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ostracism
a selection from 100 so-called poems
and new so-called work

by

eric chaet

 



POETRY

poems of the month

fish

vagabondage

measuring my face

ostracism

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

confession from belgrade

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

leda and the swan

gloss on rilke's ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa: a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of
omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

the love of pierre de ronsard

imagepoem

the rich man and the leper

disgusting

art, truth and bafflement

 

TRANSLATIONS

 

BETWEEN POETRY AND PROSE

the maxims of michel de montaigne

400
revolutionary maxims

nice men and
suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history

 

SHORT STORIES

godpieces

the three bears

three albanian tales

odorous underwear

a little creation story

 

ESSAYS & MEMOIRS

a curious and peculiar
kind of queer

the ivory palace

helen's tower

schopenhauer for muthafuckas

are doctors autistic ?

single track in the snow

never a pygmy

against money

did franco die ?

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you

happiness

londons of the mind &
dealing death to the caspian

genocide

a muezzin from the tower of darkness

kegan and kagan

a holy dog and a
dog-headed saint

an albanian ikon

being or television

satan in the groin

womb of half-fogged mirrors

tourism and terrorism

diogenes
the dog from sinope

shoplifting

this sorry scheme of things

the bektashi dervishes

combatting normality

fools for nothingness:
atheists & saints

death of a bestseller

vacuum of desire: a homo-erotic correspondence

a note on beards

translation and the oulipo

the visit

 

PHOTOGRAPHS

prelude

 

Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

megalith of the month

houses for the dead

ireland and the phallic continuum

irish cross-pillars

irish sweathouses

the sheela-na-gig conundrum

french megaliths

 

'western values'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

we are all

recyclable

 

Eric Chaet's Website

 


A MAN SWERVES HIS CAR

A man swerves his car as though to hit me
where I stand on road shoulder
torn between thumbing a ride east from Kansas City
& watching a crew lay bricks on a newly-erected wood frame.

At the last moment, he turns aside.

He wants me more aware of death & of himself & myself
if I'm going to stand in midst of world that's driving him back & forth
along highways.

 

 

WHO'S WHO

I'm the weakling others often take me for
tho I'm strong, too
even more foolish than they sometimes think
tho I'm wise, too
I've failed as thoroly as some imagine
tho I'm succeeding, too
people see all aspects of me—
different people see different aspects—
more clearly than I wish they could be seen
except what I've been striving to become
all my life
that they won't see
unless I become utterly
like nothing they have cognates for
they're always prepared to paste all over one another
& have pasted over themselves
& would paste all over me
in an instant which they imagine settles who's who.

 

 

BOSS

I often feel I need a boss to tell me what to do—
but there's no one I know of I'd obey—
that's why I struggled so long to get free
& now the only boss I have is me.

The good & wise conceal themselves too well—
amidst applause, fraud & might prevail
& the merely clever ride their tail—
& now the only boss I have is me.

 

 

SOMETHING FUNNY

There's something funny 'bout people in suits something serious, too—
there's something funny 'bout a Friday or a Monday & there's something serious, too.

There's something funny! something funny!
something serious, too—
there's something funny! something funny!
& something serious, too.

There's something funny 'bout mothers & fathers something serious, too-
there's something funny 'bout weddings & funerals & something serious, too.

There's something funny! something funny!
something serious, too—
there's something funny! something funny!
& something serious, too.

There's something funny 'bout Christmas & New Year something serious, too-
there's something funny 'bout stockings & reindeer & something serious, too.

There's something funny! something funny!
something serious, too—
there's something funny! something funny!
something serious, too.

There's something funny 'bout show-biz
something serious, too—
there's something funny 'bout farming & banking & something serious, too.

There's something funny! something funny!
something serious, too—
there's something funny! something funny!
& something serious, too.

 

 

AT A COUNTER ON A CLOUDY MORNING

I wake, cold.
I don't remember any dream.
The ground's frosty.

I sit at a counter, drinking coffee.
The others are preparing to drive their trucks
feed corn stalks to their white-breath cows
operate machinery that produces toilet paper & packaging.

They know what they owe, & how much they will earn.
They tell of recent bureaucratic run-arounds & vandalism- & catch up on ball teams.

The newspaper is full of celebrities
the useless pronouncements of authorities attempting to
cut themselves heroic notches in history
& tragedies that have occurred to people never before considered worthy of mention.

The Sun has been obscured for a long time already.

I don't know how I'll sustain myself.

 

 

HALF OR A THIRD

Half a life ago
I did half of what I've done
—or maybe it was third & third
& the greatest third to come ?

So I pray
to the Best of myself
in the world I can't control.

 

 

BEAN-FARTS

Nothing doing-hollow's empty.

