In The Crazy Thick Of It
(originally posted at 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems)
Psychopaths with charming cover stories
dominate our species-wide polis & economy—
tho mainly we tell one another
that people are basically good
& all the trouble comes from a small set of rogues—
or a rogue tribe, gang, or nation—
an industry helps us obsess
on celebrities & historical stand-outs
& ignore everyone else’s situations & efforts
whether stunned & approximately unconscious
adaptations to demands on them—
like dreaming, digestion
or iron filings organizing themselves
around the poles of horse-shoe magnets—
or cleverly or laughably strategic—
even just getting from home to work to home
or saving enough to graduate from a hovel
to a nicer cell that costs more—
maybe with a spouse & yard & little hostages to fate—
or scrambling to put their shattered sense of self together
invading England & Ireland, or Poland, or South Dakota
or Kuwait, or Iraq, say—
almost everyone understands this better than I have
& have gained at my expense—
& I don’t mean just the Democrats & Republicans
or the guys at Goldman Sachs or HSBC
or Warren Buffett or Peter Lynch
& other billionaire managers of aggregated capital
or Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Jack Ma
Putin, Spielberg, Madonna
or Wen Jiabao & his billionaire relatives
or the Saudi princes—
I mean even members of my family
co-workers within organizations where I was employed
teachers when I was a boy & bureaucrats now—
& those who charge me lots of money by my standards
for what I can’t do for myself
like connecting me to wireless networks
or stopping watery wastes backing up
thru the toilet & drain in the floor
of the building where I’ve landed
where I make my stand—
or roughnecks who humiliate me
whenever I reveal my interest in abstract ideas or mercy
& seem vulnerable & without power to defend myself—
or those who consider themselves my peers
because they write & I write
but they don’t allow themselves to be affected
by what I write
or by my objections to what they write—
how they buttress what I’m trying to undo & replace
with something more just & kind—
or those who pretend
that because I’m struggling to earn more than it costs to survive
we’re all engaged in maximizing our greed
or all equally humble, helpless sufferers from oppression
or, like them, I must have committed my bit of original sin
& so, deserve my suffering, too—
tho I make mistakes, No, thank you!
As is my default modus operandi
I searched out possibly helpful information
to free myself from the morass
of others’ expectations & assumptions
my own early & more recent imperfect understandings
& my unsatisfactory stomach-churning trajectory
in the midst of the mad traffic
where almost everyone has a perfectly composed face
grubby little kit or portfolio & credit score—
& learned that narcissists
according to Kohut & maybe other psychoanalysts
suppress feelings of low self esteem
by talking highly about themselves—
that machiavellians are cunning & duplicitous
with concentrated political & social intelligence
& cynical beliefs & pragmatic morality—
& psychopaths are superficially charming
but remorselessly exploitive—
this goes some way to explaining my low status
relative to what I think I’ve earned
but gives me reasons of my own
to suppress my otherwise low self-esteem—
hey, I’m still alive
still competing for influence & power
to rearrange & reallocate everything
& every still-only-possible outcome—
& tho I don’t have what I want
& find it difficult to engage myself in activities I’d choose
I have some health, some time (I hope), some tools
some people who aren’t totally worthless or helpless
who think well of me & might even help me
achieve what I’ll be trying to achieve, yet—
tho I dare not count on anyone but myself
& must do what I’m sure I’m not yet capable of doing.
Eric Chaet, The Turnaround Artist, born Chicago, USA, 1945, raised on rough South Side, pre-computer factory, office, & warehouse jobs. Some teaching, some independent self-taught technical consulting. 1974, Old Buzzard of No-Man’s Land, poems, Toronto, Canada. 1977, Solid and Sound, vinyl LP of songs, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA. Mid-80s to mid-90s, silkscreened, hitchhiked, & stapled 1500 cloth posters to utility poles along American highways. 1990, How To Change the World Forever For Better, brief prose philosophy, Greenleaf, Wisconsin, USA; 2nd edition, 1994. 2001, People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways, mostly narrative prose, De Pere, Wisconsin, USA. Lives in Wisconsin, industrialized dairy farms & cows, remnant cheese & paper factories & factory hands & outlaw mammals & birds, post-construction boom, reactionary politics & obsolete machinery, a smattering of professionals & millionaires. Poems published, over 50 years in many USA states, plus Brazil, Cuba, Ireland, Scotland, England, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Nepal, India, China, Singapore, Korea, & Taiwan, often in translation.
You can contact him at the Leave a Reply box on each page of his website, 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems, http://www.ericchaet.
Find Chaet’s book, People I Met Hitchhiking USA Highways, and read a review written here. See also, There’s still a little breath in the old American Revolution, On Job Creation, and Stalin.
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