Sunday, October 26, 2008

Letters to the Washington Post, #13 & 14

Two more letters to the Post that never had a fleeting moment of celebrity.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to me that, if I wait a while to actually post the letters myself, I have difficulty remembering why I thought what I was writing about mattered. But it does surprise me.

#13, The Nukes of India, 10/04/08

On balance, Senate approval of the Bush administration's nuclear trade agreement with India is probably a good deal. The Post's story("Senate Backs Far-Reaching Nuclear Trade Deal With India," Oct. 2) provides a decent summary of the details, but fails to follow the big financial interests presumably involved in getting to yes.

As the story notes, India will spend $14 billion next year to buy reactors, equipment and fuel. Total Indian purchases could total hundreds of billions over the next 20 years. Large business interests such as General Electric and Westinghouse, which stand to capture a portion of the sales to India, undoubtedly played a role in passing the bill.

No attentive reader could reach a final conclusion about the agreement without also knowing what such private interests did and how much they spent to secure approval of the trade agreement.

Jeff Epton
Brookland, WDC
202 506-7470

#14, Time-tested Surge?, 10/24/08

The assumption of the success of the surge in Iraq, celebrated everywhere, including the pages of the Post (e.g. Michael Gerson, “Casualty of the Surge” and Charles Krauthammer, “McCain for President,” both Oct. 24), may not stand the test of time. The increased stability of the Iraqi state, if it actually exists, may turn out to be a fleeting thing.

Former Fed chair Alan Greenspan thought he was on a roll, too. But his celebrity bubble burst with the collapse of home values, banks and Wall Street firms.

In Iraq, we are making regular multi-million dollar payments to tribal leaders and their militias to get them on our side, or, at least, to cease fire. When those payments stop, as they will, the surge likely fails. Of course, we could stay in Iraq for 100 years or so, but that’s another story.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Working on a poem

I originally posted this poem under the title, Fleeing Before Me. I liked the poem alot, but it needed more work. I took it down and reposted it under the title, Survivor. That title probably isn't permanent, either. And it still needs work. The version below is a rewrite, still known to me as Survivor.

The poem is all metaphor. I love its mood, but I know how difficult it is to hunt for its basic meaning. I am not going to let it go until it is much better than it is now. Still, I'm posting this third version because it provokes me, like a weird but completely lovable child. For me, coping with this poem, raising it up, will be like having multiple embarassing moments in the supermarket with a toddler.


Here am I,
both minimal and me,
in this unbounded place,
a point in passing;
a bridge between times,
through darkness, across voids,
around the great signal fires.

It takes an effort of will
to see what I’d missed;
to see god in that space
was god,
was god beside me,
beside our own fire,
inside the intimate infernal dark.

Later, hearing small birds with
perfect pitch and
immaculate messages.
A bumblebee so close god's eyes
cross with wonder and
neglect for appearances.

Separation came at dawn.
The bee has gone this way,
into the future,
precisely the path I follow now
with music by birdsong and
lit by brilliant flowers.

I stop at this old firepit.
Step carefully around the scattered
bones. Toeing, then picking at them,
the old bones nearby. What beasts were these?
Something immense, I’m sure.
Something fierce, I wonder.
How did this place become
so empty?

What has been driven before me?
Who also wanders here?
Midst birdsong and flowers,
Who will find whom?
This wondering almost consumes me.

I gather a bouquet of thoughts,
consider fragrance, balance of color,
count petals, sing at the silence.
In a fresh effort,
I again hear the small birds
possessing perfect pitch,
singing immaculate messages.

Leaving reason behind,
god, last seen, seemed adrift, remote,
flickered out in the distance,
just before the horizon line.

The bee has gone this way,
into the future and
I have followed.
backed with music by birdsong,
night lit by the scattered
combustible bushes.

Tiring, I stop at the next firepit.
Step carefully around the scattered
bones. Toeing, then picking at them—
the old bones nearby. What beasts were these?
Something immense, I’m sure.
And very old, I imagine.
Hungry, I go.
How will this place become
full of life again?

I pick through the gathering thoughts.
What has fled before me?
Who wanders just ahead?
With what purpose?
With eyes failing like mine?
With strain in the effort
of looking?

Who will find whom
around birdsong and flowers
and scattered bones of long-gone beasts?
What happens then?
This hunt defines me now.
The next thought consumes me.