Weekend Poetry: The F-Scale
How concerned are you with submission and domination?
The problem is, I am so busy. So if we need laundry detergent
it's easier just to order it. There by the door by 3.
On one hand, yes, I do not agree they should use drones
to deliver goods. It is not good. (My mailman is a botanist
on the side!) Also the packaging. The boxes are recyclable
but not the plastic packing puffs. Collateral damage?
If they spill a good strong wind clears them all away...
On the other hand, I do get the organic detergent.
It's a small thing. (I hate myself in miniscule degrees.)
I should walk to the store with a reusable bag. No,
I should make my own with baking soda and vinegar,
"everyday pantry items!" (When will my thought do
violence to itself?) Really, we have a perverse
conception of clean. My French teacher (from France)
wore the same shirt M-F. Washed it on the weekends.
(Will I ever forget this detail about him?) Really, it's just
the kids. Their be-stained clothes. One wants one's children
to be liked. Yes, I participate in the benefits of affluent
productivity! (It is I who presses "submit" on every order)
Concerned though I am with the domination of wasteful
and destructive goods (just wish I had read those books
before I bought a house) it is not a bad life. I just have to
step around a line of starved, emasculated corpses
laid out on the front walkway as I leave the house. (sorry!
in a rush!) Or everything I need can be delivered, and it's the
mailman who'll have to navigate these front yard corpses.
* * *
How submissive and uncritical are you toward idealized moral
authorities of the in-group? And then, like a wolf
come to blow my house down, a question
vents my mind: Do not the actions I take against
the threat of becoming poor also serve to protect the forces
that perpetuate poverty? Happily I needn't think it through
as here I am at this function tonight: Do I look fat in this
skin? And the partygoers are asking what I do for a living
(a living!). (To be exact: do I need to be exact?)
Behold my customary replies. Yes,
of course I too give back. (Re-turn. Re-store.) Yes,
I have earned (through marriage) my house, my heterotopia
(a dream, which, if you were to wake, would seem true). No,
I will not make too much pretense toward power! Yes,
I lament the degradation that poverty must entail. No
fresh air! It's wrong (even on economic grounds alone)! Yes,
there is an etiology and a history, but of course it makes no
sense! Poverty, that is. Yes, for the most part I had better sleep
(in 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths) than wake to the purpose I
wake. And if I wake, I will think it is due to the wind
through the dormer. Shut it, yes. But there is no wind,
for wind is anathema, oh yes, to stability
(a word that may call to mind the place where cattle sleep).
The air that woke us was farts. Yes, it is so good to eat more
than we need and then to sleep and when asleep to break wind.
* * *
How concerned are you with submission and domination?
If you're talking about sex, okay, yes. I mean, I don't use a
paddle or whips. No food, no condiments. That's all just,
ugh. Rarely have I time to wash the sheets as it is. Though
they ARE clean. To be honest about props: I have asked my
partner to also use a dildo. But 1) my partner is my husband
and 2) it's our own home (blithely enslaved in this
partnership we have created) (how lightly should one use any
form of the verb enslave?) (when we were renters we were
reckless!) and also 3) he has not yet bought a dildo and i do
not complain because yes, I am concerned with submission.
Like, he is a hair yanker and ass slapper and that's great.
And even if I didn't want to submit, he's bald so i couldn't
yank his hair and honestly most times i can't even
reach his ass. i'm worried to share this response out loud.
(Do you display an exaggerated concern with sexual goings
on?) New topic: race. Submission and domination. There is the
psychology game they play with school kids. Brown eyes vs
the blue eyes. (Oh yes!) First all the blue-eyed kids are in
charge for a few days. It goes okay. Then all the brown-eyed
kids get a turn being in charge. They're mad at the blue-eyed
kids by now. So they're, and I quote, "tougher and more
domineering." Very upsetting elementary school lesson plan.
Lots of calls from the parents. (Who does that teacher think
* * *
How opposed are you to the subjective, the imaginative, the
tender-minded? Of course I love artists and children.
