Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Commie Balktalk" as Mask (Every Night Is Halloween, Part V)

I'm not a communist. I'm you.


Believe that? Most voters in Delaware--where early election results show Christine O'Donnell with 39.1% of the vote--seem to want more than that in their political discourse (they also appear to want O'Donnell more than they want the poetic discourse found Light in All Directions).

It was the second part of O'Donnell's infamous ad that gets me. If she is me, then she's got to be a communist because that's what people called me when I objected to Contra Aid. While it was true that Nicaragua nationalized considerable property following the '79 revolution, it would be incorrect to say that Nicaragua had free enterprise prior to that; likewise it would be incorrect that Nicaragua had a communist economy following the revolution. Unlike the truly communist economy in Cuba, the Sandinista-led government maintained a mixed economy. Ironically, it was the investment interest from Japan and other Pacific Rim countries that probably concerned the Reagan Administration in the 80s. Nicaragua's private sector would've accounted for more of the economy had it not been for the Contra War, which drove the Nicaraguan government to go from spending less than 16% on the military in 1981 to 55% in 1988. But perhaps that was the strategy: destroy the Nicaraguan economy through military spending.

Also killed with Linder were
Sergio Hernández and
Pablo Rosales.
In any case, I've been called a communist on several occasions having little bearing on economics and nothing to do with the violent overthrow of my country. One memorable example happened after I published a letter in the Los Angeles Times praising a U.S. engineer who was murdered in Nicaragua by contras who first wounded him with a grenade and then shot him in the head at close range. The engineer was working on a hydroelectric dam at the time. My wife and I received several anonymous phone calls from people who called me a commie, and one even said he'd "get" me on my way home because he knew where I worked and lived. Maybe he became the analyst who later got the intel on WMD. 


And for the record, I'm not a commie. I'm you. Just imagine the following poem as a Halloween mask someone once put on me:


Commie Backtalk

Being the commie you call me,
I’m taking it all back:
Diamond panes of glass for anyone who came to our front door.
I’m taking back Grampy’s rub-downs after football practice.
You don’t believe me? Sit down, let me massage your shoulders.

The glances at Sara Montoya’s house
whenever I rode past. I’m taking them back.
The shine from her brown hair I’d forgotten until just now,
the boulder that Paradise Creek flows under.
I’m taking them back.
Don’t try to stop me.

Every trail Gary Bates and I ever left through the brush,
we’re rolling them up through the middle of homes,
property rights be damned.

The pisses over the canyon ledge every night,
I’m taking back those nocturnal pleasures
to add all together and hit the new casino on the other side.

Being the commie you call me,
I’m giving you everything I love:
the brown mare who carried me safely through childhood, like a mother;
The wedges of lasagna Grammy stacked just the way I liked them.
Everything I’ve taken, I redistribute.

Here, have a couple of notes I took off Jaco backstage at The Roxy
or a couple of rests I stole from Count Basie one night in Montreux.
They lifted them from America,
and God knows where she got them.


U.S. engineer Ben Linder appears in a mural with others devoted to peace & justice.

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