December Alchemy

Just got back from the December Alchemy poetry reading at the Napa Bar, which I am kind of fed up with. The Napa Bar, that is. Not the poetry reading.
In years gone by we used to have the readings in the basement, or sometimes in the garden area in the summer, and both of those were really nice, because it was just the poetry reading, and you could hear every word distinctly, for better or worse. Of course, some of the poetry is going to be bad poetry, that is inevitable, and your mind is going to wander after a few sentences until it’s just a burble of words and an occasional ripple of nervous laughter from the audience, but at least you could hear it.
Then they moved us upstairs, and it’s generally not too bad, but tonight it actually felt like enemy territory. There were some people in the back room talking loudly, which is not too surprising, it is a pub, after all, and one guy playing guitar and singing which kind of pissed me off because he could have come out and joined us and taken a turn, but he apparently had no interest in that. Then, there was the guy from the bar who was crossing through the front room, out the door (which leads to a hallway which is actually just a passage from the street to the inner courtyard, there’s no front door there, which means it’s sheltered from rain but other than that, it’s outdoors)and to the supply closet across the hall to bring back three little cartons of tomato juice or whatever, and the room turned to freezing every time he did it, and he did it often enough it seemed on purpose, and then somehow, I don’t know how they timed this, but somebody apparently always ordered a cappuccino right in the middle of somebody’s performance.
The reading itself went pretty well despite all that. Some funny songs, some clever 10 word stories (i.e. “Bugger off,” said Rapunzel, “I’ve just had my hair done.”)
a couple of new people, one from Alaska, a young guy from England who read a poem about sleeping by a canal with a bunch of homeless people, and a girl named Dakota who was, unfortunately, the sole female poet of the evening.
That’s a problem. I don’t know how we can rectify that.
Anyway, by the time it finally got around to me (we had over ten readers, and there weren’t many more than 15 people in the room at any point) I was feeling kind of like I was going to bomb, so much had gone before, but I was all right.
On to the next.

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Redneck Explorers

Normally, I do not watch TV shows like this, but MARS ended two hours ago,there is seriously nothing more entertaining on, so I am watching some documentary, reality TV thing about a bunch of rednecks (I hate to stereotype,but this is the most deliberately self stereotyped show since Hee Haw!) chasing something they call a “Fire Dragon” in Appalachia. Almost all of the guys have beards, one is seriously obese, one is hamming it up for the camera and actually used the word “Wharmp” to indicate a trap closing. “And then, wharmp, we got ‘im.” There’s even one named Huckleberry.
I’ve seen these things advertised, or inadvertently watched for a few minutes while skipping through the channels, but damn, they’re ridiculous. Flashlights on their own faces and hysterical over-reaction to so many imaginarythings,it’s like the Blair Witch Project. They chase after Bigfoot a lot, in his various incarnations.
Now they are shooting at some poor animal. The thing is, it’s never Bigfoot, and it’s never actually a Swamp Dragon after it’s caught or killed, it’s just some big lizard.
Because there are no dragons, by definition. Dragons are magical creatures who can breathe fire, and fly, generally with a small boy on their neck.
There is no Bigfoot. There might be undiscovered, and reclusive, gorillas of some kind. We don’t know. But, if they find one, they’ll know more about it and it won’t be Bigfoot any more.
Oop. I guess that’s it. After destroying their clever trap and outrunning their bullets, which are zinging in every direction, the Fire Dragon disappearedinto the swamp and the program ended.
MARS was pretty good, though. Looks like we may have a bit of a power struggle developing.

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Nonsense

“we’re living in a prison but we can’t see the bars” said a man on TV just now,they are talking about ‘The Matrix’ and this guy was introduced as a serious scientist. That whole line of thought bothers me.
Sure, I get what he’s saying, I think. We only have the possibilities afforded to us within this reality, upon this world. We don’t get the opportunity, for instance, of actually attending Hogwarts, or serving aboard a Federation Starship. Most of us will probably never fly under our own power, or travel back in time. But, still, it’s an awfully comfortable prison. We have all the books and movies we could ever want, there are plenty of activities the prisoners can participate in, either alone or with other people.
It’s like saying that you never die because matter is never destroyed and we are matter, we are stardust, and so on. My atoms and the atoms inside the car that is about to hit me are both part of the universe.
Nonetheless, we look both ways before we cross the street because the real world is the world we have to live in and the one whose physical laws you would be well advised to heed.

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End of the Week Observations

It’s Friday, the big relief, the dawn of the weekend. Even people who like their jobs still like the weekend, a chance to stay up late, a chance to sleep in, a chance to sit around the flat without getting completely dressed and not have to get anywhere on time. A chance to recharge the old batteries, a rare metaphor that is gaining power with the rising wave of technology and not being submerged by it.

I got lost on the way to pick up Isabel from her Street Dance lesson. I know exactly where the place is and how to get there, of course. At least, one way of how to get there, and two or three variations of that. But, I was early, and the evening was warm, relatively. Above 0, anyway (for all you unenlightened Fahrenheit folks out there, above 32. Had been raining, but not currently raining. No wind. So, I decided to walk and I took a little hinkwamp uphill about halfway there, on the logic that I wanted to come up on top, where the school is, and not slog up that high hill, but pretty soon I was hopelessly lost, and tried to backtrack, but that was no good, and eventually found a bus stop which would get me back to where I would have gotten off if I taken the bus in the first place.
I do stuff like that now and then. Keeps life interesting.

