Voted.

I voted today, in the gym of a local elementary school. Overall it went very smoothly. There was a sense of standing in line for a long time, but it fact we were home just about an hour after we left the house.

Why is it important to vote? Isn’t it just an empty ritual, rigged from the start, with candidates that are all just corporate puppets? If I were true to my youthful anarchist and later Marxist influences, I’d probably be memorizing Noam Chomsky and agreeing with that statement. But I was also raised by politically-active, liberal Jews, who believe that society is made of people, and that improvement of the world by people is not only possible but imperative.

I’m in no position to moralize; my civic involvement is generally limited to voting on election day, and recycling. I even missed my party’s primary. I’m not proud of that. I’ve made an effort to be informed, by studying the candidates on Project Vote Smart (where you can find detailed information about the candidates’ positions on a whole list of issues) and my state’s League of Women Voters site. Yes, I took the time to research whom I was going to vote for, albeit the night before the election.

If you enjoy any modicum of benefit from living in American society, why not participate in the process? It’s not about whether the person you voted for wins, it’s about paying attention — even just a little — and showing up. You don’t have to subscribe to some naive myth that you’re single-handedly changing the world. Just show up. Cynicism in defense of your own non-participation does not make you appear more intelligent. It just seems like an excuse for laziness.

What people forget is that most elections are not just about the hot-button, big-name races. The local campaigns might be less interesting, but the closer you get to home, the more connection there is between your life and the operation of government. It’s one thing to be cynical about someone running for Congress — but what about State senators, county executives, city council members, sheriff, judges? I don’t know these people any better, except what I’ve learned through reading. But I feel like these people are going to have a more immediate impact on my life. You could also argue that your vote counts more in a local election, since the overall number of votes is smaller.

What’s my point? I guess that I’m still an optimist (albeit an apocalyptic optimist). Chaos theory reminds us that even the smallest change can alter the course of a storm. And even if History is spiraling down a giant vortex into confusion, I’d rather be paddling with or against the current than just getting dragged along. Any takers?

Downers Grove

By my calculations,
One whole bottle of wine
And a half of champagne,
Had each passed between us
As we let the night drain,
In your basement, drunk, laughing
At tapes you had made.

You will-o’-the-wisp –
I had driven for miles,
And crossed two state lines,
To visit a stranger
And be by her side,
With no expectations
And nothing to hide.

  I was your guest
  it was your wine
  where’d you go?

Down the block, by a school,
We staggered, you pushed
Me down to the ground.
Pixie traveler, I should have
Known then what I know now.
You swigged from the bottle
And then set it down.

You were warm for the weather
As we shuddered together.
In those autumn leaves folded
Great plans. I was drunk with
Your idea — I was loaded.
When you finally kissed me
The future exploded.

  I was your guest
  I needed more
  where’d you go?

It was a test: the board was set.
You moved your queen against me
Once you had me in check.
Ready to move,
I was ready to risk,
But you pulled away laughing
Before it progressed.

Pretty wise, woman stopped it
Just over the border
That we had just crossed;
Still deep in her drunkenness
Weighing the cost.
But the future lay wounded
And heaving, and lost.

  I was your guest
  long ago
  so let go

the threads are weaving together

oh, when we first met
you told me that the desert would reclaim us
and i laughed, because i didn’t believe you.
there was wind on the water then.
there were stars in the sky.

then, deep in your velvet box
you showed me the seeds
of what i would become.
and i cursed you for it.
i did not want to be chosen like that.

now the threads are weaving together
and i fear,
will it be a burial shroud
or a wedding dress?

there is work to be done, my lover
and many bodies need tending.
so i will follow you
as long as this dream
still trembles on your horizon.

Joy is dead

joy is dead
and the long goddamn centuries
stretch out before me
plastic
uncaring
weigh the world down with a collar of lead
lost in mind games
and vaginas
i tried waking myself up with words

so, so little living
half the space i had before
now the vision
is nocturnal
and kept alive with hope
good intentions
and maybe just a little cruelty