By Amelia Bonow
By Dan Cuddy
The Loch Raven Review
Heart X-Rays is a very uneven book of poetry. Some of it is inspired and will amaze readers. Other sections are run-for-cover rhetoric, rhyme machine-gunning any ear within range as hip hop and Spoken Word poetry often are. The back cover blurb describes the book as a twenty-first century beat epic poem that ranges across landscapes and voices, with appearances by Banksy, Pussy Riot, hip hop, the down and out, the up and coming, heartbreak and joybreak, while exploring the mystery we call the human heart. Is the book on meth? Despite stretches of rhetoric the book has poems and passages that will excite the sober and sensitive reader. The poem Charleston on page 7 is a very serious and moving poem on the horrible murders of 9 churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in July 2015. The poem starts with these lines:
Tonight, I don’t know which God
You’re praying to.
I can’t tell which flag you salute.
I am not certain
If you believe in ghosts—
But tonight, I hear them singing:
Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel
And I wonder just what
The cemetery shovels are burying
Tonight. Suppertime has long passed.
That poem is by no means the only treasure in this book. The immediate predecessor is a poem titled Street Scene. It starts
your head cradled
in your phone,
your ears plugged
there is no way
to alert you;
while you are walking, cooing
to pictures of yourself,
there is no way
to warn you……………..
The poem ends with these power-packed lines—–
matching your strid
e with familiar eyes,
It is amazing how that one word “cool” carries so much ironic and symbolic weight. In this context the word explodes with contradiction. The best poetry can condense so much meaning and emotion in a minimum of words. Are victims seduced by inattention, by the aura of a much admired man or movement or promise?
The book is a collaboration between Marcus Colasurdo and G(regg). H. Mosson. I don’t know what each poet wrote. Perhaps they worked together on every individual poem. There is a vernacular consistency throughout. The only whiff of academia is in the second stanza of Game On. However, the use of such words as ”Inshallah”, “Shalom”, “Sherpa” is not to show off erudition but to bridge cultures. Basic humanity is the same; only the accidents of expression, language differ. Whoever wrote the passage containing those words did it to emphasize the common core.
Banksy? Pussy Riot? They are somewhat maverick artists, outside the official approved culture by the oligarchies. They go or have gone incognito throughout the streets of the world. The authorities don’t like wry comments on public buildings, or guitar slashes with revolutionary rhetoric, and especially not by women. This book of poetry is certainly kin to those artists. It has a bit of Whitman in its best rhetoric. However, the “Heart” being x-rayed is not of any particular individual but of the collective fragmented consumerist society. Are individuals and groups of individuals being attacked by the manipulators of such a society? Have values been co-opted, morphed into monstrosities? Are we as a whole victim to our technology? In Leaving the Gift Shop the third stanza begins:
Facebooking the mothering void into insta-image
Joe’s heart shows up on the assembly line looking for a date:
Do you like poodles or bulldogs, noise rock or classical music?
Gotta go and accessorize the heart.
I can shake your hand or run you over it’s such a crowd.
Sold the land to TACO ABC
Got a bunk bed at 123 Furniture
Perhaps the language here is unlike traditional poetry. Even Hart Crane’s section “The River” of the epic The Bridge, the rhythm of it, is dated by the strange and all pervasive technology which has claimed the 21st century as its fiefdom. There isn’t majesty in the poem’s words above but there is truth, an abstract mind-numbing mercenary truth. Whimsy is the whore of invention these days. This book captures some of it. However, recapturing the human is a necessity. The book does that too, and that has echoes of the majesty from the past. Here is the closing stanza of Game On, the last poem in the book:
What is the difference between you and I?
Ocean, I am here, let’s open.
Shut the heart down.
Why is my longing a rainbow
And where does it go?
Coax the heart down.
Sea, bathe me in the lull of thinnest tide.
If I can’t cure this rooted pain,
Can I disperse it into delicate rain?
Shelter the heart now.
Sand, with your billion hands, uphold this body.
If the love I feel turns my words to thunder,
Let the heart peek out.
Waves, cradle me in your rhythm.
There is a lot to delight the average reader in this book. As with individual people in life, you have to look past the annoying quirks that may not be to your taste and you will find amazing genuine inventive poetry.
© Marcus Colasurdo, G.H.Mosson, and Dan Cuddy
Marcus Colasurdo is the author of 11 books including the underground classic novel Angel City Taxi. Over the years, he has worked as a bartender, boom microphone operator, waiter, taxicab driver, factory worker, Job Corps counselor, farmworker, journalist, construction laborer, teacher, and more. He is the founder of Gimme Shelter Productions, a nonprofit organization of artists whose performances benefit homeless shelters, feeding programs, and other worthy causes.
