I bought the book because Robert is a better institution than the last 473 non-creative ones I exchanged with.
More than just poetry!
So you don’t read poetry? No worries. This book is a multi-tasker’s dream. Buy it and let your practical nature take over. No reading necessary!
1) Scorpion swatter – let the aggressive, pain-inducing arachnid know the full weight of poetry! SLAM! No more second moments for you, scorpion!
2) Coaster – a half-dozen copies of the book will keep you out of the doghouse, if you, like certain unnamed poets, occasionally, and without malice, set sweating pint glasses of frothy ale directly on antique cherry end-tables. Just place a copy of From Every Moment a Secondon all tabletops and flat surfaces around the home, and never worry about marring the furniture. Put your beverage glass directly upon the colorful cover, and let the poetry perform its magic. Who knew that paper was so absorbent!
3) Body armor – well, maybe not. The pen is mightier…
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Justice can be found by taking cerebral baby steps. It’s never far from the truth, which any child or enlightened adult can reveal instantaneously if confronted by a wrong. Law, on the other hand, is determined by a toddler with mouth sewn shut, glued to a Rube Goldberg ball, and sent rolling from the better part of a day (a minor traffic ticket) to upwards of oblivion or longer (premeditated revenge killing). The tremendous apparatus of law was constructed by the children of wealthy planters and industrialists who raised an outlaw nation on the strong backs of recently descended Africans and dirt poor Ellis Island immigrants. Law made slavery, the Civil War, tenement houses, and 400 homicides in Chicago last year. Today the government snubs its free citizens with constant monetary reminder of oppression’s dark past. Law works ’round the clock for the owners of a society, both antebellum and modern. Yesterday the planter class. Today the banker class, skeevy private plane persons who are probably not too far removed ancestrally from the planter class. Hence, slave owners in our wallets. People who owned/own people. Presidents who owned less people before becoming President, and then got to be head of state, and bought more people to make themselves richer. They were dirty privies. Yesterday and today.
Many established university historians make the argument that these men were products of their time, as if every one born American had a 3/5 person to call their own. White women and men without property, and all little farmer girls and boys not of Africa were burdened by the same good fortune wrought by a slaver economy. No. Not even close. A majority of dark people were owned by a small “planter” class of Caucasian men, who needed a culture of racism and prejudice to reap their private goodies.
Yet no matter how crisp and clear my hindsight, arguments above do not justify pasting these “men of their time” on today’s currency. We have a diverse freer nation now. The land is ours, inherited by revolutionary thieves, who themselves inherited it from metal working colonial squatters. So why are they still “owning” our coinage? Have no other good men and women been born from their usurpation? Why people anyway? How about the woodchuck, turkey, pickerel, or pike? How about a purple mountain majesty, a geyser, a Great Lakes chain? Canada trades a loon and an English Queen. Freakish. But at least no slaveholders.
So, to the above piece. Three presidents who owned (and got rich) off slaves. I painted a lectern because I think all good Americans need some educatin’ from time to time. I took a $1, $20, and $2 bill and glued them to the top. I carefully cut out the heads on each and lobbed them over to Frederick Douglas to juggle. I replaced the cut out holes with heads of decent and good people from revolutionary America. Phillis Wheatley where Washington was. Absalom Jones in place of Jackson. Finally, Benjamin Banneker to replace Jefferson on the forgotten, yet still circulating two dollar bill. I also invisible-inked the money with a fact about the slaveholding history of each. A black light reveals the truth. For instance on the twenty dollar bill one who possesses the necessary equipment will read the following: “Jackson was paternal with his slaves although I do not think he fathered any.”
On the left side of the lectern is Washington holding the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence. Phillis Wheatley was a poet who did not general the death of anyone nor own another human being. Leave it to the hyperactive painter to misspell her name. Sorry Phillis.
On the right side is Jefferson, excited in the prospect of ravaging young girls. He will father a child with one of his slaves. Kind of like the guy in Cleveland who stole three girls off the street and locked them in his basement for ten years. Benjamin Banneker was not known to be a serial pervert, and he authored a beautiful almanac.
