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Out of the California SwampsComing of Age at the End of a Golden Era
By Michael Engle
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2009 Michael Engle
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA million words delineate the problem, one word -the solution. try
A sea of regret is churning behind me And I look forward upon a dark horizon Why do I live? A star is born from the death of itself A collapsing into itself that forms a black hole Comparable to the center of the earth And through the other side of this anti-matter Emerges a new star Born from a passageway through the gravitational pit An abyss within the universe A dungeon created by the heavens Each of the three books of Dante's Comedy Ends with the word "star" And as the Inferno comes to a close The two pilgrims arrive at the site Where Dis is locked in time At the bottom of the well That encompasses every evil A dungeon created by the heavens And like the birth of a new star The pilgrims make their way Through the underside of the beast Through a passageway underneath the eternal abyss Emerging anew at the foot of a climb to life Much the way I sought the bottom In search of a passage home to the stars A steep hill is yet before me And slothfully I rest dreamingly on the slopeI'm where I need to be And though I linger, I am caressed by the winds of hope Above me gleams a golden dreamy future With angels in the skies and tears of joy in our eyes And all the anguish we were destined to endure Fans a joyous flame that never dies I've been flaking out on religious experiences And faith without works is dead some wise one's say But to whom am I to be made inferior hence? For only Jesus was perfect each and everyday How can you help but be a little crazy When youth condemned you to a life of hunger And you can will the change but I'm feeling lazy And someone wants to pull me under But despite my sins I possess a deep passion And it manifests in magical and unpredictable ways As it's a gift from our God of exemplary compassion Who forgives our trespasses and endless delays And at the foot of the climb Where I set up camp years ago We await an important time When we finally know A wild November wind Blew the sand into the footprints left behind And so erased the remembrance of the bleeding summer But also reveals how our time can be lost forever Unless I can build a monument with my life That will stand the test of time The sands of the hourglass will cover every trace And this life will forever be forgotten An outcast like me has to rise above And leave an indelible mark in time A testament to greatness discarded by the tribe And not merely a meaningless rhyme And when I become exasperated And feel as though they are trying to keep me down I have to remind myself that I'm exhausted most By overcoming my nagging and persistent deficiencies But the wind can conceal that which came before And wipe away the traces of our misdeeds And fill in the holes of hatred and resentment That lie in the sands I have traveled until now And quite a desert it has been Seemingly endless until the dawn A conundrum of perpetual night But the winds of change lead us on Like Emily Dickinson describes I behold an endless midnight it seems With midnight in my past and grave night in my midst And yet through the maelstrom I can imagine a new dawn Like a straggler on a deserted platform Alone and lost at sea, holding a lantern up to the unflinching darkness So newly arrived from my eternal roost in nonexistence That I don't know how to not have hope And when the shrill winds blow in from the North Though they chill me to the bone they also bring something else A change, in the season and in the times In myself and in the world of hurt, carried by the gusty winds of love Ah the digital age IPOD the size of a quarter U2 comes through in a collection of bites And Metallica is reluctant to embrace this new world Around the time they became multi millionaires There was a shift taking place Analog becoming digitized And nothing has been so spiritual since The IPOD can only recreate the soul from the past This new age suffers a distinctive lack Old Metallica was a religious experience And old U2 the same But you just don't feel them anymore One needs to FEEL their suffering But the rich don't feel anything anymore And thus the music is as bland as a preacher devoid of the Holy Spirit Once money fills the gaps of one's suffering And the soul ceases to yearn and burn Jesus instructs them to give their money away For it has put the heart to sleep And oh yeah the digital age It has created a vacuum as well We are broken up and segmented as a society Others are impediments and harmony is absent We travel in cars, talk through computers Don't talk to strangers, don't co-operate Cel phones seal us off from one another ironically We walk through the public square having a private conversation Everything is broken up into bits and reconfigured Even our religion Bob Marley sounds flat through the digitization And no one has any passion anymore Isolation makes us numb And we are so disconnected