Friday, February 20, 2015

On The Thesis that All Art is Political

A child of the future told me
His professor a prophet to sing
A song of militancy for thee
Art the ideologue's sole thing
Bound in uniform to forever be
Her long dark locks wrapped
With a length of barbed-wire
An officer's cap her only hat
Severe Marianne at the barricade
her only stance the banner held
High and straining forever forward
Above a blur of faceless men to lead.

All art political!  
And that
Which cannot
Be parsed
By this slogan
Or that cant
Kitsch! and
Thus a figure
Of derision
And dispute.

And so the party walls off
The faithful behind a fence
Of dogma and defenses
Raised against phantasms
Of unregimented minds
Bandits of book and bell
Wreckers in their hidden souls
Never laid bare before the
Altars of the proscenium
That enclosed ritual stage
Of the people's theatre
The democratic arts!

There is a certain breed of
Man, sabre on his belt
Who cannot look upon
Well-plowed acres of
Spring-green fields of hay
Without seeing in his
Mind the fields of fire
The lines of advance and
The cover inherent in a 
Cool dark wood across
Nodding heads of grain.

Thus the organizer and
Party militant gazes upon
The cultured and popular
Arts, and sees nothing but
Fields of battle to be 
Conquered and paced off
Fortified against the next
Tribal faith to come
And seize that which has
Been taken for the 
Party of the Faithful
Or revolutionary Red Front.

You!  With your gift of 
Song to raise above
The congregation ingathered
To stand before the
Familial altar of your
Gods as they might be!
Were you born to sing
Hymns of praise and beauty
Or to bawl out a battle-march?

You!  Whose pen is sharp
And swift and all things
Clever and clear and 
Deft in the design
Is your pen a tool to find
Whimsy and the truth
Entwined in God's design?
Or is it a dagger to be drawn
Against or in service to
The devils of your day?

C.M. Hagmaier

The irony here is that I'm the most political, or at least, ideological combative, of would-be poets.  I like to think that it's a defensive formation, but...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

And so, in dream and limb we sing
Blown free from our constant notions
That hath in sense extension unerring
Belief and faith winsome ablutions

Nonsense saith some Puritanical hearts
That hath more will than trust in grace
And constraining men in all their arts
That would by God's own troth lay waste

To each and every good notion gave birth
By hope and love and skill, by belief's art
Each man made light and swift and whole by mirth
And even flesh and dirt given still some part

Herein breaks free the bubbling brook of life
That extinguishes fire of divine strife

C.M. Hagmaier 12/27/14

Meh.  Iambic pentameter doesn't come naturally to me, and I think I got a couple feet wrong there, but oh, well.  There's a reason nobody does anything in formal measures anymore.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Grain Liquor on a Chequerboard

Sissah said to the tyrant
All I have done can
Be paid by a grain of wheat
Placed double on a board
For chessmen, square
By square as your majesty
Deigns, filled row by row
Column by column
Doubled and doubled
And redoubled again
Though your granaries fail
Though the universe fail
Heavy with precision
The tasseled heads nod
Over your honor pledged
All your wealth spilled
Across a child's toy
Tipped over-loaded weighed
With the finite product
Of your vast imperial 
Fruited plains exhausted
And still your word not
Redeemed by the 
Feckless promise of  your
Ignorant imperiousness

So my thirst distilled
From every single grain
Wheat and rye and maize
Through the retorts of
Clever men and the
Art of bourbon-masters
Casked and even
The angels whose share
Spilled by the action of
Wood and wear and 
Time's long march
Through cooper's art
And warehouser's 
Patience and the fat
Fungoidal mass that
Growth from drunkard's
Environmental footprint
Darwinian god's imprint
On the wood of a 
Distillery's backlot.

So I am, so it is
All that thirst and despair
And the joy of a nightly
Drunken haze that kills
The regrets of a million
Wasted fruitless lives
Brown-tinted oceans of
Misery murdered in 
Alcoholic metabolic
Poisons, before the 
Liver reduced before the
Heart ruined before the
Stomach shredded the
Sorrow that murdered the
Rest killed by the hand of
The merciful distiller's 
Daughter, bourbon
Sweet as innocence
Sharp as the morning
Swift as the ending
That brings with it
That final finishing
Hangover which
Hangs over 
Lies of Eternity.

One cannot kill time
Without injuring eternity
To hell with 
Eternity which gifts us 
This taste of fire that
Burns on the tongue
To mind us of that
Lake of fire before
Our inevitable end.

