Volatility

July 19, 2018

Mars

Filed under: Poetry — Russell Bangs @ 7:34 am

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For years I’ve gone out pre-dawn to run,
And never has Mars been so prominent,
Looming prior to dawn.
 
As if there rose a new spirit,
Or one ancient newly envigored,
Summoned from wherever portents wait,
Promising a sunrise bloody with war.
 
I feel it long familiar:
A new Mars has been looming in my mind as well.
I see how everyone wants the ultimate war,
I see new insanity at unheard extreme.
Many who I know in person,
In daily life decent and sane,
Pray all day to the god of war,
(No stranger; they’ve long supported the regular war),
Yearn for the ultimate war.
 
And look at the culture,
Long violent and crazed
As I’ve tallied with my pen these years;
Yet what psychic catastrophes range berserk today
On a blasted landscape
Of minds cleared of all thought,
As if battened down to give the coming blast waves
Ultimate free range.
 
 
 
 
 

May 13, 2018

Amos in Allegheny, Angeles, Arapaho

Filed under: Climate Crisis, Dance of Death, Poetry — Tags: , — Russell Bangs @ 4:33 am

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I hear the roar from deep in forest land,
The sadness and rage for every murdered tree.
 
Born a herdman, and gatherer of corn, beans and squash,
Whipped and driven from my land
I speak out though cursed by all.
They hate him that rebukes in the gate,
And abhor him that speaks uprightly.
 
I entered where temple and flock should be
But find a cobwebbed altar and an empty court.
 
Gaia raised you, made you strong like the cedar
And you killed it, you killed your own root.
You destroyed your fruit from above
And your roots from beneath.
 
You pressed Gaia under you in your moment of mad ego.
But stripped of fossil fire your swiftness shall flag,
Your force shall falter,
Your might shall miscarry,
Your guns expel dust,
Your machines sputter and rust,
Your false courage shall wilt,
Your most mighty shall slink away naked
To cringe in holes.
 
Earth has spoken, and who can but mediate?
Go to the mountains, behold the upheaval,
The surge of the Earth resuming the base of land.
 
Will you nod when the Earth gives cleanness of teeth
And parches your plantation, damming the rain?
Your thirsty cities will wander and stab one another
While the pest and the plague consume all your crop,
And the fields you burn with debris of war
Oppress your nostrils; but still you’ll play dumb.
Sodom burns, Gomorrah burns, but Babylon won’t yet hear.
Earth thrusts the mountain, Gaia whips the wind,
The soil is the only root of mind:
You shall know, as your morning turns dark.
 
Your city and all cities must fail;
Look no longer to convey your wealth,
You can only repent and return to our only home.
Seek Earth and you shall live,
Smash and flee, and Earth will break out like fire.
All your cities will be devoured and consumed.
 
You who turn judgement to wormwood,
And leave off righteousness in the Earth:
Seek the Earth which now reflects and redoubles your barbs,
Dousing you with smoke and flood;
Your mansions are built of the bones of the poor,
Your vineyards sprout from the graves of the people.
But you will not dwell, nor drink,
When Gaia redeems Gaia, and reckons with you.
 
Thus the prudent shall cease from evil,
For it is an evil time.
Seek good and not evil, that you may live.
The ecological good of all life;
Gaia calls upon you:
Hate the evil and love the good,
Establish judgement in the gate.
 
Hate the emission and love to stanch the emission,
Hate the poison and love to abolish the poison,
Hate the chainsaw and axe and love to blunt them forever,
Love the rain-bringing forest (there’s only one true rain dance),
Hate the machine plow and love the abounding soil,
Hate the ecocide and love the great diverseness,
Hate the dam and love the river of all freedom,
Hate the plastic and love the redemptive ocean
(The call to us is to redeem the redeemer,
Infinitely deep and rich).
 
Throughout your free-willed tribulation and Gaia’s redemption,
Kinesis,
There’s wailing in all the streets, alas for all highways,
Woe unto all who desire the day
Who themselves have blackened their world to sick night.
 
