CapitolSchool: Violent Not-Nice Insensitive Seminar for Liberals in America

They look like sweet town-folk,
salf-of-the-earth, flannel and jeans.
People that watch the sun come up.
Handsome.
Christian.

My God their pies are good.

Killers
who pray your mamby-pamby principles 
die with you, slaughtered in the street,
your thoughtful guts lapped up
by well-trained Republican dogs 
named Dog.

(Damn.  I forgot the warning.
“Warning.”)

But!  But!  
“How did this happen?” as the
flagpole stakes your throat, 
as unprecedented wheezes
through gurgled blood
and your solidarity-warm pink hat
floats down Constitution Avenue,
used and dark and alone.

You didn’t see them multiply.
You wouldn’t see them grow — 
in Kansas and Missoura,
Texas and ‘Bama, Ken-Tuck-y,
right beneath your woke-ness
and your museum arrogance and your
holier-than-thou Lululemon mindfulness.

Yeah, see?  You’re kinda 
responsible.

They knew they were safe.
They knew you wouldn’t think it,
then wouldn’t believe it — 
“Love is Love,” right? — 
“We’re all in this together,” right? — 
as Proud Sons and their Daughters
trained for war right under your
upturned noses,
groomed generals in broad daylight,
bought Armani camo, nice blue suits
(they already had the bullets
and the guns left over from
squirrel practice) —  
red necks covered by executive collars,
red ties to hide the splatter.

They left their hayseeds at home this time.

You were ready for zombies, sunken-eyed
okies whose farms were ripped away by BigBanks,
grandpas with four teeth chattering
all the way to the West Coast
(or something like that).
Oh, they had your number!
Talk about stealth!
Their fabric was fine, the
Stanford and Yale and Harvard degrees 
genuine — plus “Wow! He lifts weights, he’s so sexy!” 
(See my companion lecture on MetroSexual Roles 
in the Conservative Cause.)

“Consensus?” you pleaded.
“Let’s talk,” you bleated 
because — let’s face it — you’re afraid to fight 
with anything other than words;
and refusing to believe evil exists
and is usually HOT and BEAUTIFUL,
you left the Gate to the Sanctuary unguarded,
let WhiteNation and WomansPlace
shit
defile
ravage the Holy of Holies, 
our Temple,
us.

Maybe if they had worn
identifying armbands?

I know what you’re thinking
because that’s what you do —
I hear your “protest”:  
“Wouldn’t we be just like them
if we used our fists instead of words?”
“If we don’t move beyond labels?”
“Help them heal?”

That’s why they’ll win,
StupidBuford and LazyEyeLorraine,
because they listened to a real Grandma
who said:  

“Don’t leave your head so open your brains fall out.”

You thought she was old —
she only had one dress — 
you never saw her on Facebook —
Insta? — 

and then,
and then:

after Tucker and Rush and Hannity Ltd.
after Laura and Huckabee and Kayleigh visited;
giving guns to teenage saps
doning MAGA hunting caps
(so they’d know who not to cap);
after speeching D+ mobs,
after fisting fascist slobs — 

(did you get the little Eliot homage?) —

cops bleeding out on marble 
blinded
betrayed — 
the hunt was on!

Smoke-out the out-raged enemy 
like rabbits or Funny Cousin Earl, who
voted for Carter and was then dead
on his river-raft, thinking he was family;
target those limp-wristed Dem-o-crats
whose Cities call to Our Young
as Jezebel tempted Jesus
(it’s in the Bible);
forget, TexasTed, that
HE CALLED YOUR WIFE UGLY — 
AND YOU LET HIM;
we’ve got to corner all codlers, socialists and fags,
show them MTG would win a pig-fight,
make that Puerto Rican loudmouth BITCH 
run the Gov’ment Maze to her death,
execute California, hang the un-Hung
Next-in-Line — 

am I being dramatic?

Because what they want, 
what LittleHornedMan masked
with this “false-flag not-coup” — right? —
is to come:

your ideas, shred like your well-intentioned intestines, 
disemboweled from well-toned tummies,
blood sausage for rabid-stupid hungry children — 
your ideas, your precious and diverse ideas 
that helped BobJoe survive his nail-to-the-head
accident and paid for his black-hating diabetic
momma’s nursing home, 
high-falutin' ideas like Medicare and Social Security and 
vaccines (CONSPIRACY!  CONSPIRACY! ) — 
equality — 
dead with you.

