Tag Archives: current events

World Record In Japan: Largest Orgy

Originally posted on 10/21/2009.  

Amusingly enough and perhaps not surprisingly, this is the single most visited poem on this blog. I would imagine a LOT of those who find it on a search are surprised when they get to a poem…I suppose I owe it to myself and those countless mystified seekers to do a revision.

Yes, it really happened.  Here’s the link:

World record in Japan: largest orgy

“Synchronized positions from oral sex, 69 action, girl on top sex, zoom ups on various individuals and ejaculations on the breasts to complete the production.”  — from the ad for the DVD of the event

Only the untried imagining
is ever truly perfect
so it seems safe to assume the actual event
was as awkward in execution
as it seems to appear from the photos
of two hundred and fifty couples
in normed and scripted unison,
all allegedly getting off
in dry anticipation
of commercial gain and worldwide
as the cameras whirred.

No doubt somewhere
out in that warehouse
someone was thinking of the past,
and someone else of the future.
At least a few
were likely looking elsewhere,
those lovely bodies
moaning on the next mat
urging them on
in the name of
achieving individual goals — 
bragging rights,
the honor of having been there,
a jump start for fading lust,
a rocks-off jazzing of a minimal life,
a fantasy of visibility
amplifying the personal moment.

What happened afterward
is unrecorded.

It seems safe to assume
that some left together
and some did not.  
Some surely went home
and did something
that hadn’t been in the script.
Some have since 
tried to forget
that it ever happened.
Some thought about 
making it bigger,
grander, introducing new elements,
new positions and toys.
Perhaps they called up 
a few friends
to rehearse.

Somewhere out there
beyond the synchronized acts
and the documented proof of said acts
perfection remains 
and it will still be there
when we get up tomorrow 
from wherever 
we’ve laid ourselves down

Conversation In A High Place

Originally posted 1/29/10.  

The Prime Minister
approached the king
with head bowed, cringing.

“Your Highness,
I tremble to speak of it, but
your crown is covered in blood.”

“Yes,” said the king.
“See how it shines?
See how

from this window, that bronze eagle
on the flagpole also drips royal crimson
onto the paving, see how

the walls of the palace glow wetly
in the level beams
of the sinking sun?

Make of it what you will,
Prime Minister, but know
that from afar (which is after all

the only way we allow ourselves
to be viewed)
we are glorious.”

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Double Time

marching double time
to judgment
the all-american way


blame the left
blame the right
left to blame
right to blame

the right to blame
we have the exclusive
right to blame

to choose
from whoever is
left to blame 

it’s a point of privilege
the right to blame
to be able to point fingers
a point of privilege
to be comfortable
assigning blame

stop it too soon get a grip shut up and
think first of the victims
and not anything else

they tell me to feel instead of think but

I don’t have tanks full of what it takes
to do that anymore

they tell me to think
about the victims but

too much casual death, etc.

they want to tell me something but

I’m deaf
one too many blast waves

they tell me to report
anything suspicious
which is what I’m doing here
there were bombs and suddenly
everything is suspicious so
heigh ho
heigh ho
off to hate we go
a quick march to judgment

double time
to a killing place
with a wall
and six guns 

when I said that
you saw the scene

I can only hope
you saw yourself

staring into the open barrels
with your back to the wall


Rose, Swastika, Bomb

You repeat to me
and everyone else who can hear
that poetry will save the world,
poetry is the full expression of love,
poets are the unelected legislators,
men die from not having the news from poems,
and so on, and so on…
and so on.

Are you serious?
Can you hear yourselves?

Can you hear yourselves
over the sound of the Sharpie
scrawling lines from a jihadist poem
onto the stock
of an AK-47?

Over the loudspeakers broadcasting
“The Eurhythmics Of Ancient Poetry”
to a mass of Chinese schoolchildren
synchronizing their calisthenics
to pre-approved poems
while bureaucrats nod?

Over the grinding
of three chords and hate
as the skinhead misspells his vitriol
in a screed on a screen devoted
to race war?

Over the screech
of a doggerel verse about
the President and his birthplace?

Over death-eyed rhymes of bling
and Glock and casual idolized
gangster dreams?

Can you hear yourselves?
Can you hear yourselves
over commerce forced-pentameter
and the sound of ideals clinking against
sonnets run foul with coin?

