A Friend of My Friend

Still I know there are greater loves in her life, just as there are in mine.

She spends sunny days in rain when he is far, and comes to talk to me instead.
Not settling for me, I’d say, but coming to me because he can’t come to her.
I spend rain and sun, both, with myself and nearer friends,
But the days are better, sun or no, when spent with a dearer friend.

For when we do come together-her head tucked just so under my chin-
It occurs to me
That, to that end,
I’m glad I can be
A friend of my friend.

 

NOTE: I haven’t had time to write any prose or poetry the past few days as I’ve been writing music for my composition project: Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Below is a selection from the piece, musicalizing Rosalind and Celia’s friendship (which sounds a lot like my friendship in the poem above); at the end of the clip, the scene transitions into their bedroom where Rosalind is distraught and Celia is trying to cheer her up. I hope you hear your own friendships in the music.

A College Student’s Testimony

Average-College-Debt

http://www.wfdd.org/story/president-barack-obama-attempts-reduce-federal-student-loan-debt

Look up above your heads, Good Sirs, and tell me what you see.
It’s just an inch away, Good Sirs, on that we can agree.
But how it came to be, mind you, is something I protest,
And how it came to be, mind you, is what must be addressed … 

Across the years the Dream, you know, has grown into a code:
To school and then to work, you know, a highly traveled road.
To harvest a degree – how nice! – will surely pay the bills,
And guarantee a life – how nice! – of using all your skills.
But therein lies the rub, my Gents, it seemed too good, too true:
An unaccounted hole, my Gents, a lot derived from few.
To pay the bills of now, I find, requires a degree;
To pay for the degree, I find, I must be bourgeoisie.

The hole kept growing still, what’s more, and harder to withstand,
I can’t support myself, what’s more, I pray you understand.
For now I give to you, my Gents, what you so kindly gave,
That which I cannot bear, my Gents, I hope that you can save.

Look up above you now, you men, look what is on your heads:
I’ve nothing more to give you men, each drain and vein is bled.
So as you watch your land, so grand, descend amongst the ranks,
Attempt to save your land, so grand, by reaching to your banks.
And only then will we, at last, be free of such a threat:
A state that sends a child at last, a paralyzing debt
Because she wished to learn – absurd! – and further her own lot
And chase her only dream; absurd: an education bought.
So to my future child, I ask, what shall I say to her?
If offered a degree, I ask, so then must she defer?

My words are plucked from minds, Good Sirs, from those I learned them thus,
And if you can’t catch on, Good Sirs, I suggest a school bus.

Coffee Culture

coffee-1409303089cxc

Directions for reading: Drink two shots of espresso, then read aloud (as this was the state of caffeination in which it was written).

Question: Do you have iced coffee?

Answer: Do we have iced coffee.
Frozen, iced, cool, tepid, warm, hot, scalding, yes.
Caffeine is O2.
Mind pulsing with caffeine is faster,
Heart breathing with caffeine is lighter,
Lungs thinking with caffeine are happier.
Thoughts are runners, eyes are dancers, tongues are gymnasts and
If you can’t keep up, here’s a shot of espresso.
Yes, it’s ES-presso, but, you’re right, it should be EXPRESS-o that would make more sense.
Excuse me while I percolate.
Grinding, roasting, steeping all at top speed. Supply and demand and all that.
Coffee keeps you in the left lane.
Espresso keeps your neurons firing.
Nike. Just do it. With coffee.

Question: Do you have lattes or mochas?

Answer: Coffee’s only soulmate is and shall ever be milk.
Cows originated in the coffee belt, did you know that?
Then they moseyed and regurgitated their way around the globe from there although
how they got to Australia … maybe they swam.
Caffeine addicts probably shipped them over, figured they needed to be together.
Cows and coffee.
Then chocolate, milk, and coffee is what God drinks, I’m sure.
God spoke to some guy in Yemen, in the town of Mocha, and gave him the recipe.
The eleventh commandment.
The burning arabica plant.
The thirteenth apostle.
Some are enlightened, some are caffeinated.
I know which I’d rather be.
At least we know which one gets stuff done.

Question: Do you have tea?

Answer: Light-weights are free to move on.

(D)evolution

I contemplate my existence,
pawing through the undergrowth.
My nails pick up soil-
to keep a bit of earth always close at hand.
Crawling creatures frozen in the beginning stages of evolution-
Caught in an age of eight, ten, a dozen legs,
Before there were two-
Venture in and out of the rich earth.

They have watched the goings on from amongst the green blades,
In between the rocks, which soon became bricks,
Alongside the rivers which soon became dams.

They have seen and understood first clubs.
Yes, these were hunks of wood, shaved and carved.
Next they saw bows and arrows.
Yes, these were thin branches, bent and strung.
Next they saw swords.
Yes, these were rocks, melted and mangled.

But what is this, now?
Black as death, loud as thunder, unforgiving as the flood,
Unfamiliar to any time or place they have seen in their long existence.

So this is the result of human evolution.

