Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Consider the Ordinance of Griefs: Should One Begin with the Phenomenal or the Ordinary

Holyfuck, I missed this (h/t):
To the shock of President Hamid Karzai's aides, Gen. David H. Petraeus suggested Sunday at the presidential palace that Afghans caught up in a coalition attack in northeastern Afghanistan might have burned their own children to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties, according to two participants at the meeting. The exact language Petraeus used in the closed-door session is not known, and neither is the precise message he meant to convey. But his remarks about the deadly U.S. military operation in Konar province were deemed deeply offensive by some in the room. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions.
They said Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, dismissed allegations by Karzai's office and the provincial governor that civilians were killed and said residents had invented stories, or even injured their children, to pin the blame on U.S. forces and force an end to the operation.
"I was dizzy. My head was spinning," said one participant, referring to Petraeus's remarks. "This was shocking. Would any father do this to his children? This is really absurd."
Here's my question: What the fuck would tell you to get the fuck out more, Afghanis lying about American ordinance injuring their children or Afghani parents injuring their children for propaganda purposes?

And if the latter is true, what monster presents that as moral justification to stay? Though that is, of course, the self-justification the monster uses to stay.


Gary LeFemina

The five cool stars above this town look down
upon the main drag & the bar where a guy once fired
four bullets into a biker who said nothing

to the man, who had just laughed too loud & at an inappropriate moment.
The first shot sounded like the break
of an eight-ball rack, but louder
                                 more resonant. The subsequent squeezes
of the trigger--redundant, more resounding

as they mixed with the shrieks of beer-drinkers.
Hysteria speading among them like wisteria

along a garden fence; its occasional balloons of violet
flowering vividly in the green mesh of its leaves. I remember

lying in such a garden.
remember the lush cologne of pollen & the garnet bees
buzzing their cargo routes between blossoms & a distant apiary
I had thought there was nobody else
in that place, so I was surprised then, when walking its paths later,
to hear weeping. I was amazed
by how sudden & communicable sadness can be--

and how embarrassed the woman became when she glanced up
to see me standing there, the white heart
of a wisteria blossom barely beating in my extended hand. She shook
her head & smiled.

Her face so fragile I thought she'd shatter.

Consider the ordinance of griefs:
should one begin with the phenomenal or the ordinary?

I count them on the threads of my shirt
and on the gem-like sparkling of dust

in the slide of light that entrusts itself to my vision.
Then I lose track, distracted by a concert of ambulances & police cruisers: their 
     cacophonic call-and-response
The next morning I heard how the biker's wife insisted
--insisted was the paper's word--it was all her fault:

she had wanted to go out that night.
And her husband, because he loved her
and because it was a lovely October evening & he knew soon he'd have

to stow the Harleys away for winter, because of these things
he agreed, although it was a weeknight
and there'd be an early morning the next day, driving a propane truck.
The jukebox was shaking AC/DC's "Shook Me All Night Long"

and he had just gotten up for another round . . . 
She never mentions the expression on his face, mouth agape,
suddenly soundless. Then the remaining patrons screaming.

After the questioning
and after the gunman took his position in a squad car's back seat &
shrank to two dimensions with its slamming door, the officers
let the bartender back inside

and the owners. The three men sat at a table while one of them
poured whiskey into tall tumblers cored with ice. Nobody spoke.

When they finished their drinks
they simultaneously stood, and, still speechless,
went about cleaning up: one of them counting the till;

the others filling buckets with rags & suds
to start removing blood from the walls & carpet--
a task they knew to be futile

but necessary
like this poem, in the end, whatever its messageWeeks passed & still his bike, a 67 Roadster, stood
outside the bar, reverent as a statue.

Then it was gone although nobody knew where it went
or who took it. But I last saw it

parked there beneath a thin skin of fresh powder
and the splayed glove of light from the bar's bay window.
Inside: a small splatter of what may have been blood
blemished the pool table felt like a location on a map

you can't return to, & the new barman
polished the heavy glass mugs with a rag. Outside
the snow wafted scattershot
like blossoms on a dark wall of ivy.


  1. Petraeus = Betray Us.

    Sadly he's gonna be a POTUS candidate soon, prob 2012, or 2016.

    Thanks for the link!

  2. Jeffrey,
    U.S. foreign/miltary policy asks one question above all--what would Maxie Aue do?

    And to your friend who thinks Moby ahem Dick is a "boy book," may I suggest an erotic reading of Chapter LXXVI, The Battering Ram--"Now, mark. Unerringly impelling this dead, impregnable, uninjurable wall, and this most bouyant thing within; there swims behind it all a mass of tremendous life, only to be adequately estimated as piled wood is--by the cord..." Come on, that's written by a he-man for a woo-man. Had me sliding off my seat--Herman is My (happily over-the-top) Man 4-ever.

  3. Heh, Maxie would bite Karzai on the nose!

    (I can't stop thinking about Hauser as Aue's MacGuffin, Aue's Burlingame.)

    My friends call me Jeff.

  4. dogma are legion.

    That aside, I think you might could owe these fine people a bit of full disclosure on the supersecret humble origins of your relationship with the Dick, hmm?

  5. Ampsellsay! And I'm serious - we should try to walk through GHS one more time before they tear it down, especially Ampsellsay's D-Hall above the auto-body shop!

  6. Thar she blows! Supple and original reading; I'd love to see you flesh that out, Jeff (blush). If you can make the Elkin case especially, I might end up letting down my moat of instinctive defensiveness with respect to Littell. The Hauser character is a big part of that wariness. I'm sure I'll be giving your enticing deas more of my own thought too, so I can meet you halfway if you do pursue this rich vein. The key to the treasure is the treasure.

  7. Sasha +∞ for the win. Imhoe, of course.

    Yeah, sure, GHS walkthrough, but we got two years. Maybe a high school teacher will help us. Y'know, if she gets tenure and doesn't end up scrubbing toilets in the County Council building courtesy of those two asswhistles (among others) I spent all that time blowing last year. Toldyouso at your leisure, dood.

    Oh, and I heard D/E halls are long gone in a previous renovation, though maybe I heard that wrong. Hard to imagine that the dead-end, can't-get-theyah-from-heeyah floors in E, sans fire exits, have passed every occupancy inspection for 35 years, though.

    I once dreamt, far closer to now than to then, that the C Hall entry had been converted to a shopping mall food court. I have no idea why. In dreamspace, it seemed utterly natural. But then it turned into Thunderdome or a Ric Flair* cage match or something, so I think maybe I was actually dreaming about something else.

    *(Whose shoes cost more than Sasha's house)

  8. Erm...I missed a nice worm yesterday, for which I apologize:

    [ICC}] is a shame for people who homes and property lost half their value when they plowed the motherfucker through their back yard.

    Uhm...only if they bought their homes and property more than 45 years ago, after which the ICC was on the fucking county Master Plan. If they bought more recently, they're fuckfaces who've cost everyone in the state a shitload of money with their fucking whinging lies.

    Truly, sorry to have missed that worm, which could not more obviously have been presented to me as a gift of love had it been attached to a harpoon shot through my mass of tremendous life after being warmed by vigorous rubbing and before being considered as piled wood.

    Yeah, S, you're welcome.

  9. "Boas in Boise are still bouys." -- Billy Elliot