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internal exile
more so-called poems
and new so-called work

by

eric chaet

 



POETRY

poems of the month

fish

vagabondage

measuring my face

ostracism updated

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

confession from belgrade

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

leda and the swan

gloss on rilke's ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa: a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of
omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

the love of pierre de ronsard

imagepoem

the rich man and the leper

disgusting

art, truth and bafflement

 

TRANSLATIONS

 

BETWEEN POETRY AND PROSE

the maxims of michel de montaigne

400
revolutionary maxims

nice men and
suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history

 

SHORT STORIES

godpieces

the three bears

three albanian tales

odorous underwear

a little creation story

 

ESSAYS & MEMOIRS

the ivory palace

helen's tower

schopenhauer for muthafuckas

after a first cataract operation

never a pygmy

against money

did franco die ?

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you

happiness

londons of the mind &
dealing death to the caspian

genocide

a muezzin from the tower of darkness

kegan and kagan

a holy dog and a
dog-headed saint

an albanian ikon

being or television

satan in the groin

womb of half-fogged mirrors

tourism and terrorism

diogenes
the dog from sinope

shoplifting

this sorry scheme of things

the bektashi dervishes

combatting normality

fools for nothingness:
atheists & saints

death of a bestseller

vacuum of desire: a homo-erotic correspondence

a note on beards

translation and the oulipo

the visit


Eric Chaet's Website

I WAS BORN WEAK

I was born weak.
My parents were ill-matched, unhappy, poor
ill-prepared for the challenges of their time & place
they had little understanding
of how to better themselves
or prepare me to better myself
& most of my neighbors, schoolmates, & teachers
were equally flummoxed
& either frankly desperate
or deceiving themselves
in order to feel better
&, so, proud
& even more unable, therefore
to improve their situations
& held me in contempt
to the extent that I didn't, likewise
pose as more capable & successful than I was—
& whether I ever manage to achieve
what I am ever more capable of conceiving
or not—
I mean changing the situation
that relegates so many to holocausts
or entire chronic lives of dissatisfaction
& inefficient struggle only dimly comprehended
if faced at all-
which is a long-shot!—
most of them will die
considering me weak, a fool, a loser.
No use worrying about their opinion of me
except as it shapes their behavior—
unhelpful, competitive, obstructive
even downright dangerous.
Yet I continue to believe I am serving
others like myself
as best I'm able—
& I keep making myself more capable-
&, so, hope for their mutually-advantageous cooperation.
Do I call this a poem?
No, I call it a so-called poem—
precisely to avoid getting into
whether or not it's a poem—
which would be a relatively trivial argument, no?

 


THE BILLIONAIRES & I ARE BUSY

The billionaires & I are busy—
if we don't manage our assets
with ruthless concentration
others will surely seize them.
Likewise, the psychopaths & I are busy—
if we don't fend off the delusions
nearly everyone around us has agreed to
& insists on our living by, too
we'll never escape, establish, & realize ourselves.
The military & political tyrants & I are busy—
those inconvenienced by our domination
& those always scheming to replace us
do anything & everything but cooperate—
we have so much to control & coordinate-it's so unstable!—
our only security is eternal vigilance
& freedom from the inhibitions of those who adjust to us.
And those injured by fate, injustice, or spite—
the imprisoned, or released from prison with nothing—
the sick, the destitute
& those programmed by, or dependent on fools & crazy people—
& I—
we're scrambling to recover homeostasis, composure, momentum
before we disintegrate, irrevocably.

 

MY TRIAL

I'm preparing for the trial of the rest of my life.
I'm accused of wasting my time & talents
colluding with evil, rolling with injustice's punches
rationalizing, adapting, drifting along by reflex action.

I know of no defense attorney who can help me.
The laws are as different from justice
as red is from green, or dissonance from harmony.
No judge nor jury can be expected to sympathize
nor to understand the facts, precedents, or context.

Whether I convince anyone of anything or not
whether the laws or even the State's name changes
the trial for which I'm always diligently preparing
has already begun — & will continue as long as I live.


