should absorb these people like water into a sponge. And if there is any government spending to be done, or taxation required, cut out the middleman every now and then, pick up a phone, and call a farmer. Damn.

If the boat would stop rocking for just a minute, maybe we’d see it different. It is very much like our entire nation, politically speaking, still has post traumatic stress
leftover from the World Wars.

And almost every one of these desperate decisions we’ve coerced into sense,
has been in response to a trigger.

Every single conflict we’ve been involved in since, started in the minds of our representatives. And they are having conversations about us neither you or I or anyone we know would ever have. To them, our lives are math.
Telling us we’re divided. Calculator in hand.

Assuring us we’re cut clean in half. But I don’t buy that. And you shouldn’t either.
Now is as good a time as there has ever been for us to get ourselves together.

We could forget hiring the right captain. For the time being.

Americans should go back to shipbuilding.

Conservative today is liberal tomorrow.

Let me try to explain. Do you know this guy, the person who uses duct tape and rubber cement to fix burst pipes, and then leaves it, for months, until it breaks again. Or who saves money on plumbing piping to use as electricity conduit, or paints over grounding wires. Have you met the guy who uses his friends to do a construction job even a contractor would hire a contractor to do. Just to save a buck.

These people voted for Trump. They call themselves conservative. They pretend they’re running businesses, which are just dressed up opportunities to talk down to other people, while bleeding money into the companies that sold them the supplies to get started. See. Those companies are run by liberal-minded individuals.
They’re not panning for gold in California.
They’re selling you the pan and a shovel and inventing denim pants.

Conservative today, burst pipes, rusted wiring, and slow sinking foundation, will be the most insurmountably expensive option moving forward. The word conservative might be applicable for a year, two, maybe even a decade, and then, with shrugged shoulders and skeptical grin, we’ll be right back at the same problem. Again. Checkbook in hand.

It is not conservative to half ass a project today praying you won’t still be around to fix it tomorrow. Liberal-minded people put money on projects preemptively, recording in the long run just how much they saved by their spending. And almost every social program put forward in the past century has done just that. Taken severe chunks out of violent crime rates, filled in some of the recession pits so we don’t hit bottom so hard. I have personally seen this attempt to provide affordable health care bring millions of the youngest, and interestingly enough, oldest members of the workforce, out of the shadows and into the limelight. We were reminded, there is a current of movement in this nation that still slows down for us. The people.

I don’t see that conservative minded individuals could ever look at us as an investment. As an opportunity. Helping in our hard times is at best their charity. They don’t see how I come out of it swinging. Working. Inventing. Changing. I’m not saying conservatives don’t want that, but they’re sure as hell not going to put money on it before it’s a sure thing. Conservatives are giving away their agenda, offended that we’re offended by phrases like minimum wage. They’re stocking up on duct tape. Come on. The tires are bald. The wiring is exposed. We can damn near see sparks.

I am no Democrat.

But on a timeline, again and again, they have proven themselves to be the true party of conservatism. Instilling policies today that have saved us incredible amounts of time and money moving forward.

Republicans are arguing fiscally conservative in the moment quick fix applications, that end up costing exorbitant amounts in the future. And once we have no choice, because the machine has finally just shut down, they are quite liberal in increasing the national deficit tremendously. You know, one wouldn’t have to work that hard to put up a decent case that on a timeline, Republicans, in every way, socially, fiscally, morally, are a far more liberal party.

And this is where I’ll end. Where I usually wind up. Arguing over timelines. Like every other prophet. Essentially committing entire lives to promoting the philosophy of composting.

Today’s shit. Tomorrow’s soil.
Cheap today. Valuable tomorrow.

These terms, conservative, liberal, don’t hold up the same way on a timeline.

If intelligent life from the other side of the universe showed up on earth, they are not going to believe the party arguing against family leave, fair pay, the basic freedoms of women, also known as half the entire population, electing sordid pseudo-celebrities and teasing nuclear holocaust, is the more conservative party.

They’re going to laugh a little at how we are still being used by our own words.
And then. They will try to find anyone who can functionally think on a timeline.

Self Belief – Soul Knowledge

Ego is tricky business. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s an accident. It isn’t. Nothing in existence is. Ego especially. Self-belief. Confidence. Soul and body dance. Energy that is timeless, moving in a biomechanical cocoon that will inevitably break open too soon. And ego. Just might be the only shape the energy that is you knows to take. Self-belief. Soul-knowledge. An overabundance of spiritual confidence. Walking on coals. Stepping into the unknown. Ego allows you to break the thick mold of ceaseless self preservation. The little liar in your heart who tells you you’ll be fine. Go ahead and take off on an adventure. No one has landed one before. But then again, there has never been anyone quite like you.

It’s like the cape on a superhero’s back. It’s like their tight little red underwear. It’s like the only shield police officers carry are badges. Symbols. Ego was the only thing the Wizard of Oz had to offer the last four pilgrims to his temple.

Whatever it takes to get you to fake just enough confidence to put a foot through the door.

And more, eyes open, head forward, take on a world of villains who by all means are probably shaping their identity purely in unveiled attempts to antagonize yours.
You can’t adopt it all the time, and you definitely dare not abandon it either. Ego.
Being functionally egotistical. It’s like a raincoat. Just enough to persuade you to step out into the rain. But if you wear that raincoat all day, you can bet on sweat. You might have been better off without a coat at all. But you’re egotistical. Your belief in yourself is astounding. The whole wide world full with starving people. Every day they get a little thinner. And you. To them.
Look just like chicken dinner.

