Performance Fart

poem-prose (elmhurst college may 8 two-thousand-one)

the jivey retro-girl w/ magic glasses
sunny sandpaper skin
glitter lips & pure invisible sex-joy vibes
speaks my name

it is time

skittish numb-legged
from plastic ass-warmed chair
& strolling squeaky nikes
up to dim-lit desk on poet-stage mind-display
i rise among the masses
cough-clearing thick-lined mucus-muck obstructing breath-beat-tube
(a swallow a prayer a glance cross room)
eyes the eyes billions in excess
focused on the shining holy-apex of my un-virgin essence
disillusioned devils waiting heaven from my sin-stained lips
waiting knowledge beauty bullshit-fancies
waiting poem-prose-proclamations pronto

i flutter

dizzy in the silent nakedness of thought
till high & mighty muse envelops my brain
& blows & blows & blows

i am ready

first crisp crazy bright-hued line
tumbles free-fall
down out my face into air mixed w/ stink & unseen gunk
(college perfume-germs)
striking lobes of aching audience-receivers not yet sure

next line the next flows in groove
bold beats molded into tangible truths
metric diagrams of pain & pleasure

ART—living breathing climbing over tuned-in body-pods
taking seat by punch/potato-chip stand
listening to its own naughty neon notes
enlightened among the mental-drool of awe-gripped faces
brain-full skulls amused in vocal-bursts of blow of wail

i am it
for once this nanosecond am real am full of me
yet somehow just a figment-speck of overactive poetic imagination
a 3D imposter-cartoon
pretending to be me
(it numbs me i’m confused i do not care)

out of the dolled up carcass-shield my soul flashed before these
god-sick human-drones who cry my tears
but have not eye enough to empty out emotive-waste
i just don’t care

i am a necessity

they idea-fuck me
grown-up cock-eyed boys & nipple-horny girls
deprived of the total teenage orgasm
platonic professors
who as twenty-something infants sold their souls for adjunct PhDs
& the book-bogged smarties
who scribble-translate their every heady word
recording A-plus pin-point decibel-maps of every arrant lecture-fart

the wobbly world falls off its puny stick
we land upside-down dirty
inverted in the flesh drift-away-minded

i am done

back to my lonely spot among the crowd back to the nonsense run-on un-poetic drab of the everyday push towards nothing my soul absorbing claps of hands & yells of throats i am simply me again shy-slouched poet-boy insane dreaming of a poem-prose about this massive manic night for all to know & feel as truth

c b snoad
published in Lynx Eye (spring 2002)
edit 2-2-17


Testing The Limits Of Logic

I’ve been helping my niece study for the English and reading portions of the ACT. She asked me why she’s being tested this way. “I don’t think like this every day,” she said. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a lesson on logic—specifically, why colleges value a carefully crafted analytic approach.

The world is full of problems. People prefer order over chaos. College prepares students for the real world, which is full of chaos. Logic—or the promise of its power—puts folks at ease.

But I’m a poet, and poets like to mess with shit.

What about the world is knowable? Do words, phrases, sentences, etc. always give an accurate account of Reality? What is Reality? Who are you without language? Is love logical? Will achieving a high score on the ACT get me into a good school, secure me a high-paying job and guarantee my happiness?

Believe me, I’m working hard to tutor my niece. I want her to succeed and I appreciate our time together. She has a point about not understanding the ulterior motives of the ACT test-makers, but she still has to take it.

Logic has its place, no doubt, but what about Wonder? What becomes of adventure when the Secret has been spilled? Adults spend hours upon hours languishing away in cubicles. Given the gravity of our daily business, a moment of play—and time taken to indulge the Irrational—makes a whole lot of sense.

Independent Study

There is no outside, no escape from the terror of Capital.

Capital devours every critique against its insatiable appetite, reducing resisters to crumbs. Fighting back is noble but ultimately futile. Still, many people make a career (far, however, from a lavish lifestyle) out of protest.

Marshall Berman, on page 116 of All That Is Solid Melts into Air, writes that professionals, intellectuals and artists are “paid wage-laborers of the bourgeoisie.” They, according to Marx,

live only so long as they find work, and . . . find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These workers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market. (quoted in Berman 117)

In short, professors need to eat. As long as they’re useful (to the academy, the publishing industry, liberal think tanks, etc.) they’re employed, even when they pose a threat to the status quo by reading and citing radical figures like Marx. Dissenters, like apologists, still power the machine.

I’m no radical, but I am critical of the system, and when I’m deconstructing assumptions I remain in its trap. There is no uncorrupted thought, no theorizing my way out of the maze. I don’t get paid for teasing ideas: philosophy is my hobby, like woodworking or restoring classic cars. Sharing a passion for knowledge comforts my soul.

The cost of an advanced degree triggers thoughts of bankruptcy, so I’m pursuing, on my own terms, a free PhD from the University of Indian Trails Public Library. My thesis is a work in progress, tentatively titled Sharp Left Turns.