Too hot to zip bag—
mosquitoes for companions again.

Strange way to roll into day's dream
sun casting blue across black spaces
& white galaxy glazes.

Snake skin among piled stones
minnows racing in shallow pools.

Gathering driftwood from dry creek
setting orange flames licking can black
steam & smoke rising while beans calm.

Floating
between howling birth-hungers
& eventually glutted worms.

When she visited, Mary asked,
"What are those giant flies?"

When she'd gone
one of those giant flies asked,
"Who's the dame?"

Every body talks about every body around here.

Creek's dry, corn's brown-
night comes, & white waters fill my dreams.

Thunder rolling down hollow
cool drops on burnt shoulders
walking bronzed rocks of creek bed
green clues everywhere.

Creek flows
cool breezes shake leaves.
Moon intervening full
into dark revelations of visible galaxies.

9 bean-farts, Great Hollow!

 

 

LIKE ANIMALS

There are people who live like mice & rabbits
spending most of their time arranging & sleeping in burrows
hidden away from the surface's dangers—I'm a lot like that, myself.

And there are people who live like ranging predators sharks, lions,
tigers, eagles, hawks, snakes competing with one another & exerting all their energy
no savings accounts, investments, pensions
eat someone or die—& I'm a lot like them, too.

There are people, too, like domesticated animals-
whether ruling hogs, chickens, dog-sled team leaders
or those they lord over in yards, barns, pens, harnesses—
& I've been trained to live among others—dominant & dominated—too.

 

 

EMPATHY

I dreamed of neighbors
only slightly known
secretly suffering
their hopes thwarted—
that I could do nothing for them
& couldn't even prevent
myself from being one of them

 

 

I WANT TO PARTICIPATE MORE FULLY

I want to participate more fully in the human community
of course, I do—
I'm not a stone or cloud, not a seam of ore or a star—
a human being is complex in a way no other being is complex
no plant or amoeba or other animal however marvelous—
complex & charming & unpredictable & astounding
in ways science can so far
scarcely even mention, let alone measure—
my complexity wants to involve itself in others' complexity
I want to love & laugh & explore ideas & even suffer with others
however much tyranny, submission, subterfuge, & self-deception
perfuse our thoughts & feelings & behavior
however much they color & sound thru all our situations.

I try not to commit evil, or even to be complicit
I try not to be assaulted, defrauded, or trapped
I try not to waste myself in illusions
no matter how many people believe in them
or how relentlessly I am urged to share such beliefs—
in these ways, I am inhibited from participating
as spontaneously as I would otherwise—
but I want to participate more fully in the human community—
of course I do.

 

 

WE ALL HIDE

We all hide our neuroses from others they'd make us objects of ridicule & scorn & prevent our winning opportunities to sustain & advance ourselves- so everyone is less aware of others' neuroses than of their own- I'll bet even my greatest heroes had their share of neuroses- unless you were living in a state of nature & totally fit you'd be bound to pick up some neuroses along the way- if you live in the midst of human hives strong on oppression & hypocrisy weak on justice & lovingkindness you weaken & die, succumb to rage or you'll carry psychic wounds forward along the trajectory of your struggle- maybe you'll manage to notice & correct some of them but while you're struggling just to stay alive & maybe also to achieve something truly useful amid people who don't believe anything truly useful is actually useful, or can be achieved & are looking for the most profitable way to co-operate with madness & injustice you're bound to pick up other neuroses- you have to concentrate on life & death & unlikely great achievement priorities- sure, many people are hardly more than their complex of neuroses drifting uselessly toward death comedians have a fine time using them to slander the human race- but others land as though on a beach they're hit by fragments of projectiles they're wounded why pretend-at least to ourselves-otherwise? but struggle forward

 

 

BACTERIA

Bacteria have a big advantage
They nave no nucleus
not a thought in their head
pure instinct
getting grub & avoiding dying
or so it appears
here at world headquarters—
maybe this or that one
is different from the others
maybe they're all different from one another—
I'm working from images
produced by people with excellent cameras
& microscopes
spies, as it were—
during tough times
they've been known to aggregate & cooperate
otherwise it's every cell for itself
& when they're fit & satisfied
they grow & become two—
similar but not exactly the same
as packages of salty or sweet snacks
bottles & cans of beer or carbonated drinks
legislation, dollars, ball games—
& I expect you know people like that
some sicken & die
some prosper
without much on their mind
& take those concerned
with, say, past & on-going injustices
or the well-being of humanity, maybe
(I don't mean the virulent strain of hypocrites)—
as in-sane, un-fit, confused
& they eat or swim around them
& try to attach themselves
to the most likely source of nutrients
so as to attract the least attention
of predators out trying to make a living
or patrolling macrophages.