Ego should be light as feathers. Subtle as spurs. The spark of orange fire in the eye.
Everyone wants you for the worst of reasons. But that doesn’t exempt you from being.
Ego has every reason to stay quiet, sleep in. Stay hidden. But it doesn’t. No.
Ego wakes up and crows.
People say good morning.

Ego says I know.

You’re welcome.

The New One


Change is hard. To me, it seems rooted in unhappiness. The discontent desire to reshape their continents. And happy people draw maps. Of course, it isn’t as simple as that. Philosophically speaking, it’s a hammer. Or a wrench. If you look at the equipment to get an idea of the ideas they have built, it will always seem too simple. But it’s two different natures. Separate goals and agendas, distinct skeletal structures between the ideals that shape our tools and the things they can build. A hammer moves two ways. Hard and inconsiderate buried into wood, or sharp flat bunny ears that pull shy iron up out of its rabbit hole. If you’re a mover and a shaker, a builder, a creator, a social changer, an adventurer, an artist. You’re probably not the happiest. Dissatisfied. Discontent. You can argue me against it, but I’ll probably disregard all your words and take your passionate need to prove me wrong as its own kind of evidence. Sorry. I stopped stopping at people’s words a long time ago. Around the same time I admitted to myself just how much I will lie to control the idea people have of me. I did this amazing thing. I assumed everyone else was just as smart as me. And doing it as well. So I listen to chest swells, and deep breaths, and that thing where people look down and chuckle a couple times before they talk. Think of all the times you did that yourself. What true answers were you bypassing in those seconds before you landed on the placid, clean, decent one.

So whether you want to admit it or not, you’re not building a new house because you were happy with the one you had. You’re not plowing new fields if your grass was already green enough. Tree roots and boulders buried like land mines. Change is hard work. So are new worlds. America is defined by attracting all of the earth’s least satisfied residents. Argue with me if you want, but people who are truly content, do not get on that boat. They never left Europe. You did not travel then, and you really shouldn’t now, with any reassurance of how soon you’ll be back again. Along with luggage, you are taking your life up into your own hands. Seeking out new lands. Because the one you’re leaving behind did not fill you up. It wasn’t enough. Some of us are hammers. And some of us are nails buried so deep we’ll never be pried up. And a good enlightenededish person will have learned over time to be a bit of both. To seek balance. And let change do what it has always done. This planet is changing all on its own. The revolution, is how to live here and still leave it alone.  

It’s an oversimplification, I know. But if hammers and nails were as complicated as houses, I’m not sure we’d ever get one off the ground. If you’re an artist. A revolutionary, which is simple nowadays. The revolutionary is a good mom, and a patient man, an understanding boss, a forgiving friend. If you’re trying. If you have a dream. Or wishes. If other people are small talking and I catch you staring off into the distance. I know you’re like me. You’re a little bit unhappy. Just enough. To know this way of life isn’t enough.

The same hands that put down the new novels and poetry and short-storied scriptures of tomorrow will have cut the boards and set the nails of the new shelves in the libraries that will be needed to hold all of them. A hammer. The pen. The beauty of this rusty little literary invention. Language is like an old house our ancestors built for us. A decrepit mansion we all inherited equally just by being born human. Maybe a room or two have been kept clean and livable by the devoted satin robe wearing monks of academia, but none of us could keep termites out of the joist in the basement. Mold buried deep with moisture in real hard oak. Floor sagging in places and roof given out altogether in others. No one lives here full time anymore. And how we approach this condemned inheritance sort of sets us into two distinct categories of personality.

And I know I don’t need to write it again. But it is the discontent who want to tear it down and start over. Happy people are scrubbing floors and dusting mantles. But the ones who have glimpsed the future walk the halls with hammers. Prying up nails and taking out hardwood and stained glass and musty furniture while we still can.
We may yet need them.
For the new one.  

Some Kind of Camouflage

After two months outside, pretty well insulated from this political climate, I come back to find it was safer in the woods. The poison ivy at least has three leaves. Black bears are pacifists who prefer to hug trees. Bees are after their honey. And leave you alone once they know you’re not sweet. But outside of the woods, things are not as they seem.

I’ve seen black bears the color of cream wearing gray comb-overs who couldn’t fathom satisfying women their own age. Heard about poison ivy hung like mistletoe above office doorways, and dangled from handles, and laid out in thick wreaths on every seat. For years it will be coming out of pores, clothes, hiding in shoes, latent in skin. The itch. Hornets leaping from holes in the ground up skirts, up pant legs, down shirts, not even looking for honey. Honey is back home waiting. These insects just want to sting something. Anything.

After spending a couple months outside, without a roof overhead, I can tell you with confidence, it is in fact not actually raining. A political system is pissing on our heads. And it is not worried about these independent scandals coming out. Its fear is us discovering just how many years this has been happening. And my guess,
damn near every one of them since the beginning.

They’re going to continue painting black bears up like pandas. They already are. Scared people like to hide. These men are scared. They built these governments. All patriarchy. And turned themselves into monsters. And monsters like caves. Armani and Gucci and Polo Ralph Lauren. Single breasted and brand named and an office and a title for a lair. Bouquets of daisies wrapped in poison ivy vines on sumac place settings.
Not all the bees you meet are going to lead to honey.
And not all honey is going to be sweet.

In the woods, you really don’t wear camouflage.
It is actually far more beneficial and safer to be seen.
You put on something bright orange, you sing a little while you hike,
you don’t hesitate to talk out loud and make a little noise.
But now that I’m out of the woods, it has been the opposite.
Since I’ve been home
almost everywhere I go
I see some kind of camouflage.