The weather outside is frightening, but the fire... burns bright and hot, at least over at PEN America, where it's all about snowflakes and a raised fist in the storm. C'mon, send us your rage and your craft tips this season.

The Stay Project. threepoets2017@gmail.com

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I KNOW WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE AFRAID

by

BRYAN WILLIAM MYERS

I know we’re supposed to be afraid. But fuck that.

There’s turmoil everywhere, it’s true. And I know things are getting pretty bad because I’ve seen some of the best writers on the planet that keep coming on through the Philadelphia Public Library. Coates. Rushdie. McKibben. Yes. I think Bernie Sanders had recently been in town. The whole thing is brewing in our midst. Revolution.

Why should I be afraid?

I’ve seen people posting their inanities on Facebook. They’re afraid. They’re afraid of uncertainty, afraid of things they can’t control. That’s not how the world works, in fact, it’s never worked that way. You really have to fight for your freedom on this planet. That’s why these writers, these public speakers keep on coming to the library, here, in the city. The City of Brotherly Love.

I know the mayor is good for his word, he means what he says. And there are people in the city council whom I trust. Which is strange, for me. I don’t normally trust anyone, I never really have in this strange, sad world. Why should I trust a total stranger?

Back in January, or February or March -- whatever it was -- there was a sudden turmoil with the ban on Muslim countries. The entire country began erupting in flames, this sense that everything was turning to shit. It was Trump’s fault. It wasn’t true, of course. In a democracy, you only get a government as good as the people who are willing to stand up and fight, participate. All that jargon that you rarely read in books or pamphlets or “zines”. Most of what we have available to us for reading purposes is something that’s long gone, we are dead and we are dying. Except for Chomsky. Damn. That dude knew -- knows -- what he was -- is -- talking about.

            The radio is slowly switching to Bach....

What does it mean to participate in Revolution?

What have we come to expect from ourselves in this period, this “dark” time on earth?

I know it’s not so easy to surmise, that most of everything is our own fault. We’ve been brooding about it, for some time. There are so many successful people among us, yes. And still, there are even more people are who bogged down in the muck. They are failures. Bountiful, inglorious, out of touch with reality. Who’s to say what reality is anymore?

I think that’s the crux of what we’re headed toward, this gibberish of fear and disillusionment. Are we disillusioned with ourselves? Hard to tell. But the writers that are coming through the public library, are they the saviors of this nation? I don’t know. The percentages seem to be pretty far off, I’m thinking mostly of the women that work the registers there, they’re twirling their hair, whistling tunes that are trapped in their heads. They make me feel less afraid, of everything. When I walk up to them, I know they’re listening, they’re thinking about something else just the same. Where are our minds? I feel like asking them. But what good would that offer me, offer anyone?

It’s strange. I don’t feel better writing about this. It feels like one long, lonely ride to nowhere. This horrendous malfeasance against the earth, this diatribe that is congregating on the internet. I’m sick, I’m tired of it. I’d rather rock out to headphones. I feel very less afraid -- is that okay? -- I don’t feel any fear from the predators when I’m being myself.

Isn’t that the whole purpose of this planet? What happened to the 20th century?

            I’m drinking wine. I’m drinking red wine, listening, now, to Vivaldi.

When the words flow, they just come out that way. And I’ve got paintings now up on the walls. Books are scattered everywhere, and they intermix, mingling with the New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal. I like to pretend that I’m studying the American Dream. But I know better. I don’t have any money for entering into the American Dream. I’m broke. Not broken. Although I used to be. Still, there are others much worse off than I. What do writers have to say? How can we bring back the life and liveliness that includes more and discludes less?

I’m making this up as I go along, that’s what.

It’s the strangeness of the night. The cars passing by down on the street. Loud music reverberating up to my window, which is closed of course. I don’t need the heaters, tonight. Just this glass of wine. These contemplations on the life I am trying to live while everywhere else around me is falling to pieces. What chance do any of us have to live the lives we were born to live? Live, live, live. I can’t write it enough! That’s all there is to it.

            And that’s exactly the problem.

Here. And now.

We’re left with nothing -- we’ve been left with nothing.

That’s the shared characteristic that we’ve been left to pass on to the next generation. This semblance of mind-fuck, this cockeyed chicanery. I wish they’d talk about that in the library, and in a certain way they do. But not in the way I’m ready for, what we’re all ready for -- I see these older women hanging on to every word of these writers, these educated priests. They’ve got all the answers. But why. Why are they speaking in tongues? What is the point of their enshrouded, encoded language? Perhaps I’m being harsh, maybe I don’t know what it is I’ve got on the brain, I don’t know what I’m talking about, you say.

Blaspheme!

No, just try it sometime. Try walking the halls of your local library.

Meander on down and after the verboten pillaging of our species is left unmentioned, the enlightened crowd will go back to their lives … they intermingle with each other … where is the Revolution? That’s what I’m getting at, everything is safely secured in the timeless art of nodding along to the preacher.

When do we take up our chairs and swing them at each other? When do we ride high with the winds like savages on this beastly earth?

I’m looking for chaos. I’m not afraid of being uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not a violent man. I’m just a little frustrated. Frustrated with the state of things. I’m looking for some action, by way of putting City Hall on notice.

If you catch my drift. Yes.

If you catch it at all.

I know. It sounds strange.

It’s time for something better. Everywhere. And for everyone.

It’s time for Revolution.

But how? How? How?

How?

2 - Adolf Alzuphar, Vocals & Lyric; Joshua Thornberry, Producer

1 - Bryan William Myers

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