Several Days After Watching “The Pianist”

Images
burned into my retinas

rage and sorrow
still splintering within my rib cage

a dizziness whizzing between grey matter
diving the depths of
human
depravity
and
resilience

limbs heavy with the burden to break
the cycle of centuries

a dry mouth and fingers
weary of words

ears ringing an echo of
Moonlight Sonata

haunted.

Declaring War

“The Constitution grants Congress the sole power to declare war…. Congress approved its last formal declaration of war during World War II. Since that time it has agreed to resolutions authorizing the use of military force and continues to shape U.S. military policy through appropriations and oversight.”1

Since 1942
our government has decided that
“war”
no longer need be declared.
War is bad.
We are not at war.
We merely “authorize the use of military force.”

And, oh, what force we have authorized!
We, the strongest military on earth,
with nearly 800 bases in over 70 countries2
who spend more on our military than the next 9 nations combined.3

How many millions of
bombs have been dropped
lands leveled
lives tortured, trammeled, taken
in our non-wars?

We are at war.
We have always been at war,
even if we don’t declare it as war
or if we declare it as war on an abstraction.

We are at war.
Not against terrorism
because war is terrorism
and our empire was built on terrorism
and terrorism begets terrorism.

We are at war
with nations,
with humans,
with life itself.

This is not a new war.
It is an escalation of an old war.
And I do not rest assured
by Congress’
oversight.

When you live
in the most powerful country on the planet
whose government designs death with impunity,
it is your duty to speak up for those who
do not live.

It is our duty
to call it what it is
and
declare war.

References

  1. https://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/history/h_multi_sections_and_teasers/WarDeclarationsbyCongress.htm
  2. http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21704817-presence-american-troops-foreign-soil-growing-more-controversial-go-home
  3. https://www.sipri.org/research/armament-and-disarmament/arms-transfers-and-military-spending/military-expenditure

Always & Forever

At some points I trust you completely,
naively.
At others, not at all—
jaded.

Who are you,
beautiful stranger?
And who am I?
And what is love?
And is it enough that we ask the same questions,
or must we wait for answers?

My heart and lungs run ahead
while my mind lags behind
and gets lost trying to find
reason in an unreasonable feeling.

A feeling I’ve felt before—
sort of
maybe
not quite.
No, never quite the same.

Is there
a First and a Last Love?
Is the quest for
One True Love
a fool’s errand illusion?

I want to imagine you have
no past
only a future
with me.
Because if we acknowledge our
past loves
that must mean that the
present love
is woefully un-unique
and could dissolve at any moment.

How can we trust anything in this ephemeral existence?

Sure, the cloud’s condensation cycles
down – in – up – around – through
the Earth and the Atmosphere
always
& forever.

It’s never gone.
But it’s never the same.

At some points I trust you completely,
naively.
At others, not at all—
jaded
evaporated
uncertain
and ever-changing.

OXI Means NO

55% youth unemployment
45% of retirees living below poverty line
35% rise in suicides
$2.5 billion in profit made by the IMF on loans to Greece

But the thirst of a leech is unquenchable.

The other day, I broke down sobbing as I was heading into work. Scanning my Twitter feed for updates on Greece as I do on the CTA every morning lately, I looked out the window and saw a man on the sidewalk of Chicago literally on his knees begging for help. As I got off the bus, I stumbled down the street until I found a place where I could curl up into the fetal position and weep.

Why do we allow ourselves to be ruled by leeches?

Later that week, negotiations broke down between the Greek government and its troika of “lenders”. After five months of negotiations with the newly elected Greek government, the troika refused to budge, insisting that Greece sign a new memorandum that was virtually the same as the last, one that would deepen the austerity measures which have driven the country into a deep depression.

But Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras refuses to sign and instead calls for a national referendum on the leeches!

Cue the most vicious propaganda campaign of fear-mongering and lies to ever hit airwaves. A VOTE FOR “NO” IS A VOTE TO LEAVE EUROPE! SYRIZA WILL TURN US INTO A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY! IT’S EUROZONE OR ZIMBABWE! (Never hurts to fan the flames of racism while you’re at it). Most polls show the “YES” vote with a narrow lead throughout the week. Banks remain closed, with capital controls restricting withdrawals. The media exaggerate lines at ATMs, using footage from other countries and claiming them to be Greece. “NO” rallies get 1 minute of coverage for every 6 minutes given to “YES.” Newscasters break down in tears on television lamenting the fate that awaits their proud country should the people vote “NO.”

July 5, 2015: Shattering all expectations, scoffing in the face of crocodile tears and poisoned lies, 61% of the people vote OXI! No to leeches and fear!

I cried tears of joy that day. I felt in my bones that day the blood of courage and resistance running through me, passed down from pappoudes who fought against the Nazis, who fought with the partisans, who survived the junta, who chased the American dream, who brought me here today.

Tomorrow, the Greek parliament will vote on a preposterous proposal, a financial coup d’etat aimed at stripping the Greeks of everything they have, from property to pride. The fact that Tsipras has even allowed this proposal to be put to a vote is a defeat in itself, one that had the masses of people who voted OXI last week reeling in the confusion and bitterness of betrayal. Even still, they did not miss a beat. Protests in the streets and a 24-hour general strike will take place tomorrow. Against false leaders and leeches alike.

You see, the thirst of a leech is unquenchable, yes. But its intestines are finite. And we have them outnumbered. And the strength of the human spirit cannot be bled dry. And we will not stop until justice is served. And it is not a threat, it is cause-and-effect, when I say (and you repeat): From Chicago to Greece, no justice no peace!

On the murder of and by NYPD

There is nothing that can “justify” murder, there are only things that can *explain* it. Cause-and-effect operates outside of morality. Which is not to say that murder (or any human action) can be boiled down to a single cause but rather that a confluence of circumstances can be understood to have a certain potential to lead to a specific outcome, not unlike the way we understand the physical sciences. For example, different plants grow in different areas of the earth, they require a specific set of ecological circumstances in order to thrive, and changes to the environment consequently change the way plants grow, evolve, or die.

Human behavior is of course more complex, but I believe it still operates under the same basic laws of nature. By extension, I would argue that when you live in society dominated by a tiny minority of wealthy individuals who use murder, torture, exploitation, oppression, deception, etc. as a way to maintain their rule, you can expect to reap all sorts of unhealthy outcomes, including a police force that murders with impunity and individuals who see no other recourse than to murder back.

I do not believe we should seek to justify either side of this cycle of violence; rather, we should seek to expose the underlying causes of violence and move forward with the project of transforming this society into one that is capable of producing good rather than evil. Your individual morality does not change the inherent immorality upon which our current society is based. Only collective action can do that.

Embody

I feel truth in my bones
at the base
of my being.
It boils in the marrow
and bends in the base pairs
of my DNA.
It dances in the vessels
that carry my heartbeat
along an ancient river
of brilliant blue blood.

But it’s only acknowledged
when it spills red
or black-and-white.

External validation.
Human interpretation.

Truth throbs on the tip of my tongue
every second of the day
but only once in a while
does it escape from my lips
onto the contrived soundwaves
projected through my breath.

I can see it in the patterns
branded on my fingertips,
though sometimes it feels like
I’m smothering those swirls
beneath the pounding of frantic keystrokes
desperate to transmit.

There is truth.
There is mind.
There is body
as conduit.