Monday, July 10, 2017

Jack Scott writes

Paper Airplanes

She writes with carbide pen 

upon her side of mirror, 
etching bold inscription 
of the message I will never see, 
with the rigor of Commandments
strewn haphazardly 

beyond spotlight in her darkness, 
still seeking what she claims she found: 
a message of insistence 
proclaiming boundaries 
around oases of intellect 
where orgasm is an outcast. 

I use chalk, 

soft enough for what I want to say: 
erasable, retractable commitment  
to provisional exchange of language. 
It is simpler to hold my tongue 
than to bite it and apologize.  
Aftermaths are miscalculations 
of arithmetic 
attracting punishment, 
correction having failed. 
(If I must explain my humor 
I shouldn’t chance it.) 

It didn’t start this way, 

but as go good intentions 
made with open heart and mind,  
the law of unintended consequences 
creeps in like mice to gnaw and fray 
thought’s wiring and connections 
playing havoc on the scale 
of once harmonious logic. 
To narrow larger possibilities, 
the door thought open was ajar, 
transforming channel into funnel, 
with seriously disparate ends, 
reducing communication 
to an exercise of averaging, 
which, even if conveyed,
does not compute. 

We’d agreed to share what we could share, 

reveal what we’d kept from others, 
confess whatever felt like guilt, 
lay bare our shame; however, 
ignorant of our ignorance, 
we didn’t realize  what we’d agreed to 
in our moment of rash communion. 
Our epiphanies, though maybe equal, 
were separate and asynchronous, 
incremental lessons 
learned in different grades 
in different schools, 
rote lip service 
like allegiance to the flag. 
As to actual practice: 
words not fitting deeds. 
Worm was in our apples.

We made a steadfast attempt 
to stitch together 
Emperor’s new clothes. 
Better to have darned the old ones, 
patched and mended what was there.

I sent her microdots 

which only I can decipher, 
understated overloads 
in the throat of codes, 
unexpected expectations 
in their blatant obfuscation.

Paper airplanes 

carrying passengers of words 
becoming arrows in midflight 
targeting the ill-informed 
and the illiterate, 
wounding without enlightenment, 
their cargo disembarking, 
extracting meaning 
from surrendered thought, 
accused of misunderstanding, 
to stand before the firing squad 
of red pencils and erasers, 
no real bullets in their guns.

Why build what cannot stand 

without constant reinforcement: 
an arsenal of nails and screws,  
duct tape and super glue? 
A castle of dominoes, 
black and white beliefs aligned 
to stand precariously together 
without the comfort of stability 
before they come tumbling down 
upon each other 
like soldiers in a war..

Without awareness, 

we walked a path ill-chosen
toward destination we didn’t want 

misguided by a crappy map 
as not-to-scale 
as a travel agent’s brochure 
of a man-made island 
for vacation assigned 
as if by lot. 
If we had known 
that we would have gone 
to different movies, 
dined in different restaurants, 
moved to different towns.

I assume you see the weakness 

in the sender of my messages, 
(not in the messages themselves), 
but let it pass without agreement 
so that we can wind this up. 
I’ve let many things go by, 
withholding comment 
or even questioning. 
Damnation by faint praise 
would be a burr under the saddle, 
a pebble in the shoe, 
so let’s dispense with snarkiness 
and avoid sarcasm. 
Due to your fear of criticism

let’s declare a little truce; 

I fear we’re far beyond anything 
permanent or larger.

I offer an unwelcome handshake, 
a diplomatic gesture, 
like a bookmark in a book 
you don’t want to read, 
intending to read it later,
now never being the time 

to change what must be changed 
to shift direction without a compass, 
to open menu in a foreign language 
describing food that you know well, 
though you have a nonspecific need 
to sample what might be better, 
no - best  to ease the pain.

I have done what I’m suggesting; 

I’ve graduated from that boot camp 
though the experience is never complete. 
You’re holding your life in abeyance 
until your pain will go away -
you’re not using it very well. 
You need someone to explain 
the need for pain, 
to illuminate on a larger atlas 
the anatomy, the geography of pain. 
It can’t be me 
for you’ll neither listen to or believe
anything I have to say 
so you’ll certainly not profit 
from my telling what I’ve learned.

