Cassandra, Prophet

This poem assumes the reader is familiar with the myth of Cassandra and Apollo. If you are not, you can read it in Cassandra’s Wikipedia article.

Content note: This poem has themes of sex and power, and is intended for adults.


Cassandra in the past, my kindred soul,
Looking to the future
With a Sight that needs no eyes.
(A Sight that needs no eyes?
Who can believe a thing like that?)

I believe, Cassandra. I know.
I know because I too can See,
But none believe me when I tell what I can See.
What has cursed both your prophetic gift, and mine,
That we can’t share with others Truths we know?

Oh, I learned the story long ago,
The story told of you and of Apollo:

The god whom you betrayed (they say)
Who righteously (they say) punished you for breach of contract
Declining to fulfill the promise
Written in your flirting,
Teasing god Apollo, driving him insane with unquenched desire.
How could you?
He gave to you the gift of prophecy.
You knew full well
The kind of thanks he wanted in exchange
(they say).
And so, Apollo cursed your prophecies,
By spitting in your mouth,
That they would never be believed
By any man or woman
(they say).

Thus ever more,
Cocktease you’ve been branded,
For centuries so slandered
By men.

Yes, by the men who wrote the story
Of Apollo and Cassandra
And passed it down to me.

But I know — my Sight shows me — what really happened.
Let my words be heard, whether they are heeded or are not.

Apollo, god coming to you as a full-grown man —
To you, Cassandra, still a girl —
A girl for a boy to love,
Not for a man, nor for a god as man appearing,
A god whose immaturity
Denies to him the possibility
Of adult passion with an adult woman.

Like every man-boy,
A gift, he thinks;
A gift will certainly seduce her;
A gift, yet with an obligation:
An obligation that she thank him —
Thank him, the giver who’ll be satisfied with gratitude in just one form —
The satisfaction of his wayward cock.

What gift gave he?
Not man-gift, nor even boy-gift, but god-boy gift.
“What girl would not desire to know her future?
Don’t they all?” (he thinks).
And so, in his self-serving magnanimity
He bestows on her the cruelest gift —

The gift of prophecy.

And then, without delay
His fevered, sweating body presses against hers
To claim what (he believes) she must offer him in gratitude.
Presses he with hands, with lips, with raging cock
Demanding, needing that she melt
And offer up her body, her most private parts
To him.

And she says,
“No.”

Now angry, she says, “I did not agree to this.
Take back this power of prophecy,
A gift that comes with obligation is no gift,
But an attempt to barter,
And I barter not my intimacy.”

But alas, a gift god-given cannot be given back or taken back.
Such is the way of gods.

Apollo, panting, wanting, is at a loss,
Needing (he says) some form of release.
(Such is the way of boys.)
If not her secret part,
He begs and wheedles for consent to use
Her virginal, young, pure, sweet, wet
Mouth.

And she is weary of his pleading,
And weary of his pestering,
And weary of her fear, for he’s more powerful than she.
She wishes but to send him off.
And so, the sooner to be free of him,
She hesitates a moment,
But then slowly,
(Eyes closed),
Reluctantly,

She kisses it.

And then the godly juice bursts forth.
Her lips it soils, her tongue, her teeth, her throat.

The god says, with a sneer,
“Now all shall know that you suck cocks!”

“Unfair!” she cries. “You forced me to!”
“Oh no,” says he, “you begged to suck me off!”
“Not true!” she yells.

His final words defeat her:

“Whom will they believe:
A mighty god like me,
Or a shame-filled, simple girl, like you?

You know the answer, dear Cassandra.
And having lost your credibility with that,
None will e’er believe a word you ever say
Though you shall prophesy The Truth for all your days.

And when you, some day, as priestess in my temple,
Offer sacrifice to me,
You will this day remember,
When you sacrificed
Your capability
To tell The Truth and be believed.”

Advertisements

Phases

Two weeks ago
in the darkness
of the new moon
I celebrated Ostara

On this day
in the light
of the full moon
I celebrate Easter

Two spiritual songs
proclaiming new life
after the transformation
we call death

Harmonizing together
with countless more
a chorus of life
throughout the earth.

Changed the course of my life

A friend posted the following on Facebook:

Tell me about something that completely changed the course of your life, for better or for worse.

Challenge accepted. This is the result.


My parents lived in Albany, NY, and I was attending Michigan State University. The summer after my second year, I got a junk job in Flint, where my then-girlfriend lived. After she dumped me, I stayed with some nomadic hippies in Flint for a while, then went to visit a school friend at his family’s summer cottage.

