I try to be a good “citizen,” of my partnership with my wife, of my neighborhood, of my little community with all its concentric & overlapping jurisdictions, so, township, school district, county, state, & nation, & of humanity, & of all living beings—some symbiotic or altruistic; some strictly competitive for resources or authority, for instance; & some hostile.
I resist organisms that would lessen or destroy me. I try to blunt their attacks, strategically, & developing whatever capacities are necessary. But if the only way to prevent their attacks is to make them incapable of continuing to attack me, then that’s what I must do. But that’s a last resort. I have a mind. I’m willing to be thought weak sometimes, if that’s the price of avoiding war over trifles, or over what is of subordinate importance, for now.
Syria, Congo, Korea, El Salvador, the South Side of Chicago (my boyhood neighborhood), Wall Street, the Silicon Valley, Congress & the Pentagon & Kremlin & Tienanmen Square, Tahrir Square, the migrants in the Mediterranean—are all parts of me, as are my bone marrow, nerves, & toes—or, rather, they & I are part of Something we invigorate or degrade, or both, at the same time, together.
The satisfaction of individuals’ real needs & the fulfillment of their potentials are profits. The suffering of individuals & the waste of their potentials are losses.
These so-called poems are, as calculatedly evaluated, organized, & executed as I am capable, gambits, gambles, which I don’t merely make, then watch how they’ll turn out, but which I cultivate, shepherd, manage, to the slight extent I’m capable. (And I keep working at becoming more capable.)
Many of these so-called poems have been posted or published, in the USA or elsewhere, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 years ago, or more & more recently.
But so far, their availability to the public has been more like a 3-by-5 card tacked to a bulletin board in a supermarket or post office in a small town, than like a campaign to compete with advertisements for snacks or presidential candidates or insurance policies or medicines to relieve the symptoms of this or that ailment, or to compete with Science, Reason, Economics, the religions, fierce anti-religion—engineers, doctors, lawyers, educators, left or right wing or centrist politicians—heirs, plutocrats, outcasts, earnest mowers of lawns, denizens of taverns, blabbers, & the silent—people pleasers, the sullen—financiers, entrepreneurs, those who enjoy their work & those who hate their jobs, & those no one will employ fairly or at all—fashionable arts & entertainments, customs, creeds cynically or sincerely expressed, enforced violently or cunningly, or more or less optional, true or false, useful or useless, or counterproductive, even toxic.
So far, my effort is mostly like planting seeds in the wilderness & rubble, but, believe me, I am trying to compete with the most powerful people you are aware of or are not aware of, whether currently living or what they said & did in the past having continuing effects—for the best possible outcome.
I am not setting myself aside. I hope you won’t set me aside, either.
It doesn’t seem to me that it matters in what order you read the so-called poems.
I call them “so-called poems” to signal that I am up to something, that poets, with rare exception, are not up to.
The insights embodied in these so-called poems are meant to be put into effect—thru you, by you. Of course, you must think for yourself, & use what you choose as you think best. You’ll be responsible.