Archive for January, 2012

Cheese-eating intellectual oligarchs

January 22nd, 2012

A Fat Rich Elderly White Guy Who Wants To Be President

It is gratifying, for those of us who enjoy our schadenfreude warm, to watch the Republican presidential contestants expend upon each other the slyly ad hominem vitriol they normally save, to the betterment of our political discourse and in service of the nation’s preservation,  for the defacement of their electoral adversaries from the other party.  One can perhaps attribute this delightful leveling of the playing field at least in part to the recent return to prominence of Newt Gingrich, a character who sometimes seems to have sprung straight from the pen of Charles Dickens on one of that Master of Snark’s more sardonic days.   Newt has the gift of bringing others to his own level, just like what happens when you flush.  I’m prompted to these thoughts by the recollection that last week, television ads aired in support of Gingrich famously twitted Mitt Romney for the sin of speaking French.  Today we learn, from David Bromwich’s article in the New York Review of Books, that Newt’s Ph.D. dissertation relied on sources in that very language.   What a nice smile he has, though: a shark with a full belly.

Irene, Part Five

January 10th, 2012

A colleague standing next to me said, “I come from Mississippi.  If we moved out every time something got flooded…”  She didn’t get to finish her sentence because at that moment a car drove by, honking to express support for the couple hundred of us standing in front of the Waterbury State Office Complex, and we whooped and hollered in return, waving our “BRING US ALL BACK” signs.

The first couple of months of displacement were hard.  I don’t mean to compare our plight with that of people who lost their homes or businesses to the floods, but the fact remains that the lives of the state employees who had been based in Waterbury were profoundly disrupted.  The familiar spaces and procedures in which we had spent the majority of our waking hours most days were gone, swept away, finished.  In their place were makeshifts and make-dos.  One doesn’t realize how

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Low light

January 5th, 2012

There seems to be a lot of death around here, lately.  A friend’s father died.  Another friend’s father is dying.  A dear woman I knew at work passed away last week.  Two other friends, a married couple, are dealing with cancer.  Either this is a statistically random cluster, or the world is coming to an end.  In honor of either possibility, I have been thinking about a poem I wrote a long time ago:

I have beheld the end of a life,
the blue eyes turning to the ceiling
and closing, and the strange orange hue that
then suffused the cooling skin,

and a life’s beginning I’ve also beheld,
the mewling, stick-limbed lump of tenderness,
eyes clamped shut, trading the womb for
its exhausted mother’s arms.

It’s odd to hold them both within me,
two pale lights at the ends of a stick
that do not balance: the one cannot
be weighed with the other or cancel it out.

Some console themselves with rhythms,
tell the children the gracefully falling
leaves make mulch for what will rise,
as if the steady beat of days,

of seasons, generation and decay
makes white noise and drowns the silence.
Others flood the quiet betimes with
droning of the eternal.  Others

watch tv.  In the body’s
sealed envelope, we carry
from lips forever shrunken open
to the inarticulate young

a sediment of sentiment.
It gives them heft, to bear their growth.
Devoted as robins to their hatchlings,
we pass it down the straining gullet;

unlike them, we’re no more empty
for giving our young what we had in us.
Passing on is not unburdening.  When
my father died, he handed me

a weight no one could bring into
this world except by leaving it.
My first born bleated her little welcome in
that same building’s other wing.