I received notice that one of my poems is to be published in an online poetry journal in May. This is a new online journal being put together by a group of female writers looking for contributions on the theme of social change. Their acceptance of my submission marks the first time I've had an offer to present one of my poems or works of prose in a journal of any form, other than my academic and political articles. What has so far been published online is my own self-publishing via Smashwords.com .
My political poems tend to be long. As Project Voices only takes short poems of up to two pages in length, few of my pieces on topics related to social change pass the length rule. That is why I chose the poem, "Toast to a Jackass".
I had not thought much of it, so I am a bit surprised that it was selected. It is really inspired by a guy that was interested in me just before I moved to Korea. I didn't get to know him well. There was a moment when a flame sparked but I hesitated because I had not been expecting it. He is an introverted person who usually comes across as cool and aloof. He helped me move some of my stuff into storage, so I treated him to dinner. The moment came after dinner, but I was caught off guard because I had not thought of the occasion as a date. Actually, I thought he didn't like me much. I guess he was interested and that's why he wanted to help me. I'm not good at spontaneity.
Anyway, "Toast to a Jackass" is a toast to him. I mean it in a positive way and you'll see. I was starting to understand his character and like him more. I tied what I perceived as his attitude of rebellion to the tendency that working people have to resist exploitation and oppression in every day life.
Toast to a Jack-ass
Say what they will, the system sucks!
Only a few can get a hold o’ them bucks.
There are always plenty like you to spare,
The constant threat, the deep rooted scare.
All most can do is hang on for the ride,
Long as we can, keep a grip on our pride.
May as well say, “Then aw, fuck it!
To them I’m just a drop in the bucket.
Sink or swim, try hard to survive--
Man, that can’t be why I’m alive!”
I like your West Coast, “whatever, maybe”
And your jive talkin’ soft hard edge, baby.
You’re a rockin’ guy with intense ‘tude
Wild at heart but still city dude.
Association with rebellion’s required—
I’m doing my best to get unwired
From the doctrines and promises that keep us penned in,
Hearts closed, minds trapped, pain never endin’.
Staying off the beaten track,
Forward conviction, no looking back—
That’s where I would rather be,
Oppression has no place for me.
But just because that path is jagged
Don’t mean you must live ragged.
The journey’s sweet with company
In discord or full symphony
Of tales, woes, joys, inner riches
Electrifying soul and soothing itches.
Stubborn love, contrary desire,
Easy to skip from pan to fire.
Still, better to face the predicament
Better to mitigate lament.
Better to love and to do it well,
Than end a sorry life in hell.
Sacred be doing what’s right,
Bucking the system, putting up a fight.
I knew a man that regret had drowned,
His ghost still keeps moping around.
Here’s to the people who rise from morass!
Here’s to the one who dare act like an ass!
Vancouver, Spring 2007
So, today is another typically untypical day for me. It stands out for another reason: it snowed. In this region, snow is kind of rare.