ACHIEVEMENT

If, before I die, I should gain great wealth & renown
& park my giant yacht among the others
& attend festivities among others likewise invited
wearing expensive outfits & honoring one another—
if the president should pin a medal on me
or even if I should be elected president—
if professional commentators should continually
speak of me in glowing terms
as tho I'm a philanthropist, & efficient, too—
if I should master this or that skill set
medical or electronic or programming or financial
or mathematical or musical, or this or that game—
if it should be generally conceded
that I am the greatest master of all times
at the techniques I have dedicated myself to mastering—
if I should win bet after bet
& the dividends rain in on me as on no one else—
if I should be a universally acclaimed celebrity
& no one can approach me without an appointment
& without honing their presentation down to a brief summary
so as not to waste my precious time—
if all the other members of the elect should agree
& all the commoners & those wasting away should also agree
that I'm the most successful person of my time or of all times—
but there is as much suffering as when I began
& as much injustice as when I began
& the elect & excluded keep living out illusions
conventional illusions nearly everyone agrees are just plain facts
or particular illusions closer to what's so than what most people think
but still pretty far from the truth—
illusions nursed in their secret hearts
while they respond conventionally to conventional cues—
& if those attempting to be righteous are punished
& the weak & relatively innocent are food for the ferocious & cunning—
then I will have achieved nothing worth mentioning.

 

OH, SUCCESS IS SO SLOW

Oh, success is so slow—it takes nearly forever—
younger men & women attain great wealth & prominence
they're all over TV & radio & on the covers of magazines
when all they've done is what someone else would have done
if only they'd got out of the way
all they do is continue the injustice
they get the lion's share of the spoils
at the expense of whoever can't prevent them
& then they die—
while I'm still struggling even just to survive
let alone get out of this hole I seem stuck in forever—
sometimes I get sick & don't think I'll pull out of it
or I go just about absolute broke on the Richter Scale
& every prospect of redemption seems to have evaporated—
I have to take heart
realizing that I've been in such straits before—
but surely I'm running out of time
& still, tyrannies great & small prevail
from Sumeria & Egypt right on thru the empire I'm a cell of
& the consequent suffering, including mine
the victims picking on whoever seems weakest among them
often, me!—
have I or any one of my heroes made a dent in it, ever ?—
it often seems that humanity is going to live, then die—
tyrants, vassals, & victims who fly into a rage if you say a true
word—
that my efforts will be in vain—
oh, success is so slow—it takes nearly forever.

 

 

INTERNAL EXILE

It's not necessary in America
to arrest those who would interfere
with the smooth workings
of the extraction of wealth by the investor class
& their millions of hirelings
who never say a word that would get them expelled
from their cars, houses, & expectations—
no arrest is necessary, no trial, no internment
no transportation to an archipelago of camps
no need to lock them up with foreign insurgents
in the secret prisons
or in the prisons everyone is aware of
but has become tired of considering or talking about—
no need to put them to work in slave labor gangs
tho I've heard that some of that is happening again, too—
no, we go directly from expulsion from comfort
& either delusion or pretense
from the halfway-heaven halfway-hell middle class
the treacherous courtesy & commute
the orbit between tyrant & prisoner—
straight to internal exile—
where whatever credentials you may have earned
are now invalid & irrelevant—
you're either an investor or one of their vassals
or you're not—
a performance star—stage, page, or screen
or manager & parlayer of others' assets—
an IT, medicine, education, science star
or politics or commentary star
or you're not—
a cop or judge or prison guard—or prisoner
or you're not—
the only choice you're left with is virtue
or spinning out of control into psychosis
or pretending to be smarter than everyone else
like a prisoner cheerfully babbling in a dungeon—
& if you choose virtue
you have always to be careful
to whom & how you mention it—
the very word is taboo—
no one will make a deal with you—
that's the arrest, trial, & punishment all-in-one—
you have to provide for yourself
& no one will pay you for anything—
& if you force them to pay attention
they will intimidate you
if you're not past being intimidated—
if you haven't perfected virtue, that is
if, like me, you never, while you live, succeed—
the tyrants & their millions of traitor-vassals
pretend that it is possible to succeed
once & forever
in this life
& that their privileges at everyone else's expense
are their reward for success—
that you object is why you have been sentenced
to internal exile & tense poverty
til your last heart beat & breath—
& the possibility
that what you use every cell of your resourcefulness to do—
antithesis of cruelty—
won't be futile.

