2016, Archives, December 2016, The MFA Years

November is a bitch.

Crisp, cold, light, first snow dandruff the mountains, autumn’s last leaves swirl and the swoosh swoosh swoosh of traipsing leaf piles brings back childhood. White swans migrate into the duck pond. Will they survive the coming winter? Do ducks ever feel cold? They dive deep and paddle. Where do the turtles go in this cold? Mystery. All leaves down by nightfall.

Albuquerque’s beauty occasionally strikes a stunning uppercut.

This month has been a bitch. Hitler elected. Leonard died. Fidel. Mose Allison. Capecoense—a whole futebol team gone in a blink. The Grim Reaper has been clearing house all year. Bowie. Prince. Muhammad Ali. For me, November in northern climes has always been the cruelest month.

I can’t finish anything. I feel everything is worthless. Doubt is rife. Anxiety high. Binge-drinking like there’s no tomorrow, every time I log on to anything all I see is shit shit shit. I’m afraid and don’t know what to do. The bad men are winning, do they always?

I’ve been in the US for 14 months on this MFA. Beliefs have solidified.

  • Guns are bad and wrong. Pick one up and you are bad and wrong. No one can come to the table and talk with intelligence toting a weapon. This personal and political. I’d rather be killed than kill. 56 children were under the age of 11 have died by gun since my last blog. In this country alone, 1233 total humans dead by gun this month. This is 911 every other blog post. The probability of gun death in Japan is the same as death by lightning strike. No one needs a AK47.
  • Healthcare and Education are human rights. Not products. Until profit is taken out of these systems, there can be no progress. When basic history and geography is secondary to titillating celebrity selfies, well yeah…Aleppo. When the rich get treated first and better at hospitals, well yeah…Aleppo. When more is spent on incarceration than education, well yeah…Aleppo.
  • The pursuit of personal happiness and freedom must be secondary to what benefits the community. If everyone can’t stroll a street at night, if children can’t play in parks, if fear of violence is constant, then the terrorists are winning and your personal pursuit is imaginary.

 Where was I? Albuquerque, yes. America, it’s easy to focus on the bad. It’s easy to be angry and violent, that is what the fear-mongers want. That is what drives us to the mall to shop. Cinnamon buns and Foot Lockers and Target.

Where was I? Albuquerque, yes. On Bus 66 going up Route 66, a woman tells me Queen Elizabeth is a cyborg and drinks the blood of children. She says Walmarts are concentration camps… FEMA has back doors in every Walmart and once you go in they tattoo you and you never come back, they took my baby… Is that so? Says the man beside us.

Where was I? Albuquerque, yes. MFA-Land. In the classroom, things feel fine, normal. A minor sense of progress affirms. Although I’m using marking as procrastination. I’m enjoying my student’s work more than my own. I’m happiest when reading. I’ve been keeping track.

Where was I? Floating in text, yes. Since November 19th 2015, I’ve read 619 short stories, not including student assignments, workshop and Blue Mesa Review submissions. The only thing better than reading is walking by the Rio Grande. Reading is serious and beautiful. Why? Escape?

Train whistle. Sun rise. Winter branch. Naked. Damp leaf piles held still by melted slush. November passes as everything must.

An expanding cyclone of false information is filling the horizon. Negativity is attractive and easy. Ignorance awarded. I mean any prick with a spray-can can graffiti a wall with grotesque symbols and within an hour there are 14 million views.

When I first saw the orange-faced baboon announce his plan to run for the most powerful position in the world (I refuse to use his name), I knew if we didn’t ignore him he would win and he did. Frighteningly, whoever beats his ugly drum the loudest seems to win.

All we have is out attention. Aim properly.

And when all seems lost, focus on the page, the word, the sentence, that falling leaf. Read your Rumi. See that child tongue-lapping snowflake, see that wind swirling plastic bag, see that slow flowing river sifting silt… there, yes, there, even here in Albuquerque, hope resides.

Put honey on bananas. Swim through anxiety. Regain focus. Things will get worse, then better. We are incubating.


ps… I’ve put together  a fundraising campaign Poetry for Migration. I’m selling Peripatetic, a compilation of 30 poems for 5 buck (or suggested donation), all the money goes to migrants crossing borders: No Mas Muertes & MOAS. If you can’t contribute, please please pretty please share…

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