Swing that hammer, John

yellow axe“It’s really refreshing to be in a group with people who aren’t completely out of their minds,” he said, according to court documents.


This is pretty amazing. Ya ever been to a fish market where the big fat frozen fish eye on ice is staring you sideways in the face? So is this: so this guy goes to a place called “Retro Daddio”? I mean, talk about red flag city galore! “Hi! I’m your avuncular uncle of yesteryear coming to pay you a visit and a little pat on the knee.” And what’s that taped up on the wall, but a nice pic of hot young Jodi F. who inspired it all coz the dude lookin’ outta the corner of his eye can’t go on the Internet to do it.

He’s like stuck in the past, i.e, “retro,” you dig, and is makin’ a good impression on the proprietor, naturally. Otherwise all bets are off and the bells that ring when he opens the second hand goods store, they’re not ringing to St. Peter’s. I betcha if she’s got ‘em, ya gonna catch him lookin’ at ole Jodi there sideways glance eye-wise on the security cameras keeping all the customers street legal, coz tape and posters, they ain’t against the law to look at.

Now you just figure if he’d be going to visit Momma if 35 years ago he’d been a black guy who’d shot a president. Snowball’s chance in hell [entailments of “white” fully intended] he’d be outta prison a day, if for a lifetime.

It’s just crazy, man, crazy!

Mathilde Evacs Pomroy

stove and pilot

My reasons had been plentiful. If these had been any more than they were, I would have been lost among the reds of all the red poppies. I would have been more wings upon the backs of flying monkeys. The ubi sunt nomenclature of my clattering days would have been spent or ignored like bales of rolled hay along the countryside in autumn. And all that, like my namesake and my Latin verse, would have gone unanswered. So I may have been left darning my socks and time. I may have gone to seed and shower. I may, too, have as little sense left to my time as peas to the edge of a knife are falling, falling down. And all my frailties, beyond the wool-spinners of Sulpicia and maidens of Sappho are no less than unforthcoming. It had not been a reason to have been wroth. It had not been a destiny to go to the Aegean any more than to have traveled to New Alaska. And had I ever been asked, had I ever been put to, I would have answered quite the same, dressed in my gunny sack: snap snap snap. Like so, had I been pining by the fieldstone. Like so, had I been awaiting the brim-rock rains atop the bluestone quarry. Verily, I had known just as well that what had never been arrived before my mountaintop gaze had also never, like the barn swallow’s tail beneath its muddied nest below the wooden beams, departed.

Made-Up Bed-Sick Movies, 1918

hair face headIt was so bad that he watched Dr. Zhivago four times in three days. Now this film had formerly been reserved only for watching once every five or six years when he was laid back with a bone-aching flu, when everything felt so dreadful that the only possible comfort was to be buried in a Russian snowstorm of melodramatic love.

It was so bad that he made one gigantic pot of it and ate, when he had to, helpings of oatmeal cold. Or, if he had moved to heat it up, heated a portion of it in a small saucepan and scorched the bottom of it over again.

It was so bad that when the fire went out overnight, he did not light it when he woke as was his habit still long before the light of dawn came up. He lay in bed cold or pulled another blanket fallen askew over his body. And if the house stayed that way all day, that’s the way it stayed.

It was so bad that his bones were filled with her screams of death and dying. They were inside his skull, they hunched his shoulders, they closed his eyes to them. Her furniture, her books, her bedside table, her belongings they were all thrashed and thrown about and her little body continued to thrash and throw itself about.

It was so bad he woke to screams that were not his own, traumas that were not his own, cries that were not his own, wounds that were not his own, parents that were not his own, in his own bed faraway from hers that was not his own, in his mind that was not his own.

It was so bad he could not imagine having once lain with her, his arms having ever held her, his heart having for years surrounded her. And her sweet voice was like another’s soft hand touching a green velvet mask behind which she gripped a silver sword; and her coiling naked body an emerald, scaly trap; her raw mind’s pure power, an indefatigably winning finger.

It was all so bad; all he saw were hapless visions of Welles’ Josef K. Notes, and words, and phrases flying by. A screaming, broken cavalcade of pain joined with death. Or, a make-believe, bed-ridden Western. They were horses’ hoofs flying, kicking up dry prairie grass and dust, all whooping and whooping, all the bonnet-wearing women in their wagons all bloody and slaughtered, while the Indians calmly riding upon the escarpment of the nearby mountain looked down at all the madness they do not recognize below them as human.