 

 

IN THE CRAZY THICK OF IT

Psychopaths with charming cover stories
dominate our species-wide polis & economy—
tho mainly we tell one another
that people are basically good
& all the trouble comes from a small set of rogues—
or a rogue tribe, gang, or nation—
an industry helps us obsess
on celebrities & historical stand-outs
& ignore everyone else's situations & efforts
whether stunned & approximately unconscious
adaptations to demands on them—
like dreaming, digestion
or iron filings organizing themselves
around the poles of horse-shoe magnets—
or cleverly or laughably strategic—
even just getting from home to work to home
or saving enough to graduate from a hovel
to a nicer cell that costs more—
maybe with a spouse & yard & little hostages to fate—
or scrambling to put their shattered sense of self together
or geopolitically—
invading England & Ireland, or Poland, or South Dakota
or Kuwait, or Iraq, say—
almost everyone understands this better than I have
& have gained at my expense—
& I don't mean just the Democrats & Republicans
or the guys at Goldman Sachs or HSBC
or Warren Buffett or Peter Lynch
& other billionaire managers of aggregated capital
or Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Jack Ma
Putin, Spielberg, Madonna
or Wen Jiabao & his billionaire relatives
or the Saudi princes—
I mean even members of my family
co-workers within organizations where I was employed
teachers when I was a boy & bureaucrats now—
& those who charge me lots of money by my standards
for what I can't do for myself
like connecting me to wireless networks
or stopping watery wastes backing up
thru the toilet & drain in the floor
of the building where I've landed
where I make my stand—
or roughnecks who humiliate me
whenever I reveal my interest in abstact ideas or mercy
& seem vulnerable & without power to defend myself—
or those who consider themselves my peers
because they write & I write
but they don't allow themselves to be affected
by what I write
or by my objections to what they write—
how they buttress what I'm trying to undo & replace
with something more just & kind—
or those who pretend
that because I'm struggling to earn more than it costs to survive
we're all engaged in maximizing our greed
or all equally humble, helpless sufferers from oppression
or, like them, I must have committed my bit of original sin
& so, deserve my suffering, too—
tho I make mistakes, No, thank you!

As is my default modus operandi
I searched out possibly helpful information
to free myself from the morass
of others' expectations & assumptions
my own early & more recent imperfect understandings
& my unsatisfactory stomach-churning trajectory
in the midst of the mad traffic
where almost everyone has a perfectly composed face
grubby little kit or portfolio & credit score—
& learned that narcissists
according to Kohut & maybe other psychoanalysts
suppress feelings of low self esteem
by talking highly about themselves—
that machiavellians are cunning & duplicitous
with concentrated political & social intelligence
& cynical beliefs & pragmatic morality—
& psychopaths are superficially charming
but remorselessly exploitive—
this goes some way to explaining my low status
relative to what I think I've earned
but gives me reasons of my own
to suppress my otherwise low self-esteem—
hey, I'm still alive
still competing for influence & power
to rearrange & reallocate everything
& every still-only-possible outcome—
& tho I don't have what I want
& find it difficult to engage myself in activities I'd choose
I have some health, some time (I hope), some tools
some people who aren't totally worthless or helpless
who think well of me & might even help me
achieve what I'll be trying to achieve, yet—
tho I dare not count on anyone but myself
& must do what I'm sure I'm not yet capable of doing.

