Wordsmith Wednesday: Charles Bukowski’s “pernicious anemia”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is a Charles Bukowski poem entitled “pernicious anemia.”

It reads:

“I could rest on the past,
there are many books
on the shelves,
the shelves are
overflowing.

I could sleep all day
with my cats.

I could talk to
my neighbor
over the fence,
he’s 96 and
has had a past
too.

I could just flog
life off,
gently wait to
die.

ah, what a horror
that would be;
joining the world’s
way.

I must mount a
comeback.
I must crawl
inch by inch
back in-
to the sun of creation.

let there be light!
let there be me!

I will beat
the odds
one more
time.”

I always look back at this poem as one of Bukowski’s more positive pieces. He speaks of overcoming the dreariness and normalcy of life and being more, attempting to become something significant. This poem reminds me to push on and not become wrapped up in the potential monotony of life. Persevere forward and make a difference.

Bukowski

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Issue 3 Authors

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We proudly present our Issue 3 authors!

Prose by:
Brian Michael Barbeito
William Cass
Brad Cobb
John Michael Flynn
Jason Graff
Troy Earnest Hill
Lexi Jackson

Poetry by:
Nishat Ahmed
Jeffrey Alfier
Bennett Allen
Valentina Cano
Siobhan Harvey
James Croal Jackson
K.R. McAleer
Will McCollum
Lance Nizami

Sobotka Issue 3 Flyer

Wordsmith Wednesday: Fugazi’s “Suggestion”

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Wordsmith Wednesday this week features the lyrics to Fugazi​’s song “Suggestion” from their record “13 Songs,” released on Dischord Records​ in 1989. They read:

“Why can’t I walk down a street free of suggestion?
Is my body my only trait in the eyes of men?

I’ve got some skin
You want to look in

There lays no reward in what you discover
You spent yourself (boy) watching me suffer
Suffer your words, suffer your eyes, suffer your hands
Suffer your interpretation of what it is to be a man

I’ve got some skin
You want to look in

She does nothing to deserve it
He looks at here ’cause he wants to observe it
We sit back (like they taught us)
Keep quiet (like they taught us)

He just wants to prove it
She does nothing to remove it
We don’t want anyone to mind us
We play the roles that they assigned us

She does nothing to conceal it
He touches her ’cause he wants to feel it
We blame her for being there
We are all here
We are all
Guilty”

The use of rhetorical question and perspective in these lyrics introduced me to issues of objectification of women, victim blaming, and bystander responsibility well before social media and viral think pieces made the discussion these topics ubiquitous. Hearing the intensity of Guy Picciotto and Ian MacKaye deliver these words, my view of masculinity was directly challenged as a teenage boy. That is the strength of these lyrics: they are straight-forward and indicting yet give implied suggestions on how to undermine the systems of oppression highlighted within them. I owe a lot to these words for helping me consider what it really is to be a man.

– NR

Fugazi

Wordsmith Wednesday: Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Lathe of Heaven”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is the opening passage of Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel, The Lathe of Heaven.

It reads,

“Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss. The light shines through it, and the dark enters it. Borne, flung, tugged from anywhere to anywhere, for in the deep sea there is no compass but nearer and farther, higher and lower, the jellyfish hangs and sways; pulses move slight and quick within it, as the vast diurnal pulses beat in the moondriven sea. Hanging, swaying, pulsing, the most vulnerable and insubstantial creature, it has for its defense the violence and power of the whole ocean, to which it has entrusted its being, its going, and its will.”

In Le Guin’s encapsulation of the life of a jellyfish, we see ourselves. Thrown against all the powers that be, and yet all these powers are the same ones that are meant to be at our disposal. We are born into them, yet they control us nonetheless. In the end, we are vulnerable but we trust that our surroundings, all that we have come to know, will help direct and guide us towards what we are meant to become.

– KK

LeGuin

Wordsmith Wednesday: Lupe Fiasco’s “Intruder Alert”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is a verse from Lupe Fiasco‘s “Intruder Alert” off his 2007 album, “The Cool,” and reads:

“Famine striking his homeland/
and no social standing/
in the economic pecking order/
emergency relief distribution systems is in disorder/
he’s checking water/
making sure it’s safe enough for his daughter/
to float across in the boat he built/
hopefully strong enough to support her/
praying border patrols don’t catch her/
and process and deport her/
before she reach the shore of the land of the free/
where they feed you/
treat you like equals/
deceive you/
stamp you and call you illegal”

In one verse, Wasalu Jaco (aka Lupe Fiasco) concentrates a complex sociopolitical issue down to its human core. Some of the children I teach now are refugees from Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, but I have this song to thank for helping me empathize with those in this situation years before I’d met anyone who’d lived through it. As the debate about immigration policy remains a staple of U.S. presidential platforms, I continue to come back to these words for a personal perspective rather than political posturing.

– NR

Lupe Fiasco

Labor Day Sale

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In honor of labor movements worldwide, Issues 1 and 2 are on sale through Monday!

“The working class must be emancipated by the working class.
Woman must be given her true place in society by the working class.
Child labor must be abolished by the working class.
Society must be reconstructed by the working class.
The working class must be employed by the working class.
The fruits of labor must be enjoyed by the working class.
War, bloody war, must be ended by the working class.”
– Eugene Debs, 9/1/1904 (Indianapolis, IN)

MLKGuns

Wordsmith Wednesday: Modest Mouse’s “Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine”

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From Modest Mouse‘s “The Lonesome Crowded West,” a record that consistently spins at both Sobotka headquarters, comes these lines from the song “Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine,”

“The malls are the soon to be ghost towns/
so long, farewell, good-bye”

These lyrics have always resonated deeply with me considering (as anyone who has lived in a city can attest to) I have seen so many malls, businesses, and even residential areas go from fully occupied, busy, credit-card swiping mini-towns to complete deserts, tumbleweeds and all. The feeling of absence that follows a surge and then downfall of an economy can be discouraging, but we must try to not let it get to us. Realize that there are millions of other humans out there also attempting to move with the ebb and flow of the world. Keep floating.

– KK

Modest Mouse