Third Party Musings

Reaching outside WordPress today to reblog On Your Way to the Camps, I Just Want You to Know…, a well-written work of dark satire about this year’s presidential election in the USA, and the potential consequences of casting a vote for someone other than one of the two major political party candidates.

Every four years, I’m tempted to go third-party, as a protest against the limitations offered by the Democratic and Republican parties. And sometimes I do go that route, especially in years where the race in my state is not close. I don’t regret any of those past decisions.

But this year is different, as one of the two major candidates is an existential threat to my country (he’s as harmless as any other amoral bully so long as he stays in the business or entertainment worlds, but give this guy political power… oh boy). There will be no protest vote from me this year, and as we approach that fateful day in November I’m going to use this blog occasionally to articulate my decision.

I know many of you aren’t into politics; I’ll try not to get overly wonky, and will attempt to be as creative as the writer of today’s reblog. (There will be Star Trek references.) Only 49 more days, my friends… This too shall pass.

A Visit with Claude and Fraud

I had raised my knuckles to rap on the apartment door again, then heard the shuffling of feet on the other side. A moment later, the door opened, and Fraud’s baseball-capped head appeared in the opening. He didn’t seem surprised or upset, but his face revealed that my appearance was not wanted, as if I were a cable technician coming to install a service he hadn’t requested.

I smiled, pointed behind him. “Can I come in?”

“OK,” said Fraud, opening the door fully and then stepping back into the apartment, resuming his customary seat on the green recliner with the matching ottoman.

Who’s there? I recognized Claude’s distinctive annoyed voice from one of the bedrooms.

“It’s me, Claude.” I decided to keep standing, as I was on business, more or less. “I need you and Fraud to help me with this blog post.”

Bed springs squeaked as they uncoiled; a moment later, Claude raced in from the rear of the apartment, and upon seeing me, began stroking his neatly trimmed goatee. “At last, a distinguishing physical characteristic!”

I nodded in response. “It was going to be just a mustache, but — ” I stoked my bare chin — “having hair down here, just seemed more like you.”

Claude clapped his hands, looked at me like I was Santa. “Are you here to finally write that story you’ve been thinking about?” He then glanced up at the ceiling, his hands skimming across the letters of an imaginary marquee. “Claude and Fraud Get Elected.

“What?” Fraud, sitting in his green recliner with the matching ottoman, had resumed reading his newspaper, but hearing his name grabbed his attention.

With as much evident regret as I could muster, I shook my head. “Sorry, guys. Might get to that some time, but not now.” I pointed to Fraud — “I’m afraid people might confuse you with The Fraud, who’s an entirely different individual.”

“Because he’s not fictional?” Fraud asked.

“If only that weren’t so.” It was time to get to the point, so I turned my attention back to Claude. “I wanted to explain to my followers — ”

“Three hundred sixteen, and counting!”

“Thanks, Claude. Anyway, I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately on the blog this past week, and it’s mostly been pretty bad.”

“That’s not true!” Claude had his hands on his hips, bearded chin pointing straight at me. “Check your stats, you’re getting as many views and likes as usual! And read the comments!”

“At least,” Fraud added, “you didn’t compare a political candidate to a vegetable this time.”

“And no lame classical references, either!”

“All right, already!” I was starting to regret this decision. “Here’s my point — I appreciate the support I’ve been getting from my followers, but I set pretty high standards for myself, and while I’ve been pretty satisfied of late with my fiction, I don’t think my poetry’s not nearly at that level. An analysis of my stats — ” pointing to Claude for emphasis — “would show the posts with the highest views and likes, are almost all fiction.”

“OK,” said Fraud, looking eager to get back to reading his newspaper.

“You guys remember how I used to subtitle this blog?” They stared back at me blankly, as I had created them without any memory. “Experiments in writing. Some will work, others won’t. That’s why they’re experiments. Every poem I write is an experiment, guys, and since I’m a relative newbie in the genre, most of these experiments are gonna go BOOM!” I raised my hands wide and to face level for emphasis, which both Claude and Fraud seemed to appreciate.

“All right then,” said Claude. “But, why did you come here to say that? Why not post your own essay, instead of this metafictional exercise?’

I shrugged. “Thought it would be more entertaining to bring in you guys, seeing as you were the subjects of my most failed fictional experiment — sorry.”

“No problem,” Fraud said, and resumed reading his newspaper.

Claude held a palm up to me — “You still owe us that story, man.”

I nodded, started walking towards the door. “And you’ll get it — once I figure out a proper role for Maude.”

“Maud,” said Fraud.

“Oh God,” said Claude.

Fraud lowered his newspaper, revealing a face filled with sudden delight. I shook a warning finger at him — “We are NOT going there!” — before leaving their apartment, slamming the door behind me.

It’s Time

The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dali (By Image taken from About.com, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20132344)

The Persistence of Memory, by
Salvador Dali (By Image taken from About.com, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20132344)

There has been time

for selecting, collecting, erecting, and protecting.

There’s more, always more,

but the pleasure in things has decayed over the years,

an expensive wine turned to vinegar.

