Saturday, June 16, 2012

Poetics: As the currents off Château d'If

Charlottesville, VA

'You are not special', he said
in the graduation speech heard round the world
& we cheered---

'You have been coddled & pampered',
things we knew, but would not say ourselves,
for our own conviction

but i dare any of you to visit the hospital nursery,
say those same things to new born, pink
wrinkled bit of flesh
& see who cheers
& who gets shot

this is dangerous business, the theft
of magic that makes us
who we are---

but the government for years, four years
at an empty clip, reduces lives to statistics,
ticky-tac tally marks, erasable as chalk---like actuaries
determine acceptable loss (unless
of course you have status) & we accept

our place in column, forgetting our birth-
rite, of nature, as notes in the margin,
exiled to the edges of pages, our letters,
not as straight as those that lockstep
lines into paragraphs or chapters

on & on they march to logical conclusions,
pausing at commas, stopping when told
by periods---&Moses is not coming---
us though, there is something

dangerous & wild in the hand written,
barely legible scribble---anXious, awaITing
revelation like John on Patmos, ready
to choke the dragon that creeps tween thighs
of birthing moms with bare hands & cut teeth
all horns & seals (will be) broken in time---

not spoon fed ideas, gruel with no need to chew
but inspired thought signed, in flourish, X, I'LL mark
the spot we stood up---so believe,

there is nothing special in being one in a million
in a world of 6 billion & there is always another
to take your place when you fall
but heed the laughter of the ones peering
through the ant farm glass---

me, i will be notes in the margin,
you find in a book one day
and dream something different
than exile, disguised as freedom---
like gasoline rainbows, right
before the match strike.

schhhrickkk----FWOOOM

At dVerse today, it's K of ManicDDaily, sending us to poetic EXILE and making us find our way back. So bring some shoes, and maybe a spoon to dig our way out---doors open at 3 pm.

The above chalk message I found written on several walls around Charlottesville last time i was there.

75 comments:

Mary said...

One

Brian Miller said...

ha you are quick on the draw today mary

Mary said...

Ha, I am indeed. I think life is more than statistics. Each person is special in some way. Notes on the margin of a book? Why not strive to be the author of that book? The book of life. Enjoy your day.

Dave King said...

enjoyed this very much - the poetry, that is: the thought resonated with too much truth to be given that label. But poetry should not always please, it should rattle us sometimes - and this sure rattled me. Well done, that man!

Claudia said...

love the whole spirit in this...the not bowing to an exile some would call safety but holding people small, minor and unimportant, reduced to receiving orders and march how they want us to..also the allusion to the chateau d'if with its history that reflects a bit of this spirit works very well...and my fav part is the dangerous & wild stanza...way to go...

ayala said...

This is dangerous business, the theft
of magic that makes us
who we are--- love this! Great write, Brian !

Grace said...

That is a vivid image, gasoline rainbows before the match strike ~

I also like erasable as chalk and forgetting our birthright as notes in the margin ~ Alas, we are all just statistics in someone's book ~

DJan said...

Thoughtful this morning, aren't we? I do like this one, and I know I am not special, but once I die the world stops. For me, anyway. :-)

Lorraine said...

it's all true ...Brian, so very true

Tabor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tabor said...

There are those that can only see the whole through the sum of its parts. But the danger is that you might miss a part or even worse count a part that isn't there! Then your sum is wrong.

Daniel said...

We are all special and we are all above average. This is what folks are trying to equate. But you are so right to point out the differences. Indeed, we are all special, all a gift, all unique.

rosaria williams said...

Ah, holding both truths right in front of our noses. I know the need for one; and I know the reality of the other, and still ponder over each one, day after day.
Well done.

Maggie May said...

There is much truth in that and it is a bit chilling to think we might be just notes in the margin of a book.
I believe we are all special and always will be special to God.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Steve E said...

Brian, what other response will say, "WOW!"

I'll try:

YOU are one-in-a-million--or is it billions, one in billions, THAT'S it! I am/wish/hope to be, one with you Peeps out in that margin, always adding or subtracting from the regimented and printed thoughts with periods, commas, and paragraph spaces.

Like, do we really need CAPITALS?
Sheeesh!