*

Liberals, people who can think
and probably don’t want to die
(martyrdom being highly overrated),
listen to Grandma, please:

“If it walks like a duck and quacks,
it’s dinner.”

There are no town-folk.
There are no Christians.
There are no rights.

There are armies. 

This is America.

And their soldiers will sip sherry
right before carving out
your heart.

(Yes, this will be on the test.)

*

Once, Near Big Sur

They laughed and hollered and hooted
wet with fog and chop-surge-crash
waves bigger than a man,
danced and drank the complete sea,
gods — 
preferred words to water-speak,
whiskey to land that’s sand,
dirt and dumb air
beautiful against their fire —

now ashes,
hard poets and mechanics and 
bricklayers
packed up, home with life,
leaving slight and then no
footprints for followers
who hold tickets for the show
and wait for something to happen.

*

A story a day — saves. Find them here.

Appropriate

“Had she ever tried to convert any one herself? 

Did she not wish everybody merely to be themselves?” 

— Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

*

They no longer colonize with ships.
No armies arrive on my shore,
war-boots in sea-water until they
sink into wet sand and subdue.

Too costly.  And then you have to
leave a force to force compliance...
It’s ugly.

Instead,
they whisper, those enlightened
who yet carry the burden of rectitude.
A word, a phrase
spoken through the air,
taken in —
and I’m lost.
They no longer act;
they just wait until I
bow my head
beat my breast
seek forgiveness

from gods curiously unprepared
to absolve.

*

If you like books, there are books here.

YouPoem

Poem.

Honestyinthemoment.  The sketch that contains the impulse.  The impulse that says YOUAREBEAUTIFUL when he’s standing next to you intheelevator, looking at his phone until he’s not looking at his phone, and all Life waits on someonetolivenotwatch him return your urge with a smileorsmirk that says thankyoufuckoff.  

Not choreographed.  Rehearsed.  Planned.  Theater. 

Real. Dangerous. You. 

Poem.

The spirityouwant being the spirityouare — to speak without speeching, to love without loving.  No -ings.  Only act, no neuteredgerunds, until you homeyourself, and the lifeyouare finds itself standing next to another life, sexy and real because you said “You’re beautiful” without try-ing, without plan-ing.  

YouPoem.

No end in sight, just Cosmos and onegiantchance.

What would Life be if honestyinthemoment was you?  

Poem.

*

Maybe more Life? Click here.

Notes: San Francisco, Ruins (2018) — annotated

Sacred Space — Arrival

The wrinkled woman
resting in the doorway
hustles aside,
her bones twitching hard:

“I'm sorry, Sir,”
as I pull my bag into
the Inn on Folsom Street1.

⥨

Exposed brick walls try hard
in my suddenly empty room.
Industrial.  Rough-Masculine.
I don’t...feel anything.
I thought I’d feel something.

No ghosts. Nothing.

⥨

I know the old fairies flew south
years ago.  No place for the
Auden-faced.  And the demons?
Those super-charged leather
dangers stalking prey in red steam? 
Now they cam2 from rented rooms
in Sacramento and San Diego, 
their hunting names changed 
from Steve to Chase, TwinkChase3,
ever-so-sweet-and- 
special Chase.

I don't know what to pray for
or to, not in this abandoned church.

⥨

Walking While Thinking — SoMa4

What if the usurpers,
the influencers paying $1.9 million 
for a pissed piece of SoMa,

are just waiting for us

to die?

What if these squatters,
these supplanters,
are the Old City’s fevered urge,
lusting after land and
Better Homes-ness,
trading-in sweaty stories
for a kid in an UPPAbaby5,
the ultimate accessories? 

Makes sense as senses
now scent safety,
porning lean clean high-pitched
action-figures in Lower Castro6. 

Everyone’s lost their balls.

⥨

Pause — Phone Call Home

“Mike called,” says the man on the phone.
My boyfriend.
Back in LA.
“What’d he want?”
“Know where you were.”
“What’d you say?”
“Up in San Francisco. Probably getting disillusioned.”

That’s why we’re at 20 years. More or less.

⥨

Exhibit — Dolores Park7 Cafe. Conversation, overheard
while eating expensive steel-cut oatmeal.

“And so he's interested in you 
finding a tenant for your property.”

“Yeah, and we have so much
in common!” 

