Saturday, April 17, 2010


Selections from Poetry As Insurgent Art, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

"I am signaling you through the flames.

The North Pole is not where it used to be.

Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.

What are poets for, in such an age? What is the use of poetry?

If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding acopalyptic.

If you would be a poet, experiment with all manner of poetics, erotic broken grammars, ecstatic religions, heathen outpourings speaking in tongues, bombast public speech, automatic scribblings, surrealist sensings, streams of consciousness, found sounds, rants and raves -- to create your own limbic, your underlying voice, your ur voice.

If you call yourself a poet, don't just sit there. Poetry is not a sedentary occupation, not a 'take your seat' practice. Stand up and let them have it."

(Ardent thanks to Eleni for sending me this volume.)


Thursday, April 15, 2010


(Nucleus of Galaxy Centaurus A)

Every Thursday, I post a very large photograph of some corner of space captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and available online from the picture album at HubbleSite, followed by poetry after the jump.

by Mary Oliver
I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans.

Onward, old legs!
There are the long, pale dunes; on the other side
the roses are blooming and finding their labor
no adversity to the spirit.

Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch

though I'm not twenty
and won't be again but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life. And still
full of beans.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today I want to share revelations from just-released scientific studies which have political and cultural implications we might want to consider. All of these are taken from the excellent blog Eureka! Science News.

Fear of getting fat seen in healthy women's brain scans

"A group of women in a new study seemed unlikely to have body image issues – at least their responses on a tried-and-true psychological screening presented no red flags. That assessment changed when Brigham Young University researchers used MRI technology to observe what happened in the brain when people viewed images of complete strangers.
If the stranger happened to be overweight and female, it surprisingly activated in women's brains an area that processes identity and self-reflection. Men did not show signs of any self-reflection in similar situations."

I didn't actually need the confirmation that looking at me causes many women's brains to light up "in ways that suggest extreme unhappiness and in some cases, self-loathing" -- I'd already figured that out -- but do read the study for some interesting details.

(Japanese artist Koshi Kawachi uses old manga collections to plant and grow vegetables)

Why humans believe that better things come to those who wait

'New research reveals a brain circuit that seems to underlie the ability of humans to resist instant gratification and delay reward for months, or even years, in order to earn a better payoff. The study, published by Cell Press in the April 15 issue of the journal Neuron, provides insight into the capacity for "mental time travel," also known as episodic future thought, that enables humans to make choices with high long-term benefits.'
Short version: Maturity as reflected by impulse control and ability to plan for long-term benefit is dependent on the ability to concretely IMAGINE that long-term result. World-views or emotional states which inhibit functional imagination -- such as dependence on authority figures and hierarchies for decision-making instead of individual consideration or operating from a place of fear and avoidance -- will also interrupt rational long-term planning.

Hurts so good: Chronic pain changes brain response to acute pain

"New research reveals why a stimulus that healthy human subjects perceive as a reward might be processed quite differently in the brains of humans suffering from chronic pain." This paper requires a careful read, but what I got from it was that if you live with chronic pain, you are more likely to view a switch to acute pain as a "good thing" because it interrupts the chronic cycle, and perceive the relief of such acute pain, with return to the "regular chronic pain", as a disappointment.

Given how much disability and debilitation of health in this country is linked to chronic pain, going largely untreated by the current for-profit-ONLY health care system, this dissonance is important to remember.

[Cross-posted at Group News Blog.]


Tuesday, April 13, 2010


(Art work by Jack Pierson, photo by Brian Forrest)

I began a poem in late November but couldn't get past the first line. It sat with all other remnants in my WIP file until this afternoon, when I strolled past it again and suddenly knew where to go with it. Done.


There are gobblyns in the deep dark
of any slumber, human
in form but Other
in deed and humor

We try to name them
Make pets of them in daylight
Or at least explain their scrabbled walk
as nobody’s fault

We think admitting our fear
gives them power

We suspect our disgust
is a map to family secrets

Morning is a time for drugs and hurry
Clean clothes and not meeting
each other’s eyes
until we have forgotten again
enough to go along

© 2010 Maggie Jochild
Began November 2009, finished 13 April 2010, 1:54 p.m.



(Maggie and Gail, circa 1981. back stoop of Brosnan Street flat, San Francisco, CA; photo used as my Facebook avatar during early 2010)

So, like, I dreamed about yet ANOTHER ex last night. One about whom I swear to g*d I have not thought in weeks if not months. She had gained a foot in height and was wearing hair glop (neither of which added to her attractiveness) but it was her, passive-aggressive highly-educated bully.

Am I going to survey each of my past relationships during my resting hours, is that what's in store for me? WHY? I have squeezed out every last drop of lesson-juice, and I am definitelu not preparing to "date" again, however you might conceive of it. My major endeavors and challenges are in arenas several city blocks away.

There was a time, around the point where I turned 40, when I worked extremely hard to be in touch with/on good terms with most of my exes. It was a matter of pride to me, some sort of proof that I had not exercised the kind of shitty judgment I in fact had persistently displayed when it came to romance and sex. It's enough for me now that I can be deeply proud of my friendships, my connection to children, my honesty with/about my family, and my writer's voice. I can and do accept that in other areas I reached adulthood profoundly damaged and proceeded to act out that damage with some predictably flawed individuals -- some of whom now it's not worth the kbs to even store a phone number in Outlook. You dig?

The wonderful woman who is kissing me in my profile photo here, Gail G. formerly of Burlington -- that kiss is as much as we ever did. She was one of six women I dated weekly for a while during 1981 or maybe early 1982. I can't remember all the names of the other six, and the only reason I'm sure there WERE six is because it was a joke among my friends that on the seventh night each week (Sundays) I did laundry and called my mama. But Gail wisely hopped into bed with Leah instead, and we remained with an affectionate, easy memory of one another.

My generation of girls was raised to use sex as a means of acquiring love. (I see girls still being raised that way, with an added lie that the sex itself is also a commodity worth selling oneself to have,) The fact that as we came out, we used our conditioned patterns on each other instead of boys and men is irrelevant in the long run. One of the biggest lies about the Second Wave is that we were, in any real fashion, anti-sex. We were fucking OBSESSED with it, and the prospect of sex and romance governed much of our political action. (We're not different from most generations in that regard.)

What WAS different is that we suspected the definitions of sex we had been given were deeply flawed, and we wanted to uncover a human sexuality not crammed into male/female boxes, with male in charge.

But that proved to be a task which, for some, meant they could not imagine a sexuality at all. Rather than face this prospect, they screamed at the rest of us that we were trying to rob them of them erotic rights and got off that train, post-haste.

Hey, you get to choose your battles. But don't tell me I'm anti-sex because I was willing to consider the possibility that EVERYTHING I had been told about human sexuality was a lie, all the way down, and the only way to find bare bones was to include the possibility that none of it mattered. Burn it to scorched earth and start over.

For me, it worked. I found what Skeners would call balance. But I discovered the depth of my own scar tissue, which I suppose is still being revealed to me in my dreams. Scar tissue, in real life, is collagen which is continually replaced by our bodies, a knitting together of old wounds which is never permanent. It takes ascorbic acid -- vitamin C -- to manufacture collagen, and human bodies must obtain it from pure sources in our diet, we cannot manufacture it for ourselves as some mammals can. That is why in advanced stages of scurvy, there is not enough vitamin C available to replace collagen and every wound we ever had will reopen, bleeding as if brand new.

Scars are more than roadmaps. They are active replenishments of self-love. Trace them with gratitude.



Here's the weekly best of what I've gleaned from I Can Has Cheezburger efforts. There are some really creative folks out there.