by Eric Chaet

I can’t help comparing my wealth, such as it is
to Warren Buffett’s, Bill Gates’, the Sauds’, the sheikhs’
to others’ sitting at the counter drinking coffee
or encountered walking or in the traffic of trucks & cars
to sports & entertainment stars’:
comparison is something that I do.

Rightly done, it yields better choosing how to proceed
better achieving what I’m better able wisely to decide to attempt.

So I compare my little bundle, as well
to the earthworm’s, beggar’s, telemarketer’s, tree’s
to the CEO’s, employee’s, fired employee’s
to the man’s or woman’s no one will employ
whether because of character flaws
or lack of skills
in turn due to lack of discipline
or of access to equipment
or of examplars who have found a way to thrive
or because of the insufferable habit of seeing thru pretenses.

Likewise, I compare my power
to Caesar’s, Napoleon’s, the Pharaohs’
Genghis’, Timur’s, Hitler’s, Stalin’s, Mao’s—
to soldiers’ of all ranks & living or dead
frantic mothers’, caught between violent enemies
to the bacterium’s, virus’s, invalid’s
infants’—whether in a slum or posh surroundings
cared for by calm, sensitive, intelligent adults
or having to fend among confused & angry adults
pet dogs’ & cats’ & horses’, & zoo animals’
wild birds’, mammals’, reptiles’, insects’
the spider’s in the web where walls meet floor or ceiling
the corpse’s, the stone’s
stem cell’s, cancer tumor’s mutant cells’.

I’m like a hunter, forager, cold call salesman, fisherman—
sometimes relaxed, composed—sometimes anxious, turbulent—
I’m hungry, I’ve been waiting for a bite forever—
will my only periodically & briefly available intuition
ever surface again & take the bait?—
does what I need exist—will I encounter & snare it in time?

I’m like an engineer—
there are models behind these so-called poems
which are themselves models—
I’m constantly making, undoing, re-forming models
monitoring if this or that change is a net loss or gain
studying others’ work & methods
& the technologies that underlie their methods & products—
& the commerce their efforts are part of
the reasonable-sounding doctrines of economics
& the irrational, unconscious assumptions & behavior—
I try to avoid setting off unintended negative consequences—
I don’t want my bridge to collapse
years from now, when traffic over it has greatly increased—
I acquire & apply all the knowledge & skill I can
I derive specifications, just as specific as they can be—
what will be necessary, exactly, to have the effect
all of these articulations are intended to have—
whether I can exactly formulate the intent or not?
Are the resources available—where, how, at what cost?
What must be sacrificed to obtain what resources?
The result must be flexible so that it can be modified—
conditions are liable to change—
I have to weigh cost, safety, speed
marketability, producibility, servicibility
& limits of my time, attention, desire, capacities—
& the lure & urgency of other projects.

I’m like a doctor diagnosing or performing surgery—
there’s so much to learn & remember—
cellular components & processes, tissues, organs
systems & connections, anatomy
the chemical & electrical reactions of the blood
the endocrine system, the nervous systems
the known effects & interactions of drugs—
so much known & unknown, illnesses & injuries
the patients’ pleas are so urgent—
I don’t have much time to inquire or get a sense
of his or her mental or financial condition—
hospital, insurance, & government
pharmaceutical & medical equipment
bureaucrats & sales people & representatives & executives
must turn a profit, stat
the investors behind them eager for return on investment—
& bacteria & viruses are on an exponential schedule—
the patient has just so much fight in him or her—
& now it is announced that this has unexpected benefits
or that that has unexpected detrimental side-effects—
I’m on call all the time for decades
my education cost me a fortune
my colleagues have fancy homes & cars
they go on exotic trips, buy boats & private jets
they are prominent in this or that organization
some of the old ones retire or die—some not so old—
my wife & kids are infected by the indulgences of their peers.

I’m like a teacher, nurse, politician, general, admiral
saint, thief, rebel
like a president governing without any authority, from below
opposed by a mocking, hostile, all-destructive zeitgeist
like an orphan, or child of parents in conflict—
also, I’m heir to the unappreciated treasures my heroes left
for the benefit of anyone who takes advantage—
& nature’s treasures, too—also its storms, plagues, winters—
I’m like a troubled divorcee, widow, or widower
wounded veteran or victim of some scam no one will ever remedy—
prisoner released with nothing after a bitter long term
it was all a misunderstanding, & the misunderstanding persists—
head of a small efficient or large & flailing household
in times of upheaval or of making do under oppressive regimes
for months or years or decades or generations.

I compare my role
to the roles of the prominent
& of the terminally marginalized & defeated
predators, drones, & parasites
among whom I struggle to rise, rather than sink.

I try to temper the insane over-confidence
that sometimes comes over me
which yields tragedy—
or the insane delusion of incurable incompetence
so many would encourage me to feel
& to which I find I’ve yielded again & again—
therefore missing opportunties
at least to provide for my own survival a while.

I am like the psychopath whose way of seeing the world
is so different from most people’s way of seeing the world
& as far from the way the world is as most people’s way—
& I’m like the sage who sees thru both the norm & psychoses
how the world really is, but others pay no attention
& he learns not to be taken for a psychopath
& to keep what he knows to him or her self
til it becomes appropriate, on some rare occasion
to say or do what is otherwise never said or done—
not just to relieve him or her self
but in order to have an effect long required, but blocked
by the implacable opposition of those with the wealth & power
& by convention & others’ egos resisting the knowledge
of so much wasted & counterproductive time & effort.

Everyone compares his or her lot
assets, liabilities, kit & methods
& scruples & aspirations
with everyone else’s—
the cat assesses traffic on the road she’d cross—
whether formally, calculating
or by analogy, mostly unconsciously—
good & bad people must do so—
of course, no one is always good or bad—
clever & dull people, big & small
woman, man, young, old
of every degree of sophistication or inexperience
every race, ethnicity, class
those who seem to have succeeded once & for all
& those weak from trauma
or from prolonged deprivation or discouragement—
they make small or great advantageous adjustments
or begin to die
with varying degrees of grace or anxiety.


payoff / purpose series
effectiveness series
gewalt series


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