Unsent Letter #15

A Prose Poem by Anon ymous

I remember things not related to love: how one day you took off your wedding band to see if he would notice; how Francis is your favorite saint; how the color orange tastes like grief. The days are starting to get shorter; wish I was someplace deep and green. Do you know I love your imperfections? Each one is the perfect sin. There’s a moving van across the street; a plane unzips the blue from the sky. The downtown skyline is a layer of gray. The landscaping is all done; the mallard and his mate have been gone for days.

From the chapbook, Dead Letter Office, published by Rain Dog Press


A Poem by A. J. Huffman

I buried myself up to my chin
in the hollow flesh of men
who were all too happy to sacrifice
for the cause. Then I colored my hair
with their eyes. And my lips,
well, I believe they speak for themselves.
Still I lacked the heat to hold
your attention. So I left
my scars. But I never realized they formed
a map. Too late, I followed
you instead.
Until I could not breathe
for anything but the pulse
of your blood.

––from her chapbook Audition from Hell


Celebrating President’s Day a Bit Late

After the American Revolution, Ethan Allen visited Brittan. His
company was widely sought after and he was wined and dined in many an English dining room. One nobleman sought to embarrass his Americanguest by placing a portrait of General George Washington above the toilet in the bathroom. After several glasses of wine Allen excused himself in order to answer the call of nature. While doing hisbusiness the illustrious American war hero could not fail to notice the placement of the large, prominent portrait. When Allen returned to table still in as good spirits as ever and resumed conversation as if nothing was amiss, his host could at last no longer contain his curiosity.

“Didn’t you see George Washington in there?!” he asked.

“Oh yes,” said Allen. “Perfectly appropriate place for him.”

“What do you mean?” His host enquired.

“Well,” he said, “there is nothing to make an Englishman shit faster
than the sight of General George Washington.”

Unsent letter #12 [I still think of you when the world gets like this]

A Prose Poem by Anon ymous

How you told me 11 is the number for clarity; it’s morning, rivers and sleet. It’s anything wet: sweat on a glass of beer, a splash from fish, silver and sleek, It comes before blood, before we learn how to swallow loss. You love this town, its broken pieces laid out before this Great Lake. The park by the canal is deserted, gulls pick at tourist leftovers. I imagine you painting, writing, listening to your favorite playlist; firefly or lush. I watch the lights on the hill go out one by one by one; count them until everything becomes clear.

From the chapbook Dead Letter Office
Rain Dog Press

Body Art

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

High noon this winter day
and blackbirds fill
the bare branches

of my dead neighbor’s tree.
Max would have loved these birds;
they’re as raucous as he was,

bobbing and clucking
as if they’re debating
where to fly next.

Suddenly they know
and shoot from the tree.
They’re gone but I shout

“Godspeed!” anyway
in behalf of old Max,
immigrant from Auschwitz.

He may be dead but
the numbers on his forearm
glow in my dreams.

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14th, South Korean women give chocolate to men. On March 14, men give “non-chocolate” candy to women.

And what happens on April 14? All of the single people are supposed to eat black noodles and “mourn” their single life.

The 14th of every month marks a love-related day in Korea, although most of them are obscure. From January to December: Candle Day, Valentine’s Day, White Day, Black Day, Rose Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Green Day, Music Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day.

Happy Birthday to Lincoln and Darwin: We Must Disenthrall Ourselves.

An essay on Evolution by Bob Boldt

We Must Disenthrall Ourselves.

In the movie, Lincoln, we see several examples of the President’s humor. He once said of an especially wordy opponent that he was like the lazy preacher who was notorious for his long sermons. The explanation was “he got to writin’ and he was too lazy to stop.” Hopefully I will not be too lazy and will know when to stop as I also want to allow extra time for questions.

The reference to Lincoln today is appropriate because as most of you know Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on exactly the same day February 12th in the year of 1809. Political history and the history of science owe a great deal to each man. Each in his own way helped to revolutionize our modern world.

In his address to Congress in 1862 Lincoln said. “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise—with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

Similar comments could well be made about our own stormy present as we face a nearly perfect storm of difficulties from global warming, peak oil, population overshoot and universal fiscal meltdown.

