Sunday, April 4, 2010


A portmanteau is one those valises or doctor’s case carried for house calls. The two sides closed in the middle. From that came the word brunch and Spanglish and even this new fangled thing called blog (web log)….the formation of a new term from two others.

We live in an age marked by the coming together of variants. It must be a hard on those who think in categories. Column A has merged with Column B. You can now have the Moo Shu and the Sweet & Sour. Life isn’t vanilla and chocolate anymore. I’ll have the tutti-frutti praline parfait black mountain jamoica fudge ripple.

Borders are porous and blurring. It all spells woe for those sentinels at the gate (suffering succotash) who think this has nothing in common with that. Sorry, purists, sit down and get over it. It’s both sunny and raining. The music is fusion. Corn and cars are hybrid. The census form has a place for mixed race. Tangelo, anyone?

Tear down that wall, Mr Gorbachev, said Ronald Reagan. The smartest words that ever came out of his mouth. I wonder who wrote them. We have no more use for partitions in geo-politics than we do in literature

Don’t fret when the autobiography is part fiction because most fiction is really autobiographical. Everyone has a narrative……..or two…. and if certain events don’t quite fit that is easily remedied. Maybe we’re all living our docudrama.

Some of my blogs are plagiarized………from myself. Scraps of my poems have been folded into paragraphs. I’m thinking of having my poet self sue my blogger self and settle out of court for a quarter of a million bucks.

Most poetry I come across is carefully ruined prose (Kurt Vonnegut’s phrase) anyway. Who really cares, as long as the language is fresh, authentic and transforming? On the other hand true poetry, like Peggy’s, is in the realm of music. Not because it rhymes or sets your toe tapping but rather because it is transporting, cannot be articulated in any other words and warrants many return visits.

Read Homer. But Homer was blind and didn’t write. He told the history. But that was myth. And besides, there really was no Homer. Need we be reminded that the Old Testament and its sequel are historical and literary fiction? Relax, good poetry should leave us unsettled. And being an allegory makes it no less profound.

Here’s another radical thought. Open up the borders. Migratory birds are all undocumented. We came here uninvited, killed our hosts and never left. How will baby boomers received their Social Security in a shrinking work force? The answer may lie with our immigrant population. Israel faces a similar fate. Without the labor of orthodox Jews and Arabs, pensions cannot be met. North Africans pay for the French and Turks for Germans.

Eventually the world population will conflate into one undifferentiated race. Everyone will be beautifully mocha without losing our individuated Self. Who we are is less a function of skin than it is of what shirt we may be wearing. At least our clothes are a matter of choice and make a statement. It won’t happen by next Thursday or the week after that.

In retirement, the days of the week are also merging into something like a seven-day weekend. I do love history; even the past that never happened. The future is just about as opaque as the present. Maybe they have also joined as our working script.

I know life is hard…but not that hard. It is natural to resist change. We cling to the safe and familiar. I like a Gershwin tune, how about you? Some of us feel invalidated as the old order withers away. There’s much to explore pushing back against new forms and a good deal of energy bursting through as well. Centripetal and centrifugal forces create great sparks.


  1. When I was introduced to the universalist notion that there was neither center nor fringe, I was initially dispondent. I had coveted my fringe status as evidence of its specialness and separation. But within the complex adaptive systems of the living, interdependence is unescapable, no matter our many false images of rugged individualists sloggy through the backwoods, coonskin caps flapping amid the Versace and lace, we might construct. It turns out to be one of those odd things Monty Python got right in the Life of Brian when Brian shouts out, "you are all individuals" and a lone voice shouts back, "I'm not."

    Everything is composite, and if you can show me anything that isn't I'll eat my dualistic coonskin cap, twice. Because if we were to think we were anything less than hybrid, we might find ourselves in senseless wars and divided by unpardonable partisan strife. And then once you get stuck in that space, you'll never be able to reclose your portmanteau.

  2. I steal from myself all the time. The story becomes the poem becomes the dance becomes the painting becomes the prayer becomes the hope and I cry. May the gods kiss your fingers. Let us rap together.

  3. I couldn't have said it better...and didn't.