M. Hagmaier
Ah, fill the Cup: - what boots it to repeat
How Time is slipping underneath our Feet:
Unborn TO-M0RROW, and dead YESTERDAY,
Why fret about them if TO-DAY be sweet!

One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,
One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste -
The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing - Oh, make haste!

How long, how long, in infinite Pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute?
Better be merry with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.

You know, my Friends, how long since in my House
For a new Marriage I did make Carouse:
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

For "Is" and "IS-NOT" though with Rule and Line,
And "UP-AND-DOWN" without, I could define,
I yet in all I only cared to know,
Was never deep in anything but - Wine.

And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came stealing through the Dusk an Angel Shape
Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and
He bid me taste of it; and 'twas - the Grape!.

The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
The subtle Alchemist that in a Trice
Life's leaden Metal into Gold transmute.

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Edward Fitzgerald, First Edition

Saturday, November 22, 2014

It's  insurance plan time, and we had a meeting at work on Thursday.  The company is picking up stakes and moving to a new provider, which is fairly disruptive to a lot of the folks at work.  Ironically, not for me, as my current physician, office and so forth was already part of the new network.   Personal pay-in is going up considerably, but it isn't anything I can't handle.  But I found myself giving out my doctor's name for several co-workers looking for a new home as their old primary care physician was left behind in the old network,  or in one case, because he hadn't had a primary care doctor at all, and the new paperwork requires it.

One of the higher-ups, who was a big Obama man, is apparently particularly feeling the pinch, and was less than thrilled.  Although that might have just been the laryngitis.
OK, I don't feel comfortable leaving that on top for long.  What have I been up to recently?  Eh, not much really.  Watching the new WKRP in Cincinnati box set, with most of the original music relicensed.  It's been a real nostalgia trip, apparently we didn't miss a single episode of the first season, and there's just something... homelike about the whole production.  Despite the fact that I've never set foot in Cincinnati.  It's still an Ohio River valley town, perched at the seam between the Midwest and Appalachia.

Ave Maria

The blood stopped flowing
After the dream of angels
And all her promises of
Essene purity will be for 
Naught and worse than
Naught in the eyes of a
Judging censorious world.

Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena 
Maria, gratia plena

She had told him, the 
Elder who would have her
Hand without the promise
Of children to honor his
White-haired age or
Posterity or the promise
Of a future grown from
Their common seed sown.

That by the imagined
Grace of a dream-angel
Heralding her courses
Stopped, blooming
Told him all she 
Could offer, the 
Shameful pregnant
Virginal liar befoe the eyes
Of a doubting dubious world.

Growing within her
A new world burning
Every vein afire with
Impossible possibilities
The infinite encompassed
By her fragile human
Mortal womb stretching
Pains upon pains
The walls of the 
Unknowing world within
Her small feeble frame
The ramparts of all
That is and was and
Will be held within her
Flesh straining to hold
All of creation creating
Itself within her 
Created finite self
Infinities distilling into
A tincture of grace
The universe drawn out
Like a camel through
Like a fat man through
Like the world through
The eye of a needle.

And she will be the
Needle-eye of 
A world birthing itself
Into the world existent
And every worlds possibility
By her womb redeemed.
And the angel had told
Her of the myths and
Fantasies to be
The ramparts of legends
To sanctify her frail
Human self by 
Generations of monks
And bookish scholars
And celibate judgmental
Saintly men bound to
Justify her soon to be
Sacred generation as if
There was no blood in
Birth or blood in the
Veins of that which
Was wailing to be 
Born, born in mortal
Fallen flesh.

Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus
Et benedictus fructus ventris
Ventris tuae, Jesus
Ave Maria

Immaculate!  Without
Sin or scar or 
Any of the taint
That any daughter of
Eve might carry within
Her moon-caught
Earth-born womanly
worldliness and want.
But what could be the
Point of a divine
Birth without flesh
Or blood or pain or
All the faults of 
Eve-knowing and
Man and woman
Enjoined and born and
Bred.  And she had
Indeed been born and
Bred and descended from
Ten thousand generations
Of quarreling bitter 
Bastards and harridans
And selfish, squabbling
Vicious people, chosen
Or not, pious or not,
Blasphemers, murderers
Whores and whoremongers
Thieves and slavers
Slaves and sinners.
A daughter of Eve was she
Daughter in turn of a son of
Cain, no matter how the 
Stories invented notional
Seth to distance the
Laity from the direct and
Proper conclusion that
They all were born of that
Line that lived, and not that
Of childless simple 
Blameless Abel.

