My last post dealt with how I came to be plopped down in the middle of a desert. This post involves the state one is in, after a humiliating defeat makes one look like a complete fool.
True poets tend to be in this state a lot, for true poetry, (as opposed to the crass and commercial collegiate balderdash which makes the common man loath poetry), sees man could be far better than man actually is, and, because it forgets how mean man actually is, tends to trust in the wrong place at the wrong time, and therefore poets wind up embarrassed and looking like chumps.
This doesn’t just happen to sissy poet-dreamers. It also happens to entire nations, full of poetry and beauty, such as Poland and France. Some hard-nosed realist, such as Adolph Hitler, embarrasses them. They were just minding their own business, and the next thing they knew they were defeated, and were ruled by a Gestapo.
Any people who is outraged by outsiders infringing upon their God-given liberty is experiencing what a poet deems rather ho-hum and every-day, for every day a poet witnesses people behaving in less than poetic ways. How can I tell you what it is like to see how beautiful life could be, when I am like a Frenchman trying to explain good manners to the Gestapo? Henry Miller put it well:
Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source; there is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there.
Others do not seem to be troubled by outsiders infringing upon people’s God-given liberty. They just “go with the flow” and “do what it takes.” If the Gestapo takes over, they smile at the Gestapo. It comes to them as a great surprise that, when the Gestapo is later defeated, they are called despised “collaborators”, and mobs of angry people shave their hair from their heads.
The French women being shamed in the above pictures were “politically correct” when the Gestapo ruled. They felt they were smart to ditch honest and patriotic French boys for what made more sense, in some senseless way. Maybe it was for money, or advancement, or power, or fame, or for some other thing, but it was not smart, in the long run. In the end a higher Truth defeated the “political correctness” of the Gestapo.
What the above pictures do not show, directly, is how their old boyfriends felt, when the above women ditched them for the Gestapo. It is obvious that the majority of the French people had a pent-up fury towards collaborators. But what about the rejected suitor? Did he want to see his ex shaved bald?
Probably not. (I say that as one who was chronically a rejected suitor when young, and also a poet). What the rejected poet wishes is a better way, often expressed with the two sad words “if only…”
It was important to me, when life plunked me down in the desert in 1984, to battle my own bitterness. I could recognize a rage in myself I didn’t like at all. It is one thing to write a sardonic song like the Eagle’s “Lying Eyes”, expressing contempt towards women who marry for money and who therefore, in a sense, put the gestapo of greed ahead of Truth, but it quite another thing to strip women naked, tar them and shave their heads and then force them to stand before a photographer, heiling Hitler.
At some point the rage one feels towards “collaborators” begins to approach the rage Hitler felt, towards those who surrendered Germany at the end of World War One. In his rage-warped mind the people who surrendered Germany were collaborators, and he was able to tap into the outrage of the German people, for the punishment inflicted upon Germany was not just. If the kaiser, who the king of England referred to as “cousin Willy”, was to blame, then he perhaps should have paid the price “cousin Nick” (the Czar of Russia) paid. And perhaps “cousin George” (king of England) should have paid as well. Talk about a dysfunctional family! The grandchildren of Queen Victoria were given great power and authority, but rather than good made a slaughter as bad as the slaughter caused by supposedly Christian Protestants and Catholics in Europe’s Thirty Years War (1618-1648) that cost Europe eight million lives.
It was the “swamp” of 1914, the royalty, that led mankind to misery. The soldiers didn’t hate each other. During the Christmas truce of 1914 the English and German soldiers played soccer together in No Man’s Land.
The soldiers didn’t hate each other. They had to be ordered to hate, and in actual fact royalty was horrified by reports of their troops “fraternizing with the enemy”, and Christmas Truces were forbidden, after 1914.
In other words, the German people should not have been forced to pay enormous and impossible reparations; the royalty should have paid. And the demands of the victors were hateful, and punished innocent Germans who had already been horribly punished by the stupid war. In a sense it was a continuation of war’s hate, and it was quite easy for Hitler to tap into the national resentment towards all who collaborated with such an unjust and hateful invader. But responding to hate with hate only made things unspeakably worse, and resulted in slaughter that made World War One’s horrible slaughter look small.
We are now facing a political elite which make the royalty of 1914 look civil and wise, and a politically-correct “swamp” that makes 1914 look like a highland. If the lunatics running the asylum are allowed to have their way, the resultant slaughter will make World War Two’s look small. But some of these “elite” are actually on record as saying such a slaughter would be a good thing, as the over-populated planet needs to see population reduced to a half-billion. The death of seven billion would not trouble them.
