Calling it a day

Calling it a day

Gil Scott Heron was right when he wrote
that the revolution will not be televised

So, my friends, here it goes:

I say no to the word on the street
that unless you place it in a screen
you will miss it
that it never happened

Gil Scott Heron was right when he wrote
the revolution does not go better with Coke
that it won’t tell you what to do about the tiger in your tank
or the giant in your toilet bowl
how it won’t tell you what you can do with your iPhone
whether you should Uber
dress up in drag
push your legislature for a gender neutral bathroom

He simply said it would be live
that is, not some feed on CNN
no Reddit room.

Again, my friends, I am tendering my resignation:

You won’t find me looking at anything ‘breaking’
no more alerts
look for me watching rain fall at high latitudes
in midwinter
counting automated supermarket checkouts
classrooms with software programs rather than teachers
conservatives blissfully, blatantly lying
as liberals enable by conveniently forgetting.

You won’t find me looking at things far away
when what is inside or beside screams
shouts
a fieldworker watching every last cent
of what she makes
on somebody’s take
applied to a tab
a summit of debt
at the company store where the owner says
surrender yourself to impulse
and leave the complicated, fretful matters to us.

My friends,
please don’t listen any longer for me to talk about myself
show you photos of my daughter
tell you what my vacation was last summer
or gauge my reaction to the latest spate
of mass American shooting deaths

Don’t wait for me to log my dissent,
assent or disapproval
better yet, don’t wait for me to vent my praise
over anguished plaints of our collective guilt
because it really doesn’t matter with me now
not in any sense that I’ve been prepared for
by a dauntless belief in our inexorable greatness
divine patrimony

For you see
I am in a beyond America phase
inured to the promises of Washington, Winthrop
Reagan
what I see instead is how God’s vernacular promise to us
is decency’s auto da fe
that’s the new state of play
whiteness(?) all the way-

Please, don’t come looking for me
for I have no brand, no logo
no calling card, business card
no cookie or signature
no byline in some seldom read magazine
trying to bait its clicks.

Please,
I just don’t have a name
save the one my parents gave
(and my intimates have permission to use)

Unless you are the NSA
you won’t find me
I’ve called it a day.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

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The Ballad of the National Bank

The Ballad of the National Bank

‘and the all-time winner has got him by the balls.’ -Ian Anderson (‘Locomotive Breath’)

The manor lords gathered on the great lawn
and in a familiar gesture raised their snifters
at fourteen and a quarter hours past the dawn
in a mighty toast to the all-time winners

In the angle of a fair May sun
that supremely fine season in Washington
their brandy bowls glowed
as they spoke of what they owed

To God, Smith, Friedman, Cato and Heritage
as their fearless leader dreamt of his Hermitage
while in the wilds of the sloping Tennessee hills
where the great river swells and plateaus

The highways slouch onward towards Memphis
a place where landless descendants of pioneers
whom the Europeans called ‘peasants’
forage for rabbit, coon, squirrel and deer

Since they cannot gain any easement
on the taxing burdens of their days
so certain are they there is little left to say
to the former tribunes in the people’s Parliament

And as the river spills its spring derange
it fertilizes the legendary grange
of that Indian killer, ennobled widower
Quincy Adams slayer

Who fought tooth and nail to stem the flow
of dollars and cents into
a National Bank seeing as commerce should lubricate
the groaning axles and swinging saloon doors along Main Street

His manse is now a heritage site
but the farms that guild and revenues that gird
his adopted state’s coffers
and keep its debt load light

Come at the expense of the available land
that rewards a manifest feeling of destiny
which once drove the wretched on with axe in hand
to leave the ports and seaboards, sending later for family

‘To those who have done well and made good we salute you!’
the assembled throng intones:
‘You are a reminder of the pluck and grit and backbone
that forged this blessed, shining land. It is to you that we remain true!’