The 13th Amendment finally gave substance to the original contention that “ALL men are created equal.” Lincoln was not concerned with the “created” part of the Declaration, (whether created by God or Nature) but only with the “equal” part.

A year before Emancipation Darwin wrote. “I have not seen or heard of a soul who is not with the North. Some few, & I am one, even wish to God that the North would proclaim a crusade against Slavery. Great God how I should like to see that greatest curse on Earth: Slavery abolished.”

There is one account I have read that Lincoln was not only familiar with the idea of evolution, but was convinced by it.

Both Lincoln and Darwin were products of the nearly universal culture of Christianity and a pretty fundamentalist version of that religion by today’s standards. Lincoln suffered for his calling into question some pretty well understood axioms of both the Old and New Testament’s unequivocal endorsement of human slavery. The industrial North’s abolitionist opposition to black slavery flew in the face of Biblical teaching.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Darwin’s impact on the creation myth of Genesis was no less revolutionary. Each of these men sought to disenthrall humanity from the quiet dogmas of the past, including the Bible’s evil, stupidity and mendacity. Both men’s associations with Christian worship and doctrine were strictly pro-forma. Neither man believed in a personal Christ who saved souls and redeemed sin. Both men, for prudent, practical reasons, chose not to make an issue of their disbelief or lack of faith in the dominant superstition of their time.

The ostensible goal of our celebration here this morning on the occasion of our annual Evolution Sunday is to emphasize the compatibility of science and religion, reason and faith. The Dali Lama was asked, if science and Buddhism came into conflict, which would win. His Holiness answered that religious belief would have to yield to science. Would that other religious leaders were equally as sanguine when it came to the science/religion debate. Last year Gallup reported, “Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.” Clearly there can be no reconciling of science with this religious view. While we are at it, according to the most recent survey, 62 percent of leading scientists said they are either atheists or agnostics.

That means that a majority of scientists do not believe in a personal god. Compare this with the fact that not one professing atheist currently serves in Congress, on the Supreme Court or in the White House. Last year there were rumored to be 28 stealth atheists in the Congress but these members were more loath to confess their lack of belief in God than to criticize Israel.

But what about the religion of enlightened, secular Christians? Is there not an equal, if less obvious, conflict between all monotheist religions and science? Religious evolutionists like their irrational fundamentalist brethren still assert the primacy of homo sapiens in the universe. They would also assert that God has set up the evolutionary process of simpler forms yielding to the more complex as evidence that our own little tribe of hairless apes has somehow fulfilled the cosmic destiny to be the favored species in the eye of the Almighty. I would like to assert that this view, albeit more rationally palatable and intellectually satisfying, may still be in conflict with the evidence and may be threatening our survival. Liberal monotheism is always inclined towards Mankind as special and more important than other life forms.

In the attachment to your program I have listed quotes by some of the most advanced scientific thinkers our culture has produced. They are unanimous in their belief that the precepts of evolution and science cannot possibly reconcile with popular religion the way it is practiced in our society. In fact most of them would consider a belief in science and a belief in a personal God as essentially irreconcilable. I have included these quotes by way of showing that the preponderance of scientific evidence while not always denying the existence of God certainly considers a belief in His existence irrelevant to modern thought and conduct. I must hasten to add that I neither believe in this assertion or hold that it represents many of the most interesting trends in modern scientific and philosophic thought. I do believe however that they are spot on in rebelling against the particular God and the religion most believers practice in modern society. This is the kind of religion we must disenthrall ourselves from.

But who today has the courage of a Lincoln and a Darwin to lead us out of the dogmas of the present into the stormy future where we may yet prevail? I think the scientists that denounce all religions are as myopic as are the religious fundamentalists who reject science? So what kind of religion would I consider appropriate and valuable to both the tenants of modern science and the spiritual needs of a species staring extinction in the face?

