Ma is sad because Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead. Ma is sad because the whole world feels dead. Ma is sad because two steps back is never more than one step ahead. Ma is sad because the world is sad. Ma is sad because the world is mad and Mitch McConnell isn’t dead. Ma is sad because she wishes Mitch McConnell were dead. Ma is sad because I am sad, but I don’t wish anyone dead. Ma is sad because I’m sad that she wishes McConnell were dead. Ma is said because decency is dead. Ma is sad because dissent is dead. Ma is sad because she is afraid of the tiny men posing in Ruth’s black robe jumping up and down on her grave. Ma is sad because Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead and because the Earth isn’t flat. Ma is sad because she can’t handle what’s in her head and that the Earth was never flat. Ma is sad because of what Susan Saradon said because the world will never be flat as the collar around her neck. Ma is sad because it’s only September.
“The brightest memory fades faster than the dullest ink.” ― Claudia Rankine
Ma says I should be more active. Blog more. Write more. Say things that mean something, especially since it’s 2016. She’s afraid that if I don’t write, things will change for the worse. In other words, she’s afraid she’ll be erased from existence. Get lost to the cosmic dust of Internet obscurity.
[For those of you just tuning in: ma and I aren’t real. We are make believe. Learn more about us here.]
That’s the thing with ma. She’s hard to understand and doesn’t understand this: she’s an invention. A figment of my fictitious imagination powered by a mind that’s flawed and unreliable, yet ma’s as real as the scar on my chin, a chin that doesn’t really exist nonetheless. Ma is the boot in the face of a face that doesn’t exist. And the boot, well, it doesn’t exist either.
“And that’s the thing,” ma says. “You’re too psychological. Things like that shouldn’t concern you. Even the ‘real’ are delusional. Whether you’re real or not, doesn’t really matter any more. What matters is what you got to say even if what you say isn’t tangible or touching.”
I tell ma we’re not real just like our words are not real–and no matter how hard we try to mean something and to make that something become meaningful–our lives don’t matter.
“That’s fucking bullshit,” ma says in her piercingly unreal voice. “Our lives don’t matter. That’s why it’s so goddamn important that you make sure they do matter.”
It’s Sunday. Ma is drinking a warm can of Murphy’s Stout. Its caramel skin coats ma’s imaginary esophagus as I sit across from her studying the scars on her face. These postulates correspond to some truth hidden buried in her face. A kind of magical, twisted intellect informs her inappropriate worldview. Her wig is sad and ageless. Her only face since as far back as I can remember.
“Donald Trump isn’t real REAL,” ma says. “We make him real. We give him the time and space to exist in our culture, our politics, and we grant this to each and every one of us. We give him airtime and air hockey. We give him meaning out of all other possible meanings that could exist in his place. Use that space to create new possibilities.”
In many ways, ma is right even though she is flawed. She’s like the women left in these photographs. (Go ahead, click the link. It helps illustrate what I mean.) Without ma, or her words, even though those words or conjured up in the mind of a menace, at least she (sort of) exists. Occupies a finite space that could be occupied by someone else even more self-serving and maniacal.
“For now,” ma says. “Keep writing even though you feel like you’ve got nothing to say because nothing is something that silence can’t trump.”
Somewhere between the left ventricle and the right ventricle, the heart beats for an assassin and a Noble Pizza Prize Winner. Between YouTube and Facebook, the heart beats for updates and check-ins and friend requests. Somewhere between KONY (island) and ASSad, the heart beats as plastic ponies go round and round a loop. Between the beat and loop, the heart sleeps somewhere between hope and matzoh ball soup. Between what is and what will be more or less. Of the same. Between less and more, the heart beats aware of rifle fire and Lucky Charms. On Sundays and everyday the sun shines in Syria and Syracuse and Syrup. Somewhere between Syria and Uganda, the heart beats under the weather. Unaware of dictators and ducks. Unaware of politics and public policy, the heart beats like a bunny’s heart beats as the wolf snaps the bunny’s neck. Energized, the wolf’s heart beats for the transactional state of Schrödinger’s bunny and Schrödinger’s anti-wolf. The heart beats to beat death to death. Not for peace or prosperity. Not for smiles or chewing gum. Not for Africa or the Middle East or new Nikes. Between the forest and the trees, the heart beats in the treasure chest of a boy and a girl who are unaware of the heart beat of wolves and bunnies. Of Homs and black birds. Of the origin of space and plums. Of what it is like to be funny in pajamas while running from mortars and monkey mobs. Tanks and tat-tat-tat-tat. Tat. When the heart beats, love dies for more.
