Monday, October 15, 2018

Work in the Time of Abrupt Climate Change

I originally wrote this a couple of years ago when I first heard of abrupt climate change and the idea of exponential growth of climate disruption with numerous feedback loops versus simple linear climate change only influenced by co2. Everyone by now is noticing the effects with severe weather, fires, etc. When scientifically conservative organizations like the IPCC are raising alarming warnings things are escalating quickly. I decided to try and get this published and dissident voice a progressive news outlet was kind enough to publish it.

Work in the Time of Abrupt Climate Change

Ants scenting a line across your stoop
commuting back and forth from home to foraging.
Commuters stop and go dreading the dreaded SIG alerts
on the Devil’s own parking lot - the 405 in Los Angeles.

What a system of queens sacrificing drones we must follow,
the wealth of the many in the hands of a few
and by wealth I mean love
between the forces of death and this brilliant creation
of all living things reborn as commodities.

Do you want to be a good commodity someone’s purchased
for your work and your buying
or a bad one whose worth makes more profit
by you sitting in a jail cell rehabilitated
by making stuff for Nike at 10 cents an hour…

I lied, it’s not about love or justice but survival

and I really don’t care if the rest of you
all die and go to hell
but I need a living system to live
and maybe one for my daughter just a newborn thing.

Oh, when you wish upon a star…

My parents are not idiots
but they are idiots for what they are told
to believe and believing it
and I am an idiot for lacking the courage
to stop believing in anything
like Hope.

Our greatest achievement
no hope and still fighting the good fight,
saying things could be different, could be better
as everything we ever knew, or thought we knew,
or believed
is flooded away, blown by storms, perishes
in fire - no gods, no angels
just our unbelieving giving us wings,
our unbelief raising us up,  the last to see
or care as we, the earth and every living thing
winks out in 50, 30, 20, 10 years time
and there is no hope but still fighting the good fight.

Ants scenting a line across a front stoop.
The system of queens sacrificing their drones.
The wealth of the many in the hands of a few.
The forces of death; the creation of all living things as

No gods, no angels,
our unbelief unfurling from our shoulders like wings
and we shall rise, the last to see and mourn
ourselves amongst the death of countless other species
on this once beautiful gaia mother earth
for all things are dying
and no more are being born.

originally published by Dissident Voice

In my poetry group, where I shared this poem, the comments seemed to center around the ideas of belief and the nature of reality until someone finally said “Can't we all just agree we are sitting in this room together?!”

That is the same way I feel about myself and all of creation being regarded by the current system as commodities. It is self-evident. But that is apparently not the case for everyone.

In the current system, the mass of the people “workers” are powerless drones guided by a powerful few – all of whom are trapped together in an illogical belief system where only profit matters. For example, in america we imprison our poor – i.e. surplus labor at incredible rates rather than create good jobs or educate them because it is more profitable for our private prison system to do so (control of citizen dissent simply an added bonus). Likewise, it is illogical to pollute a water system which you depend upon for drinking water unless it is profitable to do so and the decision makers do not live where the poison is dumped.

This system called Capitalism (both private capitalism – america and the “free world” and state capitalism – russia and china) kills and uses to exhaustion the natural systems upon which all life depends. And there is no mechanism within the system to correct itself.

Of course Capitalism may evolve into something else as it once evolved from feudalism but there are no more great land areas to take from indigenous non-capitalist peoples and there is no time as well. The coming destruction from climate change, and possibly abrupt climate change, is already leading us into the next mass extinction event – of which humans as predators on top of the food chain are particularly endangered.

One member of the poetry group, an educated man of faith, wrote in the margins of my poem, “Maybe not idiotic but 'desperate to believe'. We all need to believe in something, perhaps for our own security. Otherwise we can only focus on our own ultimate demise which could happen any time. Then there are idiots that do not believe! Idiots that think we are all dust and nothing more – evolved animals but they procreate anyway”.