‘Hear! Hear! Nostrovia! Salut!’
then they drank and the canapé was passed
from one tailored belly to the next until at last
the fearless leader said to his sometime rival, ‘Joe’

‘The name, sir, is Paul.’
‘Nevermind that. When has more been done for little men
and women than right now? We have surely preserved the Union
just as Jackson would have done. That’s it, that’s all.’

‘Yes, sir. And when they write the history of this era
it will be your name, sir, that is embossed in gold.’
‘Oh, I hardly need that, Joe. I’ve already gone one better
and done that in my hotels. So, I don’t need to be told

‘That my name, my dream, my legacy will live on.
But tell me, what would it take
for me to get a fair shake
from the wretched Fourth Estate suckling on the teat of Washington

‘Like mosquitoes in the summer at my beloved Mar-a-Lago?’
‘I don’t know, sir. Might I suggest
a closed, exclusive press conference?
Make the new cadre of those in the know

‘A symposia as restrictive as a Country Club in Westchester.’
Just then a silk tied, tux bedecked waiter
with a crystal decanter stood beside the noble leader
who said, ‘No, I don’t drink. Are they going to serve my steaks later?’

The waiter nodded leading the leader to smile
he said ‘the beauty of business is it doesn’t discriminate.
It doesn’t care about skin color or birthplace.
That’s what makes our system -the Free system- worthwhile!’

Meanwhile, in the Kentucky Hills
they don’t need coal barges
over in Virginia hollers
they just need CAT land movers

And dynamite, lots of that
to remove the tops of ancient peaks
the clear benefit being no more streaks
of collapsing mines and extensive payroll debt

But what lingers
is the fickle finger
of opportunity, that mark
of market kismet, a dark

Uncertainty of what the future will hold
for the heartland territory
where the American character grew bold
and service to country proved mandatory

Offering in its turn the plum promise of reward
of being the favored hire, not the first fire
seeing as you carried the sword
that defense of freedom required

But now this seems lost
-like a society that is chivalrous-
cast aside like a belief in the River Lethe
or the truth of life beyond death

What does the state now decree
beyond ‘Too Big To Fail’
the edict to eat your broccoli
paying involuntarily even as you don’t ail

Enter a new promise with its premise that
the new tribunes reject the notion that
‘You didn’t built that’
that sign that the traditional elites never ‘got’ what

Long made the country great
what behooved people to pay their mortgages
don uniforms, serve on juries, forego divorces
and deliver on their debts no matter how late

Making no excuse that their lives were unfair
who back then would ever dare
in that more genteel America
to doubt that the glorious dream was forever

But today tried and true habitudes are passé
subject to ridicule and mockery
especially by those who claim to want to extend
a generous, noble and beneficent hand

To everyone down on their luck
in regions that time and the globalists forgot
but their promises
like their premises

Just aren’t being bought.
So here we have the spectacle
of a gaggle
of lily white men in designer suits

Toasting to the winners
in the spirit of the losers
but beggars can’t be choosers
isn’t that the lesson?

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Mourning -a passage from Carson McCullers

‘Why? Why was it that in cases of real love the one who is left does not more often follow the beloved by suicide? Only because the living must bury the dead? Because of the measured rites that must be fulfilled after a death? Because it is as though the one who is left steps for a time upon a stage and each second swells to an unlimited amount of time and he is watched by many eyes? Because there is a function he must carry out? Or perhaps, when there is love, the widowed must stay for the resurrection of the beloved so that the one who has gone is not really dead, but grows and is created for a second time in the soul of the living? Why?’ -Carson McCullers (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, 122-123)

Burns at every step

Burns at every step

-for Alice Keys

All of this blue ball
grokked like an egg or seed

We bury one of ours today
but in the interring a pigeon
landed on stone; an ancient stand

Felled to make the bier;
these histories fill a gaze, one
complete turn of all raised in that

Half globe of the mule’s watching.

Cart to lawn and shoulder to ground,
this seeing burns at every step.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

This poem appeared in the “Nature” edition of DoveTales Journal in 2015.