No Ledge

I was reading a philosophy book recently and stumbled upon a random line break. The word “knowledge” jumped to another page, splitting into “know-ledge.” This led me to “no ledge,” a metaphor expressing the essence of knowing as I’ve approached it since college.

Pragmatic people see education as building a foundation of facts and figures, a baseline for measuring objective truths. They think that learning enhances mastery over the world, that it’s a tool used to increase confidence and stability.

But dynamic thinking is all about vertigo and disorientation. It’s a shock to your system. Searching for a different angle, you look out the window of your high-rise apartment and find there is no ledge. How far will you stick your neck out to glimpse what lies below?

Most people venturing into the unknown have a fallback plan that maintains the status quo. If things get too scary, they retreat to their comfort zones. Thoughtful people ask serious questions with no clear solutions. Excited by the prospects of deeper truths, we devote our lives to following ideas wherever they lead. Sometimes we have to catch ourselves before tumbling all the way down.

A Real Nightmare

Not long ago I wrote about a recurring dream of mine, a dream in which my quest for a perfect college GPA is thwarted by a “B” achieved on my final exam in my final class. I’m proud to say I’ve moved on from this nightmare. Unfortunately, another nocturnal narrative has me worried these days.

It goes like this: I have made it safely to graduation day and am prepared to accept my degree. The ceremony has begun, but I’m stuck in the parking lot, unable to reach the stage. I never hear my name called and wonder why I’m so close to graduating but instead find myself lost in diploma limbo.

Panic fills me. At first I think it’s due to my not getting out, to being stuck in the role of eternal student. But then I engage in a sort of meta-dream in which I tell myself I secured the 4.0 and already graduated.

Then the real panic comes, bursting through me. I’m terrified because I know this is true, that I graduated in 2002 and that, at age 31, I’m far from being a student.

Given all my troubles since earning my degree, it makes sense that, in an effort to protect myself from the truth, to deny certain humbling realities, my unconscious mind would create a world in which I never left school.

Part of me, in fact, has never left childhood. At 31 I’m still 21, and when I was 21 I was still 11, and when I was 11 I was still barely one. It’s why, when the narrator in the movie Fight Club declares: “I’m a 30-year-old boy,” I relate so strongly.

But I’m not a fictional character and my life is not a metaphor. If I remain attached to a series of pre-adult selves, longing to hide in a perpetual past in order to avoid grown-up pains, I’m afraid my future will disappear before me.

Now there’s a real nightmare.

Chris Truman: The 4.0 (Part 2 Of 2)

As Truman worked his way through school, he had learned to cope with the mental jabs from his classmates. Somewhere along the line in his high school tenure, he decided against “fitting in,” and began to study in earnest. His late push toward respectable final evaluations enabled Truman–at his father’s urging–to complete an application for admission into Pinehurst College, a small liberal arts school known for its commitment to academic excellence. Another major plus–it wasn’t far away, so he could commute daily from safety of his parents’ home.

After a short wait, and much to his surprise, Pinehurst accepted Chris Truman and he accepted his fate. Life would never be the same, even if–as a young adult–the poet continued to fight the many demons from his youth. Bullying stays in one’s head regardless of the bully’s physical absence from his victim’s life. As adults, we fight battles whose roots can be traced from infancy–we re-live our childhood traumas well into old age. Even the heaviest subconscious trash floats to the top of our vast emotional oceans eventually.

Though he didn’t know what to expect, from day one in his post-secondary career, Chris Truman was desperate to make his name known. He demanded attention–from his professors, his classmates, his family–and achieving the ultimate perfection of a 4.0 grade-point average, he assumed, would garner him a bounty of recognition. The Void that permeated his entire being yearned to be filled–not from within but from without. Truman’s bruised self-esteem, hopelessly dependent upon others, needed constant care. Never mind that the light of one’s true self-worth emanates from the inside–the poet was desperate to learn from other people the length and breadth of his importance in academia. A simple degree in English Literature and Composition wouldn’t be enough–Chris Truman had to finish perfect.

The 4.0 became his obsession. He chased it. He ached for it. He lost sight of himself because of it. Pinehurst College, with its emphasis on do-it-yourself, liberal learning, became for Truman a place of great distress, for it was there that his desire for approval ran wild. In class after class, he strived not for knowledge in itself but knowledge as a means to earning another “A-plus.”

By his third year at PC, he was completely out of touch with his intentions in attending the school in the first place. Truman, in following his father, had thought himself fit to teach literature and writing to fertile high school minds. But his daunting pursuit of perfection prevented him from procuring such a lofty profession. He was a full-time student (and part-time Gem Foods Store stock boy) who wished nothing more than to conquer college–what might lie beyond his studies was of little concern to the scholar.

This lack in foresight would, after capturing the elusive 4.0, render the orderly-conscious Truman a total mess–spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. True education failed to commence until the moment he received his diploma in May 2002. The phrase Summa Cum Laude–emblazoned beneath his name–would haunt Chris Truman forever. No degree in abstraction could halt the impending doom of concrete reality bearing down his back. In less than a year, the very instrument that facilitated the 4.0–his mind–was about to implode.