(read more & play around @ egbertstarr.com)





The Native American Girl*

glassy river

John Rolfe’s uneasy letter regarding his troubled wishes to marry Pocahontas, seeking approval from the Governor:


Early European settlers here in this North American continent had in their homes Bibles, and Bibles, much like guns, were the even more forcefully effective weapons of Christianity, mechanically-produced inventions of Gutenberg whose coming into being not merely put into permanence words spoken, but rendered them in an orderly and composed way of thinking particular unto itself—and thereby, too (like phalanxes once upon a time), had both formulated and were the formulation of a very peculiar ordered system of Systems; one which was vastly more powerful than anything any previous cultures of “mythos” (etymologically meaning to be “of legend, of fable; what is murmured, what is spoken”) had hitherto created or could create—these latter being civilizations whose origins were rooted, rather, in a sense of “the immemorial,” “of Nature,” “ancestors,” “old as the hills,” and so forth, and which were not by definition inscribed, engraved, carved, cut into stone.

More important, then, than the issue of “personal agency,” which is generic, is the one that is genetic or historical in scope; and, in particular, when one culture does not take the place of another as a successive replacement, but destructively displaces one as the Other. Essentially, in the grand arc of history, this has come about in just the past several thousand years with greatest effect and increasing frequency because of “logos” used as the preeminent instrument and sometime weapon of the West—which translates roughly from the Greek as “order,” “meaning,” “logic,” and most notably in The New Testament, “the Word.”

Regarding the celebrated marriage of John Rolfe to “Pocahontas,” John Rolfe represents this: the European mind whose very foundational essence is instrumentalized weaponry, representing unto himself the Good a priori; and all else dissimilar, unlike itself, must in contradistinction to itself be construed  as snares, traps, insidious evils (it being no accident of metaphor that Rolfe describes himself in his letter—after acknowledging the libidinous over-charge of his “unbridled desire of carnall affection” for the teenage Indian girl while he closed in on the age of thirty—as being “so intagled, and inthralled in so intraicate a laborith,”) only to return to these same maso-erotic images of capture, slavery, and torture later in that very same letter where he refers to the “many other imperfections wherein man is daily insnared,” (emphasis mine); which, in spite of whatever charm or “agency” one might impute or rather ascribe to “Pocahontas” (meaning “the mischievous one,” “the playful one,” “little wanton” “father’s favorite”), this rather charming and fanciful nickname itself just an epithet for her actual name Matoaka, she is still no match for her already once-widowed husband—differences of age and correlative maturity & experience notwithstanding; nor, of much greater significance, for the cultural performance that Rolfe, like a bizarre sort of anthropomorphic metonymy of his particular historically determined or genetic agency, plays and must play out.

Rolfe’s is the difference of a cultural  mindset that is barely decades away from discovering calculus, a stone with which to count or reckon, paving the way from Newton onward, to all future higher mathematics; and Matoaka’s autochthonous culture whose is, if it is to be compared to any outside of itself, much more akin to the great Sappho’s that drifts and values the majestic and the poetic “having come from heaven wrapped in a purple cloak” also seen in the beautiful trade-pieces of an indigenous people’s purple-colored wampum.

The individuals—John Rolfe and Matoaka—themselves are unimportant except insofar as they represent the nexus of an ineluctable historical massacre, of one culture’s lapidary mindset over another’s, of the Bible Reading God Fearing John Rolfe as agent of one culture armed with memory-tools of de-scription against which a re-named, re-scribed Rebecca as wife qua opponent was powerless to be anything but overwritten by the logic and the Word of the Christian West.

*for who but her own father and her own people really had the right to call her that?

For further consideration, there are these (among many) movies to watch:

Navajo Joe, a brutal spaghetti western, starring Burt Reynolds; in particular :59 in the film where Joe asserts his being American and refers to his many generations past born, as well as his own, in what is now the United States, unlike the newly arrived white Indian killers who deny him citizenry.

Duck, You Sucker, a sophisticated Sergio Leone (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, among other greats) epic starring James Coburn and Rod Steiger. As formidable commentary on the ills of early Western technology used against indigenous people as you will ever see.

No Time For Candy Or Remorse: A Ballad

american snack bar

I eat too many potato chips. And I smoke too many cigarettes. I am on Netflix all the time, and spill whatever dinner I fix in my bed.

Then, I wash the duvet cover again, and, taking it off, button by button, I find the yellow stitching of a woman I once loved. Long ago, far away.

I watch too many bad movies, and I make too many comments about things I don’t really care about online, just too feel I’m alive, or that I exist.

Afterwards, I shave my face to keep up a public exterior (whatever ‘public’ means anymore). I moisturize heavily to hide decades of wrinkles and mistakes.

I walk inside my cupboard and pull out a brand new box of saltines. I crunch through a column of these in no more than ten minutes. I feel better than Doritos.

