POEM: Walnut Spring

Walnut Spring

it’s a black gravel path
      through a lovely wood
why does it remind me
      of an oil spill?
could be the sound of a plane
      overhead or
the distant artificial surf
      of the interstate
even what we try to protect
      we end up destroying
we can’t preserve an island of forest
      in an ocean of asphalt
perhaps what’s needed at first
      is more destruction
fewer cute wooden bridges over
      barely flowing streams
more horizons lit by the fires
      of burning cities
one acre of wetland can store
      a million gallons of water
how many bottles is that?

///

Jason Crane
23 October 2019
State College PA

POEM: Interrogation

Interrogation

The other day at my job —
wearing my corporate uniform,
the one with the logo on the left breast —
I helped, in a small but real way,
to send two boxes of syringes to
Guantanamo.
I felt sick to my stomach.
What would they be used for?
I imagined a hard-eyed CIA officer
injecting a syrupy liquid into the arm
of a gaunt man in an orange jumpsuit.
I saw the man’s Raggedy Andy head
loll back like his bones had turned
to jelly. The officer leaned in close
to ask those questions, those same
unanswerable questions,
for the thousandth time.
Sabotage was the first word
that came to mind, standing there
in my corporate uniform,
the one with the logo on the left breast.
Could I misdirect the boxes?
Throw them out? Lose them?
But the cameras are always watching
& my number is attached to everything
like a fingerprint. Plus I need the money.
So like a good company man
I sent the syringes to the island prison,
there to be used to protect my freedom
to keep working, to keep wearing my
corporate uniform, the one with the logo
on the left breast.

///

Jason Crane
4 October 2019
State College PA

POEM: I’d like to teach the world

I’d like to teach the world

I’m under a tree like the Buddha
but only for 45 minutes
it’s my lunch break
also unlike Siddartha I’m in uniform
corporate logo over my heart
another on my sleeve
there’s a parking lot & a playground
carved into what used to be a field
heaven forbid kids should play in a field
I’m drinking a Coke so I should probably
shut the fuck up
if I live as long as my grandpa
I’ll make it till 2069
by which time the collapse will have started
maybe I ought to spend less time writing poems
& more time learning to grow food
we should teach the world to sing, sure
but a little farming wouldn’t hurt

///

Jason Crane
Bernel Road Park
Centre County, PA
3 September 2019

POEM: More than this

More than this

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
—J. Krishnatmurti

Every time you say “but everybody has to—”
or “that’s just the way it—”
I know you don’t understand the point
I’m trying to make.
It’s OK. You’re not alone. Nobody else
does either. I’ve explained it
so many times to so many people.
As simply as I can put it, the idea is this:
Almost nobody would be doing
what they’re doing with their lives
if it weren’t for capitalism.
If we didn’t all have to work to survive,
to put food on the table,
to keep a roof over our heads,
to put gas in our cars to take us to work,
so we can work to survive, etc.
If we didn’t have to do all that,
we’d do other things.
We’d hike or read or paint or
make music or play touch football or
learn to knit or to cook or to juggle or
we’d spend time with our kids or
our parents or our lovers or our friends.
We’d make little communities where
folks watch out for one another.
We’d pool our resources. Stop driving
the planet & all life on it
over a cliff. We wouldn’t launch missiles or
make armies or have borders or
watch people starve or die of exposure
while food rots in the fields &
cities have thousands of empty houses.
People would still do bad things sometimes,
because that seems to be human nature or
the outcome of occasional bad wiring.
But in a world without so much scarcity;
without so many people living grinding lives;
a world without billionaires and millionaires
or aires of any kind; fewer people would feel
so trapped that their only choice is to steal or kill
or shoot up or put the barrel of gun in their mouth.
You can’t look at me with a straight face
& say this world is how it’s supposed to be.
You can’t look me in the eye
& tell me we couldn’t do better.
Every time you say “but everybody has to—”
or “that’s just the way it—”
you are explicitly accepting the boot on your neck,
the chain around your ankle,
the darkness on a limited horizon.
So that’s my point. I just don’t want to do it
anymore. It’s killing me. It’s killing all of us.
After 45 years I want off this hamster wheel.
I’m going to do everything in my power
to escape. To live the next 45 years (or 4 years or
4 months or whatever is coming to me) as freely
as I can. There is more to life than this. Because
“this” isn’t life at all.

/ / /

Jason Crane
2 June 2019
State College PA

Two Things

Two Things

The First Thing

It used to be that mental illness was a taboo subject. This was bad. The stigma created by the silence harmed many people and prevented people from living the happier lives they could have lived. Now, however, we’ve overcorrected, and mental illness has become the explainer for way too much of human behavior. I see this especially in my partner’s generation (people in their 20s), for whom various forms of mental illness have become the defining factor in their lives. This is particularly a problem, in my opinion, because of the second thing.

The Second Thing

Of course mental illness is real. People have actual malfunctions in their brains, PTSD from trauma, and a whole host of other things. BUT we also live in an incredibly sick society. We’ve been sold (quite literally) a lie about what constitutes success and happiness, and we’ve been sold that lie so we’ll buy things we don’t need, obey social mores and rules we don’t need, look up to “leaders” we don’t need, and avoid doing the things that actually contribute to human well-being and happiness. In a society as depraved as this one, feeling depressed and crazy is a rational reaction. Again, there are real mental illnesses, but I also really believe that many of us feel the way we do because we realize something is wrong but we’ve never been shown any way to live outside this awful, harmful system. We’ve been sold a series of yardsticks that all lead to less and less happiness, rather than more.

So What?

A logical question is to wonder what to do about any of this. And this is where I come back to the same song I always sing, namely that small intentional communities of mutual aid are the only rational way forward. We need to do everything we can, no matter how small each individual step may be, to separate ourselves from this system. Grow food. Make things. Stop needing crap. Help one another. Trade skills. Live together. Yes there are a million complicating factors, but some of them are what we’ve been told is unachievable by the very people who have the most to lose if we achieve them. We can heal ourselves, but we can’t do it using the system that made us sick.

POEM: every white person has a Cherokee grandma

every white person has a Cherokee grandma

every white person has a Cherokee grandma
& a dream catcher dangling like a promise
from the rear-view mirror of their Forester
they never look back because
someone might be losing everything

we grow up learning to love hot cocoa
from the box, the name with the funny accent
over the final e — & it certainly is final, nailing
the coffin lid shut as the last drop of water
disappears beneath a tight plastic cap

we let them have what they want
because we cannot face who we’ve become
or who we had to kill to get here
Nikes squishing through the mud
made by mixing blood & dirt

tie your lips shut so capitalism doesn’t slip out
stay in the protective circle or the Bogey Man (TM)
will come for you
do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
do you remember where you were when it was too late?

/ / /

Jason Crane
15 March 2018
Butler PA