As a poet I tell you, such ugliness is totally unnecessary. We too can play soccer in no man’s land over Christmas, and after Christmas no one can force us to return to killing each other.
There are certain socialists who seem to be attempting to blame all the world’s problems on old, white men, and when I listen to them I have the creepy sense I may wind up stripped naked and tarred and forced to stand for a photograph with my hand on my heart, saluting the American flag. Such socialists seem pumped up by the vengeful adrenaline-rush that Hitler exploited, which caused Germany to declare war on the entire world and all of mankind. Such socialist zealots are past being mildly mad. They are past going completely mad. Their intellects foam mad-dog-insanity. Such hatred is utterly unnecessary.
I know this because in 1984 my peculiar fate plopped me down in the midst of my “enemy”, in the desert. Most people I associated with were Navajo, and their word for me was “Behlighana”, which means “People who we fought.” Therefore I was identified with an invader, and as an oppressor, and even as a member of the gestapo. To even associate with me could be seen, (and indeed was seen, by a few), as “collaboration.” But instead we played soccer in No Man’s Land, like brothers.
I like to think this occurred because I am utterly charming, and such a good poet that just meeting me convinces people brotherhood is better than hate, but in actual fact I think the reasons may have been more mundane, and even sordid.
The first reason involves the fact some jobs are so hard men are forced to get along even if they don’t like each other. For example, on a sailing ship in a storm, everyone knows that they will die if they don’t work as a team to survive; all hands are on deck; race and religion do not matter. In “Moby Dick” Herman Melville describes the astonishing racial diversity which worked together on whaling ships. I have seen the same fellowship while spreading hot asphalt under a blazing sun in the desert. Sometimes a man has got to do what a man has got to do, and, because there is no time to hate an enemy, men are in harmony.
The second reason involved the fact some Navajo identified me as being a “Glahni”. (Which means, “drunkard.”) This was because, when the woman you crave has left you for some gestapo she thinks is better, the thing that replaces her can be a six-pack of beer.
I often could not even afford a six-pack, and when I could it often was a horrible bargain-basement beer with some name like “Texas Star” that smelled so highly of bad-water sulfur only a tough man could drink it. But I did drink, and when I had a six-pack I was willing to share. This somehow redeemed me from my gestapo status. Somehow I couldn’t be all bad, if I shared my beer.
In terms of the true Glahni, I was an effete tippler. True Glahni could pound down amazing amounts of alcohol. They explained to me that, back in the day, they could be arrested if they were found with a bottle, and therefore they would drink the entire bottle as fast as they could, and then throw the empty bottle as far as they could into the sage brush. Then they would sit back and watch what happened.
I told them I am a sissy. If I drank a quart of wine in thirty seconds, and then sat back to see what happened, I would get sick and throw up a quart of wine. The wine would be wasted. Therefore, I told them, I sipped more slowly.
They forgave me for being a sissy, because I had confessed my weakness. I then learned some Glahni were only passing-out-on-the-street briefly, like a drunken sailor binging while on leave, and the rest of the time were gainfully employed doing other things which sissy Behlighana could not do, such as walk on I-beams eighty stories above the streets of Chicago. Most of the time they were making more than ten times what I made, and were more sober than I was, as a tippler, but once in a while we were on the same page.
The law had altered, and the younger Glahni did not have the same reason to never be seen with a bottle holding alcohol. They were sissy tipplers like myself. However they castigated me in the same way their elders did.
The elders, after downing a quart of wine, were only good for ten minutes of good conversation, after which things went rather rapidly downhill. But the young tipplers could talk with me longer. They did castigate me, as being an oppressive invader, but they also recognized me as a brother. Why? Because I was drinking beer to drown my sorrows because a woman had chose a “gestapo” over me, and they were doing the same for the same reason, in their lives.
Our conversations were brutal and blunt, and so ridiculous we sometimes would shift from debating jaw-to-jaw to fits of laughter. For example, I often was informed, “You stole our land.” I’d look them straight in the eye and reply, “Land? Land? I have no stinking land! If I had land do you think I’d be sleeping in my car? It is you guys who have the land. Your reservation is as big as the the Netherlands and Belgium put together! Why is it I have to pay taxes and you guys don’t? It seems to me you guys should be taking care of me, but you guys get all the government hand-outs while I get diddlesquat.” Then I would laugh and conclude, “Those morons in Washington just haven’t got a clue.”