After a week or two, his mom figured out that I hadn’t told my parents where I was; meanwhile, my ‘rents were panicking because they couldn’t get hold of me at my now-former apartment in Flint (no cell phones in 1970). The two sets of parents talked, and I was sent home to face the music.

Mom and Dad made it crystal clear:

I would not be going back to Michigan.
I would be living with them.
I would be getting a job in Albany.
I would be going to school in Albany.

All of this, until I “learned some responsibility”.

After a week or two of the new regime, I had to make a quick trip back to Michigan State, to pick up the possessions I had left in dorm storage at the beginning of the summer, and bring them back home.

Returning to Michigan State and East Lansing felt like coming home. I stayed overnight with friends. After much talking late into the night, I did what I had to do. I went to a pay phone, called my parents, and told them I wasn’t coming back, that I was going to stay in Michigan, because I wanted to.

Dad hit the roof. Usually careful to keep control when he talked to us kids, this time he barked, “You get your ass back home right now!”

“No,” I said.

And just like that, I left home for good.

A rant directed to Death

It’s taken a couple of weeks to put this into words, though it feels like we brushed past each other at D.’s bedside just a day or so ago.

I hate you. I hate that you took D. I really hate the way that you did it. The only satisfaction I have is that she gave you a hell of a fight. Three times you tried to get her with cancer, and three times she beat you. But then you unleashed the fourth one, that took away the use of her body. That was really dirty. D was nothing if not an embodied person. She loved her body, used it, expressed who she was with it, experienced the world with it. No wonder she went with you once you took that away. As usual, you won, but you can’t take any pride in that win. It was dirty.

It’s too many now. Just a short few years ago, I knew exactly how many people you’d taken out of my life — four grandparents, one father, one uncle, one father-in-law, one uncle-in-law, and three friends. But then, with S. and F., and now D., that’s six friends. You’re up to 14. (There were others, like my ex-sister-in-law, but they were no longer in my life when you came along to take them.)

Who’s next? My Mom’s 89, and my brother’s heart is weak. Am I going to have to deal with you taking them next? You better keep your hands off my kids. They’re too young and you know it.

Or maybe I’m next in the family, my wages of sin for a lifetime of smoking, or the past 15 years of gluttony and sloth. Oh, I hear you calling. Sometimes you think you can talk me into joining you voluntarily. But no. Absolutely not. Yes, I came close twice, and have the scars to prove it. But if there’s anything that proves I’m too much a survivor to fall for that trick, it’s the fact that I’m still here. You’ll never get me that way, if only because I’m too stubborn.

So I suppose you’ll be sneaky, like you are for so many people. A little piece of fat buildup in my artery, invisibly breaking off and traveling to my heart to jam a valve. Or some hidden organ in this incredibly complex body will fail — kidneys for me, I suppose — and you can watch me suffer til you finally take me. Or maybe you’ll sneak up on me on a dark street one night, in the guise of a tranny basher.

You and I both know that eventually you always win, with everyone. But I can guarantee you this — when you come for me, you’re in for a hell of a fight, whether it’s a physical fight with a street thug, or a spiritual fight with a disease.

You may be inevitable, you may be perfectly natural, but I still hate you. Because you attack the one thing in the world that makes my life — any life — bearable. You tear apart Love, the greatest force in the Universe. Oh, what, you think you’re the greatest force in the Universe? You’re wrong. You could not be more wrong. Because as much as you can hurt Love, as much as you can try to rip us away from Love, you can never take Love, the way you take each of us. No matter how many of us you take, the Love remains. You take millions in war, but when the war is over, there’s still Love. You take away friends and lovers and parents and children, but even then, Love remains.

You, Death, always take away. But Love always remains. And with that, you lose, and we win. Every. Single. Time.

Oh, that Electoral College

A Facebook friend posted today:
Question (answer with rationale invited):
Should the Electoral College elect Clinton or Trump?”
The question is significant right now because, while Trump apparently won an Electoral College majority, Clinton won a solid majority of the popular vote (a little more than 51%). I say Trump“apparently”won an Electoral College majority because the Electors, when they vote next week, are not necessarily required to vote for the candidate whom they previously said they would vote for. Theoretically the Electoral College could still give the victory to Clinton without violating any law or the Constitution.

