Thursday, February 13, 2014

Yeah, What She Said

The other day Trey Gowdy (R, SC) popped off about our efforts to make health care more available to all of us and used being a poet as an alternative to being a tax payin' real workin' 'murrican. You can probably easily find what he said. Roy Edroso, at, quotes him extensively, giving me a good fume earlier this week, before the snow. Now although I posted a poem of mine yesterday, and although I do read poetry, and in some sense I am also a practitioner of the art in my small way, Jill McDonough is a "real" poet with poetry awards and books and all, and I am not in her league. But--by gawd she absolutely nailed Mr. Trey Gowdy, third (?) son of a nice doctor from Spartanburg, so Master Trey as well as everything else started on 3rd Base with a nice lead and a guy on the mound who has a sore neck and can't even look over there--Ms McDonough nailed him from Right Field no less, caught him before he could even start to turn back and tag the bag. And, well, HA, I say. HA HA. What in the hell is wrong with South Carolina?

I got Ms McDonough's pitch from Mr. Charles Pierce. I copied it. Here 'tis:

I am an American poet, and I am delighted my taxes help pay for Trey Gowdy's health care. I believe I live in a rich country, one that can provide money to pay for health care even for Trey Gowdys -- Trey Gowdys, who get $174,000 for working one out of every three days, not doing much of anything I can see. Plus which I'm a poet: I just want to say "Trey Gowdy" over and over again. Trey Gowdy is adorable: he believes he lives in a rich country, one where poets just put in a smidgen of time at some magical health-insurance-giving job, and spend the rest of their hours writing sonnets. I'm an American poet, and I am here to say "Oh, Trey Gowdy: I wish."

Being an American poet means that, while I have been writing poems, I have had the following jobs:

cleaning hotel rooms
teaching English in Japan
teaching writing in a high school
teaching English in a Japanese nuclear power plant
washing dishes
making salads
deviling eggs
painting houses
cleaning houses
teaching college writing classes in prisons
tending bar
waiting tables
calling sick people to ask about the quality of their home health care
teaching writing in adult education programs
running an online writing program
teaching writing in a college
teaching writing in a college
teaching writing in a college
teaching writing in ten more colleges

Guess how many of those jobs came with health insurance? Three. And one of those was in Japan. See all those college teaching jobs? Those were mostly "part-time" "adjunct" jobs. That's code for working more than fulltime -- way more than Trey Gowdy, Trey Gowdy! -- but without a promise my job would still be there the next semester. No promise = no insurance. Isn't this better, Trey Gowdy? I promise to keep paying taxes so you can keep buying health insurance. Because we live in a country rich enough for all of us to have health care, even those of us who only work one day out of three, going on the TV machine to talk smack about poets.

The Republican Party is so full of pure T horse pucky it's hard to imagine that any day now the whole lot of 'em won't just explode from the intestin...errrr... internal pressures. Thank you Ms McDonough. I kiss your feet! Here's one of Ms McDonough's poems, which I selected because she mentions the gig in her mash note to Trey:


Women's Prison Every Week

Lockers, metal detectors, steel doors, C.O.
to C.O., different forms, desks—mouth open, turn—so
slow I use the time to practice patience,
grace, tenderness for glassed-in guards. The rules
recited as if they were the same rules every week:
I can wear earrings. I cannot wear earrings. I can wear
my hair up. I cannot wear my hair up. I dressed
by rote: cords in blue or brown, grey turtleneck, black
clogs. The prisoners, all in grey sweatshirts, blue jeans,
joked I looked like them, fit in. I didn’t think about it,
until I dreamed of being shuffled in, locked
up in there, hustled through the heavy doors.
In the dream the guards just shook their heads, smirked
when I spelled my name, shook the freezing bars.
Instead of nightly escorts out, I’d stay in there
forever. Who would know? So I went to Goodwill,
spent ten bucks on pink angora, walked back down those halls
a movie star. When I stood at the front of the class
there rose a sharp collective sigh. The one
who said she never heard of pandering
until the arraignment said OK, I’m going
to tell her. Then she told me: freedom is wasted
on women like me. They hate the dark cotton, jeans
they have to wear, each one a shadow of the other
their whole sentence. You could wear red! she accused.
Their favorite dresses, silk slips, wool socks all long gone,
bagged up for sisters, moms—maybe Goodwill,
maybe I flicked past them looking for this cotton candy pink
angora cardigan, pearl buttons. They can’t stop staring, so
I take it off and pass it around, let each woman hold it
in her arms, appraise the wool between her fingers,
a familiar gesture, second nature, from another world.

Oh look. Gowdy's out again.

[the McDonough poem: ]


Update: not far away from South Carolina, Allan Grayson is running for the House in Florida. He's written a little piece about a beautiful song (poem) by Joni Mitchell, and he quotes the song to start. Wouldn't it be nice to have more Congressmen like Mr. Grayson.


Note: Initially I was under the mistaken impression that Trey Gowdy was the son of Curt Gowdy. My verbalization of this error has been excised from the post.

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