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

she is?)


*  *  *


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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