The timeless creatures dive back into the earth and I am envious.
They can escape my devolution, I cannot.

Equal Mud for Equal Guilt

Hillary-BernieWashington has always suffered the burden of too much testosterone.

It wasn’t until 1917, when Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to serve in Congress, that estrogen began to return equilibrium to Washington, and ever since, a total of 313 women have served as U.S. Representatives, Delegates, or Senators.

We have come a long way since 1917.

We have seen strong, intellectual women in Washington such as Elizabeth Warren, Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, and Tammy Baldwin. We even have a woman within spitting distance of the presidency, but the state of our union is far from strong yet. A less tangible form of sex-based exclusion and mudslinging exists in this tumultuous political sphere, as evidenced by comparing the way the media portrayed Sanders’ DNC Debacle and the Saga of Clinton’s Benghazi and the ensuing effect on voters.

First, let’s take a look at the timeline of Bernie’s Debacle. “The DNC discovered on Dec. 16 someone in the Sanders camp took advantage of a software glitch” (Short), and the logs show that the user “accessed the Clinton [campaign] data for nearly one hour beginning around 10:40 p.m. Wednesday” (Frizell). With the hard evidence from the DNC logs, the DNC had just cause to immediately ice Bernie out of his and Clinton’s databases. Sanders staffers demanded a “full investigation from top to bottom” about the data breach while privately chastising Democratic officials for “leaking information” and “stonewalling” (Short). Shortly thereafter, Bernie declared his threats to sue the DNC in federal court for—as Jeff Weaver, Bernie’s campaign manager, puts it—“actively attempting to undermine our campaign” (Frizell).

The way the media left the situation for other, more exciting stories was that the Sanders staffer responsible for taking advantage of the breach had been fired, the DNC eked out some form of ceasefire, and Sanders did not sue, with the overall tone being: “There are a number of major discrepancies between the Sanders’ campaign narrative and what the DNC and others familiar with the matter have said” (Frizell).

All’s well that ends well. Allegedly.

Meanwhile, over in Hillary Clinton’s camp, all was not quiet on the western front due to happenings on the eastern front. On September 11, 2012, militants, whom were later determined to be Islamic extremists, attacked an American compound in Benghazi, killing four Americans. The administration gestured to “a video that was released by somebody who lives [in the United States] … making fun of the Prophet Mohammed … and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the one, the consulate in Libya” (Bevan).

In December 2012, when the “the first of eight congressional committees investigating the Benghazi attacks released its report… [it] did not implicate Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for any wrongdoing” (Caldwell). In November 2014, The House Intelligence Committee released a statement, absolving Obama and Clinton of any guilt and closed the matter.

Yet in a bizarre but not unexpected reanimation of the issue, the House of Representatives (controlled by Republicans) voted to form a special committee to further investigate.

Amidst the subsequent sturm und drang, Clinton was dragged through hours of hearings (the topic of her emails may or may not have come up), then announced her bid for the presidency. The endless courtroom drama was plugging along when Speaker of the House hopeful Kevin McCarthy spilled the Republican beans, saying,

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable” (Graham).

Due partly to his coinage of a new word, but mostly because they got caught, the Republican reaction to his Kinsley gaffe was a groan and a reluctant shuffle back to the drawing board. The Democratic reaction was an unmet, ‘See? I told you so!’ because “pretty much everyone on both sides already believed the committee was playing politics” (Graham). The media attention paid to this topic notably simmered down, and the Benghazi Committee will mumble its final report sometime later this year.

Now, let’s compare the two incidents. After all was said and done, neither presidential candidate was guilty of any wrongdoing. Bernie Sanders was accused of something he didn’t commit and denied it. Hillary Clinton was accused of something she didn’t commit and denied it. The incidents have nearly identical story arcs.

Yet, poll numbers would beg to differ.

As of December 16, the day the DNC Debacle broke, Bernie had a dip in support, going down to 30.4%; but by December 30, Bernie’s numbers had reached an all-time high at 54.9% and have been climbing ever since. However, on August 3, Hillary’s numbers began a steep downward trend as she was questioned by the Benghazi Committee; then, on September 30, the day Kevin McCarthy put his foot in his mouth (her saving grace), Hillary’s support increased to 56.1% on December 20, but her numbers never went back to where they were and, in fact, have been declining ever since December 20. (Take a look: http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2016-national-democratic-primary).

This data leads us to a logical conclusion: mud sticks better to Hillary’s ever-criticized pantsuits than it does to a man’s suit.

As even further evidence, in a recent poll, 7% of voters said she is “capable of being president”, while 21% of voters described her as “dishonest” and say she has “poor character” (Edelman). In the same study, 12% described Sanders as a “socialist” and 6% said they felt he was “older”, with another 5% calling him “favorable” and a “fresh face”. It is important to note that Sanders is, indeed, a fresh face, and does not have the long and arduous media history that Clinton has, which certainly helps his public image.

Nevertheless, there exists a large discrepancy between the aftermath of Sanders’ DNC Debacle and The Saga of Clinton’s Benghazi, and the only uncommon denominator is their gender.