On the front is Andrew Jackson, the most vile, with his face burning off in Hell. Absalom Jones was a clergyman who tended to plague victims during the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1794. Coincidentally, George Washington, featured on another panel of cowardice, hightailed it out of the infected city and didn’t come back until all the bugs were dead.
There are three shelves in the lectern, each depicting slave quarters at the estates of the currency Presidents. They read respectively:
Mount Vernon B&B—Sleeps 18
A slow day in Monticello (notice the empty whipping post)
Winter at the Hermitage—Old Hickory let us cook his old horse
I plan to show the lectern at my local art association. I will invite the history and economics departments from out state college, and local school districts. There is so much our children can learn from our money. They never asked for the hero-making of lessor men. Why do we give them these dead racist kings? I wish to see a just currency replacement before my grandchild’s first lemonade stand. These Presidents are historical. Each has an importance to history. But they were not good men. Intelligent? Yes. Crafty? You betcha. So was Adolf Hitler. I forget now… Which euro honors his triumphant legacy?
Well, thanks to poet Robert Okaji, my face blushed off!
Welcome to “Sunday Compulsion,” in which creatives answer one question: Why do I create? Here’s artist Ron Throop:
I began an expressionist career as an autobiographical writer, revering the American masters Henry Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Henry Miller. The latter would paint whenever the writing blocked his freedom. I too found this to be very helpful. When I write, I am tight. When I paint, I am light. Painting is never frustrating. However, writing is a lot like bricklaying. It is linear, and sure, there is a place for that in my psyche, but it must make room for physical play and surprise. I can express so much more in a painting, especially one with a pertinent title. Kenneth Patchendid this with what he called “picture poems”. He is worth looking up to get more of an idea about what moves me. For pay I worked many jobs in the…
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Not too long ago at a poker night excuse to drink beer I was stuck in argument with an economist friend of mine about the U.S. tax system. At the time I knew a young man, just a year out of high school, who, upon graduation landed a job in a local factory making shoe boxes. It was the first year he had to pay federal taxes and Uncle Sam was expecting 17% of his income (it already took a big piece bi-weekly, but wanted more to make up the difference). My friend the economist thought that 17% actually might not be enough and suggested that maybe this young dude shouldn’t complain so much.
I was nonplussed. All I could blurt out was something like “That’s a lot of rent money to extort for another aircraft carrier!” I would hope that my friend got my meaning, but I believe it was lost to him. I don’t think he knew offhand the actual percentage of U.S. budget getting doled out to the military (few facts are surmised these days without iPhone back-up), but I’m sure he knew from private living and teaching experience that it comprised an eye-popping chunk of the treasury’s mother-load, and then some.
Worse, he probably went home and thought dualistically about my politics, as many often do—that I must side with evil if not the good. The “either/or’es” —you’re either with us or against us. The people who despise the out group and distrust those within. A very lonely club devised long, long ago by the first man to ever use the goodness of another for personal gain.
What I meant to say on poker night was that I would expect to pay 95% of my salary if I believed a government was using this money to help care for my family and yours.
All caps following, and I seldom use all caps:
IT DOES NOT.
The players think they got us by the sneaks. That in order to be good children we must pay our federal tax or else face the consequences. And the super majority of us will pay, no doubt about it. It’s scary not to. Good Americans, like good Germans before them, do not like to break the law. The players assure us it ain’t all that bad—each person is well represented by an incorruptible congressperson overseeing an arbitrary block of 600,000+ people, or, as in the case of one of my senators from New York, a massive baying herd of over eight million people.
I think you can tell where this is going.
Because we have no say in the money and how we are “protected” by decision-makers in Congress, then I declare that institution unlawful and illegitimate.
So, I believe we have an out-of-control state run mafia that does not show the slightest indication that any day now it will turn itself in. What to do…
I do not advocate insurrection—even while Congress legislates to kill off Americans. I do not think enough of us are angry like people of the past who were starving and therefore prone to anger. How many of us have a smart phone contract? Raise your hands.
