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poems, etc.

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Soldiers

I'll definitely be playing this at the Poems Against War / Poetry In Baltimore event October 19 at Load of Fun Gallerie. Meanwhile, if you play guitar, spread the meme.

I heard a little bit of the buzz going around about Sally Field getting censored by Fox for saying during the Emmys that "If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn't be any goddamn wars in the first place." It bounced around my brain a bit, stuck on to some other stuff, and this is what came out.

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Soldiers

words by Tom Swiss
      to the tune of "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys", by
      Ed Bruce and Patsy Bruce

guitar chords: D - G - A7 - D

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers
Don't let 'em be fooled by the masters of war
Teach 'em that peace is what to work for
Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers
They can die all alone
A long way from from home
Giving their life for a lie

Young boys play war with toy guns and they always pretend
Someday that they'll grow up and be brave and fight like real men
Marching to death at the orders of generals,
      all for the U. S. of A.
But war ain't a game, there's no glory in killing,
      old soldiers fade away

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers

inane conversations; poem from details of experience (Zelda's Inferno, Sep. 16)

Getting dinner at Donna's before Zeldas. Three college girls at the next table, talking non-stop about who's drunk, who's a slut, dresses, who's a natural my conversations ever sound so inane? Well, probably so. But that's my inanity...

Had about a dozen people over last night for the second annual Emperor Norton celebration, a nice little party. Think I'm going to try to spread to meme of making September 17 a holiday.

writing exercise: poem from details of experience

1) write about a pivotal experience, with as much concrete as possible:

The silence of a snowy day as I lie on my back, looking at the clouds. I've just made a snow angel and the chill of the ground seeps into my back. My friends, on the ground nearby, are silent; maybe some vague road noise from Greenbelt road in the background, but the breeze in the tall dried grass stalks and the scrub trees is louder here in the middle of this empty field. The LSD vibrates my body like almost too many cups of coffee, my bodymind rings like a bell. The sky is bright cerulean with white frosting, a party cake, when the dragon forms from the clouds and smiles on me, a bright hexagonal rainbow tunnel connecting us, a blessing.

2) collect the images and make a poem

Zelda's Inferno exercise September 9: "I remember"

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise, drawn from Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones:

I remember my grandmother, sitting at her kitchen table, watching TV, smoking Pall Mall cigarette, her bright pink lipstick smeared on the filters , the lipstick such a contrast with her pale skin, Lupus kept her out of the light

I remember playing wallball in the alley with my brother, bouncing a sponge rubber ball off the retaining wall at the bottom of the yard across the way, stopping when a car came down the alley

Zelda's Inferno exercise, August 26: no where to go that is not me

Zelda's Inferno exercise: from what was intended to be a guided group meditation. I went off in a different direction though, since "out of body" meditation is 180 degrees away from the work I'm doing: instead, started with here-and-now:

three pillar candles burn in the center of the table
flames dance in the breeze of the here-and-now
from the ceiling fans
from the A/C unit in the window
from the breath of the people around the table
from the small echos of far distant hurricanes
the breeze that permeates the world

trance words are spoken but I watch the flames
they dance both together and apart
the same breeze moves them
they each dance differently
and each blows its own small breeze to the others
and to the people who sit around the table

does anyone see? does anyone feel that breeze?
once against I am befuddled by things sensible people take for granted

last night I kissed an old girlfriend...

last night I kissed an old girlfriend

last night I kissed an old girlfriend, and that got me wondering about things that might have been

for me, for her

thirteen years gone by now

in some parallel universe where the symmetry of love broke differently

could be a husband
a father

can you believe it?

maybe didn't meet and marry that abusive asshole she started dating after me

years of pain that didn't happen

sometimes I wonder about the karmic backsplash of that one

last night I kissed an old girlfriend
wondered all these things
said goodnight, got into my car, and drove off

Zelda's Inferno exercise, August 19 - the Universe deck

Zelda's Inferno exercise for August 19: we made a group "Universe Deck", then I laid out word cards in a Tarot-card style.

universe deck tarot

vortex - significator
clit - cover
nerve ending - cross
spiral - below
stroke - above
moon current - behind
climb - before
incline - self
jiggle - house
windshield - hopes and fears
iceberg - outcome

the sweet vortex of sex pulls my thoughts
until I can't get anything done

Lecture to reading poets

Convergence of some things that have been on my mind regarding poetry, spirituality, and the Transcendentalists:

Lecture to reading poets:

Ok, I want to talk to the poets for a minute.
The rest of you, feel free to go outside and smoke, get a cup of coffee,

Ok, poets? Come on up here. We gotta talk.

Look, guys, I've been reading some Emerson and Whitman lately. You heard these guys talk about poetry?

Ralph Waldo talks about how the birth of a poet is the principal event in history,

unhappy couples; Zelda's exercise, the goddess of unrequited love

Friday, I was hanging out at Bean Hollow for a while, had lunch and was
getting some work done on the book (making notes from Watt's Zen and the
Beat Way
, working on my own first chapter - I've decided the "I love being
religious!" story is perfect). Over two hours, I saw four or five couples
with young children come through, and in all but the last, the man seemed
miserable, the couple bickering.

In a strange, almost schadenfreude, way, it was heartening. Lamenting being
single? Look at how many people in relationships are absolutely miserable,
and remember that being alone and being lonely are two different things.

But it was also heartening to see that one non-bickering, indeed maybe even
happy, couple, with their baby. So much so that I had to speak to the
woman, give her my thanks. (It's interesting that when they walked in, the
man was carrying the baby - no stroller, no car seat/baby basket, just a
guy carrying his kid.)

the lies we tell the children about love

"and they lived happily ever after"

but no one lives for ever after

"when true love comes your way, you'll just know"

but tales of divorce and heartbreak put the lie to that...

Zelda's exercise:

make up your own mythological god/goddess/creature, and write a poem
about them or from their point of view

that goddess of unrequited love, Saphira

Aphrodite's lesser known, but much busier, half-sister

sits on a stool in a singles bar

and smites poor innocents with unrealistic crushes

Zelda's exercise: direct and indirect

Zelda's Interno writing exercise: write two pieces, one expressed
directly and one indirectly, mirroring each other. I didn't quite follow
the instructions, but here's what I got:

the story:

At Fletchers a few weeks ago, I'm writing, this guy sits down next to me, asks if I like to watch hockey, or football, on the TV. When I say no, not so much, he asks where I'm from - not what city, but what country...France?

why am I surrounded by


I just want to sit here and drink my beer and write

sleep and love (Starwood workshop writing exercises)

At my Tuesday morning workshop, "Sparking a Creative Inferno"...about a dozen people here, not bad for a 10am slot...

First exercise: a wordlist, generated from the theme "sleep":

pleasant hat dream peace dance snuffles restless blanket nuzzle tired
coffee lack now wonderful

restless in this place
tired and alone
a blanket not enough to warm me
there is one I think of

I remember our dance
firelight warm on her face
her hips under my arm swaying to the drumbeat
lulling me into a wonderful dream of more still more pleasant closeness


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