For the majority of human history we lived in ways that would be nearly unrecognizable to generations raised in the industrial world. Without attempting to romanticize the noble savage, the dominant religion of these pre-agricultural, pre-historic cultures was shamanism. This theology, if you can call it that, is also prevalent in present so-called “primitive” cultures that have not been completely decimated by modernity. Shamanism has dominated pre-civilized cultures around the globe for the first 50,000 years of our history.

Modern religions especially the monotheist preoccupation arose with the rise of the giant imperialist agricultural civilizations of the old and new worlds. Whereas modern monotheism emphasizes man’s separateness from God and Nature and encourages analysis rather than experience of the Divine. Shamanism and the religion of pre-civilized cultures had a direct experience of the Divine. It’s connection to all Nature was direct, respectful, relational and connected. Man is neither separate from Nature, God or other humans. For precivilized culture there is no doubt as to the existence of Divinity and higher levels of reality. The guiding influences for this culture centered around the shaman, psychoactive plant substances and altered state inducing behaviors like repetitive ritual, dance, sensory deprivation, fasting, etc. Aspects of this experiential variety of religious experience survived the onslaught of civilization’s monotheism finding refuge in activities like mysticism, Liberation theology and certain ascetic and ritual practices. It might be said that modern monotheism insofar as it is commonly practiced appeals to the worst angels of our egos. They promise personal immortality, the practice of material aggrandizement through faith while suppressing doubt and any question of their dubious evidences for the existence of a personal deity. Nearly all popular religions today offer the antithesis of authentic connections with either a god, Nature or true ecumenicism.

“The world is not an unsolved problem for scientists or sociologists, the world is a living mystery. Our birth, our death, our being in the moment, these are mysteries.

“These are doorways. They are opening onto unimaginable vistas and mysteries. Our culture has killed that. Made us products of shoddy ideas and shoddy ideals.

“And the way to get away from that is to return to the authentic experience of the body, it means sexually empowering ourselves, and it means getting loaded, it means exploring the mind as a tool for personal and social transformation.

“The hour is late, the clock is ticking. We will be judged very harshly if we fumble the ball. We are inheritors of millions upon million of years of successfully lived lives and successful adaptations to changing conditions in the natural world.

“Now the challenge passes to us; it means that the yet to be born will have a place to put their feet and a sky to walk under. And that is what the psychedelic experience is about, it’s about producing an experience that honors the past, honors the future and honors the power of the human imagination.

“There is nothing as capable of transforming the mind and the planet as the human imagination. Lets not sell it short. Let’s not sell ourselves to nit-wit ideologies, lets not give our control over to the least amongst us. Rather claim your place in the sun and go forward into the light.

“The tools are there.

“The path is known.

“You simply have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead, and get with the program, of a living world.

“And a re-empowerment of the imagination.”
Terrence McKenna from Eros and the Eschaton.

In Memphis On Business

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

this belle like a feather
floats table to table
bearing menus and water,

stunning this Yankee
in Memphis on business
whose host swears the South

has many more like her.
Up North, the Yank says,
young ladies like her bump tables,

slop coffee in saucers.
No wonder this Yankee
in Memphis on business

smiles when again
this belle like a feather
floats table to table

bearing menus and water
as if she were certain
the earth isn’t there

and the sky and the air
are highway enough for a belle
bearing menus and water.

The Road to Hope Road

A Poem by A.J. Huffman

was a bullshit dead end. 3,472 miles past
the point where I lost my patience
with its pot-holed I’m-gonna-break-more-
than-your-car attitude, not to mention
its completely incomprehensible backwoods
draw[l]. Fed up, I stopped the car, got out,
pissed in the middle for spite,
turned around and walked
back to the familiar,
welcoming Hell from which
I came.


A Poem by Susan Dale

Winter ringing in high wild notes
Nailed to the earth
Its leaden jaw set until April
Mornings whittled thin
Under a frosty halo sun
Days dripping with snow blossoms
Float in twilight clouds
Faint and pink as infant dreams
Shivering in the wind
Flaring from winter’s nostrils
Bringing in the knobby knees
Of bone-cold nights
With secretive stars
And a slivered, thin-promise moon
Lifting above truth
Rising beyond time

Susan Dale