Though there has to be a line. Like, Patricia. Patricia
never lets her baby cry. If she's driving and in the backseat
the baby starts up, Patricia pulls over. I, I do not stop. Little
crying never hurt. Gotta get to work! Need $ for diapers that
will live forever in a pile tenderly protecting their bundles
of fecal matter. (As promised!) (The established system, in
spite of everything, delivers the goods.) Gotta be early
for work, a keenness I hope will bolster my case for a multi-
year contract: I demand job security (Slave to stability and
contentment that I am). My second job? Oh I work that one so
that I can ooze familiarity to friends and family. (My, what
a big midsize car you have!) And welcome to my home and
its repressed dimensions of experience. Here, in the privacy
of my own (little crying never hurt), do I not do exactly what
the commercials have predicted? i.e., Make sure the almonds
(bought in bulk) are organic. I'm crunching these almonds so
loudly I can't even hear them cry ("Drought!"). Everything is
alive, my husband says. Alive and speaking. Even almonds,
even rocks. But he says this from the traumatic void
where he sits, away from all media, alone with his thoughts
(did I mention he is an artist?), and everything he is saying
right now is a nightmare to me. (Because he doesn't talk!) If I
can't see radioactive fallout in my kitchen, then I am not dying
of it. Or if I am dying of it, I am dying, and I dedicate my death
to the darkness. (No license to cry will be issued to those
crunching organic foodstuffs while the rain intensified its
radioactivity.) Not the darkness! cries my husband. The
industrialists! But he is one of those artists who barely
showers. He has not showered in days, so no sex tonight.
* * *
To what extent do you believe in mystical determinants of an
individual's fate? "There but for the grace of god go I" is what
you say when your body is near the body of a poor person.
Cars (also houses, also zoning laws) protect your body from
poor people's bodies, mostly, but now the poor have started
standing in places where cars must stop. If your window is
down, the possibility is there: the poor person's eyes may see
your eyes seeing them. And to claim your own humanity,
you must (still) acknowledge them by acknowledging them.
(Can the unhealing wound only be healed by the weapon that
inflicted the wound?) I need to read that essay that defends
John Brown. But I have to go to work soon. Always stress to
strangers how much you work. If you don't, people think
you're rich or a bum. And examine your own conscience:
On the days when you have vacated work, don't you (too)
seek green places to lie down in your idleness?
(Which, if you are not poor, is called leisure).
* * *
How cynical are you about human nature? I saw that video
of that cow in the snowfall of the stall, trying to catch snow
on her tongue. That stall. So small! But they say no one suffers
like humans suffer. ("The combined suffering of all the
animals ever subjected to the knife for scientific ends is
utterly negligible compared with one painful night of
a single hysterical bluestocking") (That's what they say!)
Is cruelty a fact? Say my kids are starved and we go thru
the drive-thru and get the nuggets made out of parts of
a chicken raised in a tiny prison and packed in all kinds
of foamy boxes spun from chemicals that will live (4eva!) in
the ocean and served ("served"!) by a person likely paid 30%
below the poverty line for a family of four to stand in their
stall (though the drive-thru awning saves them from catching
snow on their tongue) but hey also I'm tired and the kids need
some protein (or is protein just a commercial they played in
the 90s?) and sometimes although I have some money I feel
like I don't have a choice. Is cruelty a fact? Ask my kids, whom
I scream at, shove, pull roughly, scream, scream. They'll say
I'm a good mother. Is cruelty a fact? Marriage: our first date
was at a coffee shop whose plastic-coated cups are building
nations of waste in the sea. We each had a cup. That is to say
(I love those who do not know how to live!) our love began
by adding to the sore of the world. They say Pythagoras was
all for veganism ("for as long as man continues to be the
ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know
health or peace") and I don't know but his logic feels too quid
pro quo-ish and also "lower"? Though I could be misquoting
because I heard this on a podcast. Some are saying that we
should stop reading these old guy philosophers anyway.
They're how we got into this mess. New set of philosophers,
new system. But I'm remembering that Nietzsche story
of the horse. He saw a man needlessly--that is, cruelly--
flogging (from flagellum, little whip! (the little old woman
spoke thus to Zarathustra: "You are going to women? Do not
forget the whip!")) (Also N gave that lovely bluestocking
analogy in the context of a paragraph equating the capacity of
black people to suffer to that of animals. This book sorrytosay
is on my desk.) Anyway N saw the flogging and wept for the
cruelty and lost his mind. So I guess I'm saying his suffering
impresses me. But also, perhaps the flogger had somewhere to
get to-- a job? a sick father? Can't really weigh the horse
against one or the other but I can picture how they might
stack up: Last night my in-laws served duck for dinner. Now I
am a tomb for the duck, which was a tomb for a fish, which
was a tomb for insects... It was a question of survival for some
of us, and for others of us it was just (they say politesse
separates humans from animals) unavoidable.
- Darcie Dennigan is the author of four books including The Parking Lot and other feral scenarios out from Forklift Ohio this coming autumn. She teaches at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut.
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