Our truce will be our covenant: 

if you don’t cause me pain 
I won’t hurt you, 
and the other way around. 
It is that simple. 
Easily said, 
if the tongue were out of touch 
with the memory of experience
and loosened by the lubricant 
of deceptive hope, 
but that is not the case. 
You should be anxious
to sign the contract 

so your future can begin.

You are spiky, 

as in EKG,  
as in porcupine, 
as in pins and needles, 
a walking, talking treachery 
so blatantly emblazoned 
you are easy to avoid, 
seen from a distance.

You read and write 

in your room of broken eggshells 
where I cannot go. 
I drop my letters at your door, 
slide them under, 
wait, but never long 
because you need this correspondence 
as much as I, 
but for mostly different reasons 
although some must be quite the same.

What do I have to protect or hide? 

That I am a hypocrite? 
No, I’m not that. 
It took a lot of work, 
but I think the exorcism took. 
No congratulations, 
no pats on back.

Hypocrisy stole so much time,

should have never happened. 
It displaced so many better things, 
took space, demanded energy 
without giving any. 
 Image result for paper airplane paintings
Touch Down -- Jeanne Vadeboncoeur


  1. The phrase "Does not compute," uttered by fictional computers, robots, and other artificial intelligences, indicated a type of cognitive dissonance on the part of the machine which is trying to process human emotions, contradictions, or paradoxes, often leading to its inaction, malfunction, or self-destruction. It was usually the computer's response to information which it had received but could not reconcile with other information it already held to be true; or it indicated the limited nature of the machine's pre-programmed nature, since it was unable to adapt itself to circumstances beyond the scope of its programming. Despite its superior ability at calculation and information processing, its lack of emotion or randomness made it unable to resolve cognitive dissonance. The phrase was coined as a catch phrase for AF 709 ("Rhoda Miller"), a lifelike android played by Julie Newmar in the American sci-fi sitcom "My Living Doll," which aired for one season (1964-1965). She had been created for the US Air Force by Carl Miller (Henry Beckman), who gave her to his friend, Air Force psychiatrist Bob McDonald (Bob Cummings) to keep her from falling into the hands of the military. McDonald sought to train AF 709 to be the perfect woman (which he defined as one who "does what she's told" and "doesn't talk back"). Many of the 26 episodes dealt with Rhoda learning how human society works. When Cummings left the show after 21 episodes (Newmar complained that he had tried to teach her how to act), the care of the robot was transferred to McDonald's lecherous colleague and neighbor Peter Robinson (Jack Mullaney), who thus discovered that "the girl of his dreams" was really an electronic device. The phrase was revived and popularized on the "Lost in Space" series (1965-1968), in which it became associated with a Class M-3, Model B9, General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot, voiced by Dick Tufeld amd performed by Bob May. Endowed with superhuman strength and futuristic weaponry, it sang and played a guitar and often displayed human characteristics such as laughter, sadness, and mockery.

  2. "The Emperor's New Clothes" has become an idiom for something widely accepted as true or professed as being praiseworthy due to the unwillingness of the general population to criticize it or to be seen as going against popular opinion. It comes from Hans Christian Andersen's "Kejserens nye Klæder," published in 1837. Two weavers promised to make clothes for the emperor which will be invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position, stupid, or incompetent. Neither the emperor nor his ministers nor anyone else will admit they cannot see the clothing. But a child, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up a pretense, shuts out that the emperor was not wearing anything. Andersen borrowed the plot from example 32, "De lo que contesció a un rey con los burladores que fizieron el paño" (Of that which happened to a King and three Impostors from Count Lucanor) in Juan Manuel's 1335 "Libro de los ejemplos," in which the king is hoodwinked into believing that illegitimate children would not be able to see the clothing. Anderson chose to expose courtly pride and intellectual vanity. In his original ending the king's subjects simply admired the clothing they could not see, but he changed the story after the manuscript was already at the printer's.


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