Thursday, November 06, 2008

Poem of the Day

The Poet in the Box by Martin Espada
 
  for Brandon
  
We have a problem with Brandon, 
the assistant warden said.
He's a poet.
  
At the juvenile detention center
demonic poetry fired Brandon's fist
into the forehead of another inmate.
Metaphor, that cackling spirit, drove him to flip 
another boy's cafeteria tray onto the floor.
The staccato chorus rhyming in his head
told him to spit and curse 
at enemies bigger by a hundred pounds.
The gnawing in his rib cage was a craving for discipline.
Repeatedly two guards shuffled him 
to the cell called the box, solitary confinement,
masonry of silence fingered by hallucinating drifters, 
rebels awaiting execution, monks in prayer.
  
Then we figured it out, the assistant warden said.
He started fights so we'd throw him
in solitary, where he could write.
  
The box: There poetry was a grasshopper in the bowl of his hands, 
pencil chiseling letters across his notebook
like the script of a pharaoh's deeds on pyramid walls;
metaphor spilled from the light he trapped
in his eyelids, lamps of incandescent words;
rhyme harmonized through the voices
of great-grandmothers and sharecropper bluesmen 
whenever sleep began to whistle in his breath. 
So the cold was a blanket to him.
  
We fixed Brandon, the assistant warden said.
We stopped punishing him. He knows
that every violation means he stays here longer.
  
Tonight there are poets 
who versify vacations in Tuscany, 
the villa on a hill, the light of morning; 
poets who stare at computer screens 
and imagine cockroach powder 
dissolved into the coffee
of the committee that said no to tenure;
poets who drain whiskey bottles 
and urinate on the shoes of their disciples;
poets who cannot sleep as they contemplate
the extinction of iambic pentameter;
poets who watch the sky, waiting for a poem
to plunge in a white streak through blackness.
  
Brandon dreams of punishment,
stealing the keys from a sleepy jailer
to lock himself into the box, where he can hear
the scratching of his pencil
like fingernails on dungeon stone. 
  
from Alabanza: New & Selected Poems

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Some modest suggestions

My decidedly old school recommendation wishlist for the new administration. I look forward with wonder and delight (and probable amazement) to President Obama's actual choices.

Agriculture:  Kathleen Sibelius

Attorney General: Robert Kennedy, Jr.

Commerce: Michael Bloomberg

Defense: Wesley Clark  (when he becomes eligible)

Director of National Intelligence: Jane Harman

Education: Graham Spanier

Energy: Amory Lovins

EPA: Al Gore

FEMA: Douglas Wilder

Health & Human Services: Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg

Homeland Security: Janet Napolitano

Housing & Urban Development: Ellen Sahli

Interior: Olympia Snowe

Labor: Andy Stern

National Security Advisor: Richard Clarke

Poet Laureate: Martin Espada

Special Prosecutor: Dennis Kucinich

State: Bill Richardson

Transportation: Susan Kupferman 

Treasury: Paul Krugman

UN Ambassador:  Bill Clinton

Veterans Affairs:  Max Cleland

Poem of the Day

 
Joy, Shipmate, Joy! by Walt Whitman
  

  Joy! shipmate--joy!
(Pleas'd to my Soul at death I cry;)
Our life is closed--our life begins;
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last--she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore;
Joy! shipmate--joy! 

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES 

Voter Diary

Just back from voting.  At 11am I was number 526 to vote. In 2006, I was number 178 at 4 pm. 2004, around 425 at that same time. This is shaping up to be a VERY high turnout.

All going smoothly in my precinct except for the common error of dividing the alphabet evenly at j/k and expecting even length lines.  From the personal experience of years of convention registration work I can tell you  that American names are weighted very heavily to the first quarter of the alphabet. Dividing registration at E or even D will get you equal length lines in most groups. As a result, the a-j line had 50 people in it while I, being R surnamed, was behind 3 when I entered the building and voted quickly.

Another pleasant surprise, my county has completed the change back to paper scan ballots since last fall. No more Dieboltian vote swallowers here.

No McCain workers outside the polling place. 4 Obama workers and a lone sad looking supporter for the local Congressional candidate.

GO OBAMA!

Update: Reports on local radio say that over 1000 Penn State students were in line before polls opened at one of the downtown State College precincts. Go Lions!

Vote

A reminder:

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Monday, November 03, 2008

For John McCain


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Since we had a singing shout out to Barack Obama earlier this month, we thought it only fair to do the same for John McCain. Enjoy John.

Election Predictions

from my post to the Blatt on July 5th:

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Obama will win by 323 to 215 electorial votes. The Dems will hold all the states they had in 2004 and add AK CO IN IA MT NM NV OH VA and possibly NC.

In the Senate, the Dems will pick up 10 seats in AK CO ME MN MS NC NH NM OR VA, leaving themselves one vote short of being fillibuster proof.

In the House, the Dems will have a net pick-up of 18 seats. They will give the GOP a strong run for our congressional district (PA 05), but will probably lose...it will depend on turn out in State College.

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Looking back, it seems that I was too conservative on the EV count.  Obviously I am wrong about AK, but I still feel pretty confident about the rest. I'm moving NC to a win and adding MO and IN as strong possibles. Weak possibles are WV, GA, MT and ND.

O 346 to M 192  5.8% spread in popular vote

In the Senate, I am certainly wrong on ME, I stand on predicting wins in AK CO MN NC NH NM OR VA and add GA and MS as  strong possibles, meaning there is a shot at being rid of Traitor Joe.

In the House races, I now think 18 is too few, but I am not sure how many more...say a total of 32 seats picked up...

Glenn Thompson (R-unqualified idiot) will win in our local Congressional race, but Mark McCracken will do a lot better than the average someone who has spent less than $1 for every $6 of his opponent does. I say an 8% spread

All the local State House and Senate incumbents will win handily.

The water system finance bond will pass easily.

The Dems will continue to hold all the State row house offices (Auditor General, Attorney General, Treasurer, etc)