A man went into his house
And reached for the wall to flip the switch,
And a serpent bit him.
 
The day of Gaia shall be for your city darkness, not light,
And the day for your Mammon crops and pleasure gardens
Shall be your own night of boiling soot.
 
Gaia despises your feast days.
 
Let judgement run down as waters,
And righteousness as a mighty stream.
 
Have you offered me sacrifices in the wilderness, O sapient?
You have sacrificed the wilderness in contempt of me,
For your worship of a false god.
You have borne the tent of Mammon, of Satan.
Your trial now must follow.
 
Earth hates the dominion of Babylon and its palaces,
Kinesis will deliver up the city,
Those stretched at the banquet shall be first removed.
 
You have turned your soil into rock,
And shall your horsepower run upon the rock?
Will you plow there with your metal oxen?
You have turned judgement into combusting gall,
And now gall yourselves as your fuel runs dry.
 
You believe you have taken to you
Machines by your own strength of mind.
But yours is the mind of a mad child
Dangling by a frayed thread over nothingness.
Earth raises a nation against you,
Which shall whip you back to the wild.
 
Locusts consume the last growth;
After all the king’s tillings and mowings they consume it all,
And by whom shall the city remain standing, for he is small?
 
You conjured, and Gaia sees a famine in the land,
A famine of bread, and of thirst for water,
And more than these the great famine of the soul.
You sundered yourself from your mother and home,
The living Earth, and now you thirst and starve in lost despair.
You waged war upon her and now you thirst and starve
As your cities submerge in water and flame.
 
Earth calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out upon the face of the Earth.
Earth’s eyes are upon the city of sin.
Earth shall scour it from the face of the Earth.
 
All sinners shall die by the sword and the famine and the pest,
All who say,
The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.
Those who never were of the Earth,
Who only squatted upon it and took.
 
 
Their evil overtaking, preventing, judging them,
The days then shall come
That the human gatherer and sower come again,
And the mountains drop sweet wine.
Gaia shall bring again the people of Earth
Who shall taboo the waste cities
And reinhabit the Earth.
They shall make gardens,
And eat the fruit of them.
They shall assimilate to Gaia
And eat the fruit of her.
 
Gaia will replant them upon their land,
They shall no more be pulled from their soil
Which was granted them of Earth,
Gaia Goddess of Earth.
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

May 11, 2018

Last Call

Filed under: Dance of Death, Peak Oil, Poetry — Russell Bangs @ 2:00 pm

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Open the seal, seal the gulf, seal the doom,
Send your jets across the sand you cleared
Before you could open the earth to scorch
It. Let fly the missiles and bombs against
Your own desperate flow of machine blood,
The predestined end of your long death wish.
 
Ignite your sand with the hot-mirrored flames
Rising tall from all your horsefly machines.
Cheer as your tankers sink amid seas of flame,
Purge your kings and your false promised lands,
See them shatter to atoms amid the smoke.
 
You scoured this desert long ages before,
Blasted its trees and waters to memory myth.
All for the logic of this final day.
And now howl your last curse as your minds melt,
Your numerology zaps to zero,
All your nerves splinter and circuit short,
Your blood spills on the sand and bursts into flame,
Your metal flesh staggers and stops,
Your congealed, sculpted blood flickers and dies,
Your masses cry in dismay, you exult,
Your last barrel of blood fires your last hiss,
You add your last spark to the infinite fire.
 
The fire burned a thousand years in your mind;
Today you release heat once and for all.
And the torch nightmare of blazing night skies
Begins to end.
 
The fire of your old sun
Reverses phase to the fire of sunrise.
Earth will resume its life in the new sun,
For at last the undead
From exhumed fires of a long-dead sun
Will die forever at last.
 
