Dear Dirty America


This So-Called Writing

November 03
11:30 2012

(originally posted at 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems)

Holbein the younger’s Erasmus

This so-called writing that we do
& reading & speaking, too
the alphabet & all the combinations
how you print or write or type
& how consciously or otherwise
pencils, pens, paper, keyboards
books, screens, & billboards
drawings & graphs
repeating what was taught to us
or modifying it, or arguing with it all our lives
or just laughing it off, the useful with the foolish
shows, programs, recordings, broadcasts
newspapers, advertisements—
what & how you write, read, speak, gesture, listen—
what you seek out & study
notes you scribble to yourself
maybe in little books, or posted on walls
what you keep telling yourself
from wherever & whenever you were impressed
speeches, campaigns, official announcements
& muttered complaints, sighs, shrugs
what you say to children, what children hear
or what you heard or witnessed as a child
(you didn’t hear or witness everything,
your experience was incomplete & unique)
bright eyes meeting, or downcast, averted
heart-felt or conventional or calculated responses
& refusals to respond, evasiveness—
or the one whose response you wait for is overwhelmed—
all has its effect
good, bad, or some good & some bad
intended or unintended.

Like anything else, when it becomes habitual
it leads gradually to where it leads
to changing a situation advantageously
or to defeat, to baffled frustration
whether we realize it or not before we die—
it’s a vehicle or a trap—
like anything else, it becomes an addiction
or it’s strategic, tactical
likely consequences weighed
against harnessing time & attention otherwise—
habit or obsessive compulsion
or free choice after free choice
& you & everyone else affected
living with the never-ending consequences.

Eric Chaet, The Turnaround Artist, born Chicago, USA, 1945, raised on rough South Side, pre-computer factory, office, & warehouse jobs. Some teaching, some independent self-taught technical consulting. 1974, Old Buzzard of No-Man’s Land, poems, Toronto, Canada. 1977, Solid and Sound, vinyl LP of songs, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA.  Mid-80s to mid-90s, silkscreened, hitchhiked, & stapled 1500 cloth posters to utility poles along American highways.  1990, How To Change the World Forever For Better, brief prose philosophy, Greenleaf, Wisconsin, USA; 2nd edition, 1994.  2001, People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways, mostly narrative prose, De Pere, Wisconsin, USA.  Lives in Wisconsin, industrialized dairy farms & cows, remnant cheese & paper factories & factory hands & outlaw mammals & birds, post-construction boom, reactionary politics & obsolete machinery, a smattering of professionals & millionaires.  Poems published, over 50 years in many USA states, plus Brazil, Cuba, Ireland, Scotland, England, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Nepal, India, China, Singapore, Korea, & Taiwan, often in translation. 

You can contact him at the Leave a Reply box on each page of his website, 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems, <>.

Find Chaet’s book, People I Met Hitchhiking USA Highwaysand read a review written hereSee also, There’s still a little breath in the old American RevolutionOn Job Creationand Stalin.

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