G.H. Mosson is the author of two books of poetry, Questions Of Fire (2009) and Season of Flowers and Dust (2007). His poetry has appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Measure, Smartish Pace, and The Tampa Review. He published the journal Poems Against War: A Journal of Poetry and Action. He is a writer, lawyer, father, and dreamer. He practices employee rights and disability rights law as well as civil litigation. With Mr. Colasurdo, he has performed as part of Gimme Shelter Productions.
Dan Cuddy is currently an editor of the Loch Raven Review. He has been published in many small magazines , e.g, Antioch Review, Free State Review, Iguana Review, The Potomac, Connections, L’Allure des Mots, Broadkill Review, End of 83. His book Handprint On TheWindow was published by Three Conditions Press.
If Dr. Michael Fine had his way, he would see and care for everyone free of charge: no cost for maternal care and newborn deliveries, vaccinations, all doctor visits; free or nearly free medications, treatments, and necessary special medical care.
State-licensed doctors, nurses, therapists, healthcare workers, and other ancillary workers would all be paid pretty much what they make now. University-level health education would be without charge to students. Every place would have a clinic, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day for delivering care as needed by people in their community.
Rhode Island-based family medical specialist Fine writes in his new book, "Health Care Revolt," that $1 trillion is spent unnecessarily for healthcare that should be spent instead on education, parks, libraries, community centers, and other amenities needed by the public.
This is the part of healthcare glut that Fine believes is our lost legacy to democracy. Dr. Fine believes that democracy depends upon a safe and peaceful society that shares its prosperity.
Imagine a society that eradicates homelessness, alleviates physical pain and mental suffering, empties our prisons of those addicted to chemical substances and treats them instead. Imagine, too, a society that embraces the conflicting ideas of all people so as to find a way to put an end to fighting, killing, and war-making.
So as to make our places more peaceful, there’s a lot we can and should imagine to make connections between ourselves and other people, and to become more satisfied living with each other.
Dr. Fine argues that we cannot make our world a safe, peaceful, and healthy place to live if we continue to allow powerfully wealthy agencies to abscond a trillion here for military contractors and a trillion there for healthcare magnates. It should be no wonder that the planet faces terrible outcomes of global warming when so much is spent lobbying for fossil fuel and military interests; surprisingly, spending by healthcare lobbyists exceeds petroleum and military interests combined.
Dr. Fine writes that we should “resuscitate democracy.” That’s a curious metaphor to use for a country that prides itself on exporting democracy. It’s actually a serious indictment: Fine claims that we have a few decades to reign in global warming, but not so with healthcare.
Market-based healthcare systems, including the insurance companies, drug manufacturers, hospital systems (whether for-profit or not,) physician groups, durable medical equipment makers and distributors, as well as other, adjuvant healthcare entities compose a wobbly house of cards too weak to stand longer than just a few more years.
His solution is to wed individual and public health planning. Like love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other; well, you can, but that’s not the way the song goes, and it’s illustrative of Fine’s approach to health system planning.
Because it’s based upon a market system, healthcare is a commodity, and, one could say, so, too, are the patients, doctors, and treatments. Our current economic system depends upon markets, supply, and demand.
But the best characteristic of public goods are that they are not commodities. Police services, fire services, public education, libraries, parks, community centers, and all our public agencies are just that: public. These are not markets, nor do they behave as markets that reflect simple metrics of supply and demand.
Dr. Fine writes that doctors, patients, and the people in our communities need to stand up and revolt against this inhuman, market-based, supply and demand health system. He wants to build a community-based health system that meets local needs.
Dr. Michael Fine wrote "Health Care Revolt," published on PM Press in 2018. He will speak at the Shriners Auditorium in Sacramento, California, on Friday, Nov. 16 from 6-9 p.m. On a later panel he will be joined by former Northern California Veterans Hospital Director Dr. David Siegel and physician assistant/health care activist Keith McCallin.
Autumn 2018 is shaping up to be the season of the witch.
In the context of the ongoing Mueller investigation and recent concerns about Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump and his supporters have invoked the idea of a “witch hunt” again and again. In 2018 alone, Trump has tweeted the term 112 times, and Lindsay Graham mocked a Kavanaugh protestor by suggesting that they may as well “dunk [Kavanaugh] in water and see if he floats.” The media has also kept pace: the New York Times, for example, has printed the term “witch hunt” a remarkable 336 times so far in 2018, which more than triples the rate of its use prior to 2016.