Got a call that the poetry event at Žižkov Šiška is on for the 15th, which makes 3 poetry readings in the next two weeks. More than I’ve done in – well, I don’t think I’ve ever done so many in so short a span, except maybe back in the day, like in the last century even, when they’d sometimes have them at the Iron Door and than later the same night at Radost, which was kind of ridiculous. Glad the different poetry gaggles of Prague have co-operated for once, so that has been avoided.

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Bitch Session

Just a couple of things I want to complain about tonight, not major things, nothing that’s destroying the world although there’s plenty of that going on, but I’m just going to focus on these little things, crank out my 250 words in less than 10 minutes if possible because I want to get to bed and am not that interested in ‘Food Factory,’ which is the best thing on but definitely not worth staying up for.
First, a lot of people are posting stuff saying that we should all try to get along and we should stop calling Trump supporters stupid. Well, fuck that. Stupid is as stupid votes. I think Forrest Gump said that.
I’m still glad Hillary lost, America dodged a bullet there, but the Trump presidency is shaping up to be a real horror show, his (still theoretical) cabinet appointments are all nightmarish, from the villainous, Snidely Whiplash style banker he wants as Secretary of the Treasury, to that horrible, anti public education, billionaire lady he wants as Secretary of Education, his picks are a gallery of America’s most comically evil people.
So, no, I’m not going to praise, talk nice to or even try to find common ground with his supporters. That’s ridiculous.
The other is a kind of post that’s more of a long term, chronic irritation. I saw a lot of posts of this type before this election cycle, even. The wording is always almost identical. “This is my page and I don’t want any bad language/hateful opinions/disagreement in the comments.” I had a guy the other day tell me he didn’t want to hear anybody defending Castro and then he proceeded to tag me in links to articles about what an evil dictator he was. I haven’t defriended that person yet, but I am thinking about it.
O.K., that took closer to 15 minutes. Good night.

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Rough Day

I am glad this day is over. Some good came of it, but it was rough. First, bitterly cold. Then, I screwed up buying the train ticket because I take the same train Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday morning but on Wednesday I have to take it to Kralupy and Tuesday and Friday not so far. I got confused. No biggie,just had to pay the difference on the train, but the conductor only gave me a one way ticket to Kralupy and I got dinged again on the way back so in the end paid more than I should have. Not a big amount, but irritating.
My students in Kralupy are all bright, interesting people but I teach them one at a time, back to back, for 3 hours, and one at a time is my least favorite way of teaching.
Then, the monster 2nd grade class and they were as always, trying to talk over me and absolutely determined to turn the time into a play period instead of a class but,in the end, I did get at least one of them to know all the words to “The Eentsy-Weentsy Spider,” which made me feel proud far beyond what I should for such a minor success.
Then, the two hour wait before my last class, which is Isabel’s friend from school and her downstairs neighbor. I sat in the food court at Flora and got a poem written. Well, one stanza or, you could say one poem in a series of very short poems which are part of a longer poem and I intend to present in the format of a children’s book, which it is not at all, but the first line of each stanza is like a flashcard theme, because that’s just such a part of my reality that that’s where my thought process starts.
Anyway, it’s a strange thing when you write a poem you don’t actually agree with, but it’s good enough you figure you should let it stand,it’s like letting your kids be whatever they want even if it’s something you’re not happy about.

This is a swing set, this is a slide
We stay indoors when it’s cold outside
the problem with the human race
is, we view the world as a hostile place

which we do, and today felt like it,but I don’t think that’s the problem with the human race. I think that’s one of our defining features, and a worthy one at that. It’s because we have been committed, over the last million years or so, to taming our environment and shielding ourselves from it, that we invented clothing, houses, submarines and spaceships. The oyster only makes a pearl to counter the irritation of the sand.

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A Good Question

Someone in my Bernie or Bust group posted a really good question on Facebook: When are we going to stop raging against Hillary and start treating Donald Trump as enemy #1. It’s a good question.
On the one hand, Hillary has been defeated. She should be irrelevant. Donald Trump has been elected and so he is a very real threat. His appointments indicate that underneath that imbecilic demeanor beats the heart of a true teabagger. He stands ready to rubber stamp any damned idiotic thing a Paul Ryan led congress passes, and that is bound to be some seriously evil shit.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is like that stray bit of bacon between your teeth, the one mosquito in the tent, the turd that won’t flush. We can’t let it go because she continues to exist.
After losing the election, despite having the support of the media, the banks, the large corporations, the Democratic party establishment, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and almost all celebrities more famous than Scott Baio, which is something that required a massive amount of negative charisma, she refuses to release her death grip on the Democratic party. If Howard Dean becomes the DNC chair, and Chuck Schumer the Democratic party’s leader in the Senate, it is clear that the Democratic party has NOT learned its lesson.
So, we can’t let up. There are plenty of people willing to criticize Trump, and I will certainly join them in time. There is no doubt he is an ignorant, bigoted, horrible excuse for a human being.
But, for now, we still have to fight against Hillary Clinton. She is down, but apparently not out. The stake has not been driven through her heart. The bacon is still between our teeth, the mosquito is still buzzing in the tent, the turd remains unflushed.

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