Thanks again for THIS "WOW"!

Kulio said...

for years, four years - cool
and "dangerous business..." awesome :-)

Susan said...

OMG!
Perfection in my eyes, partly because I agree, but mostly because you found a way to say it that makes it visual and creates the gasoline/dynamite/power/fuel ready to ignite. I think of Hamlet's "readiness is all" and your dare:

"but i dare any of you to visit the hospital nursery,
say those same things to new born, pink
wrinkled bit of flesh
& see who cheers
& who gets shot

this is dangerous business, the theft
of magic that makes us
who we are---"

and I will stop with this next, lest I repeat your own poem to you, reduction to statistics and all:

"us though, there is something

dangerous & wild in the hand written,
barely legible scribble---anXious, awaITing
revelation like John on Patmos, ready
to choke the dragon that creeps tween thighs
of birthing moms with bare hands & cut teeth
all horns & seals (will be) broken in time---"


Thank you, thank you.

sage said...

Nice. We may not be statically special, but I'll take my theology over math any day and suggest that according to the Creation story, we are special.

ladyfi said...

I hope no one will convince us that we are not special in some way or other.

Brian Miller said...

i am definitely of the belief we are special...i get what the guy was saying in that graduation speech...if you dont know the one it got a lot of face time on blogs and websites, just google...'you are not special' graduation speech...i think the word he was looking for in entitled...i just had a hard time with the repeated 'you are not special' and all the diminishing stats he used to back it up...

Pat Hatt said...

A number we all are
To those from afar
Who sit on their high horse
With little to no remorse
We should just label ourselves if we wish
And stick to that instead of being one of the fish
Make our own book
And not fall for some stupid hook

hedgewitch said...

We all start out thinking we're the center of the universe(look at any squalling infant, as you point out)--I think the guy was trying to break it to these kids at a psychological moment, that it isn't all about 'me' but about all of us, each as special as another. That the world is not going to treat you like a loving parent, even if it should. I do however think there is something unique in each of us--some more divergent than others. Good one, bri.

Myrna R. said...

This is powerful Brian. I had a little resistance to kids being told they're not special, but I get it.

Your poem contains so much truth. It's true they may not be special, but it's also true that they (we) get institutionalized to the point of losing our individuality - that which makes us special.

Myrna R. said...

Brian, forgot to wish you a Happy Father's Day. I know how deeply you care about our youth, making you father to many.

Sue said...

exile, disguised as freedom---
like gasoline rainbows, right
before the match strike.

What a powerful image!

Happy Father's Day, Brian.

=)

SueAnn Lommler said...

It's dangerous times we live in...scary and confusing!! How will they survive? I wonder
Hugs'
SUeAnn

farmlady said...

"me, i will be notes in the margin,
you find in a book one day
and dream something different
than exile, disguised as freedom---
like gasoline rainbows, right
before the match strike.

schhhrickkk----FWOOOM"

Mind blowing poem.

turtlememoir said...

deeply thought-provoking, Brian...
statistics are forever reminding me i should have died 40 years ago and yet here I am, more alive than anyone could have imagined then...
no surprise though that statistics are god in an age where $$$ appear to be the prime measure of worth.
and special, as you (and 'he') say, is seldom if ever found on the well-marked path:
"not spoon fed ideas, gruel with no need to chew
but inspired thought signed, in flourish, X, I'LL mark
the spot we stood up"

Fred Rutherford said...

oh, this is amazing, one of your best, and that's no small feat. Everything from but the government to the end is so charged and strong, really enjoyed this a lot.

manicddaily said...

Fwoom! I love the last stanza of this especially - the gasoline rainbows; all those numbers. So difficult to live in the modern world! You bring out the tension and yet also let loose.

I finally got my prompt done - a lot of technical difficulties - I lost my stylus (for drawing) and stupidly tried to make one of my own. Bleeding hands later, I had something that sort of worked but went with fingers instead. Crazy! Talk about procrastination - try messing around with wires, sponges, and an iPad. Ha. k.

TALON said...

I loved the last stanza. I have been guilty of leaving notes in the margins of books and love finding others...

Valerie said...

I agree with everyone else that all people are special in some way. I do understand what 'he' was trying to say though.

