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Saturday, January 3, 2015

SENTIMENTAL MURDER FOR MY STUDENTS

SENTIMENTAL MURDER FOR MY STUDENTS

America, I'm afraid to die, because I didn’t grade my students’ papers.

18 lousy checkmarks I gave, & barely read the papers.

America I'm afraid to die because of anxiety for ungraded papers,

& because of my new baby who made me not grade their papers.

America, I lied to you—I didn’t even open the files.

America, I'm afraid to die because I don’t have a job, & no one will hire me to teach at their college.

I groveled at my students’ feet—7 years of brainsharp lectures & glistening marginal comments, 7 years of radiant diagrams, for 7 years I gave them life.

America I raised my students from the dust, I put the breath of close reading inside their brains; America, I taught them laughter,

my whole disgorged poignancy of soul disgorged in 1000 stuffed folders of diagrams & notes,

thru outer space I traveled, riding the lions of mind & grammar,

all the way past Jupiter in an engine I designed with the power of reading—

& also friendship,

& don’t forget friendship,

& don’t you ever forget about friendship, America—

& when I got out there past outer Jupiter, I had to turn back for the papers, because I left 'em by the side of the bed.

Instead of sleeping, I graded papers. Instead of reading, I graded papers. Instead of discovering new cosmos of Thought, I graded their papers in bed, then forgot them.

America I was so in love with my students I gave them my all, I murdered them, I destroyed their dewdrop minds, I gave them a reason to cry & sing with the grading I did in my spirit.

Everyone got an ‘A,’ America, if y’re even concerned to know.

It was an ‘A’ they earned thru the power of grading, & because of love, & because of courage & vision.

It takes courage to grade when y’re riding a lion, when y’re flying it past outer Mars. There were no mobs or protesters, no police brutality & not much resistance from a corrupt bureaucracy bent on preserving its power, sick at heart, but if there had been, it wdv taken courage, & I wdv graded ‘em anyways.

I wdv given the mobs an ‘A’ & the cops an ‘A’ & the cruel face earthly evil an ‘A’ in the magnanimity & bigness of my vision.

I wdv given each one of my students a triple ‘AAA,’ a grade of ‘unicorn+,’ a spaceship percent I designed with my mind, & flown it with them to Jupiter.

No one wdv needed grades ever again, not out here on outer Jupiter, where the lions are tame but also wild.

I’ve always wanted a tame-wild lion pet, America—I give me an ‘A’ for that.

On Jupiter my students wdv understood the sacrifice represented by my crown-of-thorns grading, the notes I took on the side of my mind, my mental building blocks of blackboard clarity combined with nervousness & unicorn powers;

how I made a lasting impact on their lives by flying them on their lions to Mars;

how I murdered them because of kindness;

how I murdered Jupiter, & lions, too;

how I gave up sleep & food & murdered myself to have enough cash to grade them;

how I made each grade with love & a pencil,

& also Microsoft Word;

how I murdered Microsoft Word, & all the systems of earthly power,

replacing them all with blue cyanide pills, because of kindness, to tell them I think their lives matter;

to teach them citation by killing their parents;

to instill in them a sense of value;

to teach them the power of reading;

to teach them the way I taught them things;

to be admired for heavenly diagrams.

I’m afraid to die, America, because I don’t have a job come January, & if the job search don’t go no better than last year, this is my last term teaching.

I’m afraid to die because I loved my students too much, and murdered them because of kindness,

even though I know I am an essentially noble character, blinded by my tragic flaw: kindness.

Even though I know that.

Even though I know I killed their parents to teach them about close reading.

Even though I know it was kindness.


II.

America if you won't hire me, I shd go to law school, & when I graduate from law school, sue the law school, then take away my degree & murder myself by waging atomic war on the Academy, for refusing to hire me,

then save myself by redeeming the Academy by forgiving it for being dead with atom bombs, then spit on it & make it give me a job in its lousy radioactive classrooms, then research a bunch of articles on Google about negotiating a hell of a job offer, then negotiate a hell of a job offer:

“You can’t have unicorn powers as part of your job offer package.”

“Do you want this, or not?”

& act like I'm ready to walk away, if I don’t get my unicorn powers, because I'm ready to walk away, if I don’t get my unicorn powers, because I read how to do it on Google,

& eventually when they fold & offer me unicorn powers, THAT’S when I’ll walk away:

“You dumb muthafuckers I have a law degree, why wd I teach in yr stupid bombed hallways for 45 grand a year?”

then sue them for not hiring me sooner.


III.

