I got this poem through the Poetry Foundation email list; a list which I recommend. As the poem was powerfully written and moving and trenchant, here it is. It’s by Blas Manuel De Luna.
Bent to the Earth By Blas Manuel De Luna
They had hit Ruben
with the high beams, had blinded
him so that the van
he was driving, full of Mexicans
going to pick tomatoes,
would have to stop. Ruben spun

the van into an irrigation ditch,
spun the five-year-old me awake
to immigration officers,
their batons already out,
already looking for the soft spots on the body,
to my mother being handcuffed
and dragged to a van, to my father
trying to show them our green cards.

They let us go. But Alvaro
was going back.
So was his brother Fernando.
So was their sister Sonia. Their mother
did not escape,
and so was going back. Their father
was somewhere in the field,
and was free. There were no great truths

revealed to me then. No wisdom
given to me by anyone. I was a child
who had seen what a piece of polished wood
could do to a face, who had seen his father
about to lose the one he loved, who had lost
some friends who would never return,
who, later that morning, bent
to the earth and went to work.


Someone somewhere must have pointed this out, but I haven’t seen it. Let me start out by just saying it, straight out. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, is escalating the fight with Hamas–may have even provoked it–so that he can stay in office. He is perfectly willing to see a great many people killed– Palestinians, Gaza residents, women and children, journalists, and Israelis killed in retaliation to the escalation–simply because he was in great danger of losing his job. A new government was about to be formed, as in the Israeli system, and it was likely he would not be able to keep the job of Prime Minister. Here’s a quote from CNN dated eleven days ago: “Benjamin Netanyahu’s hold on the Premiership of Israel looks a little less secure after a deadline to build a new government passed at midnight”. He didn’t want to build a new government. It’s quite possible that with one of the best intelligence services on Earth, the Mossad, Netanyahu knew that an attack was expected. So why not wait for it, and escalate the ensuing conflict? Will Israel remove him from power in the midst of a war? Probably not. Unwise to change horses in mid-crisis. And if he shows his strength and demonstrates he will do anything to protect Israel, he’s likely to keep power even after it’s over.

This escalation is opportunism. Netanyahu was busted for corruption. He was losing control of government. He does not want to give up power, and have to crawl away in ignominy. Perhaps face jail for his corruption. As long as he’s Prime Minister, after all, he probably won’t be seriously pursued by prosecutors. He won’t be cuffed and hauled off to jail. His salivation for power will continue to be followed, every day, by feasting on power.

So he’ll do anything he can to stay in power, whatever the cost, whoever it hurts. Escalate, escalate. Refuse a cease fire. Let the blood run in the streets–just so long as Benjamin Netanyahu can stay in power.


“It’s just so amazing, so…well, miraculous, really!” the Republican politician said, in the locked congressional caucus room. He glanced at the door to make sure it was closed. The ten other congresspersons in the room looked too, as he went on, “It’s so miraculous I think that God must have ordained it! We have learned…” He gasped, the others tittered, and nodded encouragingly. “…that you can lie, and lie big, and you can stay with the lie, and you can ignore whatever people say about the lie, and…it still…works!”

“YES!” the others said, high-fiving.

“It’s obvious to me that God wants us to lie! I mean, when Trump started in on that stuff I thought, well, that’s the end of him. But then the internet, uh, support came. From…you know. And Fox fell in line, and Carlson and Hannity and…thousands of websites! And the Oath Keepers came along and…they all said, ‘YES!’ …And people just opened their mouths and they took it in and they swallowed it! It’s so…incredibly…astounding! We can now say ANYTHING we want! And if we repeat it enough…it’s real! We can say the election was fake!” He glanced at the door once more to make sure it was, yes, still closed. “And we can know it wasn’t — and it does…not…matter! If enough people just accept and repeat it, it’s like…like it becomes real! We can make the lie alter its very substance and…it becomes the truth! It’s no longer a lie! I mean — in people’s minds! If people believe it’s true — then isn’t that a reality?”

“Didn’t George W. Bush float something like that?” said another Republican, scratching his head.

“Oh sure, but…he didn’t persevere! And he didn’t have Trump to make thousands of people chant the lie in a rally!”

“And Qanon! That too — it’s just so amazing!” said the other Republican. “They’re on our side and they have the power to make people believe anything, the most incredible…” He glanced at the door, lowering his voice. “…bullshit!”

Everyone laughed and high-fived again .

“…and millions of people still believe them! Even crazy numbers of Japanese people!”

“True! If it’s said in enough websites that spread ‘alternate news’ — then people believe it! ‘The vaccine is a mind control conspiracy!’”

Everyone roared in laughter at that. They’d all made sure to quietly get a Covid vaccine.

“I’m just saying,” the politician went on. “It’s a miracle! God has given us the gift of changing reality! If we lie over and over again and kinda keep changing up the excuses we can take over the country, and run it the way we want, and no one will care!”

“We’ve got to get rid of Liz Cheney,” someone put in grumblingly. “She’ll spoil everything.”

“Oh, we’re on that. But just think — all this time we thought that obvious lies were toxic. That we couldn’t get away with them. But it’s just about…doing it together! It’s a chorus of lies! That changes everything! If only we’d known!”

“Oh but the internet, and the collaborative news media, and the Russians — we didn’t have all that till now,” said the Republican politician.

“Now — we are empowered! God has given us the power to make any lie we repeat enough…true! And…it’s all…” He licked his lips and looked around at them, his eyes widening. “…going to make us…” They hung on his every word. “…RICHER THAN WE EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE!”