Looking skyward at the night sky, I know I go to the barnyard too often. I see the stars spilled like chicken feed there, and go to sleep after a few blinks.

Neighbors wave. My paunch is hidden. My calves look strong. Up the steep hill and down the rolling ones (reverse of course on the way back). I am an admirable looking middle-aged man, who runs four miles at least thrice a week.

Frozen pizza, Friendly’s ice cream (on sale), and American Spirit tobacco keep me going through the wee hours of early dawn when I wake up as restless as a donkey tied to a well, kicked in the face.

My dryer is broke, my tires are bald, unraked colored autumn leaves will flatten out and kill half the grass they’re lying on. I tired easily.

Whatever women I had known in three cities or two, or ninety, that and my old flame and troubadour, Ezra Pound, means less than half of nothing to me today.

I eat junk, smoke too much, and I’ve been pulling on the bottle again, just to stop myself from this damn’d business of thinking all the time, my friend.

One, Two Buckled, My Shoe

two white metal chairs

He had had one hundred thoughts in one hundred and one days. That meant that there were one hundred thoughts less, or properly speaking ‘fewer’ to have. Those days and those thoughts were gone. With regard to such counting, whether forwards or backwards, brave and young Stephen Dedalus claimed that he was lucky to stumble upon a good thought once in a fortnight, or every two weeks. Likewise, in Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, there’s no six piece thin affair but a gigantic orchestral hullabaloo about every fortnight, too. Again, then, with regard to the former, that doesn’t seem to be a whole lot, in truth, especially in the age of adolescence, that newfangled notion that is time’s comfortable muskeg people get stuck in between childhood and being grown up today—ever since the average human lifespan became rather ridiculously long, attenuated to the slow decline of sloping downward into a near horizontal buzz along the manmade asymptote of near nothingness for decades of palliative discomfort and some peculiar kind of peering out somewhere. As to the latter, having a festive lawn party under a tent with a couple hundred uninvited guest who come in from nowhere, that seems to be obscene in its frequency, as was the intent of Fitzgerald to display and Mr. Gatsby to purposefully have, to drag in the diamond dregs so as to perchance collect his lost pearl Daisy, if not purloin her. As for the ticket-taker whose story begins this lacklustre note, he had taken to mind once as a child that numbers themselves worked like this: you start with 1; you double that and get 2; and after that (3) you’ve got many. And, while he also, with his little handheld penlight ushered others into the movie theater velvet quietly to their seats when they arrived a bit late for the show, and was very helpful to them, he kept, like a bushy-haired, gray-tailed autumnal squirrel losing more than half its acorns due to luck, fortuity, and nature’s misfortune, his remaining day’s comments mostly to himself.

Midnight Cowboy Sleeping Underwater

western grass and sky

There was some Western, some movie on last night. But he didn’t know what it was. Something hanging by a noose or a noose with somebody’s name on it pinned to a tree. At any rate, he didn’t know. He just woke up in the same clothes he’d gone to sleep in. And he didn’t know it. He didn’t know that. He just woke up turned ninety degrees body around in bed in the same black morning darkness he always woke up in. Except that he was all dressed already. And they were nice clothes. Nice pants, nice shirt, and a nice moleskin jacket. He didn’t know how’d it happened. It just did. That’s all there was to it. Now he knew and remembered that he’d been discouraged that night before. Everything was pretty much shipwreck. But that’d never stopped him, not from watching some old Western where men mete out either death or life according to some ad hoc game among the tumbleweed and dirt they play by and by, each man and each gun according to each man and each gun’s rules. And he kind of liked that a lot. No, he damn well liked that. A world where life itself isn’t ever held to be the summum bonum. Heck, no. It was how a man lived was how a man died. Which was always for good watching when he was feeling low and pretty ruined, which could have been that that did it, even to him. But he’d always felt some notice before. Some clanging and whooping some doomed submarine’s hollering wail or the fatal sounds of Comanche warriors swarming down the silhouetted embankments that meant one thing. The night before? That was just a silent night. Sleeping into the ether death or sleep or whatever spent dreams there were during those lost hours. Well, hell, he just got up as though it had been a regular night and didn’t bother to shower or shave. He was too finely dressed to change out, and the clothes were warm. He just got going with a fresh pot of coffee, a good, solid breakfast, and headed out to walk the day as he walked every and any day, past the garden, past the newly fallen dead white birch at the back, and straight up his own mountain, up the steep pitch where the sun and the ferns and the old brown leaves and the chips of half-broken bluestone and the old farmers’ low stone walls belonging to nobody always were when he went there that time of day.