A Note to Angry Preachers

To the guy in front of Cooper Hall, disturbing the peace after class.

Eyes and ears seize you

Branding my baby Earth with your gospel of hate.

God sends rain

But you,

Self-elected emissary of some Satan in the sky,

You cremate

The dead bodies of love, of mercy

They languish on the ground as I pass

by–

Yes, goodbye!

By the sickening slick of your own poison

You will die.

Whom shall you convince?

Scorching heat of your stunted spirit

To think that I would dream of coming near it.

Festering sores

“GOD HATES YOU AND YOURS”

Hey, mister

Oh-so-sinister so untrue

Every day, with

Every Damn Thing I Say,

I triumph over you.

I will be the anti-hate

Breathe life into the love

You suffocate.

I am the rain, and you are a liar.

Watch me vanquish fire.

Advertisements

Sunrise on a Saturday

She sat on top of the hill and thought about how the grass was sticking her through the fabric of her jeans. She thought about how grass just kind of is and there’s nothing much more she could think about it, except that it was nice for the most part, although a little too prickly to lay down her head.

And she thought about how, if she tugged up a cluster of blades and yanked them straight out of the ground, no one but her and the neighboring grass would ever know.

Sometimes she wished she was like that, surrounded by neighbors but somehow insignificant all the same, so that blades of failure and a sharp stab of loneliness could be uprooted, without question or consequence, making way for a new blade of hope without a sound.

She startles, and stares up at the sky. Dawn is breaking, and with her hands cupped together she offers up a prayer of thanks like a paper crane. And just like that, gratitude flies on white wings up toward morning.

The Night Walk

There are a few things you learn during a walk in the nighttime. You learn that living among the clouds isn’t a fairytale, and you’re not a princess, and there isn’t a castle. It’s actually just fog. And it swirls around and curls your hair with the humid disappointment of just-missed desire.

Orange, usually, as the steam thwarts streetlights with thick vapor determined to undo identity. Even a known name as basic as color is too much, too nice, too today…it belongs to the sun world where shadow people sleep and bide awhile, waiting, for the fog that removes both why you walked and where you are going.

It might be different if you didn’t walk alone. But you’ll never know, because if you had a companion you wouldn’t be seeking the night walk in the first place. You wouldn’t be trying to find the point, the corner, the exact number of steps at which your missed ship becomes just another droplet in the hanging vapor, where the ship that never came in blends into the millions of molecules sent to earth for the night as punishment. Solitary confinement for clouds.

You learn to keep company with the misbehaved cumulonimbus forced to listen to gravity in the same way that you’ll never free your feet from the ground. You may fly for awhile, in a plane, or in a man’s arms, if you’re lucky, but eventually you’ll realize you won’t find the way to stay afloat. At least not now, and especially not on the night walk.

When you return, which you will have to do, you may face any number of things.  Sorrow, or someone saying sorry. And all of a sudden your resolution will be gone. You will feel the moment of resistance tantalize you for a heartbeat, maybe two, before it passes you by, on the way to rejoin its stronger-willed brothers in the march toward dawn.

An apology is like a paycheck. A dividend, a refund for wrongs, even if the crime wasn’t financial and the damage is actually a deep, deep crevice in the rock face where your spirit hides when it stops trying to climb. Sorry tumbles down the side of a cliff.

Maybe it’s the human condition, maybe it’s money. But you are conditioned to accept cash or check and you will. Even if it’s trading love for a line of bad credit, apologetic.

A walk in the nighttime doesn’t bring you what you want or what you needed. And yet some small part of your pain gets stolen by the fog.

It dissipates, just like rain.

Why Dill Pickles Deserve Some Respect

When I was a kid, my parents used dill pickles as punishment.

I gave my little sister one of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. Pepper, to be precise. Two tantrums and a lecture later, I was sitting at the kitchen table, staring down a single pickle served to me on the bitter plate of punishment.

It was touch-and-go for awhile. But I survived, and I stand before you now as a pickle aficionado of epic proportions.
The elite among us understand the singular succulence of a fresh dill spear. But I just stumbled across (not upon) something even cooler: the Dil Pickle Club.

Far from simply extolling the virtues of the vegetable, however, it represented a countercultural wave of freethinkers “swimming upstream” in Depression-era Chicago. The Dil Pickle was known as a speakeasycabaret and theatre, highly influential during the Chicago Renaissance.

In 1914, John “Jack” Jones, a former organizer for the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)) started several weekly forums at the Radical Book Shop on North Clark Street in Chicago. The forums discussed labor issues along with social concerns of the day. Soon, in early 1915, Jones needed a new venue as the capacity was exceeded at the forum.

Jones found a decrepit barn on Tooker Alley, off of Dearborn Street in downtown Chicago that he would name the Dil Pickle Club. Jim Larkin joined Jones, along with the “hobo doctor” and anarchist Ben Reitman. Reitman would be instrumental in getting regular news coverage of the Pickle in the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Tribune.

By 1917, Jones created the Dil Pickle Artisans by officially incorporating it as a non-profit in Illinois for its promotion of arts, crafts, science and literature.

According to Jones: The Dil Pickles was founded by several groups of people who were convinced that they, nor for that matter no other person or group knew all there was to be known about art, literature, drama, music, science, social or political economy or any other problems confronting or bothering the human race. The various groups responsible for the formation had one idea in mind: the thought that there should be some center where any idea or work would be given a respectful hearing and brought before the public, which in the last analysis are the best judges of what they want.

The club’s legacy has seen several reincarnations, including the revived Chicago Dil Pickle Clubthe Dill Pickle Food Co-opDil Pickle Press, and the Dill Pickle Club of Portland, OR, “an experimental forum for critiquing contemporary culture, politics and humanities.”

Their old slogan is my favorite part: ‘Step high, stoop low, and leave your dignity outside.”

Pretty cool to think a humble pickle inspired an intellectual movement of this size and staying power.

Yes, it’s a yodeling pickle.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

EAT some pickles, for the love of God

CONSIDER what hidden potential consumer goods may be concealing

IMPROVE your sandwiches with the easy addition of dill

TRY dill pickles with weird foods and be surprised