It is important to know the right time to laugh, when quarreling with your enemy. It is also important to deflect attention to the morons in Washington, which is something you can agree upon. In any case we’d dissolve from jaw-to-jaw disagreement to rolling around laughing.
There were a lot of reasons for laughter, for cultural differences make silly misunderstanding happen. At this point I have to restrain myself, or I’ll give a hundred examples. I had a lot of good talks, and enjoyed a lot of laughter, with the Navajo. People think Indians are grim-lipped and stoic, but my experience was that they love any excuse to laugh. And perhaps that is an element of stoicism: The ability to laugh at what would make others cry. But allow me to sidetrack slightly by giving a single example of a cultural misunderstanding.
One thing I was struck by in Navajo children of that time was that they were amazingly tough and seldom whined. This trait was made clear one time when a small four-year-old girl insisted on walking with me when I went to walk to get mail from the mailbox, which was a half-mile away across a blazing hot desert. I tried to talk her out of it, but she was insistent, for reasons that only make sense when you are four-years-old. So she came trotting along beside me, as I went to get my mail.
The hot sun pummeled me without mercy, and I myself was thinking mail wasn’t worth such punishment before we reached the mailbox, but the little girl never once complained. I was fairly certain, as we set out, I’d wind up being asked to carry her, and was willing to let her ride my shoulders, or I never would have let her come along. But she never asked. All the way to the mailbox and all the way back this little girl never once whined or pleaded. I looked down at the girl, as she plodded beside me, amazed at the grim look on her young face. I could not help but conclude she was tougher than sissy poets, like myself, are.
I am not sure how Navajo parents taught their children to be so tough. The children seemed to follow a commandment at an early age, “Thou shalt not plead.” But then they would attend a white man’s school, and face a contrary commandment: “Always say ‘please’.”
There is a lot to laugh about, concerning this cultural misunderstanding. And I did laugh a lot, once I got the joke. The problem is some stuffy schoolmarms don’t get the joke.
This allows me to get back to the original topic, which is, in case you have forgotten, how some women bow to an oppressive gestapo, and later face having their heads shaved for doing so.
It seems to me underpaid schoolmarms have no idea of the danger they are in. They assume they know right from wrong, when they are merely enacting an inane edict created by know-nothing bozos in Washington, and inflicted upon the innocent.
It seems to me schoolmarms don’t know why they demand a child say “please.” They just demand it and think they have every right to punish a child who refuses to say “please”. (Or, if they are told Global Warming is an established fact , they think they have every right to punish a child who states it isn’t.)
One thing the Navajo Glahni and I immediately agreed upon was that school was not a pleasant experience. In their case the crap they endured in “Indian Schools” was really horrific, but in some ways not very different than what I experienced as a white poet in a politically-correct suburban school in a town of rich white people. The politically-correct seemed so busy attempting to virtue-signal to the gestapo that they are on-the-team and deserve-the-benefits that they never truly thought about whether what they taught made a lick of sense.
The misunderstanding is something to laugh about. For example, for a number of smart and quite beautiful reasons, Navajo of that time taught their children not to point. A Navajo joke was that their hunting dogs pointed with their lips, like their masters did. But at an Indian School a white schoolmarm might ask a child to point a what was a triangle and what was a square, and then become irate when the child, obeying the biblical commandment to honor their parents, refused to point.
Such misunderstanding can lead to the resentment and repressed fury expressed by the rock group Pink Floyd in “Another Brick In The Wall”.
However the repressed fury Pink Floyd wonderfully expressed is totally unnecessary. Do I really need to show again what hatred does to schoolmarms who, in their ignorance, complied with the political correctness of the gestapo?
Do we really want our stuffy, old schoolteachers to suffer such a fate? For that is exactly the fate a certain brand of socialism promises. In China schoolteachers faithfully taught what Chairman Mao stated should be taught, but when he put the “Cultural Revolution” into effect he tapped into a youthful rage that resulted in the “Red Guard” insisting nearly every teacher in China be destroyed, and when that “socialism” spilled over into Cambodia you could be killed for the infraction of having a writer’s callus on your middle finger, which supposedly proved you were a capitalist because writing was something capitalists did.
This is not anything any sane man wishes upon a schoolmarm, even if she was less than wise. In the end, what defeated Mao’s insanity was not smart Americans. Smart Americans avoided the draft by going to college. What defeated Mao was the stupid kids, who schoolmarms didn’t like and who didn’t go to college and who gained no student-deferment from the draft. It was these mere teenagers who went to Vietnam and defeated Mao’s demented version of Liberalism-gone-awry. (The victory in Vietnam was not that the North Vietnamese were overrun, but rather thyat Mao was delayed eight years, and during those eight years the “Cultural Revolution self-destructed in China.) These bad students, whom schoolmarms never much liked, in actual fact defended schoolmarm’s freedom to be schoolmarms. Not that many schoolmarms ever thanked Vietnam vets for their heroism. And many Navajo Glahni were Vietnam vets.