Free Exchange!

Free Exchange!

‘The chief business of the American people is business.’ -Calvin Coolidge

-for Mike Pence & Pat McCrory

In a Great State of Our Great Union of late
the talk in the coffee bars
and corner stores,
at the pubs and in the country clubs was
that forcing business owners to engage in commerce
with customers whom they did not like
was coercion,
an application of tyrannical force!
And who was to blame?
Well, the bankers and lawyers and real estate agents
knew the answer:
The government, of course!

Everyone who was anyone in local and in statewide business
had a list of those whom they felt had been floated long enough
on the backs of the hardworking, the tax paying
and the bootstrapping;
for far too long this hearty breed of men,
whom no one had ever favoured,
had been expected to carry
every over-privileged naysayer
who couldn’t see that there was no such thing as “free”
that is, except in the area that mattered most:
commerce.

Let those overfed, rarefied legislators and lobbyists
-those special interests-
learn down at their rarefied rotunda
in Washington
and along the corridors of marbled upper floors
on Wall Street
just how much of their prosperity and investment
has been wrested from the Joes
-whom they call Shmos
who are Main Street’s bread and butter.

It was time for a change.

One day one silver tongued salesman stood up
in the cocktail room over at the Hunt Club
and delivered an impromptu
speech of passion
in which he said, quite simply that
it is an affront to freedom
to our . . . religious freedom!
that a businessman, any businessman
in any line of business
should be required to serve someone
that is, serve anyone!
whose personal habits and private rituals
he finds appropriately offensive.

The crew at the bar
and the crowd in the room
stood and shouted hurrah! hurrah!
and then began a heartening chant:
Run! Run! Run for office! You’ve got to run!
Show the Governor,
Show the Courts,
Show the Legislators,
show them all what must be done!

And so he did.

A short time later he was elected.
And a short time after that
up stood this new local tribune
before the assembled within the lower chamber
of the State House
and in his maiden address
he presented the assembled lawyers,
the doctors and salesman
and entrepreneurs
with a proposal he was sure would be music to their ears:

He declared that florists and bakers,
butchers and candlestick makers
should not have to serve either the fairies
or the Quakers
as they are currently so required
by that tyrant the State!
We , the men of commerce, are the victims,
Yes! the victims
of an abomination, a humiliation, an improper fate
that should never be suffered by any free loving American
this late in our history!

It is high time that we promulgate
a new law in deference to the old and natural
order; and to all those who oppose the people’s will,
you shall meet an appropriate fate.

Duly, the bill was passed.

Whereas:

Whereas, no man should have to serve any man whom he deems offensive,
of course;
Whereas, the Constitution does not enforce that free born men should bend to any whom they deem coarse;
Whereas, no man should be allowed to marry a horse -or his sister; or a pig; or a cat; or a vampire bat;
Whereas, it is only appropriate that we should give this merchant his dignity
back
by allowing him to render his dislike both discreet and direct;

Whereas, we hereby decree that if a proprietor of any business take offence
in any way
to the tune to which couples dance
he is fully free within the law to deny them the making of any cake;
and if he is presented with conjugal license he shall be within his rights
to declare it a fake!
Whereas, no party shall be entitled to be made a party to another’s trade regardless of any pledge or promise of proper or fulsome remuneration;

Whereas, free commerce is only truly free in the event that,
or on condition that,
at least one party involved remains at liberty to
deny the other a service for no reason at all
other than an underlying dislike
or disapproval;
Whereas, otherwise the will of the market has been impeded
and negative liberty fully superseded
by the cold, dead hand of a tyrannical State;

Whereas, again, the proprietor shall be required as the proper,
direct protector of commerce’s appropriate propriety,
that is, Free Exchange;
Whereas, because only an exchange,
made freely,
can be the very thing which makes and sustains this,
our country great;
Whereas, never the forcing of barter or exchange upon
an unwilling party can we, the Law, tolerate;
Whereas, the principle of true truck shall be hallowed above all;
Whereas, no man ever shall be deprived of his life, liberty or property
without due process of law!

