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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Not Heeding the Siren's Call

It's been five days since I last read a newspaper or watched any news on TV.  Among other things, this means I'm stuck in a pre-election mode, still not having heard official word or news report about the returns from the 2016 presidential election.  As far as I'm concerned the outcome may still be in doubt.  And please understand, I'm not raising a question regarding procedural deficiencies in the Electoral College so much as pointing to potential problems with the innermost workings of reality itself - or at least our current version of it.  It's at this deepest level of experience that something seems to have gone seriously askew for many of us.  As a poet, this is a subject that I feel well equipped to reflect and comment on, without need or recourse to any input from the news media.
Of course, over the last few days, I've had several conversations with family and friends in which the election's outcome has been broadly hinted at.  But I consider that all to be nothing more than second hand smoke.  I refuse to succumb to it.  For now I am perfectly content to persist in a state of knowing unknowingness.  As far as I'm concerned, a Trump branded version of our present day reality is a siren's call I'm not interested or ready to pay heed to.

Staying true to my news blackout best as I could (notwithstanding headlines on passing news-stands) I spent yesterday in New York City and found many people in Manhattan seem to be similarly inclined.  There were demonstrations popping up all over town  - with a strong police presence besides.  In the subway station at Union Square I saw a wall along a long subterranean corridor that had been entirely papered over with post-it notes declaring Not My President and other obvious truisms.  It was a strong reminder of the pop up shrines that had appeared around the City in the days and weeks after 9/11.  My friend Robin (who is a therapist) confirms the comparison is apt for her and her patients.  Robin says that most of her patients were far more agitated this week than at any time since 9/11.  This sense of irreality is apparently pervasive and may soon reach pandemic proportion.  

Under the circumstances it's possible to think of not watching the news as just a cheap form of self-medication.  Ulysses found it necessary to take more extreme measures by plugging up his ears with wax.  For you and me it turns out to be much easier.  We just have to get up and hit the off switch, avert our eyes or walk out of the room.  If you haven't tried it already you will be pleased to hear that this homespun remedy will prove remarkably effective in helping to eliminate discomfort from the most serious symptoms of your present ailment - even though it remains unclear what role it might play (positive or negative) in the search for a long term cure.

Meanwhile, in the City yesterday I also had a chance to visit a Staples Superstore where I stocked up on a new batch of notebooks.  Here's the poem I wrote to commemorate the occasion of my fifth day of news detox, now that I'm feeling a bit more upbeat and the extreme revulsion has all but disappeared:

Two black and blue notebooks
I bought at Staples today
Markings is what it says
On the receipt
That I promptly stuffed
Into my pocket
So eager was I
To make my first markings
Reflecting our new reality
On the pristine page
As the time for deductions
May come somewhat later
But time for close observation
Is already here

Because now we all can feel
The world shifting into higher gear
Reaching a supercharged state
Volatile and uncertain
Yes it’s the super moon
About to break the horizon line
(don’t you believe @NeilTyson)
Everything is swollen with portent
Far beyond its normal size

Demonstrators demonstrate
And agitators agitate
While the media still bloviates
It’s not just the ship of state
But all of reality that seems
To be slipping the moorings
Commencing to drift away


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