Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On a Screen the Size of a Salad Plate, Toy Airplanes Droned Over Quilted Fields

I know of the existence of Ta-Nehisi Coates, have a vague remembrance of being sent to his blog by one our progressive bleggal overlords back in the day I read our progressive bleggal overlords, but fuck if I follow him in The Atlantic, so this:

But there's very little in the way of specific, detailed policy critiques. Of what little there is, I don't know how you support a president and don't expect him to "head of the American killing machine." That's what a Commander In Chief is. I can't think of a single president, who was more committed to loving the weak and the vulnerable first. In specific, practical terms, I'm not even sure that it's a good idea, nor do I know what it means.

Tell me, is his writing always as crappy as his obamapologies are craven?

Please please please holyfuck, Feingold 2012! I will donate money and time for the megagiggles alone. I'll even keep kayfabe until Feingold stuns Obama in Iowa, though I won't need to after Obama orders a drone strike on Feingold's tour bus on its way to New Hampshire at a rest stop off I-90 near Dunkirk NY.


Debora Gregor

Where were the neighbors? Out of town?
In my pajamas, I sat at my father's feet
in front of their squat, myopic television, 
the first in our neighborhood.

On a screen the size of a salad plate,
toy airplanes droned over quilted fields.
Bouquets of jellyfish fell: parachutes abloom,
gray toy soldiers drifting together, drifting apartthe way families do, but I didn't know that yet. 
I was six or seven. The tv was an aquarium: 
steely fish fell from the belly of a plane, 
then burst into flame when they hit bottom. 

A dollhouse surrendered a wall, the way such houses do. 
Furniture hung onto wallpaper for dear life. 
Down in the crumble of what had been a street, 
women tore brick from brick, filling a baby carriage. 


What was my young father, 
just a few years back from that war, 
looking for? The farm boy from Nebraska
he'd been before he'd seen Dachau? 

Next door, my brother and sister fought
the Battle of Bedtime, bath by bath. 
Next door, in the living room,
a two-tone cowboy lay where he fell,
too bowlegged to stand. Where was his horse?
And the Indian who'd come apart at the waist—
where were his legs to be found? 
A fireman, licorice-red from helmet to boot, 

a coil of white rope slung over his arm 
like a mint Lifesaver, tried to help. 
A few inches of ladder crawled under a cushion, 
looking for crumbs. Between the sag of couch 

and the slump of rocker, past a pickle-green soldier, 
a plastic foxhole, cocoa brown, dug itself
into the rug of no man's land 
and waited to trip my mother. 


Am I the oldest one here? In the theater, 
the air of expectation soured by mouse and mold— 
in the dark, a constellation of postage stamps:
the screens of cell phones glow.

And then we were in Algiers, we were in Marseille. 
On foot, we fell in behind a ragged file 
of North African infantry. Farther north 
than they'd ever been, we trudged

straight into the arms of the enemy: 
winter, 1944. Why did the French want to live in France, 
the youngest wondered while they hid, 
waiting capture by the cold. 

They relieved a dead German soldier
of greatcoat and boots. Village by muddy village,
they stole, shadow to shadow, trying to last 
until the Americans arrivedas if, just out of range of the lens,
the open trucks of my father's unit 
would rumble over the rutted horizon.
Good with a rifle, a farsighted farm boy

made company clerk because he'd learned to type
in high school—how young he would look, 
not half my age, and no one to tell him
he'll survive those months in Europe,

he'll be spared the Pacific by Hiroshima.
Fifty years from then, one evening, 
from the drawer where he kept 
the tv remote, next to his flint-knapping tools, 

he'd take out a small gray notebook 
and show his eldest daughter 
how, in pencil, in tiny hurried script,
he kept the names of those who died around him.


  1. Tell me, is his writing always as crappy as his obamapologies are craven?

    That I could not tell you. I'm mainly familiar with the Atlantic as the home of the world's lamest "economics editor".

    P.S. I like that sculpture.

  2. Coates can write convincingly about the Civil War. He's not a bad diarist, per se.

    But, on politics, he makes Klein's prose seem florid, and Yglesias a reasonable interlocutor.

    And his obamaphilia is opaque. You can't break through it.

  3. What's the book (in P's piece)? Does it matter?

  4. War and Peace. She went through my shelves, brought it to me, asked me if she could use it.

  5. Damn. I looked at that photo and saw what I thought was a shiny digital alteration. Nice.

  6. No. But I'm a fan of Ta-Nehisi.

    I'm completely blown away by the sculpture. It deserves a proper label with title, materials, etc. Thanks for sharing. It/she rocks. I better buy something before the price goes up.

  7. Cthulhu! (odds are that not being her inspiration, but that's damn cool nonetheless).

    I can't help shake the feeling that that paragraph of perpetual pragmatism wouldn't have been written a few short years ago.

  8. Ta-Nehisi is a girl's name.

    That's all I got.