Laurie Kolp said...

Powerful stuff. I remember hearing about that speech and I think it was out of place... you're right, entitled would have been a better word. Really enjoyed this, especially the ending.

FrankandMary said...

All the specialness is too freakin' precious for me(always has been. the kid with a limp is not going to be a ballerina), but then, the theft of magic is a high-crime.

Jenny Woolf said...

I was very impressed by your point about telling people they are not special, but not taking that line about babies. Actually, I'm not sure we should ever tell anyone they are not special.

Charles Miller said...

Dude, powerful and inflammatory in so many ways. This is great political poetry, and I think you've both created a clarion call to the dispossessed as well as a powerful rebuke of those who believe that God or nature has somehow entitled them to looking down on the rest of us. You know, the real revolution in the US was not winning the Revolutionary War, it was when the know-nothings and untitled masses voted for true democracy in Jefferson. The super-rich had better watch out ot there will be another revolution like this gonna happen. Great poem, Brian, as always.

Daydreamertoo said...

I agree, we are all special, in our own way. We are each and everyone of us valid and vital and we all matter in this world, price or pauper.
Nicely said (yet again) I love your truths!

Victoria said...

There's a lot to comment on this this well thought-out poem, Brian. I think there's truth and misperception both in that "You are not special..." comment. So many kids (today and eons ago) are so unprepared for the realities of life. I think McCullough was trying to prepare them for the challenges that life will bring. At the same time, I would hate to think that the specialness of each person is not recognized. Perhaps the balance in the realization that we are all in a state of "potential"--we ARE special and are called to become even more. And that means facing fear, working hard, and believing that we can do it.

Matt said...

Sad but true. Although there's always the one ant who smashes through the glass and becomes somebody, until he is eventually forgotten like all the other ants.

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Burning statement on a hot topic. Some great remarks cleverly disguised as good poetry in this piece, Brian. Excellent!

benmind said...

I heard about that same speech, and I love where you take it into the universe of potentiality and hard stripped reality that is defined by those outside, every word a drum beat against that dangerous business. Each word more powerful in the telling. Fantastic!

hiroshimem.com said...

"this is dangerous business [indeed], the theft
of magic that makes us
who we are---"
Beautiful thesis. As poets, I guess a lot of us dream of staying as "notes in the margin" somewhere, at least... So many beautiful expressions in there, with some that make me think: "exile, disguised as freedom". Bravo!

K McGee said...

Somewhere in the middle of dreams and reality lies a truth of what's to come. Finding the balance, however, is very difficult. I've read this three times and still find it with fresh eyes.

pandamoniumcat said...

We may not be special on our own but we can be together... if we work at it... life is life regardless of the statistics and magic brews within us...sometimes it takes a little while to find it!
Another thought provoking poem Brian!

Natasha Head said...

The truth is always found in the margins...or at least between the lines. Those that look down upon us see us as nothing more than a means to an end, yet each of us "nobodys" or "numbered products" have those souls that look up to us, that make us their world. And even if you can only be the sun to one...you gotta shine as bright as you can for them. You, are a sun burning bright for many...don't underestimate the power of your words, nor your ability to deliver them. You've got an army of world-changers just wishing you'd make the call to arms...Poets...grab your pens! Another outstanding write...and yet another comment that has taken up too much space...I've got poems to read!

Secret Agent Woman said...

Nothing special and utterly special - the paradox of the individual.

Pauline said...

We're all special, but not one of us is more important than the other. Isn't it fun?

ordinarylifelessordinary said...

A great poem, but for me that last stanza in particular just bowled me over... I am the notes in the margin, oh I've certainly felt that, awesome!

~Lady Day said...

Wow! That was gritty. X-it..all the detail to this...I may need to read it five more times...LOVE it! Thank you for sharing it.

Charity said...

"say those same things to new born, pink wrinkled bit of flesh"

Smacks with such reality - we too quickly think we are nothing, but look at the miracle of life and you know that's a lie!

Wonderful!

Hannah said...

dangerous & wild in the hand written,
barely legible scribble---

I like the sound play in this...lots of them throughout but this stood out to me!

You've really delved in deeply here so much meat to chew through. Well done, Brian!

