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Poet Tony Hoagland can make you laugh as easily as he can make you cry, but mostly his poetry makes me laugh. Hoagland has been described as zany, wisecracking and disarming. His words shed a glimmer of his oblique perspective on everyday situations and he describes the absurdity of the most difficult life experiences. Take “Fetch” in which he describes finding true companionship is a four-legged friend:

but that was before I found out my metaphysical needs
                                                                      could be so easily met
by the wet gaze of a brown-and-white retriever
with a slight infection of the outer ear
                                           and a tail like a windshield wiper

I mean, “a slight infection of the outer ear?” I’m jealous.

My first Tony Hoagland collection was What Narcissism Means To Me about which poet Marie Howe writes, “Hilarious, searing poems that break your heart so fast you hardly notice you’re standing knee deep in a pool o implications.”

If you need proof, read Fred Had Watched A Lot Of Kung Fu Episodes

I leave you with this:

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

On Friday afternoon David said he was divesting his holdings
in Stephanie dot org.
And Cindy announced she was getting rid of all her Dan-obelia,
and did anyone want a tennis racket or a cardigan?

Alice told Michael that she was transplanting herself
to another brand of potting soil
And Jason composed a 3-chord blues song called
“I Can’t Rake Your Leaves Anymore Mama,”
then insisted on playing it
over his speakerphone to Ellen.

The moon rose up in the western sky
with an expression of complete exhaustion,
like a 38-year old single mother
standing at the edge of the playground. Right at that moment

Betty was extracting coil after coil of Andrew’s
emotional intestines
through a verbal incision she had made in his heart,
and Jane was parachuting into an Ani Difranco concert
wearing a banner saying, Get Lost, Mark Resnick.

That’s how you find out:
out of the blue.
And it hurts, baby, it really hurts,
because breaking up is hard to do.

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Shamed Into Action

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The Republicans care about Healthcare as much as Alac Baldwin cares about the President’s criticism of his impersonations of him. In other words—they don’t! The record is clear that they distain any legislation on the topic. They banded together behind Newt Gingrich to defeat President Clinton’s healthcare reform bill in 1994 and not a single Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

The first time Republicans showed an interest in healthcare was the moment President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law and they immediately vowed to repeal it. You would think that after seven years impassioned legislators would have crafted a bill that all members of their party agreed with and was ready to sign into law. Seven years! But what you wind up with when you are shamed into action is a haphazard bill that nobody is comfortable with, a bill that will hurt the American people by kicking millions off the healthcare rolls, reduce benefits and make premiums skyrocket.

And just watch the promises get tossed out the window for the sake of Trump’s Art of the Deal, which he will twist to make sound good to the uninformed, the same way he did with his inauguration crowd and Obama wiretapping his phone. Bye, bye healthcare for the working class, indigent, and poor; hello tax credits for those making over $250,000, and windfall for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

Here’s the point. If the Republicans somehow, miraculously, pull off a bill that doesn’t blow up their party, which is unlikely, it will be a victory for President Obama because he will have done what nobody had been able to do for decades—make the Republicans care about healthcare.

Countdown: 583 Days until Midterm elections

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Ageless

“People don’t use their creativity as they get older. They think this is supposed to be the end of this and the end of that. But you can’t always be so sure that it is the end.” – Anne Porter

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Anne Porter started writing poetry more seriously after her husband died and published her first collection at 83. She lived to be 99.

Susanna
by Anne Porter

Nobody in the hospital
Could tell the age
Of the old woman who
Was called Susanna

I knew she spoke some English
And that she was an immigrant
Out of a little country
Trampled by armies

Because she had no visitors
I would stop by to see her
But she was always sleeping

All I could do
Was to get out her comb
And carefully untangle
The tangles in her hair

One day I was beside her
When she woke up
Opening small dark eyes
Of a surprising clearness

She looked at me and said
You want to know the truth?
I answered Yes

She said it’s something that
My mother told me

There’s not a single inch
Of our whole body
That the Lord does not love

She then went back to sleep.

***

 

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Don’t Cut The Arts!

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 5.36.42 PMThe National Gallery of Art opened on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1941. In the dedication speech on opening day President Roosevelt said, “To accept this work today is to assert the purpose of the people of America — that the freedom of the human spirit and human mind which has produced the world’s great art … shall not be utterly destroyed.”