 

 

PROGRESS

When I was younger
daunted by the forces opposing me
I adapted behaviors that allowed me to survive
but at the expense of fulfilling my potential—
& I survived—
& since I survived
I learned skills that allowed me to cope
with what I had to cope with
& even take advantage of opportunities
tho not the opportunities I hoped to seize—
others—
oblivious because never yet set back by fate
less inhibited by conscience or integrity
some more skillful
some more self-composed, I suppose
less intimidated
great expectations, not dread
many merely larger, better connected
better funded
more expediently educated early on—
were in command—
they were deluded or unjust or both—
now I'll shed my too-small skin
again, but as never before, too
&, raw, & commanding my self—
not all at once, I suppose
but gradually, & I won't turn back—
tho there are always
unexpected obstacles & challenges
unlike any previously experienced
& exponentially greater
& new dimensions, too—
I will be accelerating
strategically, tho
not abandoning myself to momentum—
& I'll do what no one believes I can—
I didn't believe I could, either
til my struggle got me this far, til now—
& it won't just be the image of itself
for others' approval & applause—
or surrendering to resentment or greed
or lust for power over others or luxury—
tho it would be easier
to believe that the forces arrayed against me
are just too overwhelming
& to adapt to them
as almost everyone else has adapted to them—
including those who imagine they have triumphed
because they aimed so low
& accepted & accept & pass on & enforce
so much that's crazy & wrong
believing that no one
can be more
than they have managed to become—
or unravel what they imagine
are the irrevocable advantages
of mass & gravity, inertia
money, weapons, dissimulation, & secrecy.

 

 

I AM AN ENGINEER

I am an engineer of events & states of affairs—
events whereby trapped people are liberated, especially me
& states of affairs dense with insights & understanding
& skills, sustained organization, & measured self-discipline
& the need for justice as for clean water & air & the proper nutrients
including true information
& loving-kindness, peaceful satisfaction, sharing
& realism that resists fantasy & undue optimism or pessimism
& the thrill, recurrent like breath or heart beat or waking
of being alive in the universe that not a single expert
or holy man or woman anywhere comprehends
& adventures achieving goals at no one else's expense—
except predators & parasites, conscious or unconscious
wild or respectable, timid or audacious & well-armed & well-funded.

I've completed so little of what I'm doing, so far
that people envy or congratulate me for little normal achievements
which are only temporary make-dos or side-effects—
or pity or hold me in contempt likewise incorrectly.

They identify me by the habits I developed
in states of affairs I'm not yet entirely disentangled from—
eggs I haven't quite pecked my way out of—
by the ways I have been coping with events
which keep happening to & around me
rather than by the events I have been engineering—
many not yet ripe & manifest—
& so unusual, too
that when those already ripe & manifest
& as alive as you or me or any volitional body
& are having their own effects in the world
people don't believe their senses—
it goes against their conditioned expectations—
they can't imagine that I'm generating those events
which are, in turn, generating those effects.

I have trouble, myself, believing
in the events & states of affairs others have engineered—
some wise & just & useful
some stupid, unjust, & possibly fatally inconvenient—
while I was unaware of it—
I have to free myself, again & again, from obsolete expectations.

In order to persevere in creating the events & states of affairs
I'm in the process of bringing into being
I have to overcome my childhood habit, again & again
of believing that nearly every adult can't be wrong.

 

 