with everyone else And in turn they're so disconnected from us That compassion is eroded away The digital age is full of partially downloaded hate We blog our hateful views from our cells We e mail them to people we haven't seen And TV is a gauge to test the cultural waters And everyone is so good looking now Images created digitally on MySpace A new age persona, constructed from the fragments And rationality is king But still everything is moderate Even the fundamentalist radicals stand for something superficial these days Terrorism is such a bread winner for George Bush Because they are hidden in fragmented cells A perfect bi-product of the digital age A perfect symbol of the egregious separation Analog come back, I don't care if it's more cumbersome for Ben Harper to record Modernism is solidarity and unity, Post Modernism is a throwback to the dark ages Entropy The end of the spiral The return The Phoenix rising from its own ashes All entertainers are mere pawns of the devil And ambition is an infernal wind But Chris Rock thinks he's a hero 'Cuz he hangs with Oprah and Jim Carrey But none shall change the world like me And I don't have to do shit And they will say I am poisoned with delusions of grandeur But how can I when they all look down on me? The stone that builder refused I merely give it up to God I don't aspire to be an actor Reveling in hypothetical cookie cutter realities Most of you can't hear me And that's cool, because I no longer need to be popular The worst are the leaders Killing in the name of Listen to your president, listen to Chris Rock Remember the Anti Christ will be popular as fuck I have God on my side Did Jesus beg for Peter to be his friend? He ended up denying him at the crucial moment Frickin' Thomas needed proof even after he died Most of you are stinkin' Judas's Proclaiming allegiance only to betray That's why I don't want to be liked by American's The American way is to say fuck you all We've been saying that from the start England, Fuck you all Confederacy, Fuck you all Germany and Japan, fuck you all Vietnam and Iraq, you know what I'm sayin' But I rebel right from inside this mother fucker I got my two Bachelors degrees biatch I got my career I'll be right here saying "Eat a big Dick, bitches" All your superficiality All your pretension All your competition All of your egotistical ambition Yet none of you has anything to say And I am so alone But after thirty years of being an outcast I now call it home Years and years of hurt have forged me Into a loaded gun of spite And yes Jesus said to forgive But he will also come again on the stars And he ain't gonna' look like Chris Christopherson in Blade He's gonna' have a gnarly sword coming out of his mouth And his words are gonna make all you godless bitches melt Like the wicked witch of the East when Dorthy doused that nasty bitch with water And like him I will be avenged Not through any direct action of my own But merely through the turning of the planet My rise will not be denied All of you cling to your favorite stars Athletes, actors, perhaps bands and rappers And you think these will rescue you from yourselves But only I am an individual I only let the river flow And practice what I learned from the ancients Surrender, give your burden to Jesus Humbly go where the waters of time take you Quit interfering so that your ego can be appeased Quit ambitiously seeking acceptance on a large scale Again the Anti Christ will be beloved world wide And only bad-ass motherfuckers like myself will smell him a mile away I'm so glad I stayed lonely, and never compromised so you all would have me Pearl Jam's music doesn't mean shit anymore but they are more popular than ever I'm not gonna' be a "Lost Cause" like Beck I'm a "Man with a mission" like Greg Graffin Only I believe in God Not like the ambitious Christians Selling Jesus and seeking your patronage I believe alone in a room at night by myself I am the partner of the down trodden No one is below me Only those who think themselves something else do I call bitches If you think you're cool I am your arch rival My time is coming around Even if it is the end of the world Despite my sex crimes and pot smoking "This train is bound for GLORY" All I can say for myself is that I am crushed by her burden But at least I'm being crushed by her Constant pain but then I'm punished for escaping But it can't go on like this forever Am I sick and tired enough? Or will I need more convincing So far my life's been tough 27 years and still sinning The pain will arrive in time Like clockwork and I'll decide To alleviate or start my climb And sum it all up in a futile rhyme Beatrice has called on me Jesus, God and Mary too But I just can't take up this chore Love and truth = black and blue With the mud stains of hell From which I was born I'll begin to ascend from the well With the memories of bitter scorn Or will I, perhaps I'll put it off Again like I have so often Pick another day to stop When the blow may be softened Devote my life to this I must Like Jesus to the cross I must do what I'm told with no fuss But I can't help but feel that all is lost