 
 
 
 

April 6, 2018

My Dream Last Night

Filed under: Dance of Death, Poetry — Russell Bangs @ 8:48 am

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My dream last night:
 
It was a national park, tropical.
It was the streams and waterfalls and bountiful rains.
It was all the trees, all vines, all the flowers, and the simmering soil beneath.
It was every animal and bird, all the frogs and turtles, all the butterflies and insects.
An ecosystem, it was the world, it was every wheel within wheel, it was Eden.
 
And the curators, government, foundation, non-profit agreed.
And they brought in poison, tankers, planes, endless tons, all paid for.
And they sprayed, they spread, they slathered, they drenched, they drowned.
And everything died, and everything was death, and everything was desert.
And I wondered why, and there was no why.
There was only doing it in order to do it.
And it was the end.
 
And I woke up and said, Thank God it was only a dream.
Then I remembered what this world is.
And I remembered it wasn’t a dream,
Just sleep torn by the thought of reality.
 
 
 
 
 

April 3, 2018

The Fire Inside Externalizes Itself

Filed under: Climate Crisis, Dance of Death, Disaster Capitalism, Poetry, Tower of Babel — Russell Bangs @ 12:15 pm

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The fire and hate inside
Now drive the fire outside.
The city’s galvanism, spasm, convulsion set trees aflame,
Send floods coursing, mountains tumbling,
Infinite surges from the sea scour the coasts clean.
All plagues thought buried return,
And the new plagues join them.
 
The fire outside rushes across vast spaces
To expand the ecstasy and hate of the fire inside.
All now in livid boils
Burns all you hate, all you fear, all you can’t live within, all you must die without.
 
Kinetic fire now will break all the bottlenecks,
The log-jam too tight to break free of itself
Can only be burned.
 
 
 
 
 

January 19, 2018

William Blake “The Garden of Love”

Filed under: Dance of Death, Poetry, Scientism/Technocracy — Tags: , — Russell Bangs @ 10:15 am

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The original printing from engraved copper plate.

 
 
These days this poem directly evokes how the scientism religion assaults the human body and soul with agricultural poisons. More broadly it describes the industrial Mammon onslaught which is destroying the Earth. This was part of Blake’s meaning.
 
 
The Garden of Love
 
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
 
And the gates of this chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.
 
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be,
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.
 
 
 
 

October 12, 2017

Calling All Mammals

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In his essay on the story of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, D.H. Lawrence expressed his belief that not everyone can look directly at the sun. Rather, humanity needs “nature-heroes” to mediate the overwhelming light. Thus Lawrence agreed with the Inquisitor’s credo of Miracle, Mystery, Authority. Plato, too, believed only a few were capable of rousing themselves from a bemused contemplation of the shadows on the wall of the cave in order to emerge into the full light of truth.
 
All our political struggles are more or less mundane manifestations of this circumstance. Everyone claims to want freedom, along with any number of alleged political desires. But almost everyone’s actions directly contradict this. On the contrary, almost all people seek Leaders. The Fuhrerprinzip is the most universal trait among all whose mode of social organization has ramified beyond the primal tribe. Authoritarian followership of every type, celebrity-worship and fundamentalist cults of scientism and technocracy, have almost completely replaced whatever once existed of politics in the true sense of positive community democracy. Politics is Dead. Instead the masses look for the hero who will mediate reality, which means help them escape from reality. This is the reality for which even the physical sun has become nothing but a post-modern metaphor. But the true political need is to Occupy the Sun.
 
The false version of the sun is to mediate it through fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. Humanity wants to warm the Earth, however ultimately destructive this is. The idea of physical warmth seeks psychological comfort, the simulation of psychological, spiritual warmth, just as poison-based junk food, and the idea of technocratically guaranteed food security, is superficial comfort food. This is how the desperate masses try to fill the void inside, where we’re sundered from our home the Earth.
 
(In the same way, via fraudulent notions of “democracy”, the people struggle to maintain the illusion of control and stability. Thus the corporate system’s indoctrination and propaganda entice regular Americans vicariously to feel part of the elite technocratic project. This is supposed to prop up the idea of security, stability, even as this same corporate neoliberal project eradicates all safety, security, stability, control, independence, freedom.)
 
