Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Rice and Tea

The Rice and Tea

The price of tea in China?
No less important today than when
The question was first asked.


What has it to do?
The price of beans in Mexico? Apples?
Vodka in Russia? Apples?
Guns in America? Apples?


Separated—freed from
Vast otherness, from
Pilloried witches, from
Selfless billionarism, from
Sustainable freedoms.


We consume our rights like
They consume their staples:
Orally, verbally, intensely:
Speech, assembly,
Jingoism, xenophobia,
Upward mobility:
Safety. Oil. Religion.


United—bound to
Common myths, to
Oaths, love, and allegiance, to
Selfish entitlements, to
Neighbors’ fleeting freedoms.


Self-evident, indeed.
Like laziness. Like Apples.
Like imperialism. Like Apples.
Like violence. Like Apples.


The price of tea in China
Is our excuse: why it matters.
Now, what was the question?


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I. Miss. America.

I. Miss. America

To many of the circles in which I roll, I am the frustrating liberal—the poet. In the world writ larger, I am the flaming conservative—the economist. This odd schism between beauty in culture and sustainability in finance plays out in a label I claim for myself: PoetEconomist. As much as we like to eschew labels, we find ourselves answering to and for them: Believer, Rationalist, Gay, Conservative, Patriot, Aging, Obamaniac, Republican. These labels –badges—may look as seemingly contradictory as the sash I sew them onto. Paraphrasing my yet-living political hero, John Huntsman (Reagan, Kemp, and Jefferson are dead), I am without labels. Really, that’s a nuanced  misrepresentation too. I, probably like you, wander through my respective trendy downtown district wearing a sash that displays many badges: labels.  As I inhabit this America, that sash oscillates between Boy Scout (I miss America!)and Pageant contestant (I, Miss America). Either way, not unlike you, I am as concerned with the fit, finish and lie of the sash—how it accentuates my chest and triceps, how it offsets my skin tone and eye color—as those multicolored accomplishment-totems that adorn it.

Many of those badges, probably like yours, were earned by being less than Christian, by failing in my ideals: by being thoroughly human and completely hypocritical. I, like you, have failed to live up to what the universe (or God) might have expected (or predestined) for me. Like tying knots—a newly available badge for us—we have mastered similar basics. Many however, probably like yours, were earned by being a good citizen and human: by loving those who would hate me.

So, why should we be on two sides of some imaginary divide? What are these constructed differences between us? We all wear satin/cotton/ cotton-poly, multi-badged sashes, after all. Our sashes match in nearly every way. We all walk across the same stage: swimsuits, oaths,  and stilettos: sashaying:  sashed.

Really, I’m vers and ddf. U?

“As a gay Republican,” in this, the Central Florida media equivalent of Che-Gueverra-meets-Stonewall, “write about how you can be this unicorn in a political party that hates myths.” Of course (Mr. Manes), the Republican party is a party of myths. I’d say the same—and do, here—about the Democrat party. We Republicans have small government and a founding father (Abraham) that freed the slaves.  We Republicans also have fundamentalism, military transfer-payments, and provincialism. In fairness, you Democrats have your myths too: Jesus was a socialist, fiscal responsibility is a personal attack on otherness, Andrew Jackson (remember that “Trail of tears?”) couldn’t possibly have also politically fathered modern progressivism (hey, Elizabeth Warren!).

But there’s another “we.” The “we” that joins us—you and me, independent of our constructed political bents—by our inclinations toward each other. So, here we are, wearing our sashes and competing for first-runner-up: or is it Eagle Scoutism? We are much more alike in our sashiness than in our faux ideologies. Down to the finger pricks from sharp needles upon those badges that may otherwise be ironed-on, we all bleed the same color. Red, right? Or, maybe it’s blue? Don’t we all need oxygen in our extremities?

Speaking of blood, if we analyzed our collective DNA—the rainbow badge on our sashes—we would all go back to John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, stormers of the Bastille.  Classical Liberalism informs everything we take for granted in America. We are all liberals in the “classical sense.” True, there are shades of our lifeblood that call themselves tea-partiers, socialists—periwinkle to pink—and Donald Trump (speaking of odd pageantry), but we all believe that individuals matter, logic matters, incentives matter, and love matters. Right?

So, too, are we—you and I—the heirs to another strain: Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing, Stonewall rioters.

Save the very few staunchest ideologues, we are—from our first fabulous breaths—hypocrites. We are forced into political stances that fly in the face of our true and consistent beliefs. How can anybody right a platform that values life and be both against abortion and for capital punishment? How can strong advocates for small government also advocate for giant transfers disguised behind a bloated military? How can voices for civil liberty also seek to limit the free exercise of religion? We all don our sashes and wear them to our parties; we hide our inconsistencies behind purple drinks and bright white smiles.

We are as alike as we are different. We are, as Classical Liberals, both collective and individual.

And so, we, as Central Floridians, sport that I-4 sash across the bosom of our state. From Daytona to Orlando to Tampa, we are all—at least—Miss Congenialities representing a cross-section of our collective America. We bask in our myths and our couture. We dwell in our fabulous ghettos and in our shades of purple.

As we enter this unbounded season of soundbites and substance-less backbiting, let’s remember that we all bleed. We all, in this community, sport our own sashes. Our badges may be different—like our experiences and our proclivities—but our goals are the same. Arguments are not ideologies, they are entrance-points for discourse. If we can agree on toothless fellatio, can’t we agree that debt as a percentage of GDP should remain in check?  If we can agree that we deserve equal standing under the law, can’t we agree that even as others blazed that idea before us, we are responsible for advocating the same values into the future? If we can agree that we need to share this and protect our planet, can’t we agree that sustainability is just as important as advocating for personal responsibility? If we can agree that America should be a land of first chances, can’t  we also  agree that it can—with our nearly boundless collective wealth and resources—also be a land of second chances?