This legislation, hereby, has taken effect
sine die.

Note: this later was changed to ex hac die when a lawyer and Latinist caught the error.
—- — —-

The vote,
one should note,
was a mere voice shy
of passage by
unanimous consent.

But to cut to the chase;
to circumvent the legalese;
here is what the aforementioned law means:

No more cakes sold to flakes!
No more beers served to queers!
No longer is there any statutory need
to trade with a blade,
barter with a Kike,
truck with a Canuck,
stick with a Spic,
or take a good gander any longer
at a Gook
on a counter or over a register.

After the law was passed
it was with great fanfare that
the major dailies read:

The Constitution Is Back!

Never Say The Founders’ Faith Was Fickle

Progress For Us Pilgrims

No Fair Trade Is Made Without A Bit Of Discretion

In the months that followed across the state
a funny thing happened on the way to the bank,
the credit union,
the mall, the storeroom and the auction

For a great many of those enterprising folk
who had once been courted by men like the Governor,
the Commerce Chamber and the City Fathers,
they stopped showing up.
And for those who did remain,
once their credit didn’t rate,
loan applications were denied
and their new enterprises went untried;
once all of that happened
something else followed out of the gate:

There was indeed a critical mass
of un-brokered mortgages
so that suddenly the median age
of most townsfolk
-and soon after the rest of the state-
nearly doubled.

And if that were not bad enough,
this drop in youth
caused a dearth of recruits
to the sports & sports-fan-fed state colleges,
which caused the formerly winning football teams to lose;
which led to the close of all the bars and barbecues
all along the downtown avenues;
and without this additional commerce
distinguished college presidents
started to complain how declining attendance
impeded their best fundraising efforts
which led the Boards of Regents to demand their penance.

But the coup de grâce probably came
when those of ample fortune who had, until then, remained
finally fled having decided at last to quit a town that no longer
would pronounce their names.
Or offer them service;
or bother to say hello;
or could recall how to act cordial.
When that truth was plain;
when somehow men of business forgot that though
money is green
its holders can be brown, red or even
foreign;
when all of that happened the aggrieved took their talent,
their portfolios and their education with them in train
and absconded.

For those who still were able to remember being children
the spectacle reminded them as something out of Seuss
The Lorax, perhaps;
only this time it was entrepreneurs
who lifted themselves by the seats of their pants
and with scarcely a backward glance
sunk their towns’ and then their state’s reputations
in a scabrous rumor
as noisome and befouling as any pollution:
Bigots! they said
had turned their home into a travesty
of market ingenuity;
on the basis of some foul paranoid prejudices
they had staged a reprise
of the grey inefficiencies
those dreaded communists had once devised.

And so they:
the black/yellow/red/brown, the gay
and very many women
-all of whom being business savvy-
now lived abroad in other states,
becoming the new expatriates
fleeing a place
that no liberty loving American
(or wise investor)
would ever think twice about visiting.

Oh, the cold winds blew
and blew they did
culminating with gale force:
The NCAA reached the judgment
that it shall henceforth be verboten
to hold in the capitol
their annual tournament of basketball.

What to do? What to do!
was the subject of every serious conversation
held in every boardroom,
storeroom,
clubhouse and, yes,
restroom
across the state.

A call went out:

Whose cockamamie idea was this new law in the first place?
Screw religion! said one car salesman;
though no one blanched at his blasphemy.
Business! Yes, business is my faith!
Like any true American I know my place remains
behind a register;
it’s on Sundays that I sit in a pew.
After all, I know the temple I frequent six days
out of every seven;
that’s the temple of the market and by God
it welcomes any and every denomination!

And so it was that at last a call went up for repeal
Repeal!
And the Governor,
once he caught the scuttlebutt,
skilled politico that he was,
he said,
in the immortal words of one illustrious mayor:

“If that is the way the winds are blowing, let no one say I don’t also blow.”

