What Is Truly Inhumane

A long time ago, my dad told me that babies made us more human. He had observed this in the workplace when somebody would carry in a baby, and the most gruff old male managers would turn into babbling softies, cooing and goo-goo-gahing. In other words, they lost their egos for a moment and became more essentially who they were inside, that person unmolested by the world.

Babies make us more human because they are quite literally the hope of our species. They represent newness: new life, new creativity. And aside from that, they are adorable, and they depend on us. The human spirit emerges in a positive way when it is able to protect, care for, and defend those who can’t defend themselves. It emerges in a positive way when it is able to recognize that protecting, caring for, and defending the weak and helpless is good — far more good than simply living for self.

When the human spirit is hardened, it turns to hatred toward its own offspring. One can see this throughout history, as well as in modern societies that are under stress. When under stress, humans are more likely to treat their children as trash to be thrown away in a ditch, left in a box by the river, starved or suffocated. This occurs especially in impoverished regions, where having a female child can propel an already poor family further into poverty, as expected dowries are so high.

But clearly, the human spirit can be broken for innumerable reasons. When I see this kind of hatred in our wealthy society, I know that it isn’t just poverty that blackens our souls with hopelessness. And I know the patch isn’t simply bringing religion to the people for its soothing salve.

The other day, a couple carried an adorable baby into my workplace. I turn into a smiling happy pile of goo when I see a baby, and so do a couple of my coworkers. I can’t help it; babies make me happy. But the reaction is hardly universal. One young woman, who is ostensibly a Christian, is very vocal about her hatred for babies. She gets angry at me when I tell her I’m waiting for grandchildren, as I have two daughters who are in the 18-20 age range. They need to go to college and have careers and make money and live life, she says. I’ve actually been on the receiving end of that speech from many young women who don’t go so far as to admit they hate babies, but are indifferent to them, or have put them on a low spot on their hierarchy of “what they will do with their lives.” I don’t know how to convince these young women that having offspring is literally living life in its most essential form. When I use language of that type, I get met with bemused stares.

By contrast, I have an atheist coworker, who is rather more nihilistic in her outlook. Having children is meaningless because life itself is meaningless. She doesn’t hate babies; neither does she deny that producing offspring is the essence of living life. She recognizes that we’re born to grow up and reproduce, and then die. We’re part of a cycle for which she can’t mentally detect any meaning.

I don’t fully understand the meaning of life; the soul recognizes that which that mind can’t — and the meaning has drifted from my soul to my mind in fragmented pieces at best. However, what I do understand is what my father told me years ago: babies make us more human. They make us more human because they are our hope. They are the continuity of being human. But because our spirits our hardened, as a whole, we no longer recognize this truth. And ultimately, this means we are inhumane. Despite our giving to charity, helping the homeless, and going on mission trips abroad, we are still inhumane because, as a whole, we despise ourselves, as that is what despising our offspring comes down to.


Finish the Damn Book, Jill!

I have to get serious and finish my book. The entire previous post came about because I decided to spend my morning compiling my poetry instead of finishing my book. Since I couldn’t find a revised version of one particular poem, I did a search on the internet for it, which brought me to the picture of Pope looking oddly similar to me, which gave me yet another excuse not to work on the book, as I was so thrilled Pope and I were twins separated at birth; upon further research, I discovered he had been sent back in time through a Newtonian Time Telescope, which accounted for his hunchback and height of 4’6″.

Later, when I got off work, I decided that it would be wonderful to exercise so that I didn’t become a hunchback; with twins, there’s no telling. And then dinner and movie with the family, and, then, you know, why not read blogs — all activities Pope can’t do where he’s at, except eat, in theory. The whole heaven/nonlinear timeline/space-time-matter puzzle confuses me. And how much time have I spent on the book today? Zero units of Planck’s time, milliseconds, centiseconds, deciseconds, seconds, minutes, and hours. Did you know there is a time converter online? That’s practically like a time machine, and my back is hunching as I write.

And did you know there are 86,400,000 × 365.242 milliseconds in a year, which is 86,400,000 × 365.242 milliseconds I haven’t used to finish my book? Pope would be so disappointed. Scratch that. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t care as long as the critics aren’t tearing apart his work. Who knows what’s going on at that end of the Newtonian Time Telescope? I’ve heard there are no safe spaces, though. One just has to take the insults or go hide in a grotto somewhere, where no man can see one’s tears.


My Long Lost Brother, Alexander Pope




That moment when I realize my great love for Alexander Pope is due to our being twins separated by the centuries.* And, lo!, he calls to me:

See in her cell sad Eloisa spread,
Propp’d on some tomb, a neighbour of the dead.
In each low wind methinks a spirit calls,
And more than echoes talk along the walls.
Here, as I watch’d the dying lamps around,
From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound.
“Come, sister, come!” (it said, or seem’d to say)
“Thy place is here, sad sister, come away!
Once like thyself, I trembled, wept, and pray’d,
Love’s victim then, though now a sainted maid:
But all is calm in this eternal sleep;
Here grief forgets to groan, and love to weep,
Ev’n superstition loses ev’ry fear:
For God, not man, absolves our frailties here.”