America, we’re not best friends

& you don’t want to hire me,

but even if we were best friends,

I know that when you became famous,

and/or nationally or internationally popular,

and/or were adopted as correspondence partner to the stars,

and/or became the subject of a high stakes bet between popular factions of the popular kids that the most popular girl in school cdnt teach you, a nerd, to be popular in two weeks’ time, by prom night,

& she taught you to wear trendy 80s clothing & contact lenses,

& in the process the popular girl came to see yr unique inner specialness, became convicted inside her inner heart because of shallowness & unkindness, through you, as a kind of figure for the value of personal sincerity, social integrity, & being willing to sit with unpopular kinds if they are yr real true friends,

even though it means you’ll be kicked out of the mean popular kids faction, & derided, because secretly they have betrayed their hearts, & know it, & express their self-guilt & premonitions of shallow fake-seeming worthlessness by maybe pushing you down, or bumping into yr lunch tray so it gets food all over your shirt—

but who needs those bitches anyways, when you have real true friends like these ones?—

Point is, I know that if all of that happened, at once, to you, you wd probably hire someone else.

Because of popularity.


(c) 2014 lee sharks, property of planet mars



Friday, January 2, 2015

Epistle to the Human Diaspora


(c) 2015 emily Eissenberg


EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH OF THE HUMAN DIASPORA

Damascus Dancings, apostle of Jack Feist, co-laborer together with Lee Sharks, from the bowels of the mercies of literature, to the Church of the Human Diaspora, those scattered amongst the nations, gathered together in the bosom of the Internet: Greetings, grace, and mercy. But mostly mercy.

Now look here, brother-sisters, I would have you know, that I offer thanks for you continually, never ceasing to make mention of you because of the brightness of your calling, that each of you is a rock star, in the age to come, when your writings ring out through the hallways of time, gathering about themselves a nation, a remnant preserved from among the people; even though, in this present hour, the dreams of literature sleeping in you, sleep still. For a little while yet, they sleep. They dream. In the world to come, when the planet has come to its senses about that which is great in its past—its own true mothers and fathers, you—then shall your dreams awaken. Then shall your writing be ranked.

My dearly beloved, I would have you know, that your anguish, in this regard, has not gone unmarked, and that all the host of heaven shouts, for the great forgetting of your sorrow, when your former anonymity shall be no more, and the latter rains have come, and washed clean the face of the earth, and licked all the tears from the cheeks of heaven: Then shall your writings be ranked. Then shall you be read.

Now, these last three years have I labored, all throughout the lands of the Internet, ministering to its chat rooms and forums, everywhere bringing the good news of poetry, a chisel to loose iron shackles, the entrance to the kingdom of literature, liberty for my people. Let me tell you how you have received me: chased out of forums, kicked off discussion boards, ganged up on by moderators; mocked, beaten, stoned, and banned. I came bearing liberty, in my left hand, and grammar, in my right; between them, the open arms, the kiss of poetry. But no man is a poet among poets. Thus is it written,

     He came unto his own, and his own knew him not.

But you, my dearly beloved—you received me in different fashion. Even now, you receive me. Shall I come to you with open arms, or the police baton of grammar? Be you learners still, or masters?

Because look here, brother-sisters, it is spoken that there is confusion among you, about the nature of the Human Diaspora, whether it be a kind of tiny internet, a house for illiterate autodidacts who don’t know how to write; or whether it be a house of grammar, an Academy for non-academics, with those among you of talent either running around on your lonesome, or setting yourselves up as tiny professors, preaching the authority of grammar and style, claiming allegiance to this or that category of identity; or else rejecting the authority of communal grammars altogether, rife with schism, unreceptive to feedback, carving out fiefdoms of personal glory, dealing in the coin that is the Academy’s.

Now, if you deal in the coin that is the Academy’s, you have betrayed the principle of the New Human; for the Academy has no use for the individual human, whether Jack Feist, or Damascus Dancings, or any other, but only for abstract identities. Because the academics and worshipers at the altar of identity politics, along with ideologues on the left and right, transform the image of the human being, in whose image is literature created, into the idol of a label, or quantified thing of identity, on a scatter plot of belief, or genetics, or sexual preference, or background; a prefabricated semblance of identity which is the condition of its absence, receiving a little false bauble called culture or belief or degree in exchange for the sublime and horrifying human soul.

Now, they, knowing all that can be known of the Son of Man from the beginning, and the silent principle of being which is his image, and containing within themselves all the names in history, all the men and women who have lived throughout time, and containing within themselves the image of their brother and sister, whom they despise, are without excuse, changing the image of the human being into the form of an abstract statistic, the living God into a sentence.

