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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Lies and Slander, A poem

“The poor deserve it!”

Lies and slander.

“The left hates…”

Lies and slander.

“The police protect and serve.”

Lies and slander.

“Your standard of living will only go up.”

More lies, more slander.

“Love is all you need.”

More lies, more slander.

“This is land of the free.”

The biggest lie, the biggest slander.

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.

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.

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