A Cornucopia of Elegies

February 28, 2012

All poets talk time
to get a handle on it,
to hack a place to hold it
to turn it to fold it
to climb it and mount it
to ride it, to flip it
to hide it or turn it
to toy with and tip it
to wrench it, to rip it
inside out to unlearn it,
to kill it to burn it
to save it in the innards of clocks
to pick it apart like a crow on a corpse
to drill it to dig it to bore it
and finally ignore it

Innocuous as time was when the air was green
and tenderfeet knew the ballet of beginning
like a tern on one limb in the surf by a sea
or as a swift lifts on a draft of instants
in the hour of sometime-but-not-now,
time is a bane and cornucopia of elegies,
a  master of poets it has ever enmeshed
since the word became flesh

A poet would do well to just pour time
like water or blood & wine and, savoring,
sip it

by Jim Culleny



Monkey Wrench

February 21, 2012

“We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit.” This is what Rick Santorum told a Colorado crowd earlier this month.

This, in a fundamental sense for some, is God talking to Santorum through the Bible because many believe the Bible is God’s word. Of course the Bible says lots of things that, in their personal lives, even Bible literalists don’t adhere to these days, but we’re all a little selective when it comes to the things we choose to set the course of our lives upon —cherry-picking scriptures included.  It’s what many call free will.

Among other things, free will is the inclination and capacity to skew facts or fable in our favor.  If “free will” means ignoring some of God’s words and coming down like a sledge hammer with others —well, history will attest to the truth of that, so let’s not waste time rehashing old idiocies, let’s turn our attention to current ones.. What’s important now is that Santorum’s rhetoric is very much like that of the middle ages when heresies clashed with church-think  —which it looks like we’ll never be rid of.

Here’s the trouble with Santorums thinking: it rejects the actual and embraces the fantastic. Religious thought rejects huge slices of the obvious because it’s locked in metaphorical concrete set when human minds were profoundly ignorant —the concrete of holy books. Santorum’s problem is that his grasp of reality is not as ardent as his grasp of ignorance. He simply cannot or will not set aside the rigid duality of his Judeo-Christian childhood, grow up and open his mind to the universe as it is; the one he claims God made. The one that changes constantly, without cease. The one that’s intregal in all its parts and physical laws —a system; entwined, organic, enveloping, dynamic and, yes, I’ll utter the evil word: evolving. In god’s world everything touches everything else, and all things constitute a system in motion.

In a system every part is a potential good or evil for other parts so every part is a potential monkey wrench in the works. Not acknowledging this is where Santorum’s thinking is a clear and present danger. The earth is not something over there to have dominion over. It’s not something alien to go to war with and conquer. It’s not an entity to steward but is something that shoulld be attended to as we attend personal grooming. It is not, in fact,”other” but is, instead, something we are an aspect of. And whether God created the system or not does not matter.  It is —and the business of its is-ness must be understood in order to conduct our affairs morally withhin it: to have positive, and avoid any negative, effects upon it.

Without the proper functioning of the system “earth” we are toast. When we mis-use the earth in a very real sense we misuse ourselves. We are inextricably linked in its processes. Without the oxygen the earth’s vegetation produces our lungs would be as irrelevant as the biblical sabbath Santorum disrespects everytime (as the bible in places says) he lifts his hand in any work (and which is especially profaned when Santorum makes a political pronouncement).  Without the earth’s water we would become as uselessly dessicated as the fig tree Jesus seemed to despise. And without its wheat and corn and every food source the earth puts forth we’d be as weak and powerless as the utterly poor that Jesus loved. Rick Santorum should read between the lines of his great book (where the real truth lies) —and realize also that there is truth as significant in other books besides. If we were not of the earth and integrated into its fabric we would not be at all.

That last is a truth Santorum and those who think like him reject, either willfully or ignorantly. And what they reject out of misunderstanding or corruption is dangerous to the earth and, therefore, to us all.

Rick Santorum nutures a great ignorance; but what’s worse, he’s proud of it.

Jim Culleny, 2/21/11

Hat Disavows Its Wearer

February 19, 2012

Yesterday a large white cowboy hat wearing a presidential candidate apologized in a hastily called press conference for the comments of its accessory, Rick (Man-On-Dog) Santorum.

“No self-respecting ten gallon hat can let such devisive and ignorant remarks pass without rebuke no matter how empty the head it contains is,” said the angry Stetson. “White cowboy hats have long been respected in American mythology as symbolizing truth, justice and the American way,” the miffed hat with Texas rolled brim continued.

“Tom Mix, a cowboy film hero of the early 20th century, wore a white ten gallon hat (my own grandfather, in fact) —and Rick Santorum is no Tom Mix,” complained the jumbo hat.

“And Hopalong Cassidy, another good-guy of the same era (who also sported a white hat), would have had little use for the likes of Santorum. Hoppy might even have called the ex-senator of Pennsylvania to a shootout for presuming to place a hat of such stature upon his virtually vacant scripture-littered skull.”

“If Rick Santorum want’s to spread lies and introduce archaic fables into the primitive brains of Americans,” scoffed the hat, turning it’s brim in a feltish sneer, “let him wear an appropriate lid. A black hat would be more suitable for a troublemaker like him.

“A black chapeau would be the reasonable and obvious choice of head-covering for a man with Rick Santorum’s character,” the hat added before cutting off questioning with a tip of itself to the press corp.

Jim Culleny, 2/19/12

Christian Nation

February 16, 2012

All it took was a few presidential primary debates to get the gist of modern GOP head-space.

As if to double down on the party’s desperate looniness Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have recently accused president Obama of launching an attack on the Catholic church by insisting that the Church, like other employers should follow the law to provide preventative health coverage that includes contraception. Such law is already operative in 28 states but not a peep have we heard heard about that from either man-on-dog Santorum or serial adulterer Gingrich.

