Sunday, August 12, 2018

How We Misspeak and Mishear

All glory to the Napoleon Emergency Alert System, now deactivated.

I did one loop of the elementary school parking lot before pulling up to the house, he ran to meet us, screaming hello and where the fuck were you. Lifetime cat.

UPDATE 12:45 PM EDT 8/12/18

MomCat is here!

  • Someone yesterday, when I was sitting in Portland airport, tweeted the word Gaithersburg, the town I grew up in, regarding its Democratic mayor supporting the current GOP governor vs a relatively progressive (emphasis on relatively) Democratic gubernatorial candidate in November election (I meant to tag the tweet but didn't, I'm not going to try and find it), but an article on Maryland Democrats, relatively progressive vs motherfuckers.
  • To be fair, here, from an email from Marc Elrich, Democratic (Ho Chi Minh division) candidate for County Executive of Montgomery County Maryland (hello fellow mocomofos), who is running against eternal moco gadfart Fobin Ricker (GOP candidate) and fucking Flancy Noreen, former Democrat, now developer cowplop: Marc has now been endorsed by Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen; Congressmen Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin, and John Sarbanes; congressional nominee David Trone; chair of the state Democratic Party Kathleen Matthews; County Executive Ike Leggett; and Democratic nominees for Governor and Lieutenant Governor Ben Jealous and Susan Turnbull. He also has the support of the Women’s Democratic Club; the Association of Black Democrats; the Young Democrats; the Green Democrats and former primary opponents Roger Berliner, David Blair, Bill Frick, and George Leventhal.
  • So, credit due, credit given. 
  • On the other hand:


Albert Goldbarth

During Napoleon iii’s coup d’état one of  his officers, Count de Saint-Arnaud, on being informed that a mob was approaching the Imperial Guard, coughed and exclaimed, with his hand across his throat, “Ma sacrée toux! (my damned cough).” But his lieutenant, understanding him to say “Massacrez tous! (massacre them all),” gave the order to fire, killing thousands—needlessly.
                   —Guy Murchie
“He was mortared to death.”
A pity, how we misspeak and mishear.
—Or “martyred”? Not that/coin-flip/either
makes a difference to the increasingly cooler
downtick of a corpse’s cells. “We heard the crazy mating joy
of the loon across the water.” Yes, but what
do we know, amateurs that we are? Loon, shmoon.
It might have been dying, announcing
its pain in those trilling pennants. It might
have been the girl who was lost in these woods last week
and never found by the volunteer searchers,
it might have been her ghost
with an admonishment. The truth is,
even among ourselves we often can’t distinguish pain
from pleasure, not in our beds, our hearts, the tone
of a poem on the final exam (a coin-toss). A pity, because
we know the urgency of some utterance;
and the intended goodwill of our listening; and
the marvelous basic mechanics of speech,
of lung: 300 million alveoli that, “if spread out flat,”
as my eighth-grade science teacher preened, “would come to
750 square feet, the entire floor space of an average house,”
and she added that tired magic about how atoms
of Julius Caesar and Napoleon and Beethoven did
their fleet anachronistic dance in every inhalation
of ours, although at thirteen I preferred to think
that the atoms of Cleopatra’s body—my Cleopatra,
inflating her see-through empresswear
with husky breaths—commingled with my blood, and also
realized in my own dim way it wasn’t only Einstein,
Shakespeare, Madame Curie populating my oxygen,
but also the smelly and scabby old man
from across the street who’d died last year
when the late-shift ward nurse heard (as she said in her testimony)
“med injection” instead of (as the outgoing
ward nurse told her) “bed inspection”—altogether
an unfortunate example of my theme . . . although
exempla abound, misapprehension
also dancing inside us at the atomic level.
Someone thought the gate was locked, she always locked
the gate in the late afternoon when the haze set down
and the sun for a moment seemed to carmelize the lake top,
so the gate was locked; except that it wasn’t,
and seven days into it nobody’s found the girl
or a scraggle of hair or a single ribbon. I tell you
we’re amateurs, we’re sometimes bungling amateurs,
of the minutiae of our own lives. When I heard the sounds
that gurgled from my chest as my wife was leaving
into the dense, conspiratorial Austin, Texas night,
I couldn’t have said if it was defeat
or relief. She couldn’t have said which one
she’d have been happiest to cause. We only knew
that I’d been wrong at times, and she’d been wrong at times,
and that our total errors, if spread out flat,
become the house we live in. They’re another system
inside us, along with the cardiac and the pulmonary,
they’re moving us toward the horizon line. And when
enough errors accumulate there, that’s what
we call the future. Even now, as you read this,
someone in that unknowable distance
is breathing you in.


  1. Napoleon!!!

    More great poetry, thankee twice again.

    Diane Frankenfeinstein, she has corruption written all over her ugly face. Whenever there's a war she and hubby wubby always rake in the big bucks. Heavily invested in the weapons industry they are so yeah, of course she voted yea. Always does. Democracy! I note Sanders didn't yea that day. Perhaps there's a shred of decency in the old fraud. Nah.

    Hope MomCat shows up. Cats have a healthy respect for survival, and they're pretty smart. I remember seeing Jurassic Park in the movie theatre, the dramatic music when the velociwhatever it is (raptor) opened the door. Ooooh! Hell, Teddy is great at opening doors but I never hear that dramatic music. I can open doors too, but no Jaws music in the background either.

  2. 1)misspeaking and mishearing have some relation to misprinting

    and sort of like napoleon cat - who once was lost but now is found -

    i still have hope you will insert the missing word [your] into your instantiation of another of goldbarth's poems - see comments at

    2)and speaking of ways of misspeaking, in the jeopardy tournament of champions this past week, one contestant gave an erroneous response of "freudian slip" when the correct term was "spoonerism" - the general category was eponyms

    3)and spooneristically speaking, over the past couple of weeks people have been collecting signatures outside my local library branch to put flancy noreen on the ballot as an independent candidate for county executive - i have, more than once, declined the chance to sign

    4)may the creative forces of the universe stand beside us, and guide us, through the night with the light from above -- metaphorically speaking

  3. Cat = Good.

    Fobin Ricker = Sounds like a character in somebody's novel: They Fought So Fiercely Because The Stakes Were So Small; Or, Fobin Ricker.

    1. My friend Whispers, who is fluent in German, believes that Mr. Ficker's last name is unfortunate. I believe that it's accurate.

      Uhm, dogma-N? Ike is declining to endorse Jealous until Ben kisses his ass in a command tapdance. Because socialism orsomething.
      Also: I knew and I'm pissed.

  4. Apropos of the not necessarily analogous of my Image Nation: I see primary voters who say they won't vote for the (((relatively progressive))) of two Dems because they know too many fellow Dems who would then choose the Republican in the General. Of course they hold aforesaid fellow Dems not to account while blaming third-partiers for their perceived loss.

    1. There better be waffles with Real Vermont Maple Syrup™ at the end of that.

  5. This is excellent:

    I think of voting as confusion wrapped in delusion wrapped in illusion.