- Kony 2012 viral film-maker had ‘mental breakdown’ (independent.co.uk)
- No charges over Kony2012 director’s naked meltdown in street (independent.co.uk)
- ‘Phony 2012’: A cynic’s view on the Joseph Kony hysteria (intentious.com)
- Social Media Campaign Review – Michael Hoban (umpf.co.uk)
- The Lessons of KONY 2012: a Watershed for Charity Awareness Campaigning (markborkowski.co.uk)
Ma says she is on the wart path because the government has denied immigration status to a same-sex married a couple who live in San Francisco, the city of Saint Francis, because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which grants federal benefits to only opposite sex couples. One of the partners takes care of his AIDS-afflicted spouse and the U.S. government wants to send that caregiver away. Bye, bye!
Even though the Obama administration has stopped defending the unconstitutional DOMA, this hasn’t stopped republicans in the House of Representatives from hiring lawyers on behalf of DOMA. Ma says she is pissed off when she hears there’s no difference between politicians, between republicans and democrats. She gets pissed off when people say they are all the same, no good, not ever. Ma says just look at what the republicans want: the end of compassion, the end of empathy, the end of fairness, and the end of equality.
America, ma says, is about equality and justice. Not inequality and injustice. That’s what they do in Texas, mas says, but not in America! In the end, ma says that all you have to do is read the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution to understand that we are all guaranteed the same rights and are, and should be, equally protected under the laws of the United States.
I correct ma that she is on a war path, not a wart path,even though everything else she said is right. Ma says that she is on a wart path. Take a look at my toe, she says. Every step I take on this journey, this fucking wart is with me. Just like intolerance and hate will be with us so long as we see no difference in the people who chose to run our country (club) sandwich.
Ma has got a budget crisis in her pants because she is really worried about the budget crisis facing the United States. She is so worried she pulled all of her socks out of the sock market and is stocking up on mascara and Vitamin D because, she says, the D stands for Duh!
Ma isn’t so certain the Republicans will agree to raise the nation’s debt ceiling which is necessary if the United States is to avert defaulting on its financial obligations to the entire planet. Ma says a default is like when she does something wrong but blames me anyway, every time, because it’s always Almost D’s-fault.
Please keep in mind ma never finished high school, but she is the most brilliant cosmonaut in the whole left side of the universe–that space between Mars and Jupiter, between the God of War and the God of All Gods–where asteroids orbit the sun with intent and determination as they repeat the same loop over and over again until the day they are released from the sun’s gravitational arms.
It’s synchronicity, ma says, the way the government spins orbitless and out of our hands. It’s funny, ma says, how we name the planets after gods and gods after other gods and then disrespect them like we disrespect our own planet and our fellow species. Ma says it’s funny how humorless life can be when we begin to name the stars after numbers as if we’ve run out of gods to name them after. We should name the stars after cars, ma says, because there are enough of them to fill the universe.
August 4th is the deadline for the United States to raise the debt ceiling. August 4th is my last day of school. No matter what happens, I’m gonna have an ice cream sandwich and eat it.
“An analysis of decennial Census data clearly shows that over the past 60 years the annual pay teachers receive has fallen sharply in relation to the annual pay of other workers with college degrees. The mid- to late 1990s, a period of vigorous national economic growth, was a particularly bad time for teacher pay relative to the pay of other occupations” (Teacher Pay 1940-2000: Losing Ground, Losing Status).
Ma says some politicians, especially republican politicians, blame teachers for the collapse of our education system which, to her headphones, is like blaming Superman for his superpowers rather than rewarding him. Ma says republican politicians are kryptonite because they’re forcing teachers to pay for the budget crisis affecting many states while they cut taxes for the wealthy and large businesses.
Ma says, “if they take the kryptonite off teachers’ necks, the true power of supermen and women will be unleashed. Ta-dah!”
For example, ma mad read this morning that Florida Gollum Governor Rick Scott and the republican legislature imposed a 3 percent pay cut on all teachers to help fill the budget hole (Miami Herald). Ma says the politicians should be used to fill that hole. “Sell your cars”, ma shouts at me as coffee spurts out of her mouth like a barrage of bullets from semi-automatic weapon. “Pass me the milk”, she grunts.