On another occasion
let's consider viruses, protists, fungi
plants, invertebrates, vertebrates
& people more or less concerned
with commerce, society, meaning, culture
& always of course surviving the current crisis
or the current so-called peace & prosperity
those whose efforts produce good consequences
& those whose efforts produce bad consequences
we'll define good & bad on that occasion
& those whose efforts diminish, then stop
& minerals, including air, water
& soil—part mineral
part where bacteria & other crews
are processing & recycling
recently living beings' residues
.

 

 

DOING THE BEST THEY CAN

Everyone is doing the best he or she can
pursuing happiness
per his or her best understanding & intuition—
this was clearer to me when I was a boy
before I ran into so much opposition
not to speak of nearly as fatal indifference
to my attempts to make my contribution
& collect what I needed in return—
even Nero, Pizarro, Stalin, Hitler
every cow or streptococcus
every little bully, every teasing girl
every politician who gives you to believe
what he or she has no intent of trying to deliver
unless at no great cost to his or her career
& everyone in every position
who behaves in that political way—
it's the best they know how to do—
it would be wonderful
if someone fully & stably wise could persuade them
that their interest lay in acting more altruistically
that the karmic return on investment
would enrich them beyond their ability to imagine
which is so
but even to allow oneself to be persuaded by wisdom
requires seeds of wisdom
many have refused to hear & nurture
because of what they think they know
which is false—
everyone is doing the best they can:
to remember that it's so is such a great advantage
tho only an advantage
in the midst of the chaotic war for everything
that those who are unaware of their best interests
are fighting
(& you're invited & not allowed to refuse):
to know it's so is one of the kinds of freedom—
& freedom is one of the kinds of joy—
& one of the kinds of power, too.

 

 

A TALE FROM OLD BUZZARD'S YOUTH

Buzzard hears of a tribe
that worships him,
skims hillside & forest,
& soars high
in slow circle
of observation
& contemplation.

Below him,
villagers flying kite
in his image,
burning incense,
laying out sacrificial meat.

Touched by the meat,
he dips a wing
& drops straight down.

But villagers shoot arrows
& yell, No! No! Holy meat for holy buzzard!

Buzzard rises up,
dives,
catches & crushes kite-buzzard in claws,
shits on several archers & a priestess,
scoops up meat, & eats with clenched brows
in limbs of huge cactus, deep in Southwest.

Makes him so sick, he pukes 2 days.

Said the old buzzard Old Buzzard used to call Old Buzzard:
The art of forgetting is the radius of circle-soaring,
slow, slow, in blue geometry of sky & bird.

 

 

OSTRACISM

From Athens
galleys propelled
by 3 tiers of slaves
with oars
carried red & black vases
with handles
filled with olive oil & wine
& heavily-armed foot-soldiers
& orators
who'd studied sophistry
who proclaimed to citizens
& women, slaves, & children
of islands & coastal cities
all over the Mediterranean Sea
how it would be.

Each year
600 oligarchs casting ballots
(they used shards
of broken vases)
voted to ostracize & expel
the Athenian who most upset
efficient execution
of their exploitation plans.

 

 

FARTHEST POINT

If, in Your Mysterious Way, you can't or won't send cash
send me a sense of humor.

If you can't or won't intervene to prevent the most infantile
from ruling, blundering, ruining everything they notice
& most of what they don't notice, too—
send me patience & wisdom—
better yet, cunning, courage, strategy, tools, & skill!

If you can't or won't send me the means
of providing myself with wholesome nourishment—
how about a night's restful sleep occasionally?

If you'll show me how to be of use to my fellow sufferers
I'd gratefully get to it!

When you reach the farthest point
in your great elliptical retreat from us
so long absent One—
& turn, & rush back this way in Wrath—
please notice that
at great disadvantage to myself
in the competition for everything among my contemporaries
I'm refraining from murdering, raping, torturing
or supplying the murderers, rapists, torturers
or treating them or their shills with respect—
that, however bedraggled, I am hereby reporting for action.

 

 

SURVIVORS

How the war for everything we need
& want has ravaged men
& women all around me!
— not just their eyes & faces & their aching bodies
but also what they think or never dared to think
— yet they're capable of complex negotiations
& mechanics &, sometimes,
sympathetic understanding,
joy, & laughing!