Outside, those who can only afford 
the sidewalk are no-shows to the 
convention of web-developers and 
Mommy-n-Me in Lululemon8.  

I’m a haunted old spirit:

“The best never survive.”

⥨

Walking Richmond9, after searching
GG Park10 for Signs of Life.

They all have money, or They have all the money.  
Houses high atop garage doors painted
in expected candy-shop pastels.
Millions couldn't buy in. But it's also an 
attitude; they fit. This kaleidoscopic 
nursery is their world.

I like the sidewalk now; it’s original,
the hard-marked past, bones of my city,
cast when these houses were just houses,
you could hear shouting because people
shouted back before dot.coms and Grindr11, 
when bandanas12 spoke not conclusively, 
you had to look a guy in the eyes
and the park was full of risk and joy. 

My world: on that older hill,
the one covered in open-faced beauty
and daring, weathered desire. 
Somewhere.
Or sometime?

⥨

Processing — SFO13

A cocoon of security.  We pay
to pretend.

You can’t pretend in 
bus stations.

But here, I wonder with
beating breathing heart:
What would I do
if I was asked for spare change
at the United ticket counter?
If I wanted a cigarette? 
If someone stood up and said
preferred pronouns are simply 
an expansion of binary imprisonment?

If an out-loud not-texted internet-free
political need happened?

Their aggrieved-teenager answer:
“Is it so wrong to live unencumbered? 
Does everything real 
have to be uncomfortable?”

It’s easy to get turned around
by children.

Now I miss their sandcastles,
the peaceful playset neighborhood.  
Nobody who doesn’t belong wanders by.
It’s nice.  Just like an airport.

It’s all that’s left.

⥨

Reflection — Flying, looking back

San Francisco: where dreams 
and memory
lay buried.

Only ruins survive;
fate has fashioned them weapons
hope can’t overcome:
marriage bourgeois magazines health 
money a future an attitude 
clean pecs
success.

But still... 

I look back as the plane banks
for SoCal, for LA and my 
old boyfriend who will greet me
outside third-world LAX14 and drive
the stained and broken 40515 home, 
where books and vacuuming
wait; and I see my once-home fading
into a sunsetted Ocean that touches
every time I’ve cared about, waiting,
just waiting, 
and I find myself praying:

Maybe you will be broken again,
so like me when you led 
my strange and halting body 
through cracked unwanted lovely 
streets to flowers and eucalyptus,
pro-offered grass in sheltered 
shadow and men became yours, 
cool-touching breeze, wounded 
naked-love in pine-fragranced 
gasping way-too-crowded dirty 
Heaven…

I miss you.

Shake off this juvenile dream.

Please, God, let us be in love again. 

Notes:

1 	past and (somewhat) current location 
        of San Francisco’s gay leather community
2 	interactive filming of oneself engaged in 
        sexual/intimate acts, either alone or with 
        others, for a live internet audience, in 
        exchange for money and/or tokens
3 	unblemished young adult male, typically 
        between the ages of 18-20, who utilizes his 
        perceived innocence or actual lack of 
        sexual experience in the pursuit of (generally) 
        older adult males/“daddies”
4 	South of Market; historically, the economically 
        disadvantaged/“seedy” section of San Francisco
5 	high-end baby stroller; average cost: $850
6 	once known as GayMecca, the center of San 
        Francisco’s Gay Liberation Movement of the 
        mid-1970s
7 	somewhat successful example of urban 
        revitalization/renewal; once known as DrugPatch 
        Park
8 	high-end workout wear favored by teen girls 
        and their mothers
9 	neighborhood/district in the northwest corner 
        of San Francisco, just north of Golden Gate Park
10    Golden Gate Park; known for its Victorian-styled 
        Conservatory of Flowers and lengthy wooded 
        trails;  iconic location for public sexual activity
11	dating application designed to identify and 
        communicate with potential gay male sex 
        partners; lists inclinations and availability, as 
        well as possible locations for sexual activity
        (host, travel, public, etc.)
12     heavy handkerchief positioned in the back 
         pocket of gay males to communicate sexual 
         inclination;  historically, the color and side of 
         placement indicated sexual appetite (eg:  
         hunter-green in right-hand pocket = looking 
         for a “daddy”).  No conclusive guide existed/
         exists for the placement/meaning of the bandana.
13     San Francisco International Airport
14     Los Angeles International Airport
15     also known as the San Diego Freeway;  largest 
         connector between the West Side of Los Angeles-
         proper and the populous San Fernando Valley

Just in case this wasn’t enough poetry for you, click here.