The teacher’s union is now suing Rick Scott but Wisconsin’s republican governor and legislature have forced teachers to accept pay cuts or they would lose their collective bargaining rights (Outside the Beltway).
Ma asks: “What’s left to give when we got nothing left to give but our pantyhose?”
While it is true that states are facing big budget troubles ahead, it is also true that some of these states are cutting taxes for the rich while making the rest of the population, including teachers, firefighters, and police officers, pay for the budget shortfall. In effect, the working-class are paying for the economic crises caused by the wealthy, by the banks and by risky, irresponsible traders, which was all made possible by deregulation of the banking industry.
“What’s your point?”, I ask ma. She looks at me like I’m Katy Perry. “What’s your point?”, I ask again and that’s when ma points at my fat head. “The point is”, she says, “you don’t know nothing because your teachers get paid nothing”.
It is true that bad teachers are probably not good educators just like good teachers are probably good educators. It is also true that bad pay probably doesn’t attract good educators just like good pay probably attracts good doctors, lawyers and bankers. What rational human being would spend $100,000 on an undergraduate and graduate degree for a job that pays $30,000 – $60,000 a year when they can earn twice that amount in another field? What rational human being would care more about their job after the boss cuts their pay and benefits? What kind of human being cuts the pay and benefits for the people who educate the children who will have a direct impact on our future well-being?
“Republicans do”, ma says, “because they only think about the present. Because they only care about what is and not what they will cause. The effects, for them, are bubbles.”
I laugh but ma doesn’t laugh. She just points to her t-shirt: “You get what you pay for!”
According to the NEA, “By 2000, the average female with four years of college made 16.4 percent more than the average female teacher and the average male with four years of college made a whopping 60.4 percent more than the average male teacher. When the average earnings of male and female teachers are combined and compared with the average pay of all non-teachers with at least four years of college, the difference is 53.5 percent in the year 2000. This actually understates the pay gap because a large proportion of teachers have master’s degrees, making them more educated than their comparison group” (Teacher Pay 1940-2000: Losing Ground, Losing Status).
Before ma leaves for work in her best non-dress dress, she tells me I should never become a teacher. “Be a lawyer or doctor. Be a scientist or an astronaut. Be something valuable and worthy”.
“Okie-donkey,” I say.
“And become a man too,” she says. “They get paid more than people like you and me.”
I tell ma that I am a man. She laughs, points at my Katy Perry t-shirt, and then slams the front door shut.
1. Because love is framed by the words “I” and “New”, I love New York.
2. Because the Hudson River and the East River together bear hug New York City just like ma bear hugs me like her ma bear hugged her–with her extraordinarily long arms, I love New York.
3. Because reason prevails in a city dominated by liberalism, I love New York.
4. Because the Empire State Building (almost) poked me in the eye when I flew over the city on Delta Airlines, I love New York.
5. Because of the sounds that resonate from the Brooklyn Bridge when we biked across it on the first day of summer, I love New York.
6. Because of the sanitation department, I love New York.
7. Because New York was once New Amsterdam and thus proving that nothing is permanent especially when it is new, I love New York.
8. Because New York taxi cab drivers represent the true melting-pot philosophy of our founding fathers, e pluribus unum, I love New York.
9. Because the Village is not a real village, I love New York.
10. Because New York City admits that its very foundation was built on the backs of slaves and cheap labor, I love New York. As a matter of fact, ma and I read this fact on a subway poster.
1. Because New York is new and full of York, I love New York.
2. Because New York doesn’t reject people and opened her arms to ma’s ma, my grandma, who is more or less the same ma that lived in a concentration camp in Europe during the second war, the same second war that turned all moms into orphans and all orphans into moms, the same war that saw the bright light of the first atomic bomb, I love New York.
3. Because of Union Square & China Town & Madonna, I love New York.
4. Because New Yorkers have nice hair, I love New York.
5. Because during the Pleistocene ice age, New York’s Central Park was carved out of bedrock by gigantic glaciers, I love New York.
6. Because New York is the home of the Empire State Building and Broadway, Lady Bunny and Bunny Rabbits, Bergdorf Goodman and M&J Trimmings, I love New York.
7. Because the other day a New York cabbie saved ma’s life when she was choking on a Hebrew National Hot Dog splattered with mustard and sauerkraut, I love New York.
8. Because New York is, I love New York.
9. Because I am full of love and hope, and I believe in the primacy of equal and equitable human rights of all humans and Florence’s machines, I love New York.