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Curly Haired Kid

Curly Haired Kid

-for Abbie Hoffman

Meet the curly haired kid who says
that you should steal his book

He’s laughing a cosmic guffaw in
his American flag shirt and

Wants you to make it in and through
your neighborhood. We are

Going to die right and die today, maybe
since it’s a good day to die.

Payot by his ears, dark shadows across
the blue black skin of that

Jewish chin, his eyes earnest and old as
Coal. There’s a covenant here

With justice and it waits for the angel’s
staying hand. So he says:

Why not steal this knife?

Jeremy Nathan Marks

This poem appeared in the Sate edition of Nomadic Journal in 2016.

Demerara

Demerara

‘Captain, don’t you do me like you done poor old Shine/ Well ya drove that bully til he went stone blind’ -Traditional (“Ain’t No More Cane on the Brazos”)

What is in a name
and do we pronounce it
the same over our tea
in a starched shirt
in a dashiki
or a sari

The syllables will start
to taste sweeter
as your milk turns sour
when the monsoon
enters the room

A walk to the market
for the lorry dodger
the cloth mouthed
cholera avoider
practically barefoot
in the stagnant rainwater;
there are gators
in the ditches
and pythons stalk his dreams

They groan out these names:
Essequibo, Berbice
Demerara

You see a dentist,
a budding trade unionist
who recalls his father
recounts the heat
bearing down on unpaved streets
where a few streetcars
ricocheted their rails
off red roofs
and clay shingles
tossed coins to barefoot boys
in Capital town

Then he sees in thunderheads
the spires
of the looming Catholic university
in a district whose name
is the same as the port
where he received
his secondary schooling

On that road to the Washington
of Kennedy he is told
get with our program of progress
men in suits
fully fluent professionals
with flow charts
and small-d democrats
who proffer loans, grants
a trade mission
able perhaps to offer even a hopeful reprieve

For a smart son who wants to cut and run
from cutting cane.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

The Ownership Society

Ownership Society

‘There are no symptoms of racism.’ -Coleman Young

“‘Explosion without an objective,’ declared Miles Blundell, ‘is politics in its purest form.’” -Thomas Pynchon ( Against the Day )

Martin’s dream
Garvey’s scheme
X’s reference
Young’s defence
Trump’s deliquescence
GM’s obsolescence

Every new building built
is a condominium
truly expensive houses that suit
life at a premium

A Cosmopolitan is not just a drink
it is a way to think
Reporters who are doxed
find fulsome refuge in newspaper stocks

The cops who killed Alton Sterling
received more of a hearing
than his children who stood crying
at what networks were buying

A blind pig,
an after hours drinking club
was the rub
of the cop’s beat
even though the street
is the poor man’s lounge

Clinton’s loss
Devos dross
ID hoax
Ryan’s coax
who’d have thought
elections could be bought

The furs of Fifth Avenue are no longer chic
Bret Easton Ellis wrote a novel about that
he anticipated how the meek
would make fell of feral magnates fallen flat

If we take all of what we’ve all made: A
And if we take all of what we’ve paid: B
Then surely C must be the hypotenuse of B
if A is to go against the day to sustain B

The Ownership Society.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

The way -Susie Sweetland Garay

The way

Maybe the way
is to be like both
water and fire

to flow
to never attempt
to move in a straight line
to patiently make my way through walls and rocks
slowly, over thousands of years

and then
to sometimes decide
to burn it all down.

Susie Sweetland Garay

Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Susan Sweetland Garay currently lives in McMinnville Oregon with her husband and daughter where she works in the vineyard industry. She has had poetry and photography published in a variety of journals, on line and in print. Her first full length poetry collection, Approximate Tuesday, was published in 2013 and she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014. Her second collection, Strange Beauty from Aldrich Press, was published in 2015. More of her work can be found at susansweetlandgaray.wordpress.com.