One of the defining characteristics of a witch hunt is its dependence on confabulated “evidence.”
The term has so pervaded U.S. political discourse that it is therefore worth remembering where it comes from, which also offers an opportunity to reflect on how its present use may work a political dark magic all its own.
There are witch stories from all over the world, and Europe experienced periodic paroxysms of witch-hunting into the eighteenth century, but the most famous North American witch hunt took place in Salem Village (present-day Danvers, Massachusetts) in 1692–93. There is a rich historiographic literature on the Salem witch trials, viewing these events through various historical, psychological, and economic lenses, but in broad terms, accusations involving a handful of young women mushroomed into a grotesque travesty that claimed the lives of twenty innocent people.
As with other witch hunts, this bitter injustice happened because the court of law elected to credit “spectral evidence.” That is, the court accepted as evidence claims that the defendant harmed the victim in visions and dreams. Cotton Mather played a significant role in the Salem witch trials in no small part because he had previously written about the ability of witches to project a spectral vision of themselves and afflict their victims remotely. After Salem, he continued to espouse this belief, detailing in his The Wonders of the Invisible World (1693) how a witch’s victim can be “assaulted with Instruments of Iron wholly unseen to the standers by.”
In a sense, Mather was more right than he knew when he insisted that to hunt a witch one must embrace the spectral. Indeed, this is one of the defining characteristics of a witch hunt, its dependence on confabulated “evidence.”
Arthur Miller reflected deeply on this when he wrote The Crucible. In his 1996 New Yorker essay “Why I Wrote The Crucible,” he notes that he was drawn to the notion of “spectral evidence” and how it created a “poisoned cloud of paranoid fantasy” in which the strangest accusations “made a kind of lunatic sense to them.”
For Miller, the use of spectral evidence to destroy lives served as a powerful metaphor of the activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which, with the encouragement of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, hounded politicians, academics, celebrities, and other public figures while chasing vague rumors of Communist sympathizers. As in Salem, these persecutions moved some to accuse others as evidence of their innocence. Only Ethel Rosenberg was killed by the state in this witch hunt, but many careers and lives were destroyed. Miller’s play has been remarkably popular, a staple of high school reading lists, and, as Miller wrote in 1996, “it is only a slight exaggeration to say, that, especially in Latin America, The Crucible starts getting produced wherever a political coup appears imminent.” It is thanks in large part to the perennial popularity of Miller’s play, and the aptness of its metaphor, that the term “witch hunt” now pervades our political vocabulary.
However, today’s revival of the term is problematic because it gets the metaphor so wrong: though they wish to dismiss it as spectral, Trump and his cronies face real, non-spectral evidence that is stacking up against them. Likewise, Christine Blasey Ford testified that she was assaulted by the real Brett Kavanaugh, not a specter of him.
Trump and his cronies face real, non-spectral evidence that is stacking up against them. Likewise, Christine Blasey Ford testified that she was assaulted by the real Brett Kavanaugh, not a specter of him.
This incorrect use of the term “witch hunt” matters for two reasons.
In her new monograph, Witches, Witch Hunting and Women, Silvia Federici condemns the commercialization of sites of witch hunts in Europe: “Sites of famous trials and persecutions that led to the execution of dozens of women are now parading in shop after shop doll-like representations of witches.” In Salem, the exploitation of this suffering is perhaps still more extreme, especially around Halloween. The trials have become a major part of the town’s culture and economy, unimpeded by the small detail that Danvers, one town over from present-day Salem, was the actual site for most of the witch trials. Trivializing the death of those convicted of witchcraft—mainly women—is a form of violence, and Federici challenges us to consider that “denouncing the commerce made of women’s bodies and their death to boost tourism” is an important step in toppling patriarchal domination. By extension, one could argue that the flagrant misuse of the term “witch hunt” as a political meme also abuses the memory of those who were actually hunted as witches.
But even as Trump’s persistent denunciations of the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” trivializes the deaths of accused witches, it also performs the sleight of hand of making the accusations against the president’s camp seem trivial and baseless. In order for Trump’s “witch hunt” claims to be true, the evidence against him would have to have no empirical basis. The future and outcome of the Mueller investigation is impossible to predict, but it is safe to say that Mueller’s team has collected evidence that does not come from dreams and visions. Therefore, when Trump insists that he is the victim of a witch hunt, we would be wise to see this as a prime example of another current meme: gaslighting.