10. Because homosexuals like ma and me, Newt Gingrinch and Rick Scott, and the entire cast of Jersey City can now legally marry in the great State of New York, I freaking love New York!
- New York legislature says “I do” to same-sex marriage (big photo gallery) (boingboing.net)
- The Road to Gay Marriage in New York (newyorktimes.com)
I “incorporated” my uterus today and it felt good. Somewhat weird for me, I admit, a non-incorporated independent cowgirl sort of poet—not a company woman or an entrepreneur, not a commodity specialist or even a worth-her-salt consumer. Still, my uterus is my own business now, I’ve got a certificate to prove it, and I owe it all to Susannah Randolph, the uncanny, and her husband, the canny. Or vice versa. Either way, she’s got a uterus and he’s Florida’s Democratic House Representative from Orlando. (Don’t confuse him with debonair , the actor, or with full-of-hot-air , the so-called Governor of Florida. Thanks.)
So: Susannah said to her husband Scott at dinner one night that if she would incorporate her uterus, maybe Republicans would drop the 18 anti-abortion measures they’re considering during the legislative session. I wish I knew what Scott and Susannah were having for dinner that night or if she’d just read my favorite poem by Lucille Clifton to Scott over mango salsa and chips, but This Is What Happened After That (very cool):
For my part, I thought you might like to look at what three poets have to say. Truth be told, poets have been incorporating our for years.
By Leslie Adrienne Miller
Leonardo believed that semen came down
from the brain through a channel in the spine.
And that female lactation held its kick off
in the uterus. Not as bad as Hippocrates,
who thought the womb wandered the ruddy
crags of a woman’s body, wreaking a havoc
whenever it lodged, shoving aside
more sensible organs like the heart.
All manner of moral failings, snits,
and panics were thus explained, the wayward
organ floating like Cleopatra’s barge
down the murky canal of any appendage
or tying up at the bog of the throat.
One can’t help but imagine a little halved
walnut of a boat like that in Leonardo’s
drawing, the curled meat of the fetus
tucked inside, harboring near a naughty eye
or rebellious ear that never can hear
what a man might mean when he says yes
or always. It’s all still beautifully true
what these good scientists alleged: the brain
is as good a place as any for the manufacture
of evanescence, and why not allow
that the round and sturdy skiff of the uterus
may float and flaunt its special appetite for novelty,
even if we dub it dumb, lined with tentacles,
many-chambered, and errant as the proverbial knight
seeking out adventure, but loyal to one queen.
(Originally published in The Kenyon Review, 2006)
Poem to my uterus
By Lucille Clifton
you have been patient
as a sock
while i have slippered into you
my dead and living children
they want to cut you out
stocking i will not need
where i am going
where am i going
my bloody print
my estrogen kitchen
my black bag of desire
where can i go
where can you go
(From Quilting, BOA Editions, 2000)
In Celebration of My Uterus
By Anne Sexton
Everyone in me is a bird.
I am beating all my wings.
They wanted to cut you out
but they will not.
They said you were immeasurably empty
but you are not.
They said you were sick unto dying
but they were wrong.
You are singing like a school girl.
You are not torn.
in celebration of the woman I am
and of the soul of the woman I am
and of the central creature and its delight
I sing for you. I dare to live.
Hello, spirit. Hello, cup.
Fasten, cover. Cover that does contain.
Hello to the soil of the fields.
Each cell has a life.
There is enough here to please a nation.
It is enough that the populace own these goods.
Any person, any commonwealth would say of it,
“It is good this year that we may plant again
and think forward to a harvest.
A blight had been forecast and has been cast out.”
Many women are singing together of this:
one is in a shoe factory cursing the machine,
one is at the aquarium tending a seal,
one is dull at the wheel of her Ford,
one is at the toll gate collecting,
one is tying the cord of a calf in Arizona,
one is straddling a cello in Russia,
one is shifting pots on the stove in Egypt,
one is painting her bedroom walls moon color,
one is dying but remembering a breakfast,
one is stretching on her mat in Thailand,
one is wiping the ass of her child,
one is staring out the window of a train
in the middle of Wyoming and one is
anywhere and some are everywhere and all
seem to be singing, although some can not
sing a note.
in celebration of the woman I am
let me carry a ten-foot scarf,
let me drum for the nineteen-year-olds,
let me carry bowls for the offering
(if that is my part).
Let me study the cardiovascular tissue,
let me examine the angular distance of meteors,
let me suck on the stems of flowers
(if that is my part).
