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I have been questioning my grasp on reality for some time, especially the last four years; and this week, a lot made more sense. Sometimes the dots beg to be connected. Here’s looking back and forward.

 

From “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves…”

From “To Elsie” by William Carlos Williams

“The pure products of America
go crazy–
mountain folk from Kentucky
or the ribbed north end of
Jersey…
as if the earth under our feet
were
an excrement…
and we degraded prisoners
destined
to hunger until we eat filth…”

 

Are You Crazy Yet?

Post 911, what were my options for survival after receiving a poetry MFA from the City University of New York? An interminable life of temp-gigging as an adjunct at one of CUNY’s borough community colleges (if lucky!) for academic semi-slave wages without benefits or health insurance; or for fifteen an hour, with benefits and insurance, looking for bombs under delivery trucks and cars, entering the Metropolitan Museum of Art garage. When you slip into the new American Precariat Class you better get used to gambling.

Not long after I quit working as a “Special Security Officer” at the Met late 2002, I believe security stopped looking for explosives under vehicles. However, this will probably change, now that America’s self-proclaimed genius Commander and Chief has informally declared war on Iran and threatened to target the country’s cultural institutions: he has made major U.S. cultural sites potential targets in return. He is daring every extremist wanting to get into The Terrorist Hall of Fame (nativist snow white to burnt middle-eastern brown) to make a move. If you happen to be around a terrorist strike, you would be expendable collateral damage—or you might be called a hero if you were to run into smoking rubble to look for the living and dead. If you live long enough with PTSD, cancers, and respiratory diseases, you might get to see your name put on a brass plaque somewhere.

War with Iran? Just Iran? What emotions were stirred in a string of Muslim countries by number 45’s cowardly long-distance assassination of General Qassem Soleimani? I shudder to think. I consider myself a determined pacifist; but if a foreign country, especially one we were not at war with, were to drone-kill one of our highest-ranking generals (even if duplicitous) along with high-ranking U.S. ally companions in their own country, I would have a serious problem with that. I wonder what true-blue U.S. military members, those with rational minds and honor, think about what this insanely rich draft-dodging crook in the White House just pulled off?

He is mad and surrounded by bi-partisan enablers whose minds are also questionable; and the evidence that we are also meant to go crazy by design keeps piling up. I am not the first person to say that from adolescent tweet prompts to lab-tested social-engineering strategies, we are being turned into all manner of disoriented crazy. There’s a reason the U.S. has an extraordinarily large number of mentally ill, drug addicted, and suicides. Forget the nearly 2.3 million people we keep incarcerated. I’m seeing a different kind of trickledown theory here. Some would just like to pay the rent and not go hungry, so I would simply call this growing demographic victims more than anything else. Some of us, safely perched a little higher (for now), I would call…well, better I pause right here. It’s in my calculated self-interest to plead the 5th and figure out how to stay sober for the remainder of 2020. Categorize your own damned self.

Better yet, at least, join the The War Resister’s League or Code Pink and send Bernie a donation. Good luck finding reality in your neck of the woods.

Nine down; 357 more days to go, this leap year.  

 

Watching Their Building Burn to the Ground

A.
Did you expect it
to cave in
like that?
B.
Our world was meant
to shrink.
A.
What makes you
say that?
B.
You know the assassins
plan and get away.
A.
This flaming ruin
has to scare you, right?
B.
I’ve broken in
my bequeathed paranoia.

The landlord’s
smirking adolescent boy
with calculated short hair
& a gallon tin of gasoline
walks by & winks.
A.
I want to scream,
but who
will hear us?
Who at all
would want to hear us?
B.
You were never ready
for this, were you?
Not even a change
of underwear.
A.
I learned too late.
B.
That would look good
on your tombstone.

 

 

* A version of “Watching Their Building Burn to the Ground” first appeared in Montréal Serai.

 

 

Until Next time,
keep writing.

Peace,
Andrés Castro

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