Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Numerology in Late November, 2008

Today the federal government gave our ailing financial institutions another 800 billion dollars in loans and debt purchases. This figure is added to the original 700 billion dollar bailout from last month. This money, easy enough to print so long as green ink is available, will not be enough to fix the problem. Total defense spending in the year 2007 was 549 billion dollars. Specifically, war-related appropriations in Iraq and Afghanistan this year is approaching 200 billion dollars, while the current total from the original invasion up until now stands at 752 billion dollars. Last year national health care spending totaled 2.3 trillion dollars. This number is projected to grow to 3 trillion by the year 2011. (Meanwhile, the federal government’s budget for education this year is a modest 59 billion dollars.) These are big numbers. To what does one compare these numbers? The distance from the sun to the earth is 92 million miles. Millions, ha! Not nearly big enough. The universe itself is just under 14 billion years old. Still not big enough. (14 billion dollars is roughly 6% of what the government paid in interest on its loans in 2007.) The diameter of the universe is at least 93 billion light years, or 880 x 10^24 meters. Okay, that’s a pretty big number, but only if we measure in meters, and that’s like measuring these financial figures in pennies. Our market numbers have eclipsed those of our vast natural universe. This unsettles me. But what do I know? I’m sure our markets still have plenty of room to grow. 880,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000 meters worth! So, go ahead, Feds, print that money.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lindsay & Obama

She stands in the kitchen
With her left foot pirouetted,
Raised and touching the knee
Of her supporting leg,

As she talks about her paper
On the Seneca Falls Convention,
Focusing on the tensions
Between blacks and women

That caused a deep rift
Between the leaders of
The connected but distinct
Movements of liberation.

Her eyes alight at the voicing
Of his name — Obama —
Though her mother had been
More a Hillary supporter,

As the conversation moves
Inexorably into the realm of
The politics of race and gender,
Of history-in-the-making, etc.,

And even as she articulates
Her positions on the war,
Health care, and the economy,
I watch the birds circling

Over her shoulder in the sky
Outside the open window —
Why do they move as they do
In those graceful patterns?

Asked my view, I point to
His community organizing,
Stating, “Twelve is the ideal
Number for a body politic.”

Her enthusiasm is effervescent,
She is after all the Senior
Class President, having won a
Scrappy victory over her friend,

The thought occurs to her
That she might one day
Be President, as I think of
Fergus’s abdication.

She pushes me to accept
That progress is being made,
And eloquently professes her
Abiding Hope for Change.

She is my favorite student,
And when she urges me
To express my affiliations
And heartfelt politics,

My eyes wander again to
The freely circling birds,
And the words are stuck
In the back of my throat.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Self-Portrait in a Cup of Coffee

The coffee mug is a coffee
Mug. Nothing doing otherwise
On this humdrum Monday,
No moods in the grey clouds.
What is this, porcelain?

The mugs who know too much
Shudder to open their mouths.
The red magician flashily says,
“Viola, I give you the real!”
Who knows his tricks?

I rise and refill the coffee mug,
Feel my caffeine level surging.
The scientist screams cortisol,
And adrenaline & dopamine!
Who is the hero here?

Today’s character development
Arced from lazy & despairing
To inspired & creative, ending
In who knows what blue insights.
Which colors color the days?

The heat is felt on the tongue,
As the fingers grip the handle.
Somewhere my story is being
Spun by undisciplined pink lips.
What is out there listening?