How do you understand, how do you explain away
poetry brought to bear on behalf of evil
and venal, in service to war and pain,
built to enflame blood
and rattle down weak walls
in time with the rounds from the guns?
Not every poem springs from love.
Not every poet is a snowflake,
unique and perfect; some write to honor
viler climates, but everyone’s
a poet too.  We forget

that men die every day
from bullets and lack of bread;

women die every day
from bayonet rape and circumcision;

children die every day
from starvation and public policy,

and among the killers
there are certainly poets
as possessed by this urge to write
as any of us who see windows
where they see walls,
and gates
where they see razor wire.

No telling what a poet
keeps in the pocket
next to the pen —

a rose,
a swastika,
or a bomb.


I’m turning around and around before I sit
like a good dog in the old days did
when making a nest before we slept
was what we did
and our every bed was temporary 
I follow every habit into the dust where it belongs
Atavism is my slave master and only love
Growling at the other dogs who aren’t of my pack
Grrr, black one
Grrr, white one
I’m a brown one, don’t mess me up
Trying to settle down here the way I always have
Cats don’t even get on the field around here
That’s the only thing we agree on
Game on when there’s a cat
We all go nuts for that little killing thing
Then we all turn around a few times and go to sleep
Ready to pop an eye open for any encroachment
Grrr, brown one
Grrr, black one
I’m a big pure white one 
Love on my fur and snazzy teeth
We’re one big canine flash mob
Roll us out an instruction and we’ll show up
Pissing on everything in sight if we like it
Calling on the stock market to justify it
Call us the dogs of war if we’re green or gray enough
Call us rapers by nature if there’s heat enough
Call us good little puppies if we’re cute enough
Call it playing when we rip into each others’ flesh
Grrr, white one
Grrr, brown one
I’m a black dog looking for my own shade to shelter in
I’ve got my suit on
My badges and my gadgets
My portfolio and my ideology
Barking and snarling
Grrr, big one
Grrr, little one
Grrr, grrr, grrrrrrrrrr
Give me a minute to turn around before I settle
I’m a dog dammit shiny fanged and obedient
Blood in the mouth and a college degree
It doesn’t matter how many legs I walk on



Under the cassock
is massacre, atrocity,
so much collateral
that’s been ripped and killed.

Out here we’re
looking at this,
thinking of it —

daring to question the very God
they invoked to shelter
this, because

when we were kids
in tight rows, cowering
before the sisters, they taught us
that adjectives describe

what kind, how many, which one —

so how do we speak of this
when they will not use
the very language they taught us 
to define what we want to know —

what kind, 
how many,
which ones?

If we can’t trust their adjectives
to tell the truth,
what other parts of speech
did they lie about?
What else was taught wrong
or not taught?
What’s a God, anyway?


Shots Fired, Suspect Down

Do you recall any of those salty throated
men and women, boys and girls,
each in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Do you recall Maggie Apple lying in the street
with her eggshell nails
and her skinny legs with those calves that looked
as if they’d been attached to her bones
as an afterthought,

or old Ronald Wrong
whose house smelled of wine but
looked like a glove full of bees? 
When they banged down his door
and a host of trouble flew out
of its ramshackle fingers
they shot him as if he were
a queen, a danger queen.

As for tonight…
we don’t yet know his name.
We’re hearing the cop thought he saw a gun
in the flash from the CD the boy was holding.
Well, someone will say,
he should never have gone up to the roof
at all.  But the kids use the roof
as a short cut to the next building, we’ll respond.
It was never meant to be a final destination.

When we know his name
we’ll add it to the list we carry
behind our teeth,
behind our eyes.  
Then we’ll say:

walk on eggshells. 
Their ears
are tuned to angry bees
and your missteps
sound like a swarm. 

If wherever you are
when that happens
becomes your final destination,
we’ll be sure to remember your name, too,
you cautionary tale, you fallen apple,
you little bit of gone horribly wrong.

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Dispatch From Fukushima Daiichi

Have opened a door
to where the boiling of sea water
is continuous.  Can see on the brims of pots
the dead grime of left-behind.
May tempt myself for a second
with the thought of scraping off a little
to sample, though I know
there’s a strong chance of poisoning
if I do this.  Will instead breathe deeply
the sharp atmosphere, all the while pondering
the people who are responsible for this
dangerous kitchen.  Have been seeking
their faces and names and finding nothing.
Am not sure how safe it is
to continue the search.  Will instead
hold my breath, run home, shower,
praying that no glow or iodized tang
has lodged itself fatally into my body
where it will work itself into a froth
at some later, half-expected time.

