Thursday, July 18, 2024

First Responder

First on the scene, smell of sulfur
Spent cartridges, overturned tables
Kicked a hand grenade, it was live
Luck. Tonight was not my time
Out of the darkness, a mess
The bodies, the bodies. Look

No time to check for vital signs
Training kicked in, adrenaline
Secure the premises
Clear. Damage assessment
The bodies, the bodies. Count

Then blood, first aid. Hurry
Flesh distorted, unnatural positions
Wrenching. Anatomy lessons
The sounds, such sounds
Gasps. Screams. Sobs
The bodies, the bodies. Damn

The brutality of field triage
Tourniquets fashioned
Technique. Muscle memory
Blood, so much blood, a new smell
Broken glass, splinters
Eyes darting. Holding hands
Stay with me. Help is coming
The bodies, the bodies. Hold on

Out on the street, male cadaver
Too late, he lay in the gutter
Looked around, table cloth
Makeshift shroud, best you could do
Back inside. The golden hour. Help
First time for everything, terrorism
You'll never forget the bodies
First responder. Life and death
The bodies, the bodies. Baptism


digable planets


Soundtrack for this note



roots and culture hasa 1993-1994



See previously: Heidelberg Tavern Massacre

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Writing log. April 8, 2022

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Head Nods - Toli Turns Twenty

So apparently I've been writing at this joint for 20 years
To all who've been reading, a head nod in your direction
An interruption perhaps to your regular programming here
A head nod, twenty years is worth a little commemorating...

I've found that, when it comes to the heart of the matter,
The typical toli intervention still adheres to the old formula
The ingredients are well known: some prose, a poem, and a playlist
I vary things as enthusiasms ebb and flow, even on technical topics

But it seems that poetry has taken over these past few years:
Even book reviews are escaping in virtual ink dressed in verse
The slightest thing sends me into significations and wonders
But the muse wills what she wants, who am I to question her?

The poetry started to flow, as it were, for want of a bolt
First a golden encounter (a hungry man offered me some gold)
Then a broken lawnmower turned out to be the proximate cause
Now, having settled into a groove, I've been steadily adding to the vault
Hell, I've got things scheduled out for the next six years and more

I tend to cover mostly familiar topics:
Small things, whimsy and dark matters
Albeit the arrival of parenthood affected the quantity of toli chatter
Some were concerned at the prolonged absences; I told them

"Sleep deprivation will only get you so far"
And trusted that the fallow years of writing would soon come to pass

I'm firing on all cylinders these days,
  Covering humanity's curriculum
Writing from the torrid zone,
 A far region of the mind under the sun

Meanwhile, I dream in hypertext.
 My books of toli all start with a link
So, again, a head nod in your direction, Dear Reader,
  Do let me know what you think


Koranteng globe portrait


Head Nods, a playlist


A soundtrack for this note (spotify version) And I leave you with the Kings of Swing again from the golden age of hip hop: Nod your head to this

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Writing log: July 13, 2024

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Final Journey

Blinking lights, funeral procession
The police escort slowly led the way
The motorbike rider up front occasionally blowing the horn
The long parade of cars followed from Mission funeral home

Frustrated. A couple of stragglers, delayed by a red light
Stopped and faced the onlooker at the crosswalk
Eyes red after the earlier mourning
Newfangled mask pulled under the chin

In that minute, a wordless exchange
A head nod, then a gesture to the heart
A smile, and a head nod in return
Solidarity
The light changed, they revved to catch up
Onward to the last rites at the cemetery


demolition in East Austin



See previously: The Laws of Grief


This note is part of a series: In a covidious time.


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Writing log. April 24, 2022

Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Goddamn Lies

They cut deeper, they do
 They hurt more than the unvarnished ones
Sure, you can make your peace with the white lies,
  The garden variety deceptions
And deal with the untruths
 And the artful omissions
The distinctions without a difference,
  The what-have-yous
But it's hard to cope with the goddamn lies

You are well familiar with the symphony of deceit
Intimate even, with the ways of evasion

The instinctive lies
 The barefaced ones
The reflexive ones
 The rank denials
The wholly unnecessary ones
 The exaggerations
The diversionary ones
 The outright fabrications
But it's hard to abide with the goddamn lies

And what, you may ask, elevates a lie into that august territory
Moving forward, worthy of that emphatic qualifier?

The texture of a goddamn lie is of the nature of a wound
A goddamn lie aims for, and achieves, infamy
Its essential quality goes far beyond shame
A goddamn lie rises above the highest peaks of untruths
It is of a piece with the surreal, devastating and brazen,
A goddamn lie summons irony, borne as it is out of its bed of hypocrisy
Most of all, a goddamn lie celebrates the lie qua lie
A goddamn lie dances on the grave of its achievement

II.

Politicians, as a matter of course, are avid connoisseurs of the lie
Indeed we expect a close acquaintance of it of most of their breed
Some breathe it with a naturalness that is often unnerving
Grifters too are students and daily practitioners of its corruption
And deploy it in a manner that is all too self-serving
But it is the rarest beast that achieves the goddamn lie

All cultures have their own folklore,
  Often at the expense of others
Founding myths, origin stories,
  Their striking legends soaked in blood

Erecting statues of the colossus,
  Destinies manifest and men's burdens
On terrain where equality, dreams and fond promises
  Meet ceilinged glass
The rhetoric of the powerful
  And the strategy of the shrewd
The hand of god,
  Witness the triumph of the trickster
Freedoms and liberties,
  The laws of grifters

From faulty biology, allusions to race, and sundry nationalisms
History books point to those who heed the conqueror's catechism
But when everything they claim to uphold is written in sand
It's hard to keep things straight when all is goddam lies


chief zaachi physical and spiritual center


Deceit, a playlist


A soundtrack for this evasion. (spotify version)

See previously: Symphony of Deceit

This folktale is part of a series: In a covidious time

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Writing log. April 22, 2022