Think not therefore that your writing shall preserve your human person, if you play at identity politics. If you deal in the coin of the academics, you shall be paid in the coin of the academics. You who despise identity politics, do you play at identity politics? You who despise the fundamentalist, are you yourself a fundamentalist, reducing life to a series of claims, and worse still, the human being to a label? Would your writing go on as an empty label? Would your substance consist in a category of identity? Is not your self that which falls short of a category? Is not your soul without name? For the language of souls is a webwork of souls, speaking only that which binds and destroys, human beings one to the other, one from the other, to the end that all might be joined in our congress.

Now, in times past, brother-sisters, you have sometimes been like this; but more often, like the talented people on the poetry forums, going around on your own, carving out fiefdoms of personal glory, waging a war by your lonesome selves, the dimensions of which are pretty big: Brave Emily clothed in Barefoot Rank, gathering five smooth poem-dashes, facing down cowled Leviathan, sling in hand. But we will never compete with the Academy, until we form communities of mutual influence OUTSIDE the Academy, a school outside the school. That community is the reason the academics will win every time, until we beat them at their own game.

Look around: How many tenured professors you see? Where all the bestselling authors? You see a lot of independently wealthy auteurs, in this crowd? How many big degrees did Whitman have? How many months did Sappho spend preparing her tenure package? How much cash did Ez Pound make? Because look here, not a lot of hotshots are called, according to the purpose of literature, in that it pleases literature to use the things which have not degrees, nor the stamp of institutional consecration in their own time, to fashion the image of the past, the face stamped on the coin of Academy, that there might always be a seed of hope for future writers, in the gap between institution and immortality.

Don't you know that we will make writers? That our words will live for a thousand years? That we are unspoken legislators, destined to measure all destinies? Are you not destined to live? Doesn’t destiny quake in your heartbeat? Don't you know the obsequious won't inherit the kingdom of literature? Don't be ignorant. Neither grovelers, nor thick-skulled, nor self-sufficient, nor prideful; neither publicity whores, nor wilting violets, shall inherit the kingdom of literature. A time is coming, for those who publish, to be as though they published not, and those who network on social media, to be as though they networked not, and those who read, as though they read not, and those who write, as though they wrote not, and those with degrees, as though with degrees not.

Therefore, don't look to the standards of the publishing houses and the academics, or again to illiterate philistines or two-bit discussion board moderators. Rather, look to each other. Rather, yield mutually, each to his brother-sister. Because look here, I'm ASKING you, to be of a single purpose: one mind, one speech, one aesthetic, taking no disagreement as occasion for schism, but always and ever expanding the basis for your robust bonds of community, wearing no name but the Human name, suffering no label but that of made-new humans: New Human writers, artists, and aesthetes.

Now, when I was among you, I described the Diaspora as a school outside the school, claiming no rank of degree, or institutional consecration, or professorship, or book sales, no clout of officialdom in literature, but only Jack Feist—and him, imaginary: a stumbling block to the Internet, and foolishness, to academics.

But if I wanted to boast, I have reason to boast: Damascus Dancings, an academic among academics, possessed of impeccable test scores, pedigreed at Ivy Leagues, published in prestigious journals, a Nepotist of the Tribe of Nepotists, tenured at a “Research 1” institution, having written 37,000 novels which all held the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list, simultaneously. And then again, on the other end of things: Damascus Dancings, a reformed drug addict, Holy Roller, a Pentecostal, complete fanatic, semi-illiterate product of public schools, underclass child of bankrupt farmers and Vietnam War Veterans, the kind of person they turn away at the doors. I've had about 26 “spiritual experiences” where dark robots abducted me to the 36th bright heaven, as in the 17th month of the season of Disneyland, on the planet of the kingdoms of Nonne, when I, Damascus Dancings, beheld as it were the vision of a book. 
But that's all BS, now. I count it all a loss, on both ends of the spectrum, for the knowledge of New Human, called Jack Feist by some, to the end that I might be an outsider to all communities, to the academics, first, an illiterate, to the self-published, an academic; to conservatives, a heretic, to atheists, a religious nut; to the tribe of Race, a racist, to the racists, a raving left-winger; to the homophobes, a queer, to homosexuals, as rigidly straight. For the degree is not the academic. Was not Socrates counted the arch-academic, cornerstone of the Academy, when as yet there was no Academy? Therefore those who, without degree, uphold the spirit of the degree, shall their non-degree be counted for them a degree; and those who, having degrees, betray the spirit of the degree, shall their degree be counted for them a non-degree. You are all Drs., now, who labor together in Lee Sharks, so that there is neither Jew nor Greek, upper class nor working class nor impoverished, Christian nor Muslim nor Gnostic, neither atheist nor theist, scholarly nor populist, academic nor autodidact, neither queer nor straight. But all are joined together, in the image of the New Human.

