Friday, March 18, 2011

[Combatwords, March 18, 2011] End of an Era

[Combatwords, March 18, 2011] End of an Era

When the Han Dynasty collapsed an age of trade made way for an age of war. It was even worse in Europe when the Roman Empire collapsed: the culture was utterly destroyed. When Franz-Ferdinand was assassinated it started the end of 400 years of European imperialism. When I traded my bicycle & New York lock for a suit and tie, it was the end of an era too. The idea of 'transition' is too gentle—it implies that with an end there is a beginning. There is doubt embedded in the idea of an 'end of an era.' Obviously the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis suggest that this era is ending too.

ps: I'm only giving you 3 hours to get a +2 bonus.

Combat Expiration: 12am PST, 3/21/2011

Critique Expiration: 12am PST, 3/23/2011

Bonuses/Penalties: +2 if posted by 3pm PST, 3/18/2011, +1 if posted by 12am PST 3/19/2011, -1 if posted by 6am PST 3/21/2011, -2 if posted by 12pm PST 3/21/2011.

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  1. The Next Dispensation

    Bespoke dust, a rib removed
    and Adam choked on paradise
    as Eve fell from favor; eyes open

    Knowledge is death

    The will of man confounded
    and common speech confused
    by an angry god; alas Shinar

    Pride cometh

    The law was torn in two
    like the temple curtain
    at the last exhale; my God

    It is finished

    Two thousand years of grace
    covered the lower ground
    of man’s last temple; Manhattan

    Allah Akbar

    A Mayan switch waits patiently,
    oblivious to God, good, evil, Allah,
    laws, grace and man; the dust calls

  2. (Sorry for the removal, that first one didn't really work out so well. Not that this one is much better, but thought I'd give it another stab.)

    Fin de siècle

    My wife could not care less, but I insisted
    that no daughter of mine was to be wedded
    without there being served at the reception
    our precious shark fin soup of celebration.
    I said, “Remember, dear, when you and I-”
    ...she rolled her eyes.
    My daughter did the same, adding
    “Dad, it doesn’t taste like anything.
    Plus they hack the fins off while they’re
    still alive. Poor things.”
    (Poor things? With all those teeth?)
    But I left the office early anyway
    and hit the streets of Chinatown, praying
    I’d find some not too pricy specimen,
    a gray wedge of dried-up cartilage chopped
    from a mako or porbeagle shark.
    But while they once were found in any shop
    in the district, dangling in the windows
    wrapped in plastic, now there was not
    a single fin to be had. The predators had been
    declared endangered, their purchase
    made illegal. I was incensed.
    How could they prohibit our tradition?
    Our memories condemned, our past made sin.
    Would they deny Marcel his madeleine?
    Reproach the kosher Jew for eating brisket?
    I wept with rage. My tongue could still feel
    the texture, taste the broth
    being spooned into my mouth by my young bride.
    I suppose I shall resort to the black market.
    I can’t allow my child to be denied.
    She will be wed. And I will have my shark.

  3. Bar Mitzvah at the Fairmont Hotel [Combatwords, March 20, 2011]

    Thirteen's too young for adulthood,
    Too young for a party, for presents;
    Mizvah or not, they were trifles.

    Manhood: a drink from the bottle,
    A job and a suit and a headache—
    Kids and a party like Gatsby.

    This is adulthood we chuckled,
    And aimed the eclairs at commuters,
    Not understanding we reached it.

  4. a city built in flames
    the heat recorded in years to come
    unfounded remorse for a
    porter house yet in the oven
    I married her to my future
    to taste now and know how delicious
    it was

  5. If there is no utopia, there is no such thing as dystopia. Where I grew up, among big houses on landscaped hillsides, from time to time someone would dump a body on a dead end road, or alongside a dirt path. One day a shotgun blast rang out across my neighborhood. Rumors spread quickly: One angry guy had come the house of another guy, who brought out his shotgun and fired it in the air to scare the angry guy away. I knew the little sister of the shotgun shooter. The next day in history class I asked her what happened. "I don't want to talk about it," she said. Where is this utopia of which you speak? It's always been dystopia, dystopia then, dystopia now. The earth shakes, the mountains move, the rain falls ... The mud slid down the cliffsides and onto the road in front of me as I drove to work through the canyon this morning. The Highway Patrolman had just arrived, and he didn't seem to know what to do. Put up an orange cone first, then call for the bulldozer, or vice versa? Dystopia today, dystopia every day.