 

 

ADDICTIONS

We're addicted to
de-natured flour, sugar, fat
we're addicted
to convenience
to herbicides & pesticides
we're addicted
to usury
we're addicted
to starving those who say
what's true but difficult
to the pronouncements
of useless people
in positions of authority
to manipulating
those we live with
most intimately
to gasoline, asphalt,
cement, steel, & driving
to right angles & screens

we're addicted to
thinking how clever we are
to comments of
people who should be
studying & observing
to art that reinforces
what needs changing
to histories that hide what happened & is still happening
we're addicted to fitting in & getting along
to winning & losing, scores & averages
to prices only others can set
we're addicted to stockpiling money
to insulate ourselves from necessary upheavals
we're addicted to foreign enemies
& to warrior champions protecting the roles
we're always complaining aren't worthy of us
we're addicted to anxiety, blaming, excuses
to gaining the approval of those who have gained approval
we're addicted to breaking addictions—
then celebrating for the rest of our lives
rather than doing anything useful.

 

 

COPING WITH ANXIETY

We need to know
that we don't know what we don't know
& that we can't do what we can't do—
&, so, forgive ourselves
for not meeting insane expectations—
&, tho we can't satisfy others' insane expectations
we need to learn what we can learn
& do what we can do
&, so, know that, under the circumstances
we've done the best that we could do
& that, if we live to face a similar situation
tomorrow, or next week, or next year
we will be prepared to be of greater true service
& to provide for ourselves more capably
though we still will not be able to meet
insane expectations.

 

 

ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS THEY BOUGHT

I find it hard to blame those who misjudge me especially since out of uncertainty & sometimes fear & ignorance, too, of course I make false moves I come to regret—& for every one of me there are a million pretenders & more millions who believe they're too sensible to even want to pretend to be such a ridiculous person—it's one of the first things they decided when they were just kids—or rather it's one of the first things that they bought.

 

 

DOORMAN

Good morning, sir, good morning, ma'am.
Yes, I'm wearing a different uniform,
different gloves, different hat.
I've cleaned the glass of the door—
I discovered a new solvent.
Isn't it glorious, how the glass
is so thoroughly transparent,
yet transmitting sparkle from the Sun?
Yes, you're right, it's a different door,
different frame, different hinges, too.
Notice, in fact, that the building
into which I'm ushering you
is a different building
from the one you routinely enter.
Please, take a good look
at your reflection in the glass—
that's the last you'll see of it.
It won't survive the walk across the lobby.
Someone else will step out of the elevator
on a different floor, different company,
different industry, different agenda,
different obstacles, different opportunities,
different priorities, different purpose.

 

 

MOST DEEDS ARE SMALL

Most deeds are small
& no account is taken of them—
words & gestures-behavior—
toward & in response to
neighbors, strangers, family members
to the demands of
tyrants, their vassals, their serfs
to those stronger than you or weaker than you
while you are at peace with yourself
or in turmoil, maybe sick, frightened—
how you spend the decades of your life
tho you don't have what you want
& don't like what you must be doing—
I didn't always know this—
I've neglected to master & practice common skills
I've been too impressed by the publicity of the prominent—
what the prominent do, their great accomplishments
& their non-accomplishments, too
& the promotion that trumpets their non-accomplishments—
these are deeds, too, with disproportionate influence—
but most deeds, by most people—
conventional, panicked, brave, deliberate, foolish, wise
& by all the other species, too—
no account is taken of them—
& they are the very soil of whatever crop will grow
whether humanity continues on its crazy, self-destructive way
or whether humanity becomes successful—
whether here & there an individual will truly fulfill him or herself
or only impress others that he or she has fulfilled him or herself
tho is really an empty shell—
or whether he or she will die unnoticed, or misunderstood—
most deeds are small, & no account is taken of them.

 

 

THOSE I'D HELP

Those I'd help
will take no help from me
& give me none—
they don't believe
that they need help
they're proud & deluded
they need help
& give me none-
& I need help.

 

 

I IMAGINE I HAVE AN AUDIENCE

I imagine I have an audience—
tho many times it seems no one is paying attention to me
& many times it seems to me I have nothing of value to tell anyone
& I'm tempted just to distill some of others' cleverness
& pass it along as my own
so that people will tell me how wonderful I am
tho I'd be just a moon reflecting some sun's light.

But I imagine I have an audience
I imagine that what I am saying will have effects
good or bad, wise or unwise, trivial or profound.

I imagine I have an audience
composed of people a lot or a little like I am & have been & will be
& also very or a little different from who I am & have been & will be.

I imagine I have an audience
who judge for themselves what is useful, what not
of what I say-
what is completely correct, partially correct, or false, or foolish
who discard this, incorporate that for use
as I have figured it out & expressed it
or modified, customized for their own use—
as a result of which they survive, thrive, achieve
with more or less frustration, suffering, grace, failure or success.

I imagine that they'll have a powerful impact
on the agenda & destiny of the human species—
I imagine I have an audience.

 

 


part two >

 


Eric Chaet was born a bad while ago and lives near De Pere, Wisconsin, USA
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