The Hopeless Radical, a poem

A fearful night,

and a burned bridge freshly smolders.

Such is the life of a hopeless radical.

Less sexy than a hopeless romantic,

but more useful than a hopeless idealist.

Two are ideal hands of the state,

whose hands when pressed against us

create our struggle.

Our struggle,

Our political struggle.

The hopeless radical knows

that identity is not solidarity,

and logic cannot fixate on rhetoric.

The pressing hands,

They ignite and explode gaslights

To burn and humiliate us.

This is the life of the hopeless radical,

Of the unbowed optimist.

The state, the struggle,

The hands against us,

And our rhetorical traditions.

This is our life,

The life of the unbowed,

of the unbroken,

of the hopeless radical.

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda – A poem for a dying planet

Would have,

Could have,

Should have.

These words which only pay lip service

to memory and potential

and attribute cause to regret

Serve no purpose but to hinder us

As our world decays.

We owe it to ourselves,

To our living legacies still too young to fend for themselves,

We owe it to them to act.

To organize and hope.

Two words to embody and elevate,

While we smash the banks of marble,

And pine for the fjords of freedom.

Would have,

Could have,

Should have.

Nay.

Will have.

Can have.

Shall have.

The Poet as The Revolutionary

The Poet as the Revolutionary

The poet as a revolutionary

is an all too common trope.

So what happened?

Where did they all go?

Where are the poets and lyrics

and bards who can spark the imagination

of a generation

to end the segregation

and the era of hate.

The poet as revolutionary,

A common but missing motif,

We have minds running for office

all of a generation inspired.

So dare does a poet

question their purpose?

Even now,

Even in a time of awakening,

Where conscious privilege cannot be forsaken?

The poet as revolutionary,

and the leaderless movement of leaders.

Poetry has its politics,

its stake,

its place in the revolution

and it always will.

The poet as revolutionary,

the romantics

and the voices of their days.

People Can Be Products, A Socialist Poem

People Can Be Products

Who are we but products?

Products of our time

and place?

Dare what questions are such to be asked?

Asked and then asked again!

Trivial though it be,

meaning is always the goal,

the objective,

the end.

Are we just products?

Products of anger,

reaction,

of hate,

Or are we something more?

Who are we but products?

Products of our time

and place?

We are the artists, the thinkers,

the doers, and the workers,

And in fact we are still much more

Poetry’s Place in the Revolution: The Rant of a Socialist Poet

God fucking cock sucking mother fucking damnit!

Quite a poetic opening am I right? Yes a bit blunt but to be honest I am in a foul mood. I started off the year strong by getting published twice in one month, but ever since June it has been a series of pitches and rejection letters.

I start my work days by checking email, and to be honest I am just getting tired of opening my inbox only to find reasons why literary journals don’t want to publish my poems about the heart, the body, the soul of the creatives in revolution.

Poetry and art are all about putting what is in the heart, mind, body, and soul into a tangible thing for others to experience.

I am a socialist, an organizer and proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America. I love my organization because we are only as good as the work our members put into it, and I love to work. My place in this organization was like a hand in a glove (cliche I know but still) but what has escaped me is a very important question:

What is art’s place in the revolution?

I know some of you might be thinking, “But James, this has nothing to do with your rejection letters!”

I’m getting to that. I am a writer and I will do whatever it takes to make my living doing this. Prior to my complete radicalization, my incorporation of a material analysis into my world view, I was very much just hoping to be one of the next great poets. Someone whose words would just resonate with the times they are in and become a controversial definition of the days it was written. The next Shakespeare, the next Allen Ginsberg, that was what I wanted to be.

But then I realized something, I was creating just to create. I was writing in a totally self expressive way with no political motivation behind my words. “Art for art’s sake” was my original motto, but now I see that does not exist yet. That can never exist as long as the arts are commodified, as long as creatives are at the mercy of wealthy patrons and publishers who want to control the tone of our cultural and political dialogue.

What is the place of the poet, the artist, the filmmaker in revolution? It is not as propaganda agents of a worker’s state as some may believe. No, their place in the revolution is to bring truth to the masses. Their job is to express truth in ways that the petty bourgeoisie artists of the status quo, in other words “hacks”, cannot.

That is what my poetry is about, asking and answering the question about what art or poetry can and should do to aid us on the March of History.

So that is what I write, that is what I pitch to publishers and literary journals.

And what do they publish instead?

Corny hacks who write poems about cookies and daffodils and memories of an over privileged childhood in a way that is so over the top and self indulgent that it would make even Marcel Proust vomit.

I rest my case.

Nationalists (a poem)

Nationalists

The blind patriot is now a parody,

A joke that lives,

Walks and breathes,

Among us,

Pestering us.

Yet was never one of us,

Was never a human,

A person,

But always a monster.

Lingering and trolling about,

So in a manner that the even the vulgar blush.

What poison they are to our world,

Our circle,

Our community.

That which could be peaceful,

They make unpleasant,

And forlorn

Perfection is a waste of time (a poem)

Perfection Is A Waste of Time

You can’t go to hell if you are already there,

And perfection is the death of art.

The pursuit of perfection,

Is the birth of mediocrity.

Mediocrity can be no one’s muse.

But perfection is tedium,

Soulless and tedious.

These words to the wordsmith,

are trivial repetitive garbage.

Soul is tedious,

And perfection a waste of time.

Perfection is tedium,

it is mediocrity.

Perfection is the death of originality.

Rebels