Alice Audrey said...

Kind of reminds me of the kind of intense poetry that was big in the 60's.

vivinfrance said...

You went to the heart of the matter, squeezed it and threw it at us with vehement poetic brilliance.

wordwand said...

great write ; the imagery in this post is tremendous well done Brian.

wordwand said...

great write ; the imagery in this post is tremendous well done Brian.

Polly said...

Powerful, thought-provoking, great write, thank you Brian

(and apols for posting a piece of prose *slaps hand*)

tino11 said...

schhhrickkk----FWOOOM

Man, that is some ending to this marvelous piece.

How do you light a match and create mayhem without actually saying so? You say,

schhhrickkk----FWOOOM ;-)

Alicia said...

Wow- dangerous indeed. You can wield words like no ONE else I know!

Heather said...

yes, i heard it - I have hard time with it- though,but i like the way you have created imagery here.

wanted to say,
HAPPY FATHER"S DAY to you!
Hope you are being treated like a king today!

Ravenblack said...

Gasoline rainbows.

The poem is a sidestep thought away from the intended message of that speech. But it's enough to draw attention.

People become cold statistics, I suspect it's what happens when the view is pulled too far for overview's sake.

The reports that things are fine because figures say so, and that we have to accept certain things because certain studies say so, is the chief reason for the general unhappiness. It's frustrating, because where I am, people express unhappiness are told they have nothing to be unhappy about because the figures show that they should be happy. =/ sigh.

Thought provoking poem, Brian.

happygirl said...

Haha, semantics. You are a wordsmith, but special doesn't not equal individual. I loved the place in the verse where you crossed your t's. :)

the walking man said...

Too much schoolin' usually means not enough larnin'

ND Mitchell said...

Wow-interesting stuff Brian. This was a thought-provoking read!

Adura Ojo said...

To a large extent agree with Mary. We are all special. But then one just needs a cruise on the Atlantic ocean or a big lake to see how truly insignificant human beings can be in the scheme of things.

jane hewey said...

there is a nice combination here of political and spiritual. again, who are we as individuals? as a whole? I am especially enjoying this on Fathers' Day,Brian.

jen revved said...

people seem to really be getting down and honest w/this prompt-- yours powerful, interesting and not an exception that way-- to me you are more than notes in the margin. xj

Mary Mansfield said...

This poem had me flashing back to Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron"...society/government trying to squash individuality in an attempt to keep us as docile sheep. Very nice mix of the political and the spiritual here. :)

Mystic_Mom said...

This is what I want to be Brian! Let's light up the Ant Farm!

me, i will be notes in the margin,
you find in a book one day
and dream something different
than exile, disguised as freedom---
like gasoline rainbows, right
before the match strike.

schhhrickkk----FWOOOM

You rock my friend...this is so good!

Anna Montgomery said...

One of your best imho, which is getting more difficult all the time (soon it will be like my recommended cinema list, entirely too long :).

adan said...

wow, those last two full paragraphs before the gas bursts!

we are special in the way of precious uniqueness and human value

we are not special in being more of that than someone else

we leave our notes in the margin, for someone else to take note of - what a great way to put it

wonderful, thanks brian!

ginn3music said...

Attention getting opening and poem so tragically real

favorite lines "the theft of magic that makes us" "exiled to the edges of paper" "mark the spot we stood up"

and the images here fantastic: ant farm, gasoline rainbows, columns and stats,dangerous handwriting

so full of truth, emotionally charged, and such musical lines

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Brian, the "theft of magic" caused by the World ruling us instead of creation, instead of spirit-led wonder and that uniqueness within that we are forced to deny day after day, as they start in Kindergarten and then in high school, it's already all about how much money your folks have. Hell, I'm so happy we have "just enough" and have love. This was an excellent commentary, thanks. Amy
http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/06/17/far-away-from-home-exile/

Magpie said...

Allowing ourselves to be categorized and labeled is always a dangerous thing. It's far too easy to let other's words convince us of something that simply is not true...unless we allow it to be. :)

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

We may not be special, but your poetry certainly is. :)

william said...

the spirit of this excellent poem lived throughout the piece, another winner friend, bravo.