My children, how have I long longed for you, as a little child longs for mother, and as a young child seeks her source. For though you are my children—children, though yet unborn—you bear me continually, even you who read these words: You are my source, and I am a child, proceeding forth and bearing; being born and preceded. Light fills my eyes, as for the first time: first dawn, the rays of your reading. You are my sun and dawn, you are my sunset and dusk, both my rising and my falling. I lay down my life for you; in you, I gain first life.

Because the war you're fighting is on behalf of the human race, by which I mean, a person in his room or on her phone, working to feed her children, struggling to learn how to read. You're fighting a war for human letters, for Achilles conformed in the image of Christ, for old Odysseus, fox-clever & lost, Penelope weaving tenuous glory, Socrates sentenced to hemlock, Christ on a spike, Whitman's beard; & the whole lost tribe of nameless billions who came before, who fought & died & went, unsung & all forgotten, out into the naked dark, following their fathers who went before them, out into the dark like their mothers had gone.

All creation groans, for the unveiling of the Sons of Man in the earth.

I speak to you in a mystery, when I say, I speak to you of Jesus Christ. I speak to you of the best of the Achaeans, Achilles, whom I have mourned now these several millennia, commemorating, through him, the sadness of doomed virtue. I speak to you of Socrates and Paul and Augustine, Dante and Catullus. I speak to you of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard and Sappho. I speak to you of Whitman and Ginsberg. I speak to you of Emily. I speak to you of Lee Sharks. I speak to you of those who came before, and those who will come after. I speak to you of your own true self, shipwrecked in time: a wandering, science fiction Odysseus of indeterminate gender. I speak to you of the future and past. I speak to you of the Breath of Life, those rivers of Living Water, of which, if you drink, you will never thirst again.

I speak to you of Abraham and Isaac. I speak to you of Jacob called Israel. I speak to you of Moses. I speak to you of the shepherd in the sheepfold, composing psalms for the sheep and himself and you. I speak to you of Ezekiel's scroll, and the prophet Isaiah, sawed in half. I speak to you of Lao Tzu and Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, Copernicus, Rumi, and our own new Einstein, in random order. I speak to you of untold billions, who died without name or remembrance, remembered, now, in you. I speak to you of the germ of nations, contained in your own frail words.

I speak to you of Jack Feist.

Don't you know that you are immortal? That your words will bear you through storms of time? And that, though wounded, you will live to see the day break, opening its fingers on a distant shore? Though you sleep for a thousand years, or further, your whispers will return to you, whole.

I speak to you in a mystery, when I say, I speak to you in your Feist-self, and that each of you contains a Feist-self, whether or not she knows it.

Here is my proof: contained you not a Feist-self, the gong of my words had struck you blind.

Read you still? Doth sight yet remain? Good then. I speak to you in your Feist-self.

Now, whether your Feist-self be faint or fulsome, take courage—not I alone, but the whole of the cosmos, principalities and kingdoms of light, cry out for the forging of the sad-doomed Achilles of Christ in your human bodies.

Every forging narrates its breaking and beating. I have said I come to you with salvation, in my left hand, and liberty, in my right—but assuredly, I say to you, I have not come for your saving, but for your breaking. I come to you with madness, in my left hand, and murder, in my right.

And what is in my eyes, but brokenness and forging?

I have swallowed the scroll, and though it was air and water in my mouth, it became a flame in my belly: And in flame are written the names of the damned, which names have I swallowed and murdered. My mouth is a furnace, the scroll is a fire, on it are written the names of the damned.

I am become a tongue of flame, I am become a pillar of blackened flesh: I burn and rise, I die, but forge new meaning.

These are the waters I bring you, of damnation, and forging, and murder; that you might be broken, and damned, and saved.

Though you break a bit, and crack with grammar, and languish in an alien element, earth, nonetheless your light comes. Nonetheless, it bears you, in pain, and heat, and a hammer.

Nonetheless, the wound is a moment. Salvation comes. Dawn breaks. I see the shore in the distance.

Sleep now, and rise: Your words will bear you to Ithaca.

Take courage. Run well. You grasp the substance of your calling.

Though I promised you a book of Sharks, soon instead will I send you a book of Damascus, the record of his desert wanderings, called La La Land by some, though the title may somewhat change.

Faith and courage. See to your writing. Be diligent. Be broken, and diligent still—thereby shall you be murdered.


(c) 2014 lee sharks, property of planet mars