Ecological destruction, such as the systematic and deliberate campaign of climate change, also is nihilism out of resentment. It expresses hatred of the home we abandoned.
 
All that’s left is the brain-dead lust for material stuff, and the vicarious ideal of control. For this vain pursuit we sundered ourselves from our home, ripping open the void we never can fill.
 
We struggle to use the worthless material stuff to fill the void, but this never can work.
 
Therefore we also try to fill the void with sanctimony and hypocrisy, which are the ways we try to maintain some sense of self-respect even as we vicariously live through dreams and fears of the uncanny power the corporate technocracy has amassed and will hold for as long as the cheap fossil fuels keep flowing.
 
This is what Marx called the alienation from our species-being. And today is any action beyond Mammon even possible? Or, like Lawrence also feared in his Grand Inquisitor essay, must all action and the very idea of action exist only within this Mammon framework? We see how almost all thought and action, even the most allegedly “radical”, is completely submissive and subservient to the productionist, extreme energy, high-maintenance technology, Mammon framework. It sure seems like all remaining “politics” is just attitudinizing and play-acting, nothing but a decadent consolation fetish.
 
 
Why is civilization infested with the climate crocodiles, to give the most typical example, those who cry false tears and wring false hands over the climate crisis even as they enact and avow the extreme energy civilization which drives all climate change and forcibly represses all attempts at mitigation and adaptation? They are rampant because of this ambivalent extreme. This is the most extreme example of the general hypocrisy and fraud everyone evinces toward all the environmental and socioeconomic crises, every so-called “progressive” cause and idea and value.
 
We have sundered ourselves, or let ourselves be sundered, from our home the Earth. This places us in decadent limbo where we have no peace and nowhere to turn, which results in the frantic restlessness and thrashing and wasting and destroying which is the typical day to day activity of “civilized” humanity. All the (corporate) king’s (technocratic) horses and men never can offer sustenance to fill the void. It’s all a bottleneck, all shoddy, all fake, all wicked. Inequality and organized crime erodes what gains civilization temporarily made, even for the rich. But since all are the equivalent of meth addicts, they can’t relinquish productionism/consumerism. Nor is any political action possible, as the system forestalls it in thought and deed. (An example of the masses’ being forestalled in thought is how I can find no one who even understands what I’m talking about when I call for movement-building, even though this was a standard concept in political writing just a few decades ago.) In this decadence the only thing left to try to fill the void is hypocrisy, the ultimate death of all human integrity.
 
Therefore we have:
 
*Climate change and the industrial food system = Decadent comfort and false warmth to fill the void inside where we threw away our ecological and spiritual holism.
 
*Climate chaos and poisonism = Destruction out of nihilistic resentment and denial of what we know we threw away.
 
Now we look at the eclipsed sun (but must wear glasses), want to look, but need the mediator, the “Leader”. We incarnate the ambivalence of finding the sun riveting and bearable only where mediated, only where eclipsed. We see only shadows and cannot distinguish good from evil.
 
All this is from the perspective of the false individual, the fake people who threw away all biological and social holism, all that’s ecological, artificial as well as natural; and embraced anti-ecological individualism amid totalitarian massification, all of which is humanly false and which doesn’t work from any practical point of view: Socially, economically, for public health, social stability, peace and safety, anything humans ever could truly want and need. This is the great bottleneck, the monumental dead end the human project has reached. All that exists today, including and especially everything touted as most “modern”, “progressive”, “scientific”, “hi-tech”, is antiquated, backward, cramping, derelict, the luddite province of the dinosaurs. None of it’s new, and none of it works. It’s all one bottleneck forestalling all human aspirations and attempts to think and build something new and constructive. The necessary first step for anyone, any individual, any group, any organization, any small mammal in the underbrush pondering the passage of geologic/historical periods, is to break completely in mind and soul with this bottleneck, burn your ships once and for all, and think only the necessary new idea.
 
