Monday, March 26, 2012

in africa they discover oil in country after country - cameroon, kenya, you name it, it's all over the place, and i assume it's been there all along just nobody bothered to find it, or do what it took to get at it; as it happens, it's the cradle of world civilization, so i imagine the oil is older, richer, has a few more stories to tell. meanwhile back here they've taken to fracking up the rock beneath us in their desperation to pull something else out of the earth that we can sell, or burn, or use; we're frogs in a large soup bowl that's steadily heating up. not that i want to move to africa - how would that work? though i wouldn't mind a visit, wouldn't mind if maybe canada needed a sociologist, and i could talk my wife into going into the piney woods. i'm still stuck with the image, given to me by my friend, of stepping off the trans-canada & knowing you could walk over a thousand miles, without seeing another road. wonder if they're fracking up there - the whole country is water anyway it seems, no use squirting it underground and upsetting the rock. but with the melting poles, the ice melting and raising the water worldwide, maybe that's not so great either. who knows? i could just hunker down and survive in illinois, like all these other folks.

spring is busting out all over here, making my allergies go wild, splaying color upon color, different pinks and purples, yellow, salmon, even dark reds and olive greens of early shoots. spring was so early this year that many of us are still wondering if it won't come 'round with a little bite before it's over, but no, it's probably plantin' time, one way or another, being the last week of march and all. who knows? got sick over the weekend, and didn't plant at all, just moped around and drank coffee and tried to get better; i'm left with a residual cough and sneeze that just reminds me, it ain't over 'til it's over. my colleagues are all on planes to philly, and i'm a little sad to stay home, but it's ok, i love the children, and i've been hanging tight with them anyway, often at the expense of many other enterprises. i do write a little local poetry these days, and, got invited to iowa city, my old home, where i left a nice big huge piece of my heart, for a reading related to the upcoming book The Burg: A Writer's Diner which i'm quite excited about. in this book i actually have a story, but it puts actualism on a plate with a greasy omelette & ashes, totally seventies, i'd love to read it. actualism, as it turns out, is not quite dead; in iowa city there's an attempt to revive it and this is being done through an exhibit; i thought it was mentioned here in an interview with dave morice but it may have been somewhere else. anyway it could be said that actualism is now about forty years old; that it has been endangered for some time, that it didn't exactly catch wildfire, barely understood, that maybe, i'm like a voice in the wilderness though dave for one remembers it clearly. i'm not sure how many of us are out there waving the actualist flag (and what would that be, a piece of toast maybe)...ah well, to me it's as good a way as any to remember an era in my life.

so i'm six hours away now, planning a trip up to iowa during finals week or hopefully when grades are already turned in, for a reading, and this would be a kind of coming home for me, a town where i experienced much turmoil, it took the brunt of my uncivilized nature that i'd built up over years of traveling, literally a hard landing you might say. not only did i love the burg, also known as the hamburg inn, but even went so far as to help others start a vegetarian restaurant, which served breakfast, competition for the burg, yet the town was big enough for all of us, and, this place was in the basement of an old german catholic school with pigeons living on the outsides and an occasional flood caused by downpours and uncertain building history; it surely was haunted. we'd have meetings in what was once a classroom, for sure, and i'd squirm as we tried to work everything out cooperatively when, in fact, i was on the verge of just picking up and going to mexico, which i did at least once. another time i up & hitched out to santa monica & up the coast & back for no better reason than to get away & another time i set out for north dakota and missed it, ended up at a folk festival & in the rockies instead. but in iowa city we did all kinds of stuff, absolutely unforgettable, and i'm still totally loyal to the place. best city ever.

so the pope comes to the americas and picks as his spot guanajuato, this gorgeous town nestled in the dry mountains in the center of mexico a bit north of the capital but still way down there, you have to cross this seventeen-hour desert to get anywhere near the place but once you do you realize, it's gorgeous, it's europe and mexico and gold mines and brilliant color, all in one valley, and home to a university to boot, a kind of rural state capital much like iowa city in a way yet the mexican version definitely. so i think this place was ok with the pope for sure, at least they didn't throw tomatoes at him, but back in iowa city a few years back the three catholic churches, the german one, of which i was so familiar, and the czech one, and the irish one, were all rivals, apparently. and in that era i don't know what the status was of non-catholics, maybe that didn't occur to anyone, or maybe that meant you had rural roots and just drifted into the city from out there somewhere, maybe there was another school for those folks. i don't know when it was the capital of iowa, or whether that made any difference; seems to me that was way earlier. and the north side, and even the near north, but especially the north east, that was the czech area where the houses came right up to the street but had these little courtyards in the back where they'd keep geese & it was called goose town, or maybe that was the czech town in cedar rapids. in any case these neighborhoods with a lot of geese were never too peaceful, and any traffic would make echoes on the houses and you could always see your reflection as you drove past those houses that were close to the road. the czech catholic church was called saint wensc, the german saint mary, and the irish saint patrick's, i believe though i could be wrong & it was the irish one that got ripped by the tornado a few years back which i've mused about here before.

i'll let it go here, about whether these tornadoes are random or take sides in petty intracity feuds, or whether guanajuato or any city like it should worry about some guy in a big white hat, or what, all i can say is i miss both places and have told them, i'm coming to iowa if i can. not once but twice, in may for this reading and then in oct. for a college reunion, if possible, and wouldn't mind hitting field of dreams at least once on the way through, as it's very possible we'll go to minnesota again in the summer. we looked into michigan, the near west coast, up near chicago, but it's a little too near chicago, it's not far enough away, it's a bit urbane. minnesota is way up there, and it gives us a taste for the far north and the piney woods, the cold waters and what i like best is the look back over the water, back at the lower forty-eight or at least wisconsin. i mean, you're still in the usa, but there's this huge body of water, and you're way up above it, and as you look back these little lights of wisconsin are twinkling at you. and it's not a man-made lake, like so many of them are, around here. it's the real thing, gitchee-gumi.

if you're in a pond that's steadily heating up, and they're fighting over increasingly limited resources, no retirement, no money for the prisons, no money for the police dispatcher, no nothing, but hey the farmers are making money, but even they have been pouring chemicals into the soil for so long, that the soil is beginning to break down and crumble down the river and confuse the issue of what's mud and what's still river. and fracking of course doesn't help as it confuses the issue of what's earth, and what's just slime they can pull out of it, call oil & burn for heat. if you were amish, and took care of your land, and just sat there growing good food and trying to sell it for real money, probably someone would come along and steal it or build an incinerator on your land or something, make you wish you'd picked alberta, or africa, or maybe just stayed in switzerland. who knows if there's any way out of this mess, the earth is so militarized, and folks are so pent up and repressed, they're like to grab a gun and shoot at any hoodie they see, or whatever. you live by the gun, you live, eventually, with all those problems, and to see our way, sanely, through a world like this, i'm not sure i know how to do it. i'm not sure voting is the answer. voting just gets you jury duty, then you get a first-hand view of the whole darn pot of soup. ribit. don't know if i can take it. my jury duty, by the way, starts in april. i'll give you a report, i'm sure.


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