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Clouds Over Reactors

Steam above reactors:
what might be in there?

How false or honest are the possible answers?
Frankly, I don’t care. 

I adore
this not being sure

because I can fill the vaccuum
with my own terror.

I’ve been looking for a place
to put it and keep it from pressing

on my recent joy and calm.  It’s not directly
relevant at all; I don’t have to stress

that I’ll be on fire soon or turn up dripping
skin, tending a body rife with tumors.

Those clouds billow and abstract into threat —
not my threat, though. These rumors

are just art to be savored. The reactors
are my gallery, my museum of doubt.

I sit a long time before the news.
When’s the end coming? I try to work that out.

Someone’s going to burn soon.
It won’t be me.  I can watch it and be glad

even as I sob and gasp at the thought
of lives ending, lives I never had.

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How To Interpret Current Events: A Lesson Plan

Start with a Tunisian fruit vendor
who sets himself on fire.  Add
an entire region which subsequently demands
that he shall not have burned for nothing.

Multiply by the shifting
of tectonic plates, factor in
water, water everywhere, some of it
carrying fire deep into Japan.

your valuation of the variable stories
of body counts, scenarios,
what the army wants, what the reactors
will do, what (if anything)
has actually happened
in these places you’ve never seen —

subtract your attention. 
Get up.
Go to the sink.  Pour yourself
a plastic glass of water.  Get
a snack of winter grapes
from the fridge.  Sit back down
on the sofa
and turn the TV off,
sip the water,
eat the grapes
one at a time.

Show your work.  Struggle
to swallow.  Remind yourself
you survived a bad winter
and you’re working again.

Damn the oil companies
and the nuclear industry.
Resolve to call your representative,
to send money
to Egypt.

After an hour,
turn the TV back on.
Find a way
to take your mind off things.

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For Egypt

They’re talking all over the world
about maybe mummies might be burned in Egypt.
In Egypt, no one’s talking about the mummies;
they won’t even gesture toward them.

They’re talking all over the world tonight
about losing priceless antiquities to nameless looters.
In Egypt, everyone’s talking about looters
and they even know their names.

They’re talking all over the world tonight
about flames in the shadow of the Pyramids.
In Egypt they know where the Pharaohs are buried
but they know who’s on top of the pyramids too.

They’re talking all over the world tonight about plagues in Egypt.
They’re wailing and rending their garments and gnashing their teeth.
In Egypt the first born and the mothers are also afraid,
but they fill the streets anyway, their faces alive, their eyes wide open.

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We were the wolves
and the forest they ran through
and the prey they were chasing,
we were all one.

We ate what we killed
and killed all we ate, we were
the carcasses ripped by need,
we were all the same.

Wind in the trees, the cold globe
of the moon, the fiery cross,
the villages burning, the hangings,
we are all this.

Both of the ends of the gun
are ours.  Both the sidewalk
and the mansion are our beds,
we are not different.

Cities, country, dark sky
and wash of neon — we see
in all the shades of night,
and so we are one.

In what we have amassed,
in this heap full of contradiction,
is the germ of how we are,
and here we are all buried.

Break out of the hell mound
and look each other in the eyes,
savor and cower at the night we’ve emerged into,
and admit it: we are all one.

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Big Game

Let’s hunt together
and plan to eat what we kill
and then kill everything.  Let’s hunt
like gluttons, like we’re going
stoned to the supermarket —

OOOh, a whole world meat aisle!
A planet of produce and snack cakes!
Give me the elephant gun, there are cookies
in Afghanistan I’m dying to try!  There are

some lovely cuts of beef in Luxembourg!
And if we work together, we can butcher it all
in the field without messing up our homes.

Field dress the edible population of the world!
We have nothing to lose but our hunger.
We can put salt licks on the islands
and make the deer swim to us

as we lie in wait, naked on the beach.
We can build blinds — hell, the blind
is where we live!  And let’s not forget
domestic production — some of those ghettos
and reservations and all of Appalachia
are good eatin.’  I’m itching to try the cuts
slow-roasted over a fire, right where we drop them,

and then we’ll have a little wine and a little dance,
something to tamp the full belly down;
it’ll help with the digestion, don’t you know?