Ave Maria
Mater Dei
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Ora pro nobis
Ora, ora pro n obis peccatoribus

The birth was upon them
And she could feel the
Curse of Eve in her
Agony, and worse, could
Feel the infinite agony of
Which her horrible straining
Separation was but a
Distant and mercifully
Shallow echo
The birth-pains of a
Universe opening its
Human eyes for the
First time, and His
First Cry cracking
The firmament like a
Miscast bell struck by
A hammer too hard and
Sharp for the frail
Metal cast by a 
Smith too unsure of
His material and the
Purposes intended.
Infinity compressed
Within one small wailing
Infant and that wailing
Will echo across the
Whole of creation from
The first crack of 
Dawn to the last
Clang fading on
That final, lifeless
Worthless rock. 

Every mother brings
Into the world two
Things: one life and
One death and all
That lies in between
Is out of her hands but
Still her gift given
And Eve bore a Cain
And Eve bore her Abel
And she bore the 
Burden of both
And she?  The new
Born mother, what
Burden for bringing the
Death of God into
A world split asunder
By the birth of that
Which could not be
Contained by that
Which nonetheless
Yet contained it?

The Church which
Was to come would
Remember and sanctify
That death as a
Passion, ritual upon
Ritual, play upon
Play, signifying the
Corn-god triviality of
A man's tortured 
Death as if death
Were something of
Note in our fallen
Failing world, when
All around them death
And pain and misery
March in endless
Serried ranks like
The hosts of hell
On the double-step.

Nuct et in hora mortis
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in Hora mortis nostrae
Ave Maria

For the mother of
The infinite suddenly
And impossibly
Finite the one and
Only - horrible and 
Comprehensive and
Terrible - miracle was
And always will be
That awful birth
Now and forever
The scream of 
World without end.

November 22, 2014

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The very definition of "voter suppression"?  Some idiot property manager putting up "no trespassing" signs at both entrances to my local voting precinct at Lambert Hall, 03 Bellefonte South.  The officials were just sitting there, doing their ritual rather than doing their job and getting rid of the damn signs.  Who cares how closely the political signs are located to the entrance if you have to break the damn law to set foot in the precinct?

Trying to get a hold of someone w/ the party or the county.

Update: someone from the party called back & got the details, and is going to try and do something about it.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Tending Fires

Life and love are flickering flame
Smoldering futile in the half-rotted muck
Of a thousand years of bog
Or underground
Coal-seam sightless flaring
Or bursting dryrotted pineneedle crown-fire
That sucks up the air from the forest floor
A pyric malestromic inferno
Consuming all in fiery seconds
The annihilation of the woods.

But woodland will need
That passionate hellish harrowing
That bursts the fire-broke seedcone
That tears through the mis-formed
Dead-ended past made Solid
That incinerates that crooked timber
That never made anything straight.

Thus, one advocate
The acolyte of the forest-fire affair
And single-night couplings
And lonely aftermaths and
The fatherless son walking
Under strangers' skies
The flare that comes and goes
Leaving man-child mankind
A scorched chaos of livid wilderness
A patchwork of lightning-struck desolation
And desperate procreation
And regret and uncertainty
And nothing certain.

No! Cries a domestic promethean
And acolyte of another path
And makes her case beside
The opened kitchen-door
Burning brand in hand, 

A careful hand wrapping paper
And accelerants in wax and twine
A boxes of matches set to hand
And the twigs tented below
An arranged cage of branches
All within the sturdy hearth
Bound in brick
Bound in iron
Bound in brass
A binding proscenium
Behind glass-door enclosures
And beneath a well-cleaned flue
Place your firestarter.

That ardor, the incinerating
Comes and goes
Lighting the small-wood
Lighting the logs
Lighting the yule-log
Burning the year-log.

That year-log fire
Whose flame steadily glows
Burns what is given it
Burning guttering red-orange flames
In the sap-sweet spring
Burning the rich roaring-fire of
The long-months summer
Burning the steady cherry-red
Warmth of the autumn reaping
And gathering in for the long
Winter days' ember-fire
That fire, fed, that heats
The roof-timbers warm
No matter how heavy
The snows weigh
On the shingles above
The life-long fire
That burns the wood of your years
A prophesy of fire
A life teeming with life
With children grown
And your children's children
In their chaos and youth
The family kept safe
Within the home kept warm

By love's long fire's flame.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

So,  Byblos is Jbail when it isn't working off its passport - the local name.  This city has been continuously occupied by people for at least nine thousand years, and possibly over ten thousand.   It's definitely the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.  As such, the city has collected names like a social butterfly collects online handles.  It's Byblos to the Greeks, Romans, and those of us who take place-names from classical sources; it's Jbail to the locals and Arabic-speakers, it was Gibelet to the crusaders and Genoans, Gebal to the Phoenicians, Gubal to the ancient Caananites, and Geval to those that wrote the Bible.  The name of the Bible itself is derived from this city, which the archaic Greeks associated with papryus and thus gave the product the name of the city from which they traded it originally; it eventually was associated with the book, and thus "biblos".

