Archive for December, 2010

Season’s greetings from Purgatory

December 26th, 2010

On this day that marks the completion of the annual retail event which is the rock upon which modern America hath builded its church, I had planned to offer you some finely honed observations about This Special Season.  But I find that they’re not finely honed enough, and anyway today my thoughts are running in another direction.  I’m recalling an evening in my senior year at Middlebury College, when I was given the nicest compliment that anyone has ever paid me.

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Season’s greetings from hell

December 21st, 2010

In the book that is the reason for this blog, Dante, leading me through the infernal landscape, has brought us to the circle of excessive consumption, where a denizen, discovering my provenance, exclaims, “Oh shit!/Another Yank.  The place is lousy with them./They’ve almost taken over.”  Here the gluttons lie in an enormous heap, compacted by bulldozers, naked in the cold drizzle, hungry for warm flesh, barring our way.  After some discussion and much probosculation, Dante hits upon a solution:

Then, suddenly, he dived down smack
upon the landfill – a belly flop!  I sat
on his back, and he body-surfed across
the writhing mass.  We regained our feet near an
idling ‘dozer.  A formless menace
filled its cab.  Its radio seeped the music
that glazes shopping malls at Christmas.

But here’s a way you can satisfy your need to Buy Stuff and strike a blow against soulless commercialism all at the same time – get a copy of To Join the Lost!

In honor of Bernie’s filibuster

December 12th, 2010

In honor of Senator Bernie Sanders’ 8 1/2 hour speech against President Obama’s giveaway to the rich, I’d like to share some lines I’ve been working on for the Purgatory volume of my Commedia.  On the merits of the Obama-GOP tax deal, I have no clear idea; it may be, as Obama and Clinton say, the best deal that could be procured at this time, although I don’t understand why the Democrats can’t just use the budget reconciliation process to neuter the threat of a GOP filibuster and pass the middle class tax cut extension without extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich.  However that sugars out, I believe that Bernie is fighting the Good Fight and saying what needs to be said but so rarely is.  May his star shine in heaven.

I happen to be working just now on a section of my poem that seems particularly apropos.  In it, the protagonist, who has just spent the night hunkered beneath an equestrian statue in an abandoned factory district of an anonymous Rust Belt city, wakes up and walks along the river towards a bridge about half a mile away, musing about various things.  I have just finished the first draft of these lines, and ordinarily I would not make them public until quite some time had passed for me to become satisfied they need no further revision.  But I don’t think they’re embarrassing in their present state, and they seem so timely I can’t resist sharing them now:   

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A cheap way to Join the Lost

December 8th, 2010

Antrim House Books is offering To Join the Lost and all its other paperback titles for 30% off through December 21… with free shipping… what better  stuff for a holiday sock than  poetry?  To order online, go to Antrim House’s Seth Steinzor page, click on the “add to cart” button, and write “sale price” under “directions to the merchant” – you’ll receive a rebate check with your book.  Or books.  Come on, you’re not going to buy just one and keep it to yourself, are you?

Taking Tiny Tim’s turkey

December 1st, 2010

How Charles Dickens would have relished today’s GOP!  It is barely possible to imagine the refinements of scorn and sarcasm he would have lavished upon a party that declares itself prepared, when jobs are at their scarcest in decades, to terminate support for the unemployed at Christmastime (!) unless it can be continued without adding to the government’s debt, while at the same time the same party adamantly demands extending tax cuts for the richest 2% of taxpayers, which would increase the government’s deficit by $700 billion over the next decade.  It’s like taking away Tiny Tim’s turkey in order to give it to Frank Purdue.  What makes it especially delicious is that they justify the extended tax cuts for the rich as a way of creating jobs for the unemployed, as if the present, historically high levels of wealth were not enough motivation but more wealth will do the trick.

I am reminded of a joke that was current when I was working on the first draft of To Join the Lost.  I wanted to work it into the book, but couldn’t find a way.  I think Dante would have liked it.  Back in the day, the protagonist was President Dubya, but let’s update it:

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