See? We’re not truly angry resistors. Neither to Trump mafia nor Obama mafia. Actually in the great line of time, the super-majority of us are just ineffectual political wussies. It would be okay if some of us weren’t going out and copying our negligently homocidal legislators with horrific crimes to humanity. That’s what happens with disenfranchisement. The desperate with nothing to loose start hammering away at those whom they think win all the time. Even folks like you and me, working check to check, yet still attempting a check to power, even in the most limited ways.
Both Democrats and Republicans are ignoring a single-payer system—they take our tax money and provide insurance companies with sick, paying, animals. Both are guilty of watching our families get sick and die with our own money. The game being played now is refereed by Big Insurance and Big Pharmaceutical (“Big” is their word, not mine. I believe there are no tinier humanoids in the land).
I can explain this painting and therefore exonerate myself from the partaking of any violent radical acts in the future. I have my alibi, and owe much of its construction to the first career I could obtain while coming of age in crazy county, U.S.A. Whenever I’m given a bloated piece of anger meat, I let it rest for a few days. Then I marinate it in acidic thought and reflection, turn the burner up high, and sear in all thoughts worth keeping. I never take anger out of the kitchen and yet I rarely dine alone (Thank you wife and Internet). Onto channeling my next career as painter, which hard copies an illustration of a bloated Kentucky senator making decisions with the money I put aside for upcoming life and death. I don’t like his ideas. So I paint a dynamite auger into his neurocranium.
Works for me!
I can do this because I’m an artist and not a killer. I wish no final future for this man different from one of my very own mother. A peaceful, non-painful demise. I’ve smeared the end of the dynamite auger with an instant-acting opiate releasing ten times the strength of the most non-lethal morphine injection.
Again, artistic license. What else can a poor boy do?
I need to explain the genesis of this painting. It began in my mind long before brush touched board—actually, at dusk the day before I got up from bed on a harried-to-be morning with my plein air materials set at the door ready to go. I would teach myself to paint in the light of day. A month or two, whatever it took of daily jaunts out into nature to record what I sat down to see—my eyes, arm and left hand making interpretive copy of what was already right there in front of me. I walked down to the lake like an intense van Gogh, but unlike him in so many ways as to render me the most simpleton fool tool to the greatest of painting’s idiots. I set up on the rocks and commenced painting the view. I wish I had a picture snapped behind me. What was coming out on the canvas looked very similar to this photo taken last year.
I was set up outside on a beautiful spring day intent on painting my wish to keep the rain at bay. There is an expression from days gone by that if you can throw a cat through the clouds, then it will not rain. Meaning that somebody’s great great aunt heard that if a cat can fit inside a patch of blue sky, then she would not have to carry her umbrella to the corn fair.
My attempt in the photo didn’t last much longer. Seconds after the picture was taken I brushed over the board in heavy grays and black. I didn’t feel good about painting what I saw. So I finished the day enjoying the outdoors with my family and friends, and went home thinking of weather folklore. The next day in the studio I set up the largest canvas available and for the next week, commenced painting with my thoughts and only what the canvas beheld in front of me. Here is the result:
I had no luck in the wild, but was thoroughly satisfied abiding by my own genius.
This post’s title painting was the forth and final attempt to paint a scene I saw on Monday morning. While there, painting the view, I had three unremarkable failures. I could have titled them: Straining, Impotence, and Self-doubt. For the rest of the day I felt awful, a great sham, a delusion unto myself, and a guilty criminal to loved ones who believe in me. What a heavy load. I scribbled the board in grays and blacks, and laid off painting for a day in order to follow through with promised summer chores, thinking often about my failure. And then at some point yesterday afternoon, Matisse popped into my head. Rather, words once uttered by him. I paraphrase: “I don’t paint what I see as much as what is in my mind.” Then a mantra silently repeated over and over again while making dinner, visiting with the family, and finally settling down on a hot night.
Up in the morning, down to the studio. I could not paint fast enough the scene of a couple days ago. Plein air just doesn’t work out for me. Maybe nature is what it is and only some form of torture can come to those who attempt imitation. I would rather paint the cat with a red halo being thrown out to the clouds, than struggle with strokes that make me feel like I’m having a stroke. So finally I can say after many years time, in matters of plein air painting, I know what I do not know, and that is a milestone joy worth toasting a glass to. Here’s to you Mr. Matisse!