In desperate decadence modern dinosaur civilizationists look everywhere for a replacement for what they threw away, the home they forsook. But there is no substitute. The only new road is the highway home.
 
 
 
The obscuring symbol crawls the sky
As if to abnegate,
Spots the blaze too bright directly to see.
Only plastic eyes mediate the light.
We want to see but cannot see direct,
The better to brush in evasion
The mystery the symbol fathoms,
The best to look most ardent just where we can’t.
 
Just as,
We work more frenetic than ants,
More angry and toxic than wasps,
To crank the blaze of the star’s heat.
We lust for the warmth we can’t survive,
Therefore invent mediating fantasies,
The confections and mirages of rhetoric and technology
To shield us from our yearning for warmth
And free us to stoke the inferno forever.
 
This ambivalent extreme,
Destruction we know and desire,
Scorch and poison, is to kill ourselves to feel alive.
 
What void do we strive to fill.
What did we throw away and now dream of darkly.
And now behind shields we yearn for that same ray
We throw up the shield against.
Our eyes strive to see what would blind us direct,
Our souls build an oven around ourselves.
We then encase us in asbestos,
And hope for: the best?
Hope for nothing.
 
 
 
 

August 21, 2017

Eclipse

Filed under: Climate Crisis, Dance of Death, Disaster Capitalism, Poetry — Russell Bangs @ 4:17 pm

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The obscuring symbol crawls the sky
As if to abnegate,
Spots the blaze too bright directly to see.
Only plastic eyes mediate the light.
We want to see but cannot see direct,
The better to brush in evasion
The mystery the symbol fathoms,
The best to look most ardent just where we can’t.
 
Just as,
We work more frenetic than ants,
More angry and toxic than wasps,
To crank the blaze of the star’s heat.
We lust for the warmth we can’t survive,
Therefore invent mediating fantasies,
The confections and mirages of rhetoric and technology
To shield us from our yearning for warmth
And free us to stoke the inferno forever.
 
This ambivalent extreme,
Destruction we know and desire,
Scorch and poison, is to kill ourselves to feel alive.
 
What void do we strive to fill.
What did we throw away and now dream of darkly.
And now behind shields we yearn for that same ray
We throw up the shield against.
Our eyes strive to see what would blind us direct,
Our souls build an oven around ourselves.
We then encase us in asbestos,
And hope for: the best?
Hope for nothing.
 
 
 
 
 

July 26, 2011

Shadow (A Poem)

Filed under: Poetry — Russell Bangs @ 3:42 am

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(It’s been almost a year since I posted any poems, so I figure it’s past overdue that I post some. This one’s an oldie without any political content.)
 
Shadow
 
A prone cracked dun leaf awaits the wind,
The sky of deception limberly waits
On its shaded perch
 
                                           sunshy of day’s fates
Till the air tilts a sound, eyes spinned
Into vigilance.
 
                                The moment won’t rescind
Its dreamy quietude.
 
                                             The haze inflates
Too sleepy for that, the day sleeps its dates
As well.
 
                  The limber sleep silently grinned.
 
Time can freeze. The spots fade the conjured form
To nothingness.
 
                                   All the waves softly blend
The moment opaque, as volition wends
The minutest twinge of a neuron. The storm
 
Drags down impotent static protest,
Claws brace frame for teeth.

August 1, 2010

Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutamus. We Salute You!

Filed under: Poetry — Tags: — Russell Bangs @ 6:56 am
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The sunset of the liquid fire
Plays upon the liquid of our lives.
The sunset of life plays upon the water,
Reflecting the same memories
Of dying light, of life that’s almost over.
The nostalgia tempers the fear,
And memory cheers
As the light scrolls over the surface,
The facade of reprieve.
As the plumes of carbon water
Rise slowly, inexorably,
To quench our thirst;
To bring their black to trap all light forever;
We know the thrill of Oedipus’ self-blinding,
And the solace of the drowning man
Who surrenders and breathes once more.
So the seas die,
And so before we die,
We dance one last drunken dance
In the rays of the last sunset.

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