On Night’s Plutonian Shore

I had a visitor tonight. One, a bird, of ill omen. Actually, there seemed to be many flying around the house. He was bit frenetic.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“What is this, middle school?” I thought. “Why is the Raven here? I have no pallid bust of Athena, or anything close.” Of course, he just sat there for a bit and flew off. No prophecy needed. I already know what’s wrong and that future may be bleak dystopia of the kind in which I dreamt of finding myself in as a hero in seventh grade. Truthfully, I prefer my crows just a little more modern.

There’s a black bird perched outside my window
I hear him calling
I hear him sing
He burns me with his eyes of gold to embers
He sees all my sins
He reads my soul

Any such black bird reading my soul these days would find a very long book of unanswered questions. I knew more in middle school. In high school I knew everything. It was glorious. Moving through the world immortal, full of piss and vinegar, certain in my knowledge of how the world worked. I was in love. A lot. You might say I was in love over and over again. How could it be wrong? Each time was pure. Regardless of the car.

But baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
You know, I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do ya
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Well, maybe things weren’t really so hallelujah, but the memories can be arranged that way. Forget the bad. Think only of the good. Or the glorious. Revel in the excitement, or the constant loops of Main Street searching for excitement when gas was 51 cents a gallon. But all such glories of youth end. We get jobs, we struggle, and look for love, or the best facsimile we can find.

Workin’ like a dog fo de boss man (oh)
Workin’ for de company (oh yeah)
I’m bettin’ on the dice I’m tossin’ (oh)
I’m gonna have a fantasy (oh yeah)
But where am I gonna look?
They tell me that love is blind
I really need a girl like an open book
To read between the lines

Love in an elevator
Livin’ it up when I’m goin’ down
Love in an elevator
Lovin’ it up ’til I hit the ground

But it’s time for bed. We get older. We get tired earlier.

Now the dogs are barking
And the taxicabs parking
A lot they can do for me
I begged you to stab me
You tore my shirt open
And I’m down on my knees tonight
Old Bushmills I staggered
You buried the dagger in
Your silhouette window light
To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you’ll go waltzing Matilda with me

Acknowledgements: Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven; The White Buffalo, Come Join the Murder; Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah; Aerosmith, Elevator; and Tom Waits, Tom Traubert’s Blues.

untitled thoughts

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black
Why you never see bright colors on my back
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner who is long paid for his crime
But is there because he’s a victim of the times

-Johnny Cash, “Man in Black”

It’s always going to take more than wearing a suit of black to make a difference.

I’m not going to analyze the data of the vote. There are countless people doing that. Most of them are probably wrong. I’d rather just complain about the 50% of citizens that didn’t vote, that couldn’t be bothered. Regardless of who won, the winner would have be selected by a quarter of the eligible voters. That strikes me as rather pitiful.

Of course, some portion of this is a direct result of gutting the Voting Rights Act and various voter suppression laws across the nation. Nearly 10,000,000 fewer people voted than in 2008.

Disaffected millennials struggling in today’s economy also did not vote, many because they already believe their vote doesn’t matter. They don’t trust the Electoral College just because it is *possible* that some elector(s) may be faithless. Those that aren’t engaged with political news, or news beyond the Facebook feeds, feel the whole government is corrupt and the choice is between higher taxes and subsidized services or lower taxes and unsubsidized services, so why does it really matter?

Why does any of it matter?

Did the Boomers and GenX do a poor job teaching about the collective nature of society? Or is “collective” too much of communistic word and out of style? I guess “social compact” is better, but a compact generally is an opt-in kind of thing. Maybe we have forgotten to explain, or even just plain forgotten, that by remaining citizens we are opting in to the compact and if we don’t like the compact we are free to seek amendments through politics and governance. What I see with some of the young people I know, they have essentially opted-out of the process without understanding the process is everything.

Of course other millennials are highly engaged and involved. Variance exists.

I’ve had enough conversations with conservatives over the years to know that one of their biggest issues is that they want their ideas and beliefs respected. Ignoring that, trampling those beliefs has always had risks.

I was telling a friend tonight about how my son injured himself every single campout with the scout troop for nearly four years. One minor case of frostbite, numerous cuts and gouges, and several broken bones. Most were accidents, the others exercises in useless male stupidity. For example, he earned a “boxer’s break” on his right for punching his tent – as it lay on the hard, frozen ground.  As I relayed this, my friend asked:

“Why do men do that sort of thing?”

“All I can say is that anger and frustration leads to the desire to destroy something. As a Paul Muad’Dib says in Frank Herbert’s Dune, ‘He who can destroy a thing, controls that thing.’ So, practicing destruction becomes a demonstration of control. And it seems pathetically stupid to me.”

“You took the words right out of my mouth.”

Unfortunately, in anger and rage I have done pathetically stupid things. (It may be a gender thing, but I think not as I have anecdotal evidence otherwise. Of course they may be outliers.)

There is a lot of anger and rage out there. It may not always be rational or earned, but it is there nonetheless. We’ve now seen it on the macro-level. But millions of non-white Americans or LGBTQ or somehow just different or new experience it at the micro-level every day. We, including me,  must take action to change this.