I do not totally disagree, but am I an idiot because I am utterly confused by people who do not believe that this world is enough and have to believe in stories about invisible entities to feel better about themselves? And then fail to realize these same stories are also used to placate an afflicted, disgruntled population by their masters, or to create mass support and justify invasion of another's territory?

Yes, it is my belief that humans are dust – albeit star dust. But so is all of creation – we are all made of the same stuff. And although some would argue humans are evolved animals, I would argue humans “are” animals – no different than any other creature. Evolution is not hierarchical. It is the height of hubris and to my mind (considering the peril humanity has placed itself in) heretical to believe we are more than, much less, better than the rest of creation.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

30 day ambulatory cardiac telemetry

30 day ambulatory cardiac telemetry

scheduled for a month of walking around
and transmitting my heart’s intentions
to the man in charge 
of such things

the man who can explain the inexplicable
of what a heart wants and needs

my heart skipping beats even when
she's not around

the normal lumbering rhythm
now a day to day uncertainty

unmasked by sticky suckers like truth
on a chest of growing crop circles

some kind of tribute or retribution
for having lived or continuing to live

the itchy peeling skin saying it’s time
to start following directions

white wire below your right clavicle
green on your left sided gut
red button tip just below your left nipple
while black is always under the armpit

don’t ask how it works, who chose the color placement
or if it was political

only know the white torso outlined in black
with the beating red heart - is you

except in the shower where singing is allowed
the wires undone

how quickly we become inured to that half-
octopus medicine under our shirts - invisibly,
unconsciously under our skin
the electricity of us passing
side to side ricocheting throughout our bodies
slowly, so slowly losing momentum
with every beat

the wires at the end of a 30 day countdown
emerging and dropping away like grace
the only thing helping us to understand

originally published by Golden Walkman Magazine

Saturday, September 29, 2018

How to chop wood - the tin man's explanation

My dear, chopping wood
is an intimate affair involving
the cutter, the wood and
his tools.
For example, the grain of a thing
will tell you which way it yields
and which way it stands fast,
the density telling you
how much force
is needed
in order
to split it.
For chopping is not clearing brush
and neither is it sawing, my dear.
Chopping is a means of
breaking down
to constituent parts,
a way of burning away
a thing
to its essence,
its heat heating your body, your food
exactly what an individual needs
to survive.
So yes dear
when I called you nothing
but dead wood
believe me
I was only
my ax.

Published by Non Binary Review

on these walls

~after “On Gay Wallpaper” (Williams)*

not gay wallpaper but sickly
yellow paint once finger painted
with whorls of raspberry jelly

and on bare hanging wires
not the thread of heaven
but dusty bulbs casting dim shadows

after so much daily routine
a red carpet runner indelibly wrinkled
with worn directional living

what does it say that entryways
once furred with winter jackets
are now rows of empty brass teeth

that on windows lonely rivulets rain
with no faces pressed to the cold pane
praying to any childhood god for the sun

and on these walls not gay but gilt
faint traces whispering here too was life
we, the unremembered, we too have lived

* i n s p i r e d b y W i l l i a m C a r l o s W i l l i a m s

Monday, September 24, 2018


sling the season across your back
like the pack of a peddler
give away what you cannot possibly give
but believe in it anyways

present giver, in and out at all hours
sneaking sweets, judgment bringer

the suit we’ve been prepping for all year
now flaming red with embarrassment, laughter
tears, anger

so much to fit in this thin skating day

so much to do before midnight
this longest night of the heart
brown and tufted, pumping

flying somewhere under the heavens
no star yet visible
in the darkness

Originally published by Sediments Literary Arts Journal

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On the 99th page of the Oxford English Dictionary

On the 99th page of the OED
Bacchus and his babushka
sit hand in hand with Bacardi's
reveling in Bach’s final
unfinished bacchanalia
Bogie and Bacall
softly play baccarat
in the background,
charm flitting like a lit cigarette
between them
flowing down and around lilting
half closed lips
giving the low down
and what’s what
across a
green felt table -
Rastaman whispering
how Baby
Babylon fell
in the black and white haze
of history
long before being
defined by you -
a never finished, never waiting
page turner
always looking
for meaning
in whatever
comes next