Fast forward seventy-six years and ‘utterly destroying’ the arts is exactly what Donald Trump plans with his budget proposal that slashes Arts and Cultural Agencies by nearly $1 billion dollars under the pretext of keeping Americans safe and funding his pet project, the “beautiful” wall (yes, you and I are paying, just look at the budget.)

Here’s the short list of the impact for anyone who appreciates the arts:

  • Eliminates all $148 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and all $148 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Eliminates the $230 million Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • Eliminates the $445 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports public television and radio, including PBS and NPR

To put his budget proposal into perspective, these cuts to Arts and Cultural agencies could be fully restored by reducing the budget increase for Defense by less than 2%, which would still leave nearly a $53 billion increase to the obscene and waste-filled $639 billion Defense budget. Anyone with a sliver of budget sense knows if you want to save money you go after the cash cows, not the low-hanging fruit.

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Ironically, the inspiration behind the National Gallery was a wealthy industrialist like Trump, but unlike the President, Andrew Mellon had vision. He understood there was more to the human spirit than flexing muscles and bragging about wealth. Mellon was only 25 when he got the idea for the gallery on a trip to Europe when he became an enthusiastic art collector and then continued to buy pieces slowly over the decades. In the late 1920s, he served as ambassador to Great Britain, and he was inspired by the National Gallery in London to create something similar in the United States.

In 1930, he had the rare opportunity to purchase art from the Hermitage, the greatest art museum in Russia, at the order of Stalin to raise money for the government by selling valuable pieces. How shortsighted. Mellon purchased 21 paintings, including work by Raphael, Rembrandt, Botticelli, Titian, and Jan van Eyck. In 1936, he wrote to President Roosevelt offering to donate his collection, as well as $15 million to build a museum that would house it. Mellon had the vision for a national museum of the highest quality, and insisted that it should not be named after him, figuring that other art collectors would be more likely to donate to a place called the National Gallery of Art than the Mellon Gallery. Imagine such a selfless leader today.

Admission is always free to the public. More than 4.5 million people visit the National Gallery each year to view its 120,000 pieces of art.

Don’t cut the arts!

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Beware of Impostors

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” – George Washington

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George Washington February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799

George Washington never had a need to boast that he knew more than the Generals, he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. And he never bragged about a secret plan to defeat the enemy, rather he executed his plan by leading his troops to battlefield victories at Trenton and Princeton before capturing British troops at Yorktown.

After serving as first President of the United States for eight years, Washington warned in his Farewell Address that his greatest fear for the new country was that forces would try to divide Americans and undermine the country’s principles.

Washington argued that its citizens should come together to resist those people: “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

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Tolerance

Norman Rockwell
February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978
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New Kids in the Neighborhood, 1967

Norman Rockwell, American artist whose paintings depict segregation, patriotism, freedom of speech and religion. Rockwell  was described as sickly, skinny, underweight, bad at math, probably dyslexic, and wore corrective shoes. He painted more than 4,000 paintings in his lifetime, more than 300 of them appearing on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

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Alternate Reality

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593 Days to Mid-term Elections
November 6, 2018

*

Alternate Reality

They are said to have jumped to their death

at the illusion of Orwell’s oratory in ’38,

 

and in thick white-rim glasses they grasped

for a creature in the Black Lagoon in ’54

 

the way Duran swung at air trying

to bust Sugar Ray’s pretty face.

 

Folly you say, until you open

dubious eyes to a world where

 

losing by 3 million votes

is a landslide victory

 

an Oscar winner with a lifetime

achievement is overrated

 

the Congressman who marched with MLK

is “all talk, talk, talk… and no action”

 

the Senator held POW for five years

is no hero

 

intel operatives who risk their lives

are compared to Nazis

 

the sacrifice constructing buildings with gilded faucets

is equivalent to the death of a child

 

crowds multiply tenfold

with a wag of a tongue

 

massacres are fabricated and

consumer rights revoked

 

Pulitzer awarded newspapers

publish fake news

 

and the platform for hate groups

is awarded a front row seat

 

the handlers recite alternate facts as

he emerges from the golden elevator

and says, Trust me.

 

        jim brennan

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593 Days to Mid-term Elections
November 6, 2018

 

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