If you look at the above situation in the right way, it makes you laugh. There is something laughable about schoolmarms detesting the very people who save their wrinkled, old hides. At the same time it is sad. Such men deserve better.
Such men deserve to be loved by their women. Their women should see what fine men their men actually are, even if they are Glahni. And when you listen to a certain sort of music called “The Blues”, you often hear men who have in many ways disgraced themselves as “Glahni” appealing to their woman , (often with a sense of humor), that they are worth loving, and better than the politically-correct, schoolmarm’s gestapo.
When my life landed me in the middle of a desert, I had a strong wish that my ex would change her mind, and see that I was worth loving. She never did, but I was among Navajo Glahni who wished the same thing. I am thankful I met them, for it is hard to feel alone when you are midst a brotherhood of spurned men all yearning for the same thing you yearn for.
At some point after I met these spurned men I apparently felt the desire to express “The Blues” of being a Glahni who saves schoolmarms, but is never appreciated for it. I say “apparently” because I cannot remember how I came to scribble the following verse on now-yellowing paper. I find the verse somewhat stunning, for it suggests a level of inspiration was involved I do not remember; a golden light shone in the shadows, as we laughed and were losers, all those years ago. The crudely scrawled scribble employs the then-Navajo slang where a man is a “buck” and a woman is a “doe”, and states:
RHYME OF BUCK
Doe don’t hear the sonnets any more,
Though I speak ’em all the time,
Who hears rhyme?
Like the sleeper to the snore or
Ing harlots to the whore,
She sees no crime.
When I ask her for a dime
She don’t see
Ten Syllables a line,
And she has missed
The beauty of my rhyme;
The ones who reach her
With a fist.
Grenades are her maids.
Bombs move her.
Everywhere poetry pounds like warm hail;
Still she sees no sonnet.
Until she sees the sonnet in her buck
And brings out the
Night rhyme of luck.
As I scanned this poem, which I couldn’t recall bitterly scrawling, I had a sense a younger me thought I was being tricky as I wrote it. I rolled my eyes a bit rereading, because I saw immediately that the rhyme of “buck” and “luck” is “fuck”, and the poem in some ways is just the crude appeal of a spurned man, asking his ex to return to the status quo of nightly copulation. As such it seemed little more than the selfishness of lust.
However, as I recall, my younger self would never willingly give lust such power. (I might be defeated a thousand times, but I kept on fighting.) Therefore I knew some deeper trickery was involved. All of a sudden I saw what I never intended any reader to see. It was my youthful joke, aimed towards the ignorant. It assumed no one would ever figure out that the above poem, written in a politically-correct modernistic form, was actually an old fashioned sonnet. and as such would look like this:
Doe don’t hear the sonnets any more, I guess.
Though I speak ’em all the time, who hears rhyme?
Like the sleeper to the snore,or confess-
Ing harlots to the whore, she sees no crime.
When I ask her for a dime she don’t see
Ten syllables a line, and she has missed
The beauty of my rhyme; the poetry.
The ones who reach her teach her with a fist,
The terrorist touches her. I fail.
Grenades are her maids. Bombs move her. I don’t.
Everywhere poetry pounds like warm hail.
Still she sees no sonnet. I sail. She won’t
Until she sees the sonnet in her buck
And brings out the hid midnight rhyme of luck. (1985)
I assume that, by writing a sonnet no one would see was a sonnet, I was creating something that symbolized the hero hidden in the Glahni. After all, if God is in everything, then God is in the Glahni. Furthermore, to be quite frank, it was a lot easier to see God in the laughter of the Glahni than in the frowning of a prissy schoolmarm.
What was most God-like about the Glahni was that they didn’t seem to want their exes to be stripped and tarred and humiliated. They simply wanted their exes to be nice. Though unforgiven they forgave, which was a paradox we could laugh about, sitting in the desert sunshine, 34 years ago.
Now I suspect a lot of those fellows are dead. They were heroes who defeated Mao in Vietnam, but they also defeated a greater enemy in their own hearts: The seething hatred towards those who collaborate with the gestapo. Therefore I suspect they have gone to a sunny place where there is no hate, and the sonnets are not hidden.