And, lo!, I respond:

[Eloisa] gathered gravity’s first fruits,
what the storm had grasped and flung along the route:
grasping roots for gasping maiden fancy,
while light gave gravity and brilliancy
to golden hair that spilled toward his grave,
her tears tucked on shelves, or deeply interred caves.
How do you do; how fares the night for you?
How fair the garden when the moon creeps through —
wisps of formed phrases and not-so bon mots
gathered, tumultuous, inside her rows.
She laid down the yarrow, flax and smiles,
a chance to cloak her misery with guile.

Her basket emptied; yet again her heart,
she walked toward the water in the dark;
Her foot first struck the cold along the bank
and, next, her heart was filled with water, cold, dank;
the moon crept through and spilled on grassy caves,
and chives chimed dancing over both their graves.

The Pope excerpt is from Eloisa to Abelard, one of the greatest poems of the English language. My excerpt is from Midnight in the Garden of Zeugma, not one of the greatest poems of the English language, but a poem rife with zeugma, nonetheless.

*Yeah, I glanced at the screen and saw those images side by side, where we were striking a similar pose. But we could be long lost twins, right? I mean, centuries are meaningless to such bonds.


Mike Duran’s “Saint Death” Goes Live

saint death

I decided a while back that it was a conflict of interest to review the books on Amazon that I was hired to edit. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t give them plugs. Mike Duran deserves a plug for his Reagan Moon books, the second of which just went live yesterday. So here goes.

Before Mike hired me to edit his Reagan Moon books, I’d read every book he’d published, starting from his debut The Resurrection. His work has that Gothic feel I’m attracted to, with its share of the light fighting against darkness, weird cryptic tropes, and oddball heroes. The hero in his first book is an unassuming crippled woman, for example — not your typical kick-ass, strong female. In short, his work has that delightful spec-fic combination of good and weird.

But when bringing together the good weird, he has struck gold in his Reagan Moon books. And never is that more the case than in the second in the series, Saint Death. Take a look at the back cover copy:

Reagan Moon didn’t plan on being an earth guardian. He was your average paranormal reporter…until 1,000 volts of raw electricity fused an ancient relic into his sternum. It left him with Powers and lets him do things most humans can’t. There’s others like him, seven of them to be exact. They call themselves the Imperia and are charged with keeping earth from going down the toilet. This usually involves fighting monsters, tweaking the laws of physics, and keeping lots of booze and bandages on hand. But when Saint Death comes knocking, no amount of holy water and hand grenades can slow her roll. She’s the queenpin of the Santa Muerte pantheon. The folk religion’s central deity often appeared as a Virgin or a bride. Some called her the Grim Reapress. But mostly she was known as Saint Death. Now she’s got a companion. With the help of the Summu Nura, a Neuro priestess has rediscovered the Grimoire of Azrael, the Archangel of Death. And the Tenth Plague is about to be unleashed upon Los Angeles. Apparently, only Moon and his weathered compatriots can prevent the angel’s arrival. Yet earth guardians aren’t indestructible…as Saint Death is about to prove. Myth and history collide in the second installment of what Publishers Weekly called “one of the best indie novels of 2015.”

If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will. Buy it. And while you’re at it, buy the first book, The Ghost Box.



What I Learned From My Day Back On Twitter

I learned that Alton Sterling, a man with an extensive criminal background — including “aggravated battery, simple criminal damage to property and unauthorized entry, domestic abuse battery, carnal knowledge of a juvenile, failure to register as a sex offender, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and illegally carrying a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance” — is practically a fallen hero with the way the media is reporting the story. Of course, that’s typical media bullshit. They’re aggravaters of racist tensions; they love that. In the end, all that really matters is whether the police used undo violence or not. That is, the only thing that matters is whether the police are guilty of murder and, if the answer is yes, whether they are convicted of their crime…not how loving or heroic or generous a convicted pedophile is.

I learned that love is dead because the rather loathsome Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, just filed for divorce. Snort. No, really. The woman who decided one day that she simply didn’t want to be married any longer to her unsuspecting husband, who then went on a tour which she called her “I” tour in which she ate a lot, meditated a lot, and then masturbated a lot, is the epitome of what we understand the word “love” to mean. It’s simply shocking that a narcissist is divorcing the lover she seduced while finding herself and her own self-fulfillment in foreign countries. What chance do any of us non-narcissists stand now?

I learned that trees rape people along the border of Mexico and the US Southwest. Actually, I didn’t, but I honestly thought that was what the headline was saying — that there were rape trees, i.e. trees that reach out their spiny branches and violate women, existing and sucking up water in the desert. Good heavens, no, but that’s not what the headline meant. There are trees where men rape women and hang their underclothing to prove their valor and strength in having committed rape. Border patrol are apparently discovering more and more of these trees. Perhaps these rapists were simply trying to prove Trump right, when he claimed that drug dealers and rapists crossed the US-Mexican border? Were we ever in denial that criminals were crossing the border illegally? Mexican music is my favorite; I absolutely love it, which means that I’ve heard a gazillion songs that eulogize the drug dealers crossing the border. Yeah, I can understand Spanish after all. And I still love the music. And Mexicans. As I know, as well as anyone with sense, that all Mexicans aren’t criminals, simply because criminals cross the border illegally. Egads.

I also learned that the Hillary Clinton investigation was a beautiful tapestry, in which one cannot easily come to a conclusion about why the FBI is not recommending that she be charged with any crimes. I don’t want to talk about this any longer. Anyone who calls the FBI investigation a “tapestry” needs to find a new artform.

That was my day on Twitter, aside from people who cracked cute jokes. Why did I do this to myself? I need to find some goodness in the world again.