And yeah, there are books. (Click there, on “Books”)

Goals

When I am dead, growing in the
ground — assuming the world goes on,
assuming they don’t end the world
after I’m 80
(or, given my family history, 67) — 
I want to be:

a multiple-choice test option.

Think about it!  That’s the way
to make it.  That’s the way to
know you matter.  Who wouldn’t
want to be Archduke Ferdinand?
Sure, he’s dead, and sure,
his death was…painful.
But he is the answer to an
important question:  
“Whose assassination caused
the first World War?”
He is remembered!

The test question, then — that’s important,
isn’t it?  They say if you don’t ask the
right question, you won’t get the right
answer.  So:

“Who is the greatest poet of their age?”

That was easy!  It just came to me.
It’s the way I want to be remembered:
not a, but the poet —   
a poet who moved women to riot
and men to tears;
who showed desire is way
better than thought;
the one who gets quoted at weddings
and funerals, chiseled on tombstones,
printed on birth announcements.

The one who freed Literature
from the puzzle-makers and
the puzzlers.
Nobody’s done that yet.
Nobody!  I’ll be unique!

Okay.  Calm down. This is the way to go.
Take it slow.
(I feel so much better now,
knowing what I want.)

Next...the other test options are important,
aren’t they — 
almost more important than the question.
Who do I want surrounding me?  
Who will share my stage?
Another conundrum!  So let’s try:

A) Sappho
B) William Shakespeare
C) Walt Whitman
D) Greg Beckman

That was easy, too. I am good at this!
They’ll all select (D), of course —
but only after much deliberation.
I want them to think,
search their souls, argue.  
You can’t just give silly options,
answers easily dismissed
like Dylan Thomas or Mitsuhashi Takajo, 
whose haiku softly hold my
whispering heart home,
but who Americans confuse with a car;
or Thom Gunn, who taught me 
how to speak honesty
but is a cricket-chirp in Catholic schools
(that homosexual thing);
or Lorraine Hansberry — 
God!  Are they all gay? — 
the much-taught playwright, right,  
who didn’t write a stitch
of searing raw-nerve 
I-can’t-get-rid-of-this-thing poetry, right? 

No.  Those options are quickly 
crossed out.  I won’t be a default.
I want students to sit
at hard-carved desks
confounded among the known greats,
those who have risen,
acceptable contenders — 

and choose me.

Why? 
Because
everybody knows
history only enshrines the greats,
and that to be remembered — 
to be studied! — 
by legions of caring, sensitive schoolchildren
and objective, contemplative teachers of story

will delight my crusting corpse.

There are more poems. After this romp, I’d try something here.

Or maybe a story….here.

My Garden

He lives in my garden;
only I have the key.
There is no gate, no
lock to un-lock like
those posh private parks,
just a tree and some
grass, balloons from a story
and maybe an old bottle of
wine we bag before law comes
spinning around, on the hunt
for happiness.  Over there is
our first kiss on the 
stone pier they said Cortés
built, stretching out into a 
tequila moon;  and where that
old lady sits, remembering or
forgetting:  a flight to
somewhere, one screen lit in
the dark, yours, watching the
same movie, three times.

He is my garden;  only I
have the key.  No sock-puppet
politician or fisting Missouri
FratBoy can trespass our
grass, mock our tree, pull
down those balloons.
He is my garden, eternally
lost except to me, safe like
drunk wine and watched movies,
invisible to those who don’t
speak love, far from parched 
howls and Christians,

close as breath.
*Dedicated to Josh Hawley,
who thought his own hand
was up in the air
as he declared war.

More? Try these.

Or maybe you’d like a book? See these.

Two for fun.

“Shower”

I am a poet
which means I stand in the shower
and think the water is too hot
and shift the faucet-thing to the right
only to be blasted by cold
reality
into a sniveling shriveling carapace
shouting silent expletives that
crash cheap tile
with all the force
of metaphor.

“Preserved”

No
     sugar in the tea.
     It's today's enemy
     (like cigarettes and
     nostalgia and eggs).

So
     what?  Now I get to
     outlive joy?

More poems here. (Some are not fun, but maybe you’re in the mood?)

And yes, there are stories. But they are not fun. They are real.