Rather than answering the direct question – whom they should elect – I commented with some thoughts about how to develop the rationale. It ended up being one of those annoying five-paragraph Facebook comments that draws from history, philosophy, civics, and politics, using obscure polysyllabic words and long, complex sentences to showcase the writer’s erudition. That was obviously inappropriate for a Facebook comment; if you want to show off your erudition, you’re supposed to write a blog post. So here’s mine.
˙
At the outset, let me say that I understand the question to be: what should today’s Electoral College do? The question is not how we wish a redesigned Electoral College might work; that’s a separate issue – one worth discussing – but it’s not the question at hand.
˙
My starting point is that the answer to a “should” question depends on one’s assumptions. Here, the dueling assumptions are:
˙
  • The United States is primarily a federation of sovereign states. This is most obviously represented by the Senate, where each state has an equal vote. This assumption was widely, though not universally, held when the Constitution was written and ratified.
    ˙ 
  • The United States is primarily a democracy. This is most obviously represented in the House of Representatives, where each state’s voting power is proportional to its population. This assumption is widely, though not universally, held today.
If the US is a federation, then a strong case can be made for election of the President by the states rather than by the national populace. Just the existence of the Electoral College system suggests that this is the assumption of the Constitution.
˙
If the US is a democracy, then a strong case can be made for election of the President by the national populace. The structure of the Electoral College suggests that this is the assumption of the Constitution — electoral votes are allocated to states roughly by population.
˙
(A finer point about the democracy assumption: The US is not a direct democracy, it is a democratic republic; that is, the voice of the populace is expressed through democratically elected representatives. Both Congress and the electoral college system are consistent with the assumption that the US is a democratic republic.)
˙
There are three flies in the ointment, so to speak, three issues that are not cleanly addressed by the assumptions above. One is intentionally embedded in the Constitution, and the other two reflect common practices that may not have been anticipated by the writers of the Constitution:
˙
  • First, the electors, unlike US Representatives, are not allocated strictly by population: smaller states get proportionally more representation, therefore larger states get proportionally less, because the number of a state’s electors is the number of its (population-proportional) Representatives, PLUS TWO. This triples Delaware’s voting power in the Electoral College, for example, but only increases California’s by 4%. This adds an element of federalism to an otherwise democratic process.
    ˙
  • Second, in all but two states, a state’s electors represent only the majority of the state’s populace; the minority has no representation in the Electoral College. This strongly pushes the Electoral College system in the direction of federalism rather than democracy. But the Constitution doesn’t require this system; nor does it prohibit it. In fact, in the US’s earliest elections, Electors were chosen in most states by the legislature, not by the people. Moreover, the Constitution contains no assumptions about the existence of political parties, which is important because states that adopted the “winner take all” system of choosing electors were motivated by partisan considerations — the winner-take-all system gives the majority party in the state more power in choosing the President than would a proportional system (like Maine’s or Nebraska’s).
    ˙
  • Third, the Constitution does not assume that Electors are legally required to vote for the candidate they stood for during the election. Yet many states do have laws that say that Electors must vote for the candidate for whom they stood during the election. The constitutionality of these laws has never been sustained or rejected in the courts.
So when we ask “should” the Electors choose Clinton or Trump, we need to be clear which question we’re asking.
˙
Should the Electors follow historical precedent?
If so, should that be the recent history, the early history, or the overall history of the US?
˙
Should the Electors follow the Constitution?
If so, follow only the specific articles written in the Constitution? or follow an interpretation that accounts for the authors’ assumptions and intentions, as far as we can know them? or follow an interpretation that accounts for current generally-held assumptions? or should each Elector follow her/his own interpretation of the Constitution?
˙
Should the Electors follow the law of the state they represent?
˙
Should the Electors follow their own moral conscience?
 ˙
I personally don’t think there’s an obvious answer to my Facebook friend’s question: Should they elect Clinton or Trump? It depends on what assumptions one makes. I do think it would be helpful to the discussion of the question if we were each to clarify what assumptions we’re making, because, as we see, there are so many assumptions to make.

Who do you call at 3 a.m.

 

Who do you call at 3 a.m. when the tears won’t stop

When you hear the sweet song of the razor blade in the bathroom drawer

When you’re hurting inside but don’t know why or how long it’ll last

In the empty apartment alone by yourself with no one else there

 

Who do you call at 3 a.m. to tell you the words

That’ll give you a little bit of hope to balance the pain

A reason to sleep, and more important, one to wake up

When it really sounds better to close your eyes that final time

 

Who do you call at 3 a.m. to hold your hand

And kiss your tears, to hug you tight and never let go

When all of your lovers are far in the past and even your family

Can not understand why you’re crying or where you’re lost

 