Why did we make the flag so big and so colorful
if we weren’t supposed to use it to wrap up the spoils
of a good season?  All it takes is a little skill
and a big, big gun and we’ve got a bounty before us —
so let’s go hunting, you and I,
while the big red sun is nailed to the sky
and the biggest damn banquet ever
is still laid out on the biggest table.

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It Gets Better

Colonial dentists
advertised for tooth donors
when they needed to make dentures —
half empty mouths and fuller pockets for some —
but the ads read, often, “White Teeth Only,”
and they weren’t referring to the hue of the teeth.

They were giving the people what they wanted.
Some white folks back then
didn’t want African teeth in their faces, but
George Washington didn’t care if had the teeth
of slaves in his mouth,
though he used to complain about how his slaves
had no work ethic, wouldn’t work long hours
in freezing cold he wouldn’t bear himself.
Suck it up, Washington told his personal slaves.
You’ll be free after I die and Martha dies;
it will get better.

Martha was so paranoid over the potential for revolt
that she freed his slaves early, upon his death,
keeping the bondage only upon those
she’d owned before the marriage.
124 out of 300 got an early release —
once again, things got better.

They banned the slave trade here a few years later,
leaving the breeding of existing slaves
as the only source of new sweat.  No more ships
full of anguished cargo, no more immoral raids
in Africa, no more need of the Middle Passage
for resupply.  Things, again, getting better.

Then there were all those years of conflict
and struggle and finally a war to free the slaves
once and for all, replacing human bondage
by law with human bondage by proxy, but at least
no one could be called a slave, and the dentures
all came from free men.  Things kept getting better.

Say it with me: it gets better. It’s what we tell those
who feel the silent stares
and not-so-silent ugliness: don’t worry, it gets better.
We’ll wear purple for you till it gets better, just hang on,
it’ll get better, suck it up, it’ll get better, we know it’s cold
but it will get better, just ignore it and be strong, it will
get better, we’ll be better someday, don’t know how fast
it will happen but it will get better, what can we do
about what is done today except know that slowly
all those desperate teeth become pearls of honor,
the mouths they’re drawn from
all become free, those who suffer
because we’re not ready yet
to take a stand
suffer on the future’s behalf
and it will get better
then — don’t die now
or cry now
or despair now,
it may not feel like it
but it will get better

in spite of our currently gaping mouths,
our comforting thoughts
about what the Founding Fathers intended,
how Washington is the father of the country
and he must have known what he was doing back then —
full medical care for the slaves,
not breaking up families of slaves,
keeping them marginally happy while still enslaved
till he had no need of them,

after which it was perfectly OK for it all
to get better.

who are we to say we are not
the better that was intended back then,
the better that is always intended?
Maybe better isn’t just a word.
Maybe better is a way of living
where we put ourselves
between the bully and the victim now,
and not tomorrow.

Maybe it’s up to us now to shut our empty mouths,
stop smiling, stop comforting the sorrowful after the fact,
stop giving up our bite and put all the teeth
we’ve got into the moment before us.

Stop waiting.
Step in between
the predators and their prey
and take a blow or two ourselves.
Stop the evil that men do,
even if we have to bleed a little.

It only gets better if we get better.

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Elephants And Guitars

Look at all the sleeping elephants in this room!

Everyone knows they are there.
You can’t miss them,
can’t move around and find a comfortable place
to sit.

They stink, they snore,
and those infernal trunks
keep dream-slipping
into our pockets and pants.

The problem, of course,
is that everyone here is practicing
their lead guitar skills.  Everyone
wants to be Hendrix, rip and tear
the sky, fly recklessly up and down
their necks with the amps turned
all the way up.  You don’t have to listen
to anyone, not even the elephants,
if you play lead guitar.

We line the limited wall space with our eyes closed
and tolerate the elephants’ intrusion
while we shred and never hear a thing.
Superstars, all of us.  And when the beasts
rise, start to rocking our tunes, tear shit up,

we’ll blame the bass players,
the drummers, the rhythm sections,
the vocalists who got on the nerves
of the sleeping giants and made them angry;
not us and our Godlike soloing and screaming,
ego stroke pick rakes, hammer ons, pull offs,
dive bombs, distortion,

our eyes closed, our noses in the air,
our backs against the smashed walls.

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