Capitalism, Oswald’s day out, Silence

Visitants

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Three poems by contributor Shivangi Goel.

 

Capitalism

We made the world we live in,
And we have to make it over.
Baldwin says to me, over
Tea on couch across generations
Of whispers of learnings snuffled
Across ink and what confluence
Would have it that only this voice reaches,
It doesn’t lie, doesn’t exaggerate
Taking me up the throat, gargling its
Way out
This venom
This venom
We’re accomodating unknowingly
I mean all of it is not venom, and
All of me is not shaken
To the shaky wiggly mud patches
Of what I know and am sure to change
I’m sure of nothing.
These men in Prada suits talk of
Business deals and deforestation
Mr Sir Yours Respectfully,
Why do you have to take every fucking
Poor woman
And man
And kiddo
Out of their house onto the street
And then call them poor
To build your goddamn dam
I’m a skeptic in front of the shopping mall
Glad I can buy creams and burgers
I don’t know of the degree of its wrong
Or if the world is becoming smaller
At all or
If I’ll ever know
If I should have to make everything about myself
Shaky wiggly mud patches watered with Starbucks
And confusion
I don’t know Roy, I don’t know.

 

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Oswald’s day out

It’s the day my sadness refused to work
And I had no choice but to smile at the balloon man,
Although he charged me three
Pennies for balloon worth two.
It’s the day my sadness walked out,
And I too left work early to sit by the frozen banana outlet
And even treated little Mona to her last ever double dip chocolate
So I refused to be sad today
Although I couldn’t be sad anyway,
I could feel it surfacing deep within
It’s the day my frustration refused to work, although
It still laughed at me from the deep mysterious insides
It’s the day my emptiness gave up
And jolted into anxious action,
And I smiled because it only slightly mattered to me anymore what I was doing,
And then little Mona was run over by the fool who could feel.

 

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Silence

When my mother told me to listen,
Instead of shouting resentment with every bit of me
When I started to learn
To see myself as a resentor
To see it as a good thing
To shout out doubts
When quite really,
I was better off noting them down
I was better off weighing my options
I am better off sitting in a room:
Small one, dusty curtains
Observing everything,
“To be a writer is to observe”
Sontag
But I’m not a writer
More than she is a writer
More than he tweets
More than they shout
More than my unhappiness.
When we discuss in class the true tragedy
That silences Ghosh’s narrator:
My narration
Crippling, numbing, staring out the window
I understand
that we are basking ourselves in ill formed opinions
Half baked in ovens of our illusionary profiles:
It’s lost on us
Like Neruda wholly exclaimed
To sit down
Stare at the curtain (mud sprinkled like specks of sunshine you miss the little boy more than I miss the little boy yes it still haunts me I make tea my memory dissolves slowly the sugar cube swirling it’s just as real just as necessary),
Say nothing.

 

 

 

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How did we ever come to know dandelions as weeds?

Badly Anarchist

It’s spring in my neck of the suburban Midwest, which means the denizens of this fine region are finally extracting themselves from their abodes after a long winter’s Netflix binge.

Today was the first day in a long while that I sat on the back patio working and reading into the late evening. As the sun went down, I looked up at the blue and pink sky, etched with upward bound jet contrails. The birds’ calls and responses were occasionally drowned out by the neighbor screaming “you better fucking behave” to an unheard child and various SUVs emanating with cool bass beats as they drove through the alley behind my backyard. In short, it was an idyllic scene conducive to a postmodern communion with “nature.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about nature lately. Or, at least, how humans interact with nature. I am currently filling in for an undergraduate environmental literature class, and we just finished reading Wendell Berry, including his poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.” In the poem, the speaker orders, “Give your approval to all you cannot/ understand. Praise ignorance, for what man/ has not encountered he has not destroyed./ Ask the questions that have no answers.”

What a charge. For Berry, ignorance is bliss; it is survival. What I don’t know I cannot hurt. And, perhaps more pointedly, what I don’t know perhaps cannot be known.

Berry is anti-capitalist and pro-environment. His work centers around a return to the land, that is to say sustainable farming, understanding the need for things like biodiversity, hard work, and labors of love. But to be anti-capitalist and pro-environment means much, much more, and for many people, his life is impossible, especially in a world increasingly predicated on debt-accumulation in order to purchase land. Capitalism doesn’t let anyone exit gracefully.

Instead, looking past Berry to decolonizing our local environment, the place we are here and now instead of where we dream we will be, is a better place to begin. As the golden light of evening fell on the eastern fence of my small city backyard, I looked across the small patch of land that is my “farm”—to be fair, we’ve tilled up half of it and have two active compost piles. In the middle of the yard, a bit of preserved grass increasingly turning to weeds has bloomed with dandelions and other small flowers. A few dandelions stems stood tall among the rest, half-used globes of white fuzz stretching upward to give its seeds the best chance at strong trade winds.

I felt ashamed for thoughts earlier in the day. I had been admiring the beautifully manicured lawns of the neighbors, cognizant of the discipline and punish fertilizer and seed regimen necessary to birth such perfection. At that moment, I looked out over where I was now and wondered: How did we ever come to know dandelions as weeds?

Because we are told so.

 

 

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