Let me make certain tribal figures
(if that is my part).
For this thing the body needs
let me sing
for the supper,
for the kissing,
for the correct
From The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981).
More Political Stuff:
Susannah Randolph’s website: www.pinksliprick.com
Scott Randolph’s petition: http://signon.org/sign/uterus-is-not-a-dirty
How to incorporate your uterus: http://www.incorporatemyuterus.com/
Maureen Seaton, 4/11/11
Please note: most of the FYIs below may or may not relate directly or indirectly to Rick Scott, (aka Gollum) Governor of Florida. Furthermore, none of the following FYIs should be taken with a grain of salt or pepper. In fact, ma has high-blood pressure, not from smoking pot, but because her blood is high, elevated with Red Bull.
FYI 1: Ma says Rick Scott violated state statues by illegally and inappropriately selling airplanes owned by the taxpayers of the State of Florida (Miami Herald). She also says what do you expect from a criminal who was the CEO of HCA/Healthcare, the same company that committed the largest US Health Care Fraud in history and was fined $1.7 Billion! (United States Department of Justice).
FYI 2: Ma says never make out with a drunk when you are depressed or you may get poked in the eye by a Gremlin or a penis with dientes, which means teeths in English.
FYI 3: Ma says it’s okay, age-appropriate, alright to drink a lot a lot so long as you don’t barf on your date. Aim for foes, she says. Like Rick Scott.
FYI 4: Ma says after decades of protection as “de facto” wilderness, the National Park Service has decided to open up 130 miles of off-road vehicle (ORV) trails in the Big (Ass) Cyprus Preserve, plus secondary trails, three parking lots off Interstate 75 with 47 trailer sized parking spaces each for loading and unloading ORVs, and a motorized campground. Access to motor vehicles, vehicles with motors, has never been allowed on these lands (Palm Beach Post). Rick Scott has nothing to do with this plan however as Governor Gollum of Florida he has the responsibility to speak out in our state’s best interests.
FYI 5: Ma says never take it from behind from a Portuguese cell phone repairman carved out of wood. Splinters, she says, are
FYI 6: I just blushed.
FYI 7: Rick Scott, Gollum Governor of Florida, rejected $2.7 billion worth of funding for high-speed-rail from the Federal Government. This project has been underway for over 10 years and could have brought thousands of jobs to the state. Scott, before elected, promised to boost total employment. Instead, Scott is playing Russian roulette with Florida’s most important industry–tourism–by minimizing the economic value of quickly shuttling people back and forth from the state’s main attractions. It would be nice to hop on a high-speed train to major tourist destinations in Florida just like ma and I did when we went to Spain (Los Angeles Times). There’s a good chance, ma says, that Rick Scott is bowing to special corporate interests (the airline industry) just like SouthWest Airlines killed a bullet train proposal in Texas (Wall Street Journal). Scott says the train will burden taxpayers which really means the train project will probably burden them with extra jobs, more travel options, and cheaper prices due to competition.
FYI 8: Obviously, ma says, Rick Scott is not a progressive. He’s a conservative which, in our antiverse, means Slurpee suck every last Red Bull blood cell out of Florida’s locofuckingmotive economy.
FYI 9: Ma says her favorite song for Rick Scott is “Stripped” by Depeche Mode because in that state of strippedness hu(man)s are the ugliest and that’s when we stand out.
FYI 10: Dry humping is most dangerous during the dry season.
FYI 10.1: Rick Scott’s nominee to lead Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Carl Littlefield, resigns because it was revealed that he okay’d a practice known as “quiet time.” That’s when male residents were permitted (or forced?) to have sex with each other. (Ma’s not sure what’s wrong with male on male sex but obviously this isn’t good for Scott’s reputation as a Christian fundamentalist.) Littlefield was a jucking ferk for allowing sex abuse to happen while in charge, which leads ma to the question: Why did Rick Scott pick him to watch over the disabled? (WTSP 10 News).
- Rightardia: ACLU sues Florida governor Rick Scott to implement voter approved Amendments 5 and 6 (allthingsreform.org)
- Rick Scott, Straight Up Making Enemies of Black Folks (theawl.com)
- Rick Scott Takes Another Step To Kill High-Speed Rail In Florida (huffingtonpost.com)
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott Lied About Feasibility Study, Just Regurgitated Reason Foundation Propaganda (oliverwillis.com)
- Rick Scott Education Plan Could Lead To Massive Shakeup (parents4democraticschools.wordpress.com)