We, people my age, know how fast it’s all changing. When I was born there had been about zero cars built since shortly after the sneak attack surprise! Pearl Harbor. My great uncles, my mother’s Dad’s brothers always traveled long distance on the trains. I remember seeing them with their soap cup, brush and straight razor shaving in the early morn for the ride to the downtown, railroad station which was still operating across from the county’s tallest building in Bay City, Michigan. They even used a leather strop to prepare their edge but they still got nicks and cuts so you could see the blade imprint in their chapped, red skin. Yet I felt more attracted to their America than the one filling up with cars and T.V.’s, suburbia and Panavision revelations at this light speed vehicular pace. Soon we’d blasted off into space and space was nothing and endless, endless and empty, lost and gone. The Sword of Damocles was a real bomb. The leadership was crazy and inevitable would make a cult of crazy as in he’s so crazy he could do anything like when Nixon ribbed Kissinger (on tape) about dropping the “big one” on Vietnam and the U.S. under Obama who campaigned on nuclear arms reduction but has spent tens of billions (with huge cost overruns) building 2 new factories to produce a whole new generation of nuclear weapons for the twenty first century. Meanwhile back at the ranch (I should write a poem called Back at the Ranch) the flood of mass murders is an endless numbing litany and the police and industrial scale prisons, and the rape culture omnipresent video games, and the privatized detentions of refugee children, and the Terror Tuesday killer robot drones, and the air conditioned pilots thousands of miles away looking through a computer screen flipping through windows and apps, texting, tweeting, twittering everywhere they go they are having conversations with people you can’t see as they hear what is between their ears, they buzz as you pass and twerk spasmodically as you jerk back and you are ever in the middle of “the invisible made visible and the abstract made concrete” to quote Marcel Marceau on mime you want to explore every art of your body just to discover again what your body can do, just because, oh, my Lord it still works, still can do so much more than might have been imagined even here in these digital daze days when virtual reality is a patriarchal war zone, a digital duo of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) replete with torture, rape and murder, private capitalism and the rule of men with guns whose lives were ruined by political correctness even as Eve Ensler shows up next to the computer saying she has “obsessive political correctness”, we have to live with this whole thing, yes, this Global Grandee, yes this Global Grandee All One Thing, yes, This Great Global expanding Universe of an All One Thing, This Living All One Thing, this All One Thing Aware of All One Thing, this sidewalk stethoscope, the skin of the living planet, the meniscus of the solar sea, The Aware Uni-verse, this thing we believe but never know, this never penetrated virgin space, the vagina of life developing, and these dicks, these racist reactionaries who can’t stand that the color line fell, these fundamentalist know nothings (I went into their churches and heard them myself and I told them off when I left, too) for fomenting violence, for supporting murder, for leading a war on public health directly aimed at those who don’t have money to fly by air if necessary to get whatever they want while we have been in this struggle my whole life, it was going on when I was born and there’s no way out no matter how much they think full spectrum dominance the chaos merely grows, the areas ruled by the gun only grow, the deadly mess continues to grow however much you may vent your identity woes, or lose yourself in nature, or merge with the mystical moment, it’s still All One Thing, oh, I know, even as age so welcoming, so all encompassing thankfully removes the pressure of desire, still it’s exactly the same, oldest most forbidden phantasies that creep back, late at night we feel the urge to own, the will to dominance, the bondage possession as the hormones dwindle their way away and what used to be part of life fades into pixilated fetish. Oh, does anybody remember the way it used to be, how can I possibly bear much less manage to articulate this vision, this vision of the Great Global Grandee and the Great Global Living Breathing All One Thing, oh, what a Visionary All One Thing.
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Today marks his one year anniversary as a poet columnist for Oddball Magazine.