Let’s agree that institutions—Constitutions, marriage, gay bars, gender, parties—were built in the past, exist in the now, and have room to evolve together.

Likewise, don’t many of us represent ourselves as “social liberals and fiscal conservatives?” The lines defined by such institutions  don’t always make sense when we are forced to choose. Which political party best aligns with the scintilla of difference between where we fall on the scale of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism? Choosing one over the other—Republican over Democrat—denudes neither our gayness nor our Americanness. All it says is that our Classical Liberal endowments curve one way or the other. Few of us have, once we’ve made it to the sack, kicked out a guest for an inconvenient curve to the left or right.

An alignment with a party that continues to evolve, to reach out, and to include “others” does not indicate a hatred of our “gay badge,” rather it indicates what we Republicans prefer to consider bravery. Instead of creating our own pageants, we wear our sashes as good citizens, good neighbors, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs. We respect otherness as an institution. We are not “self-loathers.” Self loathing is different from celebrating the entire sash, even as the rainbow badge front-and-centers. It’s easy to sit at the pretty table when you’re pretty. It takes balls, we gay Republicans would argue, to face down our bullies: to force them to eat with us. Self loathing is manifest in much greater ways than whether or not you think the state government should support an economic albatross in the form of a rail system that would never be sufficiently utilized between Tampa and Orlando.  Self loathing is quite different from questioning carefully culled statistics about Obama’s economic successes (largely the result of an independent Fed’s actions that have been both consumption-stimulative and federal debt service minimizing). Self loathing is different from celebrating the entire sash, even as the rainbow badge front-and-centers!

Ultimately, you and I can—and largely do—agree on the same set of challenges while still disagreeing on the solutions. If you can see me, a gay Republican, as something more than a cartoon represented by the three seconds of quotes and thirty minutes of commentary around my party’s wingnuts, I can see you as somebody who respects institutions, safety, and rule of law despite your party’s wingnuts. And even if not, let’s strive for discourse, big smiles, busty curves, and shoulders back. We are all sisters and brothers…and, emerging others.

We will disagree. There will be political winners and losers. This of course, rooted in classic, liberal, capitalist theory, makes sense to those of us who curve to the right.

Over the next several issues of Watermark, you will see me express strong opinions on issues. Likely, you will see me tend toward historical and economic models that inform my experience, education, and morals. You’ll see my poet and my economist. Taking stances that may support Republican political expediency means that I am neither a partisan hack nor a self-loather. I have a stronger ideology: this Classical Liberalism that you claim also guides me. Our goals are similar; our methods may look different. You may disagree with my positions.

At the end of the pageant, though, all I want to do is show you my badges. But you know what? I want to see yours. I want to compare sashes. I want to know about your talents: your T. We need each other: gay Republicans need reminders about beauty in the world: gay Democrats need reminders that sustaining that beauty requires an efficient allocation of scarce resources. We all want sustainable beauty. We, in this broad, diverse orgy of pageantry, want each other.

Now that we can tie knots, let’s move on to doing what we are genetically predisposed to do: be beautiful, perform brilliantly, give substantive interviews and blaze trails across the arts, sciences, history, and future of our collective America.

Making Pink

Making Pink

A sliver, a fuzzy strand picked—unraveled—
From atop an unexpected afternoon
Sunshower’s prismic bowing memory.

A newly delivered niece’s ankle:
The muscled portal—marvelously stretched
And pliant—through which she came.

Baronne Henriette de Snoy, free-flowering
Victorian hybrid rose asserting a
Final early autumn dooryard bloom.

An intricate doily adorning an antique walnut
Secretary, crochet’d of gossamer silken
Twine by loving arthritic fingers.

A fair-skinned grandson’s beaming cheeks
After too many hours in the garden sun,
Cultivated along grandfather’s stretched shadow.

The tint dripped from heaven upon the
Flesh tones of humanity’s many shades,
Beamed through freckles, tans, and browns.

An elbow abrasion, just dressed, after a slip-
And-fallen tumble on a loose-graveled,
Brookside Appalachian foot trail.

The lips of newly vowed then short-parted:
Now kissing many years later, forgiven
And reformed in committed matrimony.

The sweet first bite of a confectioner’s
Neapolitan, followed by vanilla and
Chocolate. Or all at once, a melted medley.

The electrified tingle as the hum
Of joining neurons collude at a moment
Of epiphany, ecstasy or invention.

The dapple in the blood-blistered eye
At a hero’s last breath, as he crosses
From these, our arms, to eternity’s.

The right dusk. The just right dawn.
The infrared just on the cusp of visibility.
The most nuanced, spurred histamine.

Day and night:
Beginning and end:
The best and worst.
Order: Chaos.
Energy: Entropy.

Just right.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cecil *the lion*

Cecil *the lion*

And don’t call me Cecil.
Hashtag bad dentist.
Big Game: Internet hunting.
Mob-shamed, second-Amended
On foreign reserves:
Shot down.

Leo the lion says GER.
Loss of electrons is 
Oxidation, valences.
Gain of electrons is
Reduction, valences still.
The other way, affecting
The circle of life.

One less lion,
One less charge,
One less August birth
One less august death.
One less trophy.
Skinned and beheaded.
GER: one more trophy.
One less positive charge.

Internet outrage,
A call to life? 
What is life compared
To a charge:
To a hunt: 
To a lion?