Darkness and despair are all I've known Desperate now for the idea of my true home Americans are completely preoccupied with fat They have things low in carbs Low in trans fat, whatever the fuck that means People on the South Beach Diet People on Jenny Crank People listening to how Operah shed her whaledom Dr. Phil, Martha Stuart, Weight Watchers Fat free chips, low cal salads, Diet Coke And yet obesity reigns supreme here in the land of the fat Yet my Dad's father told him to eat the fat on his meat Said it was good for him And I've seen pictures of my dad as a kid He was a pole, it's all in the mind Lethargic people get fat Lazy people get fat Look at our culture Everything has to be easy We bitch about havin' to do laundry when all you do is put the shit in and push a button Look at what ancient people had to do Lazy Americans Drive Thru, Drive up teller, Order on-line, drive down the street Watch TV as soon as you get home from your sit on your ass all day job Or you see clones patting themselves on the back because they managed to stay thin Jogging pretentiously down the strand Basically resorting to that because their lives are so fuckin' easy Billy Blanks Taebo 7 second abs 24 hour fitness All to overcome the fat that is bulging out of us So go ahead America Continue to do your stupid shit Label things low in carbs Eat sugar free cookies and pretend to like the taste Avoid potatoes like the plague And you'll just get fatter and fatter and fatter Pretty soon obesity will be so widely overlooked that a three hundred pound chick will be a model Fat ass kooks will think she's hot Fat will become accepted like Homosexuals are Sickness will become the norm All because we've lost our collective spirit in this country Tending to a soul would keep you occupied with your bored asses A conscience is the best fitness coach Ask yourself this Maybe I should go out and do something Maybe I will walk since its right up the road Maybe I've eaten enough Maybe I'm only eating because I'm so miserable that the only joy I get out of life Is doing just that to sate the yearning for inner peace that has been Lacking since you can remember. Maybe it's pleasure to escape the pain I 'm not eating for nourishment anymore am I No you're eating for the distraction The same way a druggie shoots up I feel so alone, but at least when I end up a "big 'ol pile of them bones", these bones will be seen from the outside. An entire lifetime of misery I just don't get it! I continuously consciously and knowingly Head south and regret it And if I can go this far south And build upon regret How many others will too come down Into my home and native pit An essential tenet of American culture is the quest to look down on others. Wear the right clothes, drive the right car, and live in the right town Do the right activities, make sure people are impressed with your outward appearance And you can successfully assimilate which means you now have the right to condescend others I have always been a rebel, because I choose to be honest America has always hated me for that, I also care about people, you're not supposed to do that either It's lonely work bein' a rebel with a cause An interview with two collegiate athletes reveals The truth about our education system "Give this guy some propaganda." One of them astutely remarks. I was more articulate in fifth grade than this so called College student. But he was paid to go to school. He probably won't even graduate but He's given the opportunity. He is paid to go to school, Meanwhile I am sent through a bureaucratic runaround that seemed to have no end As well as forced to pay an arm and a leg And all I wanted to do was enhance my mind and Follow my dreams of attending the misty school in the redwoods But football gets ratings and ratings equals money Thus the linebacker at SC, gets paid I receive an education he never gets I like to study philosophy, poetry and religion I am a thinker America sees no capitalistic benefit in someone like me So I am on my own Oh sure I got a little financial aid Maybe a few handouts here and there But I was reluctantly admitted And it was a major pain in the ass to get through Not because the curriculum was challenging No the runaround, the paperwork, the economics was challenging I wasn't popular, chicks dissed me as hard as the teachers did Basically, because I don't play football, Because I don't care about surfing and motor-cross Because I am a thinker and a philosopher and not A circus performer, America could give a fuck about me Basically I don't have any capitalistic promise Basically my body is denigrated Basically it's me against the world Another chance to escape befalls me What can I do about my past? What will be my fate this time? And how long will this fragile state last?
Pathetic is my giving in Old hat is my tired sin But still I truly doubt my ability and will And doubt that this time my climb truly begins. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Out of the California Swamps by Michael Engle Copyright © 2009 by Michael Engle . Excerpted by permission.
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