What do you do at 3 a.m. when there’s no one to call

Is all that’s left to stay awake and look outside

And wait for the sun to brighten the sky and start the day

Then go to work and try again to stay alive

To you

i fell for you
adore your
heart
mind
body and
soul

well not body
i’ve never seen your body
you don’t post photos of it
but then nor do i
really does anyone

so
heart
mind
face and
soul

of course all seen
through the filter
of that blessed curse
cursed blessing
that is facebook

you’re not the first
array of flick’ring pixels
I have fallen for
here

but you’re the one
i can’t kick

facebook “friends”
we always want to put
that “friends” in quotes
then how much more ridiculous
facebook “lovers” or
as here
facebook “beloved”
yet it’s true

this feels like being trapped
in a minnelied
not surprising
facebook works quite well
to confine love
to the minnesang conventions

returning then
to where i started
i sing your praises
heart mind face soul

a heart of courage
and caring
and passion for
the soul work
that is who you are

a mind that leaves me feeling
ignorant and clumsy
by comparison
yet that mind finds pleasure
in our interplay of words
i’m grateful for
noblesse oblige

your face so lovely
so beautiful
so perfect
not by any other’s standard
any other standard
than that it radiates
perfectly
who you are
i would gaze upon your face forever
to bask in who you are

your soul the flames
deep inside
the forge where beauty is created
from raw ore of words
and raw sweat of your mind’s effort
and raw blood of your heart
and raw tears on your face
alloyed and hammered and tempered
to create that beauty
your gift to the world

i dream of being at your side
of touching once your hand
but the oil on my fingertips
would surely tarnish
the brilliant gleam
that i so cherish

so i shall take my leave
delighting in the ache
of the lump in my throat

may you be well
object of my limerence
and radiate forever
your perfect shining self

A sonnet: “Attempt”

Attempt

No safety blade; the razor must be straight.
It cuts the best, the fastest: so, most sure.
They say. A kitchen knife cannot be made
to take enough an edge. They say. And more —

The sequence of events important too:
The weaker hand cuts first the stronger one,
That second might the stronger one cut through –
though cut itself – the weaker one. Thus done.

And after that is just to wait while pain,
unbearable at first, diminishes
as it flows out along with crimson stain
until, with all that is, it finishes.

It’s just a gesture, not attempt. They say.
Unless it happens to complete today.

In which I rip a supposedly “Christian” meme a new one

This is such an insidious, disingenuous attack on LGBTQ people that I can hardly control my anger. The statement is all about self-justification and self-defense and self-righteousness; it is not at all about being compassionate or even holy.

Evil meme

It sneaks in the assumption that being gay, or being trans, is an action that people choose. That’s bullshit, and everybody knows it. There is no scientific, medical, or psychological support for such a contention.

This mendacious assertion withholds support for who people ARE, under the intentionally duplicitous guise of withholding support for what people DO.

This is no different from faith-healing quacks who say that God is morally opposed to chemotherapy for cancer, or antibiotics for infections, or analgesics for arthritis. There is no known way to relieve the suffering of being trans other than transitioning to the gender one knows oneself to be. There is no known way to change someone from a gay orientation to a straight one, and the only way to relieve the suffering of being cut off from love is to accept and affirm intimate relationships between people of the same sex.

This is nothing more than the discredited “love the sinner, hate the sin” rejection of LGBTQ people, and it stinks, all the more so because it tries to put a sheen of high-mindedness on that judgmental, punitive belief. But it succeeds no better at dressing up the hatred than lipstick succeeds in hiding the filth of a pig.

Computers hate me

Computers hate me. *sigh*

Well, not all computers. My personal laptop doesn’t hate me really — it loves me as much as its little brain allows it to.

But the computers that I’m surrounded by at work, the ones I’m inundated by at work, the ones that are an ocean of computers on which I am adrift like a sailor clinging to a piece of driftwood in the midst of a Category 5 hurricane — those are the ones that truly hate…. Oh that’s not really fair either. Part of the problem is our co-dependent relationship — they need me to help them think straight, and I need them to help put food on the table — and codependency is just not healthy in any relationship.

And really, I owe them at least a smidgen of compassion, knowing how they’ve been abused and neglected in their previous relationships — just used by whoever showed up, nobody giving them the tender loving care they deserve, all of them walking away chasing the next piece of shiny hardware without so much as a fare-thee-well.

But still.  They’re old enough to know better. They know that it’s wrong to take out their anger about the past on the one who’s trying her best to love and care for them now.

It’s not really hatred, I guess. More like a temper tantrum. Or rather, make that 10 simultaneous temper tantrums today. I’m confident I can get them to settle down and behave in fairly short order. It’s just wearying.

Who knows? Maybe it’s all projection. Maybe what’s going on is that I’m the one who hates them.

Anyone know any good counselors?