Like any thinking person, I find the concept of a monarchy at best silly, at worst fascistic. But as that same thinking person, I also have long concluded that human beings are evolutionarily wired to crave hierarchy.

It’s no accident that our closest genetic relatives, (in fact almost all mammals) have a structure in which power descends from either an alpha female or male. In the case of chimpanzees, and many other primates, the pecking orders can be as strict as anything one might see in an English public school in the 19th century. Bonobos offer some hope that primates…


photo: Michael Van Essen

The Germans

must have a word for it.

The sensation of missing someone

whom you are with,

anticipating the longing

you will soon feel

when they depart.

“I miss you already,” we say,

as if this makes any sense.

We regularly steal from the future

to feed our present tense,

our secret addiction to the holograph

of someone

over his flesh and bone.

The man next to us in bed

is never as perfect

as the one in our head.

No wonder great loves

of the past

made their nest

from letters.

Ink as the quantum reality

of absence and…


The New World

It is said

that the native peoples

of what was to become Virginia

could not see for many days

the anchored ships

when they first appeared off shore,

until their brains learned

how to perceive

what they had never before conceived.

We, on the other hand,

did imagine this plague,

made movies predicting it,

and yet the notion

of a half-a-million dead, and counting,

was and is even now

as ungraspable

as the those off-shore mirages were

to the Algonquins in 1607.

My people have been here before, though.

In Manhattan, in 1982,

I went to the…


Poetry

Created by author

Agape

We have run out

of adjectives.

Deplorable, horrible,

incoherent, incompetent,

moronic, idiotic

narcissistic, apocalyptic.

We are always, now,

“shocked but not surprised.”

We debunk, refute,

fight conspiracy with fact,

watch the snake heads grow back,

no matter how many times

we slice them off.

We label his perversions

“unacceptable”,

as if we can refuse them,

shovel his shit

back from whence it came

without getting covered in it.

We have run out of nouns.

Traitor, hater,

cheetoh, cheater,

and on, and on, and on.

And then there are

the sycophantic

elephantics

of his Reign of Error enablers.

What do…


Caravaggio meets Tissot

Thrifty Words 100 Theme Challenge #1: 100 Words…


Yes, and No

By the author

While the label of “terrorist” certainly applies to the Nashville bomber, it is also not enough. Terrorism as it has long been defined seeks to advance a cause — even one that we may find evil or fanatical. I think that what we witnessed in Nashville is similar to what we saw from the Las Vegas mass shooter. An act of violence with no purpose but to express an inchoate but overwhelming rage. 99% of the time, this involves intentional killing — Nashville is a rare case in which an attempt was made to avoid casualties. Why the idea of…


He put the idiot in Idiot Box

Trump is a like a sentient AI robot who must connect himself to his power source for at least four hours each day in order to function during the other twenty. That regenerative machine, of course, is the television, infusing him with lifeblood every moment he sees and hears himself on it. He established this addiction during his campaign for President, made even more intense by the euphoria he mainlined at his rallies, which he could relive over and over again on the DVR. If his favorite coverage was on Fox, he no doubt got even more of a rush…


I tend to go through this same analysis in my head once a week: Trump all started with birtherism no… With the Tea Party no… With Bush v. Gore no… The rise of Fox and Talk Radio no… Newt Gingrich and the Contract on America no… Reagan, definitely the Reagan years no… Nixon’s southern strategy and law and order “silent majority” no… The military/industrial complex and the folly of Vietnam no… McCarthyism and the triumph of right-wing demagoguery no… America First and detention of the Japanese no… The rabid capitalism of the roaring 20’s leading to the Great Depression no……


A year or so, when I was still working inside a post-production studio instead of at home, I had an idea. What if I wrote an interview of Trump, and then dubbed it into his mouth, in Russian, with English subtitles. Then I thought I would actually need a Trump-impersonating Russian actor so that the words came naturally out of his mouth — which fit the premise that Trump spoke fluent Russian.

Then the company I was working for got sold, and Covid happened. This grand idea was just too logistically unfeasible to pull off, and would require money I…


When You Imagine Trump Still Winning

From “The Godfather”

For the record, there is a huge difference between guarded optimism and complacency. You can be heartened by the notable differences between 2016 and 2020, and still filled with overwhelming dread about the possibility that polls are wrong, there are so many secret Trump voters out there, the real October surprise is still about to happen etc. etc. Rather than dwell in a constant debilitating anxiety, what would happen if instead we developed a game plan for if the worst happens?

For the record, my preferred outcome in this situation is one that requires code words. Take your pick: Von…

Mark Olmsted

Author, "Ink from the Pen," about my 9 months using creativity as the ultimate survival tool behind bars.

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