HIS BUSINESS & MINE

Guy at the diner
a better than average comedian
who made a million dollars raising calves
pretty early in life, too
& thinks very highly of himself
a jolly shark among plankton
inclined to bless everyone
with his repertoire of witticisms
asks me what I'm up to today
& when I tell him
I'm finishing up the history of Germany
then I'm going to start in on Russia
he's amused
in a disparaging sort of way—
I don't appreciate the disparaging
but I understand the amusement—
it would be as tho he told me
he was working on fixing
the connection between
a post-hole digger & the spinning shaft
that comes out the rear of a tractor
that transmits the power
with which the post-hole digger does its deeds
but I didn't know what a tractor was—
or what one costs
or what the terms of the purchase were
or even what money was
let alone the price of fuel
or that he'd need a pickup truck, too
&, of course, a house
plumbing, wiring, roof, walls, doors, windows
probably insurance
& a trailer to haul the calves
or what he fed them
or how he housed them
or anything about fodder, manure
or bedding straw
or about seed or soil or rain
roots, minerals, photosynthesis, the Sun
or which corporations or local companies
sold him the seed, the fertilizer
if he raised alfalfa for hay for his animals
as some do, tho others only buy it
or only plant, harvest, bale
& sell it to others raising animals
& again, on what terms
or where he got the calves in the first place
or what cows & calves are doing in Wisconsin anyway
or Belgians, Dutch, Irish, Germans
or to whom he sold the calves, how
& again, on what terms
or about township, county, state, federal
agencies, regulations, taxes
or what political operators he listened to
eagerly or shrewdly
or blowing them off as fools
likewise religious operators
& parents & maybe his wife
or which other guys in the diner
he pays serious attention to
& which he not too secretly considers fools—
even if he understood that I was trying to surround
the history of the world
& the affairs of humanity, right now—
America, & not just America—
what people are doing that's base & frightening
& what people are doing that's courageous, brilliant, kind
& what people are doing that is an uneasy compromise
meant to be temporary
but often going on decades or even generations—
my past, present, & future
& the past, present, & future
of those only looking out for themselves
successfully, as they understand success
or failing slowly or fast—
& those captivated by others' ideas, auras, schemes
& forgetting to look out for themselves
or just incapable—
it's not an easy gauntlet to run
even for the most enlightened & adept—
likewise those reacting to the myriad of possible traumas
in a panic that's not brief
punishing others & themselves
& telling themselves & others stories at least partly false—
& also those looking out for others
as well as looking out for themselves
as realistically as they know how
& learning as fast & comprehensively as they can
& trying to develop the skills they find they need now
& are most likely to need soon
(which ones first?
& how to get the time & pay for the equipment?—
& how to break the habits
ever more apparently impediments from now forth?)
successfully, or failing
or, so far, a toss-up
& everything depends on what they do
& what everyone else does from here on out—
some having more powerful effects than others
for good or ill
or neither good nor ill, yet powerful effects, still
changes others must adapt to—
& even if he were interested in what I hoped to do
with the knowledge
I don't think that today is the day
that I could explain it to him—
if he were inclined to see & get behind
the potential in my efforts
I'd certainly make yet another effort
to bring him up to speed—
otherwise, he'll have to mind his own business
(he seems to think he has it made)
& I'll have to do the equivalent
tho it's by no means only my business I'm minding
& I can use all the willing, realistic help I can get.

 

 

ALADDIN'S LAMP

At night, downtown is lit up, active
cars on the grid at cross-purposes—
clubs, drinking, laughter, mating
mutual lust or, without trust, for cash—
drugs change hands, likewise—

it's the nucleus, apparently
like Washington, D.C. or Manhattan
or, say, Silicon Valley, or Langley
or the office of the commander of drones
in Tampa, according to journalists—
you have to take their reports provisionally, tho—
they're frequently deceived—

& there's other activity, farther out—
fewer headlights, roads, lit windows—
someone's dreams are all too pertinent
& cast the dreamer up onto shore, distressed—

Aladdin's working at a table with a little lamp
with fierce purpose, tho unwilling to surrender to rage—
or ardently fishing for purpose & a method
maybe pacing, scarcely able to contain himself—
yes, it could be herself—& very welcome!—
if she's not just trying to get in among the male lords—
struggling as much against infantile compulsions
as against indoctrination & decades of habits—

so that all won't always be as now
& every attempt at sanity, justice, & kindness
won't always be conquered
by mafias of wolves demanding everyone
contribute their lives & the efforts of their lives
to their wars against their reflections in mirrors.

 

Eric is interviewed and reads his So-called Poems
listen 
   

 

 

Eric Chaet was born a bad while ago and lives near De Pere, Wisconsin, USA
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