Friday, November 26, 2010

CombatWords, November 26, 2010: News and Politics

CombatWords, November 26, 2010: News and Politics

The muses have many strange means of transmitting their will to the writer. Rhyme and meter is one way; life experience and the will to write is another. For Robert Frost or Stanley Kunitz, nature might serve as muse; for me—among other things—I'm inspired by politics and news. Many writers try to avoid these subjects, but the topics encode all sorts of aspects of our psyches. Politics and news are NARRATIVE; sheer story—but a specific kind of story: one that claims to be 'real.' I want you to engage the news or politics from any angle you wish. These are primal topics, but that's okay—I want a primal combat. Freestyle if you wish.

Combat Expiration: 11/29/2010, 12am PST
Critique Expiration: 11/30/2010, 12am PST. Grace period of 12 hrs for counter-critiques, to allow for rebuttals to last minute comments.
Bonuses/Penalties: +2 if posted by 8pm PST 11/26/2010, +1 if posted by 12am PST, 11/27/2010, -1 if posted by 6am 11/29/2010, -2 if posted by 12pm 11/29/2010.
The Rules:

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  1. Beaver dammed river.
    Felled trees, mosquito ponds spawn
    biennial blooms.

  2. The news crawls across the bottom of the screen
    Like a wounded man with bloody feet
    While voice boxes screwed into flesh robots talk
    About white people victimized by the rainbow
    Whether it be gays raping the sanctity of marriage
    Or roving gangs of Mexicans kidnapping the suburbs
    They do it with a wry smile, and emphatic nods
    Making sure the public understands
    They should be very afraid
    And for those that don't it's color coded
    To be easily understood
    The world is out to get them
    Just ask Sarah Palin
    Change the channel
    She'll be there, rifle in hand
    Shooting some animal
    Setting an example
    Of what it means to be American
    To grow up with a rattle made in China
    To trade with age for a medicine cabinet that rattles
    Like a snake coiled with limp dick pills
    Anti-psychotics and Percosets
    That their angry kids steal along with minivans
    Texting back home to demand plastic surgery
    So they can feel normal
    Like the pictures on T.V
    The ones that glow them to sleep
    Between commercials telling them what to eat
    For breakfast, lunch, and dinner
    Open 24/7 for your convenience
    Even on the birthday of baby Jesus
    It's the American way


    Chuck put his hand on the warm glass that separated him from the nursery. The newborns were lined in tiny stainless steel cradles. It was all so antiseptic, like the sick wards he’d seen in the army. It made him sad, seeing her swaddled in pink, lying amongst the other newborns. Babies were meant to be held. He just wanted to take her home, feed her, comfort her, know in his heart that she belonged to him, and he to her.

    The baby stirred. Her face was so small, so gentle, smooth without the anxious lines dug into his face like trenches. Was this Genesis or was it catastrophe? He’d thought this after the birth of all his children, but it was much more persistent with this one. Chuck was a rational man, a science teacher, but he was imbued with a sense of fatalism that verged on the hysteric. He knew in his heart that every newborn child had the potential to change history for better or for worse—there was, somewhere in the world, in some woman’s womb, another Hitler. This used to keep him awake at night, staring at the smooth mound that stretched tight his wife’s belly.

    A man in shirtsleeves walked up next to him. He gazed in the nursery and wiped away a tear. They nodded at one another.

    First one? the man asked.

    Nope. Third. Got a boy and a girl too.

    This one’s my first, the man said. He took a deep breath, released a quivering sigh. It had clearly been a long night.

    That your boy right there? Chuck asked.

    Yeah. Melvin Jr. My son...Which one’s yours?

    The little girl right there, Chuck pointed.

    She’s a beauty all right, the man said. What’s her name?

    Sarah, said Chuck. Her name’s Sarah Louise Heath.

    He leaned his forehead into the glass. The baby puckered her lips, made a sucking motion. Chuck smiled. She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. Genesis or catastrophe? One or the other? Most likely both, but nothing as exaggerated as Chuck’s frantic imagination. Adolf Hitler wasn’t born; he was shaped, molded, by a legion of fools. The Soviet mobs, perhaps even somewhere tribal like Kenya could debase a child into a monster, but American common sense would prevent such a thing from happening on its soil. Besides, if little Sarah was cursed with the same shrill tone of voice that seemed to run in the women of his family, there was no way she could ever become a leader. He laughed to himself. The man next to him, Melvin Sr., looked over at him quizzically. Chuck cleared his throat and headed back to see his wife.

  4. PAUL
    Liked it: +1
    Not sure how it ties into the theme, though.: -1


    I think the first half was a little too on the nose for me. You're usually a lot more subtle: -1
    "Like a wounded man with bloody feet" +1
    The last 10 lines of this poem are very strong: +1


  5. Cool reaction J! I lold when I saw her name.

  6. ...on short notice

    It’s just so sad how the world is these days and how many bad things there are in the world. It makes it so hard to connect to this subject and write anything meaningful. I try to think why there is so much badness but it’s difficult because I am always nice to people and I never have my own interests at heart.

    I’ve developed a technique that I thought I could offer to the world so that they might all live in peace with the forest creatures and the massage parlors. Back in the 1980’s, when all this started going really bad, I got into yoga pretty heavily. I found that, when beginning from a Lotus position, I was able to bend forward just enough to stick my head right up my own ass.

    The effect is one of a warm maternal stench and it results in a muffled understanding of what is going on around me. At first I did it because I could; but I soon realized that by sticking my head up my own ass I could easily discover what my personal political beliefs were and how justified those beliefs were in the face of everything that was outside of my own ass.

    I wish I could give this gift to everyone but it costs a lot of money to do yoga. It costs a whole lot of money to do enough yoga to stick your head up your own ass. It costs more money than you and I have ever seen to do something that might require another person, appropriately trained, to stick their head up their own ass.

  7. @ Humanist
    Love the bloody feet simile! +1
    The rest was a little too on the nose for me also but not so much that I'm subtracting points. = 0

    Total +1

    @ J Chon
    Developing a conflicted mood without being confusing +1
    "...released a quivering sigh" So much communicated in that moment +1
    "trench" simile +1
    I liked the Genesis/catastrophe invocation but they seem out of proportion to each other. Genesis/Armageddon works better for me = 0
    The last paragraph feels forced to me. It leaves the story and turns into more like a lecture with a forced resolution -1

    Total +2

    @ Cuff Link
    Cutesy self-awareness -1

    Total -1

  8. @ J Chon

    My haiku was metaphoric to the theme of news and politics.

    The river (free flowing water) was free flowing information
    The beavers are the powers that be (take you pick) that try to block or divert the river for their own benefit.
    The felled trees are the destruction done in order to divert/block the river.
    The ponds are the stagnant water trapped by the dam which now serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
    Mosquitoes are (take your choice of political bloodsuckers).
    Biennial blooms refer to the 2-year election cycle in America and the blood-suckers that come out as a result each time.

  9. @ Paul et al.

    - My ass was like a beaver eating my head. Or my head was like a beaver going in a beaver den.
    - Yoga is like political theories on mechanisms of global stability.
    - Massage parlors are places where for about $20 (depends on the place) you can get a handjob.

    Paul's Haiku gets -3,000 points.

  10. @ Cuff Link
    Damn. So close. Always the bridesmaid but never the beaver. Hmmm... Don't think that came out right. ;)