A tired janitor, pushing a vacuum cleaner down the hall outside the door, heard the entire caucus squealing in unison with giddy insane jollity, and muttered, “Those people are crazy. Someone should lock ’em all up before they hurt someone…”


It’s been clear to me for years that conspiracy theories are addictive. I don’t mean this figuratively. In the case of conspiracy theories it has to do, I think, with hormones released in the brain, under the influence of powerful fantasies about the real world–probably similar to what was felt by followers of Hitler. Thrilling, stimulating hormones arising entering stimulating psychological frameworks: frameworks of titillating falsehoods. To me, Qanon is to the usual addiction to conspiracies as crack is to cocaine. It’s a more powerful blast, a more efficient delivery system than standard cocaine use. It’s even more addictive.

A very famous chess player was a believer in anti-Semitic conspiracies. How could this happen to so intelligent a man? I’ve noticed that people prone to bigotry and conspiracy theories, regardless of their IQ, will eagerly set their reasoning faculties aside, as well as a common sense grasp of what is wildly improbable, in order to get their “hit”, their reward for believing. And they get another hit for defending their belief no matter what evidence you offer to the contrary. A corollary is found in heroin addicts; they are surrounded by evidence that the drug is destroying their lives. They are able to fence it off, to fend it off, to argue that they have it all under control–and yet they’re often quite innately intelligent people. People will cherry-pick facts, they will ignore the evidence, to justify their pleasures. And make no mistake, the illusion of being the keeper of secrets, the excoriation of some scapegoat–Big Government, “Antifa”, liberals–is deeply satisfying. It doesn’t matter who their scapegoat is. All that matters is how their ritualistic verbal sacrifice of it makes them feel. Like powerful little gods.

Certain Attitudes May Change Pretty-damn-quick, Later This Year…

I see that anti-vaccine attitude or vaccine distrust is actually on the rise in this country. I think we’re in for around 600,000 or more NEW covid deaths this year. Because we blew our chance to head off the pandemic. I predict that  as people begin to see more and more others dying around them, in their community, they’ll change their minds about the vaccine, and about masks. Too late, they’ll suddenly GET a vaccine and wear masks, out of sheer terror.

Ignorance, sheer stupidity, a resistance to scientific fact–and then terror. The terror of realization. The horror of “oh my God what have I done, death is coming for me.” To think it must come to that before people grow up and accept wearing masks and social distancing and the vaccines. The misinformation, the antivax foolishness, is prolonging the pandemic.  We could have had herd immunity. We could have had most of the pandemic over by now.  We could have been in sight of not needing the masks.

But no. You can thank Florida, you can thank Texas, you can thank all the red states for the new coronavirus surge; and thanks to the foulest-smelling corners of the internet for the antivaccine lies, the anti-science ignorance, the conspiracy theory stupidity–thank all of the moral imbeciles of the web for the prolongation of the pandemic. If your loved ones die from covid-19 this year or next–you know who to blame.

This guy has it right: The consequences will be deadly if we don’t fight vaccine misinformation”

Bio Tech Orchard

I’ve got an amazing device in my yard. It extracts chemicals from the soil, then it sends them to a smaller mechanism on its upper part that separates out just the right chemicals, according to a code, combines them in a precise and predictable way, so that it creates a sort of small globe. When the globe seems the right color I extract it from the device and take a bite of it. It’s amazing–its chemicals were combined to make an “apple” taste & texture. What company makes “apple trees” anyway?

Framing the World to See Past the Frames

I sometimes want to take an empty picture frame with me on a walk. You look at a bed of fallen pine cones, some random weeds, pine needles, it looks interesting, then you raise your frame and look at it through that; mysteriously you see it more clearly, the illusion of it being framed like a work of art makes it one.

I’ve done this in remote places but won’t here, where I live–my neighbors already think I’m eccentric. (They’re not wrong, but one doesn’t like to frighten them.)

At this point, having used various methods to get the effect, I can actually look at anything–and that includes trash in the gutter–as if it were a “photo realistic” painting, even without the frame, and that makes me see it more fully…but the frame is a short cut…

The trash in the gutter *can* look like a work of art…if an artist paints it. All this also makes me think of the movie American Beauty where he shows a film (within the film) of an empty trash bag blowing about on a street; it looks sort of like an invertebrate life form. He talks about how beautiful it is, and, in the context of his film, it IS beautiful.

There are lots of ways, I find, to see more than I would normally see…sensing my body, consciously, while looking at something makes me see that something more than if I don’t do that. Compositional values and dimensionality especially.

“I didn’t make this world,” I tell myself

I tell myself: ” I didn’t make this world I just try to cope with it”–when I wonder why I have dealings with evil companies, whether I’m filling my tank or working for The Mouse; and it’s when out of SHEER COWARDICE I turn off a NPR show about children dying of diarrhea by the millions overseas, because I can’t deal with how I’m doing nothing to help except giving a little $ to Unicef or something now and then. I feel like I’m walking by an abandoned, injured child on a sidewalk and doing nothing.

pinball lizard

Looking around one day. Damn. I’m in a pinball machine. How’d I get here? This is more fucked up than that Tron situation. Whoa, what’s–BANG!–whap, clang, ding, bouncing off this, rebounding from that, down into sleep. Up again the next day, propelled into the pinball machine. The question is, can you escape from the pinball machine? Got to grow legs and hands first. Then hold on–jump up–and break the glass.