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The New Verse News was good enough to publish my poem on their site Tuesday October 21st - 
It occurs to me that when a government builds “walls” to keep out writers and poets with different viewpoints from the ruling elite of a country, the government may be less concerned with the safety of their own citizens than with the suppression of vigorous intellectual discussion and debate.


by Steve LaVigne

“Poetry can be dangerous,” Rumi said, and U.S. Homeland Security isn’t taking any chances. The Jordanian-British poet Amjad Nasser had been invited to speak at New York University this fall, but on Sept. 27, he was questioned for two hours at London’s Heathrow airport and then prevented from flying to the United States. . . . “There are many literary activities that I am invited to and I can not go to because of this is problem, which is incomprehensible to me,” Nasser said. “I do not belong to any political party now, and I am against the use of religion in politics anywhere in the world. I am of those who say that without dialogue between intellectuals and thinkers in the world we can not bridge the gaps, whether real or artificial. This world is small and we have no other and we have to make it a viable place to live.”--Ron Charles, Washington Post, October 10, 2014. Image source: The Poetry Trust

“These are Orwellian times,
and the surveillance state is protecting us
from harmful poetry.” 
--Prof. Sinan Antoon,
who had invited Nasser to NYU.

I am a cowboy
nothing between me and my mustache
but miles and miles of federal BLM land

In the immortal words of my father “when you
don’t even have a pot to piss in” - he always
forgetting to mention who then becomes the pot

I too want to be denied entry into the United States
for my political beliefs
but I have already denied them myself
for all these years finally losing the hope
in hopelessness
the nothing in everyone else’s something
When is a poem not a one man or woman show?
I so want to own rip away velour sweat pants
just waiting for the coach to put me in

Let me start again

I want to be a poet like Amjad Nasser
dearly beloved of translators
invited as keynote speaker at NYU’s Gallatin
Global Writers Series
but denied entry by the Home Land
I want to be The Poet so dangerous
that even the reason I am not allowed to enter
the conversation
is classified
after all these years of dull schooling I
have finally unlearned this thing
taxonomy is the study of the commons
that which we all share in common
divided into hierarchies
it branches up and up but it’s not a tree
like your were taught or even
a burning bush
but a great wooden cross
(see, oh my mother swooning in ecstasy)
someone must be sacrificed
and you thought it would be someone else cowboy?
It is the great ascendancy of statistics
they lied when they said statistics lie - damn lies
an image lies, your emotion lies
your lover lies beneath
your words - when your words create
85 people control as much wealth as the poorest
3, zero zero zero, zero zero zero, zero zero zero billion
the first thing
with just zero point five percent of the richest 1%’s wealth
I want you to know
poverty could be eliminated
I am not
¼ of the jobs in America in some way relate
to making sure the richest
don’t have to share with the rest of us
How do I know god does not exist
If god did exist she would be a catholic nun
kindergarten teacher - her ruler of justice
coming down on the knuckles of those too greedy
few saying “share god damn you, you filthy little cretins”
every       rubric’s    solvable     every
cube is    solvable    rubric’s      cube is
as long as you know there is no such thing
it’s a rubik’s cube - I am such an idiot
for not understanding words or even a few letters
make or unmake worlds
hope in hopelessness
I never thought I would be the one wearing a habit
a god in my own uncomfortable classroom
my grandparents went through the great depression
and I remember thinking what is wrong with them
that haunted look in their eyes - some kind of
PTSD - I remember thinking can’t they just get over it
but now I see that same look in other
people’s eyes - young eyes
my grandparents having died years ago
and the only thing I can really remember
no matter how old or frail they seemed
when they looked at you
when they gave you that look
you did not want to fuck with them

Steve Lavigne runs a local poetry group in Champaign Illinois. It meets weekly to discuss, create and share poetry in order to build community through the power and practice of poetry.