 

Trophies gather dust on a shelf,

relics of a time with no responsibilities, and abundant possibilities.

Memories of a place fondly remembered

can be transformed by regret into tombstones

that mark the passing of dreams.

 

The time has come

to mock maturity, abandon surety, embrace the lack of security.

To discover the wealth in life that has lain hidden

during the futile search for safe satisfactions.

To leave comfortable interiors for the curiosity of the outside world.

 

 

In time, the future will reveal

how close ambition comes to the ideal.

Best

Another fencing tournament today, with a twist — competed in two events, foil and saber. Results were equivalent (one victory in each of the pools, followed by a swift exit in the DEs), but I scored many more touches in saber, losing a couple pool bouts by one. Most of my foil pool bouts were a hot mess, one miss after another; attack-no counter-yes, attack is parried riposte is no remise touche. Half of my misses hit, might have one another bout or two, improved my seeding in the DE.

Wife asked how it went when I got home. About the same, I replied in my best sardonic tone. “Well, did you do your best?” Told her that was a hard question to answer, not just today but any day. It’s difficult to know what your best looks like, not easy to separate desire and ambition from reasonable expectation. All those whiffs — yeah, shouldn’t have been so many of those. Effort was there, so was the strategy, but the execution was lacking. Guess I didn’t do my best, come to think of it; need to work on that point control when practicing at the club.

“Did you have fun?” Now that was much easier to answer. Hell yes. Feeling the life energy of competition coursing through every cell of my body, a euphoria of passion; I doubt any other activity could provide me with such thrills.

Lunar Conversation

You once told me something someone sometime somewhere said,
that watching the moon was like living with an unstable person.

So long as you kept your eye on it, watched it every night, 

noting the slight changes in its appearance,

then the variations of its phases would seem natural,

like a flower, bursting from nubby bulb to brilliant bloom then wilting down to nothing. 
But if you get distracted for a few days,

and then look for the orb in the midnight sky,

it won’t seem anything like it had been when you saw it last —

a slender winking crescent giving way to a gibbous carbuncle,

the midnight beacon that had bathed the earth now all but invisible,

what had been rising in brilliance now shrinking back into darkeness.
Remember how I laughed at you?

How I recalled my fourth-grade lessons on the moon’s orbit,

reminded you how the lunar phases were nothing more than the product

of a celestial equation?

The moon’s appearance was orderly and predictable, I told you.

No mystery or romance — just science.
I remember you smiling,
and pointing up at the sky without looking.

“We all have the same teacher,” you told me,

“but each of us learns something different in class.”
The moon will be full tonight,

its brilliance casting basketball-pole shadows onto my driveway.

I’ll squint up at the silver coin, smile, think of you.

And wish you were with me.

Tired Walls

Sure, I can build you a wall, strong enough to protect you,
and no, you wouldn’t need to help me.
Already got everything we need — material, tools, even the expertise.

You see, I’ve done this before,
built walls for family, friends, teachers, schoolmates, bosses, coworkers,
even some side jobs for people I’ve only met once,
on the bus or in a store or at the movies.

Pretty good at it, if I must say so myself!
My walls are solid, inpenetrable — just ask any of my clients,
though I gotta warn ya, they probably ain’t gonna remember me,
secure as they are within that wall I built for them.

But I must warn you — this one might take longer than usual.
You see, after building so many walls the exertion has left me tired,
physically as well as mentally.
And I’ve also noticed that my walls have grown stonger over the years,
but have become less pleasing to the eye.
Functional, but unappealing — those are my walls these days.

Actually been thinking it’s time to dismantle some of those walls.
They’ve begun to wear, and as I’ve been patching and mending
I’ve had to stop myself at times from grabbing my sledgehammer
and beating time at its work.

But you’re not interested in my petty pyrrhic victories.
You want me to build a wall.
Just let me know when you want me to start.

She Waits


Hovering in the airless sky,
she waits with the patience of a spectral hawk,
hunting always for pleasure but never for sustenance.

Her prey is wise and experienced,
has learned that even on the clearest of days
she will be circling overhead.

So long as you stay focused, do what needs be done,
she will stay up there, harmlessly hovering,
never seeking your attention.

But she knows she can fly past the span of your attention,
she can overpower the might of man’s medicine,
she will have her time to hunt.

So she waits, a dark silhouette on the windless horizon,
knowing there will be a time for her to strike
and that her attack will never fail.

Dinner Relative

image

Every family has this relative who shows up for every holiday dinner;
everyone knows his name, recognizes the bony forehead and rounded cheeks so common in the family.
That voice, an appreciation of good music and bad puns, how he knows the details about everyone’s health —
he’s one of ours for sure, and yet, in the living room conversations,
when he’s in the bathroom or playing with cousins out in the yard,
it becomes clear that nobody really knows
where he lives, what he does for a living, when they first met him —
not even who the hell invited him to that first holiday dinner, whenever that was.

And then he returns,
sits in your uncle’s favorite chair
and speaks in that confident friendly voice that puts everyone back at ease.

Nobody really knows who he is,
but everybody is certain that he is one of us.