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"All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace"

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
by Richard Brautigan

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
       (right now please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
       (it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

from "I" to "we" in tough times

If you haven't read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, you oughta. Not just because it's a great book, but because it might be the best way to understand the current political climate, where the investment classes use astroturf movements, big lies, and media manipulation to prey on the fears of working people and actually get them to argue against their own interests, to set the ordinary citizens fighting each other so that they will be too busy to throw off the aristocrats and parasites. The one-percenters read Steinbeck's warning and took it to heart:

Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here "I lost my land" is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate -- "We lost our land." The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first "we" there grows a still more dangerous thing: "I have a little food" plus "I have none." If from this problem the sum is "We have a little food," the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It's wool. It was my mother's blanket --take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb.This is the beginning -- from "I" to "we."

Zelda's Inferno exercise: Fells Point Sunday Evening, June

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write an observational poem

Fells Point Sunday Evening, June

I already forgot about the smell of cigarette smoke -- only now, sitting outside at cafe tables, must I breathe it again

Band up the street, someone overplaying guitar on bar music classics

Every few minutes, someone walking a dog goes by

Bits of three different conversations, outdoor cafe table conversations, things that somehow would not be spoken of indoors. My brain tries to string the fragments together into one story, does not succeed

Hollywood, please don't mess up the Green Lantern movie

When I was a kid, my exposure to superheroes came more from the Super Friends cartoons on Saturday morning than from comic books. And those cartoons didn't much feature the heroes' origin stories.

But once in a while I'd get my hands on some of that four-color newsprint. And one of those comics (probably an issue of Justice League of America) featured, in some flashback context or another, the origin of the Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.

GL's origin story was my favorite: unlike those who were born into their powers (like Superman) or got them by accident (like Spider Man), Jordan's were awarded to him because of his character.

The Green Lantern Corps is an interstellar force of crime-fighters and heroes, whose powers come from the rings they wear. Before Jordan, Abin Sur was the Green Lantern for this sector of the galaxy; he crashed on Earth, and Jordan, a test pilot, flew to the scene and risked his life to try to save the dying alien. Sur sees Jordan as a worthy replacement, and gives him the ring.

In some tellings, Jordan is summoned by the ring when Sur directs it to find someone honest and fearless. But the point is that Jordan wasn't selected at random: he earned it.

Which is why a lot of GL fans are feeling nervous about the tagline seen on promotional art just released for next summer's Green Lantern movie: "Anyone can be chosen."

Uh, no, guys, that's the point. It takes a very special person (or other sentient being, up to and including an intelligent planet) to wield a Green Lantern ring. Not just "anyone".

Hollywood, please don't mess this up.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: salute to the departed

Today's Zelda's Inferno exercise: salute to the departed -- write a eulogy or elegy to someone or something

many things have come and gone
family friends ideas heroes gods dreams
this is the way of all things
a world constantly melting and reforming
shapes in the clouds
faces seen that drift apart

we try to grab the shifting shape
as if we hold it tightly enough it will not change

and of course this will not succeed

and to learn this is a loss
and a gain
a loss of innocence
a loss of illusion, a loss of ignorance
a gain of knowledge, a gain of freedom

Zelda's Inferno exercise: "sunburned street festival"

Zelda's Inferno exercise - at the Sowebo Festival. Write a poem from a word list generated around the theme "South America": sunburn tropical tango red-dirt jungle Latino snake canal lovers sand pyramid penguins

sunburned street festival
Bmore urban jungle
on a tropical May day
every fifteen minutes I run into an old friend
not seen in months

young lovers and old freaks in the beer line
the socialists passing out literature
vendors selling books, banana bread, bracelets, bags, blouses

Zelda's Inferno exercise: "the grain invalidates the matrix"

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a poem based on one of these random sentences, from :

Why can't the garble vanish?
The song squashes a building horizon past the wreck.
The grain invalidates the matrix.
How can the settled shape accept on top of the firework?
The cap burns the inside ax.

Feel free to combine two of them or alter them.

the grain invalidates the matrix

the seed cancels the environment
it speaks of new possibilities heretofore unknown

original version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis found

Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis is a science fiction classic, a dystopian story of the conflict between the working classes and the owning classes. But American and European audiences have not been able to see the full film in decades -- it was severely cut down for American release. But a full-length version ended up in the private collection of Argentine film critic Manuel Peña Rodríguez, and from there made its way to Argentina's Museo del Cine; and with some help from digital restoration techniques, the (nearly) complete version is back in circulation.

coffeehouse Facebook musings: "but I *like* to complain"

Just something I posted in a comment thread on Facebook that seems like it has poetic potential for later:

Oh, but I *like* to complain about the weather -- and about my state of mind. But at the same time, knowing it's ridiculous. "I like my anger, my grouchy furious love," says Ikkyu. And I sit melancholy, sighing over lost love, looking out at the rain, marinating in my own mind, knowing that I'm tasting nothing more and nothing less than my own cooking, that the weather just *is* but also so is my mind, that being okay with "things as they are" means being okay with my mind's reaction to "things as they are" because that's part of "things as they are" (and if I'm not okay with my mind's reaction to "things as they are", that also is part of "things as they are", and so on to infinity).

Zelda's Inferno exercise: "that revolution that chemists birthed"

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a poem whose lines all end in verbs, around the theme of today being both Mother's Day and the 50th anniversary of the pill

that revolution that chemists birthed
so that each baby might be a choice made
rather than an accident happened
fundamental rules of biology rewritten
women -- and therefore men, too -- liberated

the energy of sex, unchained
the reproductive urge, re-routed
sexual revolution, it is called
but more than sex it encompasses

by those chemists, the nature of families is changed


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