Dear Dirty America


His Business & Mine

August 05
19:46 2013
ERIC CHAET(originally posted at 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems)

Guy at the diner
a better than average comedian
who made a million dollars raising calves
pretty early in life, too
& thinks very highly of himself
a jolly shark among plankton
inclined to bless everyone
with his repertoire of witticisms
asks me what I’m up to today
& when I tell him
I’m finishing up the history of Germany
then I’m going to start in on Russia
he’s amused
in a disparaging sort of way—
I don’t appreciate the disparaging
but I understand the amusement—
it would be as tho he told me
he was working on fixing
the connection between
a post-hole digger & the spinning shaft
that comes out the rear of a tractor
that transmits the power
with which the post-hole digger does its deeds
but I didn’t know what a tractor was—
or what one costs
or what the terms of the purchase were
or even what money was
let alone the price of fuel
or that he’d need a pickup truck, too
&, of course, a house
plumbing, wiring, roof, walls, doors, windows
probably insurance
& a trailer to haul the calves
or what he fed them
or how he housed them
or anything about fodder, manure
or bedding straw
or about seed or soil or rain
roots, minerals, photosynthesis, the Sun
or which corporations or local companies
sold him the seed, the fertilizer
if he raised alfalfa for hay for his animals
as some do, tho others only buy it
or only plant, harvest, bale
& sell it to others raising animals
& again, on what terms
or where he got the calves in the first place
or what cows & calves are doing in Wisconsin anyway
or Belgians, Dutch, Irish, Germans
or to whom he sold the calves, how
& again, on what terms
or about township, county, state, federal
agencies, regulations, taxes
or what political operators he listened to
eagerly or shrewdly
or blowing them off as fools
likewise religious operators
& parents & maybe his wife
or which other guys in the diner
he pays serious attention to
& which he not too secretly considers fools—
even if he understood that I was trying to surround
the history of the world
& the affairs of humanity, right now—
America, & not just America—
what people are doing that’s base & frightening
& what people are doing that’s courageous, brilliant, kind
& what people are doing that is an uneasy compromise
meant to be temporary
but often going on decades or even generations—
my past, present, & future
& the past, present, & future
of those only looking out for themselves
successfully, as they understand success
or failing slowly or fast—
& those captivated by others’ ideas, auras, schemes
& forgetting to look out for themselves
or just incapable—
it’s not an easy gauntlet to run
even for the most enlightened & adept—
likewise those reacting to the myriad of possible traumas
in a panic that’s not brief
punishing others & themselves
& telling themselves & others stories at least partly false—
& also those looking out for others
as well as looking out for themselves
as realistically as they know how
& learning as fast & comprehensively as they can
& trying to develop the skills they find they need now
& are most likely to need soon
(which ones first?
& how to get the time & pay for the equipment?—
& how to break the habits
ever more apparently impediments from now forth?)
successfully, or failing
or, so far, a toss-up
& everything depends on what they do
& what everyone else does from here on out—
some having more powerful effects than others
for good or ill
or neither good nor ill, yet powerful effects, still
changes others must adapt to—
& even if he were interested in what I hoped to do
with the knowledge
I don’t think that today is the day
that I could explain it to him—
if he were inclined to see & get behind
the potential in my efforts
I’d certainly make yet another effort
to bring him up to speed—
otherwise, he’ll have to mind his own business
(he seems to think he has it made)
& I’ll have to do the equivalent
tho it’s by no means only my business I’m minding
& I can use all the willing, realistic help I can get.

Eric Chaet, born Chicago, 1945, South Side, beaten, denigrated, sinking, swimming—servant of a refractory nation and species, sweating laborer in factories and warehouses, wearing jacket and tie in offices and classrooms—“so-called poems” published and posted around the world, sporadically, for decades—author of People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways (read a review) and How To Change the World Forever For Better—perpetual polymath student, synthesizer of specialists’ insights and methods, solo consultant regarding space exploration and accidents involving obsolete industrial machinery—album of songs Solid and Sound—hitchhiked back and forth between the Pacific and Atlantic, sleeping out for years and subsisting on water and sunflower seeds, stapling a series of 1500 posters he made to utility poles, inciting whoever saw them to seize the responsibility for their own lives—governing without coalition or means of or inclination to coerce or confiscate, from below, approximately invisible.


In the middle of nowhere but not lost: Eric Chaet works to change the odds


Anthem for Humanity

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