The religious right is notorious for pushing policy that is “bible-based” but such book-centered morality is a road to over-reach.  In fact I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did. (BF)

The trouble with book-based orthodoxies is that its as rigid as Grover Norquist‘s hallucination that free markets are the holy grail; meanwhile god’s universe is as mutable and pluralistic as god’s whims (taking the evidence of creation). Take a look at the middle east if you want to see what happens when government gets bogged down in religious orthodoxy. This is where the Republican party wants to take us. By many signs the right wants to run the US as a Christian theocracy in which law-making clergy dictate the very processes of the human body and oversee the affection between persons.

Think of it: the president is anti-religious because he wants to apply a law fairly. But despite Rick Santorum’s spontaneous ejaculations, we cannot procreate our way to goodness and light. In fact making contraceptives available to Americans so that responsible decisions may be made about our future seems fundamentally wise.

Biblical orthodoxy is no guarantee of righteousness, far from it. If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both there (England) and in New England. (BF)

Civil governments turned over to sects tend to become uncivil. The moralistic vituperation quotient shoots sky-high and eclipses reason when people like Santorum, Perry, Palin and Gingrich peddle their religions in the political marketplace.

The first article of religion, simple belief in god, is not the problem. But whenever we step aside from this article, by mixing it with articles of human invention, we wander into a labyrinth of uncertainty and fable, and become exposed to every kind of imposition by pretenders to revelation. When the divine gift of reason begins to expand itself in the mind and calls man to reflection, he then reads and contemplates God and His works, and not in the books pretending to be revelation. (TP)

Maybe if the religious right pulled their heads out of their holy book, looked around, and contemplated the divine flux of god’s universe they’d high-five the obvious and the changing practices of marriage over centuries evidenced even within the confines of their prime doctrinal source.

It just may be by forgetting God in His works, and running after the books of pretended revelation, that man has wandered from the straight path of duty and happiness, and become by turns the victim of doubt and the dupe of delusion. For God has not given us reason for the purpose of confounding us, but that we should use it for our own happiness and His glory. (TP)

The Republican party of 2012 has hung its identity upon a fable with which it wants to replace constitutional rationality. How has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed (JA) and which the right insists is the basis of the nation’s founding ideas?

Rick Santorum in a recent campaign speech said that the progressive’s “class war” (a war that’s been waged relentlessly by the nation’s plutocrats against the poor and middle class) might lead to a French-like revolution and its guillotine. How’s that for scary hyperbole?  But consider what havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era? Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius? Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter and the guillotine. (JA)

Progressives would have solid religious precedence if we were to take that road.

But people such as Santorum hyperventilate, insisting their religion be the foundational guide of every person except corporate persons from sea to shining sea. Yet history knows that only a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer (Jesus), before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State. (TJ)

There is no reason for progressives not to stand proud and tall against sectarians attacking secular constitutional government because, as in the past, rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.”(JM)

Now before any readers get bent out of shape by preceding comments they may find unflattering to Christianity please note that most of them were not birthed from my own skull. Those in italics are the offspring of several of the founding fathers of the USA —the same men who’ve been put forth by religious fundamentalists as having intended to establish the United States of America as a Christian nation.  They did not.

BF= Ben Franklin
TP=Tom Paine
JA=John Adams
TJ=Thomas Jefferson
JM=James Madison
by Jim Culleny


Training Day

February 1, 2012

I know the police are happy to have tasers in their arsenal as an extra buffer of protection against who knows what. It’s human naure to want to protect yourself and, considering the dangerous job they do, it’s not unreasonable for them to want to arm up.

It’s also human nature to want respect. The next step beyond wanting respect is to demand it. The step beyond demanding it is (apparenty, and more frequently) to tase for it.

Don’t think of tasers in the hands of the police as merely one more level of protection for an officer.  It can be much more than that. Think of tasers as a trainings tool for citizens who don’t understand who’s in charge. People must understand that the police are always in charge. If you don’t understand this the police have the means to help in your education —which becomes more and more important as we slide inexorably from free state to police state.

For example:

“A Montara man walking two lapdogs off leash was hit with an electric-shock gun by a National Park Service ranger after allegedly giving a false name and trying to walk away, authorities said Monday,” Digby reports at Hullabaloo.

“Heel,” a cop might say.

“Bow-wow-why?” a mutt might answer.

“Witnesses said the use of a stun gun and the arrest seemed excessive for someone walking two small dogs off leash.

“It was really scary,” said Michelle Babcock, who said she had seen the incident as she and her husband were walking their two border collies. “I just felt so bad for him.”

“Heel,” the cop might say again.

“No, really, Woof-why? Arf; I’m just walking along here.”

“Babcock said Hesterberg had repeatedly asked the ranger why he was being detained,” Hullabaloo reports. “She didn’t answer him, Babcock said.”

“I said, ‘Heel,'” then out comes the training tool and some mutt with a weak heart is  either dead or writhing in agony before being hauled off to the pound.

As Digby says at Hullabaloo,

“To be clear, this is what this means is that if a park ranger stops you for walking your dogs off leash, you are not to ask any questions or fail to carry the proper ID or you risk being shot through with 50,000 volts. This is now the way things work. Apparently, before the taser, this park ranger would have had to shoot this person in the back with her service revolver.”


“Rancho Corral de Tierra has long been an off-leash walking spot for local dog owners. In December, the area became part of the national park system, which requires that all dogs be on a leash,”
said Howard Levitt, a spokesman for the park service.The ranger was trying to educate residents of the rule, ” he explained.

Thanks for the lesson, woof, woof! Now can I have my doggie treat?

Jim Culleny