The city is mostly Maronite, with some Shia, and at least one street's worth of Armenians, because I took a wrong turn and found myself in the town's small Armenian quarter, which turns out to be a single dead-end cul-de-sac on the bayside south end of the city.  My hotel was about a mile's walk from the tourist centre of Byblos, which I was told was a safe enough walk.  If you walk out where the drivers can see you, and you can see the drivers, it isn't crazy dangerous to walk the roads.  Assuming that you're walking in a place where the fumes won't choke you.  There were clusters of men  waiting for trucks to pick them up - day-labour, as anyone in the American South or Southwest would recognize.   The area was recognizably Marionite - there were the occasional tiny roadside shrine like this one, scattered every five hundred meters or so along the road.  This one was particularly battered, but the better-kept ones were usually of the Virgin Mary.

I got there too early in the day for the Souk to be active - the shop-keepers were just opening their doors when I walked through initially - but you can get an idea of how it looks.  Vaulted corridors separating brick alleys with sailcloth flying overhead to keep off the merciless August sun.  Lots of fossils, food, touristy trinkets, and for some reason, at least three places selling shoes.  I almost stopped to buy a new pair, since my current pair had almost blown out by that point, but I didn't have the energy to really get down to figuring out if they'd have any tennis shoes in my size in a reasonable color - they tended towards bright primary-color flashy trainers, not at all my style.

As I said, this is a Maronite town.  This is L'eglise St. Jean-Marc, a Maronite church with, I think, an attached school for young children.   It was quite a large compound, to the north and east of the souk and the ruins of Byblos of which, much more next time.
The day after the wedding, I decamped from Beirut to less expensive environs, and took a taxi to the Victory Byblos Hotel & Spa outside Byblos.  The drive north took us east through the Christian (I think) suburbs of Beirut and a series of good-sized coastal towns which looked from the road like a semi-continuous strip of flashy malls and high-end shopping districts along the coast, with the usual apartment complexes cresting each heights, except for a couple church complexes here and there.  Judging from the crosses, it was mostly Maronite country.  You couldn't see the old Green Line in Beirut from the highway, I'm not even sure when we passed it.  It seems to have been completely filled in

There is very little greenery on the Lebanese coast, none to be seen from the highway at any rate.  It's mostly very dense-packed housing and commercial districts as far as the eye can see.  As I've said elsewhere, construction cranes are everywhere, but there are precious few places left to build on the limited coastal flatlands available.  The cities and towns climb up the steep hillsides, which in places could credibly be called "mountains" without getting laughed at by actual mountain-state people.  (Don't ever call the Allegheny Mountains that in the hearing of someone from Colorado, btw.  They'll mock you mercilessly.)

When we actually got to Byblos, I discovered my driver had no idea where my hotel was, or even what it was named - I could hear him calling it "Byblos Factory" in otherwise-unintelligible Arabic as he asked every person we came across for directions.  The man had a functioning smartphone with a mapping function, I have no idea why he didn't use it, but still - we stopped at a half-dozen places, asking police, gas station attendants, other taxi drivers - until someone finally pointed us in the right direction and I arrived.  Sigh.

As I said, Victory Byblos.  It's a small hotel well outside Byblos proper, on a dusty exit above the coastal road seaward from the highway itself.  It's across the street from a pair of small beach resorts, which double as dance clubs in the evenings, complete with loud music you can hear from the second story rooms with the doors closed.  They like to conclude their nightly celebrations with fireworks, so don't expect to get to sleep early if you have a seaward view.  Because I showed up early, apparently they scrambled to give me a room and I ended up with a room which had been prepped for some newlyweds, complete with rose petals scattered all over the place.  The hotel cuts costs by including your room key in the room's electrical grid - there's no power until you stick it in the right slot.

Oh, well.  At least I was able to figure out their wifi, which is more than I could say of the Bayview Hotel's rather confusing Internet situation.  I spent a lot of time hanging out in the lobby working through email and checking on news.  Until the second day, when I was informed that there would be another wedding reception in the lobby that afternoon.  Apparently August is marriage season in Lebanon!