The media is equally disparaging across bipartisan lines in its coverage of American politics, but its subtle, hostile sexism towards Hillary Clinton is potent stuff, as evidenced by voter response. Americans are unwittingly forming a new brand of sexism, now that women are joining the ranks in Washington: one where the same gaffes and scandals that a man was easily able to put to rest are now a woman’s career breakers. As Michael Kimmel so hauntingly puts it, “because male is the dominant category, it has the freedom to go unexamined, be invisible”. There is a politically correct line for both men and women, but for men, it has elasticity.

It is both the media’s and the American people’s willingness to forgive Sanders and condemn Hillary for equally ambiguous scandals that suggests the United States may need a few more years to acclimate itself to idea of a woman sitting behind the President’s desk.

However, given the alternative, we do not have time.

My fellow former Bernie supporters … for the sake of your country and future generations, now is not the time to be petulant children. Now is not the time to refuse to vote because we did not get our way. That’s not how democracy works. Our candidate lost, fair and square. There is no conspiracy against him. There was no more wheeling and dealing against him than in any other election. We need to respect the wishes of the larger portion of our party and of our country (because, delegates aside, she did have the popular vote). Bernie Sanders gave us hope, got us excited, said the things that needed to be said, and I’m quite certain there will be more like him in the coming years.

But now, the election is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Fellow former Bernie supporters … I ask, in the spirit of Bernie himself, that you sift through the media bias, the mudslinging, the endless stream of commentary-news and truly analyze the candidates’ qualifications for yourselves. I expect you will find a woman who has a doctorate law degree, has served as First Lady, a Senator, and Secretary of State (amongst many other reputable positions), against a man who has a bachelor’s degree, has filed for bankruptcy four times, and has held countless positions as a Broadway backer (of a flop), an unsuccessful New Jersey Generals owner in the failed USFL, and an equally unsuccessful meat-monger.

Neither is what we wanted, but they’re what we’ve got. Refusing to vote is a vote for Trump and a gross misuse of your democratic right. And if love trumps hate, help America trump Trump. Give Hillary your vote … and maybe a poncho against the mud.

 

 

 

Works Referenced

Frizzle, Sam. “Sanders Campaign’s Breach of Clinton Data More Serious Than Disclosed.” Time. Web.

Garth, Susan. “Unanswered Questions in Norway Terror Attack.” World Socialist Web Site. Web. 19 Aug. 2011.

Graham, David A. “Kevin McCarthy Steps Into a Faux Outrage.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 30 Sept. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Harrell, Eben. “Breivik’s Norway Attacks: Extremism in a Tolerant Region – TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIME.com. Web. 19 Aug. 2011.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Abby L. Ferber. Privilege: A Reader. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2003. Print.

MALA, ELISA, and J. DAVID GOODMAN. “At Least 80 Dead in Norway Shooting – NYTimes.com.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Web. 19 Aug. 2011.

Madslien, Jorn. “BBC News – Oslo Bomb Attack: End of Innocence?” BBC – Homepage. Web. 19 Aug. 2011.

Ritter, Karl. “Norway Progress Party: Country’s Right-Wing Political Party On Defensive After Attacks.” Huffingtonpost.com. Web. 19 Aug. 2011.

Short, Aaron. “Sanders Campaign Rips DNC for ‘praising’ Data Breach Staffer.” New York Post. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

A Twenty-Year-Old’s Testimony

It’s 11:45 AM and I’m handing someone his coffee.

He, of course, doesn’t know I have been on this earth two decades as of today. He doesn’t know that my mother endured the worst to give me the best twenty years ago today. He also doesn’t know that my father sliced his thumb open while working in the yard twenty years ago today, no doubt in an effort to upstage the action. (Not surprising, then, that twenty years later, their blossoming child has found her power on the stage.)

I narrowly escaped grade school only to find teachers and lessons all around me …

I saw my parents this morning, I will see my friends this evening, and I am seeing acquaintances this afternoon-something beautiful in every tense.

Those that know my heart will continue to sustain it and those that do not will continue to fascinate it.

Any success I’ve had has come from others’ selflessness and every failure has come from my inability to see that.

It’s due to be 84 degrees and stormy today so that I can fully love the sun tomorrow.

Everything I delight in has occurred today just for me and everything I do not is simply meeting a weekly quota.

I have developed a heart from my first ten years of life and a brain for my second; I will love the faces that have given me both until I have neither.

It’s 11:45 AM and I’m handing someone his coffee. He will smell it, taste it, and enjoy it, and I should think there is no greater gift on a birthday than to play a part in that.

It’s 11:45 AM. Promises to be a good day.

Divine Remembrance

Rhododendron

“Stay a little,” I spoke,
through wet and tight’ning throat.
“I haven’t yet to touch
The flesh I love too much.
Nor have I truly smelt,
Nor have I ever felt,
Nor shall I ever see
A flow’r divine as thee.”

Yet as the sun sped by,
Despite my tear-washed eyes,
She crinkled, shrinking small,
And left me to recall.