myth and poetry

Mythopoetry Scholar

Annual Reflections In Depth Perspectives
Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine vol3 2012
La Nuit Au Claire
-Chris Paris

Wait.  Lemme pour another scotch for myself before I start.  Three fingers straight up no ice.  Always.  Neat, you know what I mean?  Nothin added, nothin diluted, just the real thing.

Okay, well, I guess it’s my turn, now, share in the old war stories.  Or, we like to aggrandize, maybe, with the word, war, maybe outta guilt?  I don’t know.  After all, it was our brothers dyin in Vietnam, not us.  Although we certainly did what we could over here, with the protest movement and all that, doin what we thought was our part, some kinda moral compass that we learned was supposed to be America.  I mean, have you bothered readin the Bill of Rights?  But, we knew damn well it wasn’t the same for us over here as it was for them over there, that maybe there was a sense of guilt in us, almost, that we weren’t over there but, at the same time, we certainly didn’t want any part of it, either.  We sure as hell weren’t gonna enlist or maybe even get our asses shot off for something we didn’t believe in, either.  Those guys, so many of them our friends and family, over there, and dyin, and not by choice, not by freedom of choice over somethin we could all believe in.  I mean, that’s the problem, friend.  We’re not a part of this government.  We got no say.  We vote ‘em into office and then they do whatever the hell they want with each other.  Read Rousseau.  He had it all nailed down four hundred years ago.  The day you vote for a representative is the day you give up your freedom, or somethin like that.  I mean, right now, think of Madison.  Seventy thousand demonstrate, and peacefully—you know, doin what they’re supposed to do, that’s what the Constitution says, and for six months straight and it don’t mean nothin, and they’re worse off now than they ever were.  Howard Zinn’s turnin over in his grave.  But that’s what the power elite do.  Through what they do, they telegraph, “You think that was bad?  Get a loada this.  You gonna do that, again?”  They got us all scared shit.  They scare us into submission, like “You don’t know how bad it can get.”  It’s all enforced plutocracy.  Only, is it gonna be the Democrat way, or the Republican way, that’s the only difference.  And even that don’t work.  Gimme a break.  We’re out of it, man.  Question is, is this a broken system, or a dead system?  They broadcast their pontifications from Capitol Hill to keep us believin in a dead myth.  We’re so grateful for C-SPAN.  Have you ever thought that C-SPAN inadvertently perpetuates a dead myth?  Maybe that’s why PBS funding gets whacked, and C-SPAN don’t.
And I can’t think of any one of us who didn’t personally know somebody who died over there.  Have you ever thought about that, I mean it don’t make sense.  How is it that everyone knew someone when, supposedly, only forty-six thousand or something like that, perished.  Only!  Jesus.  I mean, a whole country it seems like, felt the real trauma of losing someone he or she actually knew?  It don’t make sense.  That’s never made sense to me.
And then, of course, the Civil Rights movement, and King’s assassination.  Mind blower, especially in light of everything that came before it—you know, the freedom riders, and the murders down there, and his march on Washington, I mean holy crap, man, two hundred and fifty thousand people, black and white, and his speech that became this incredible sacred over night incarnation we all felt because of who we were and where we were and what we were doin—I mean the whole American dream thing that was supposed to be for everybody, and the academic pursuit of truth thing that we saw as the keeper of the dream, and us, our generation programmed to do what our parents couldn’t because of the World War Two interruptus on their lives, and the incredible sacrifices they made for human freedom, and human dignity, and freedom of choice, and freedom to be, and hell, their expectations in us to get it right this time, to get right the opportunities they couldn’t.  God, it was like an unspoken credo we all carried around in us, I mean let’s face it, it was like the Eucharist, for God’s sake.  Don’t you agree?  And then, we’re watchin the same shit right in front of our eyes, and it’s domestic, it ain’t even necessarily foreign.  It’s oppression all over again in its late nineteen sixties way.  And, Hell, we’re readin Rousseau and Tom Paine and Percy Shelley and Blake precisely at that moment and we’re makin the comparisons and it’s like we can’t believe it, the parallels, I mean.  It’s right in our face.  It wasn’t no myth.  This was real.  We’re watchin it on TV every day.  And where we stood was no myth, either.  We really believed in our shit.  So what the hell did anybody expect?  We were supposed to defend the Eucharist.  That’s what we were all programmed to do, for God’s sake.  Forget Haight-Ashbury.  That was the lunatic fringe.  That was a fart in a blizzard.  That wasn’t the vast massive majority of us on all the campuses and their network relations of ideology across the nation.  Haight wasn’t the bastion of the ideologues, although a lot of really interesting shit came out of there, too, kinda like the cusp of radical creativity before they all fried their brains.  But, the ideologues persisted, nonetheless, on the campuses, isn’t that right?  And we paid for it, too.  We paid for it the corporate took out of our hide when we all graduated by seventy one, and we tried to find work, to start careers and change the world which is what we were all about.  They were gonna make us eat their shit, beat us into submission, spin our wheels, go nowhere, and steal our energies and our creativity in the process.  Talk about a lost generation.  They either turned us out, or relegated us to their practical menial servitude.  And the feminist movement, too, they turned into this magnificent delusion.  Slaves at half the price for greater productivity.  What the hell do you think?  Am I right?  I mean, think about it.  Revolution is not what they wanted.  Change was not what they wanted, which made us a terribly inbred mutated anomaly husbanded out of the middle class and ready to fight for everybody, our American ideals in our back pockets.  Forget American dream, man.  This fight was all about belief, what it was all about.
And, then, the night of the Kent State shootings.  Terrible mistake or no, it was like the last straw.  We all just erupted.  After all!  My campus, the Stony Brook campus just blew, and we were all swept into it.  The depredations had gone too far, even for the most moderate liberal thinker.  It was over the top.  It wasn’t just the horror of it and the empathy all of us, nationally, felt.  It’s what it came to signify as an ikon, incarnate, of everything ‘human rights’ we had been reading.  All of that ideology, in a moment, became too real.  This was not just studyin.  This was no longer comparative lit.  Oppressive profanity suddenly became very very real in one night’s delirious moment, and we blew.
And, me too, down there.  Another one in the mob, in the middle of night with my back against the brick wall of a woman’s dormitory, North Hall, suddenly taking on the mythos of some nineteenth century Parisian Communard, suddenly envigorated with inertial purpose where action, reality, and ideology somehow all synthesized into one, into a moral duty and with a single minded clarity.  It was the clarity that was so terrifying.  The clarity that commanded purpose, that commanded the action.  And Hendrix’s lyric, “I fight like a farmer, you know what I mean?” became so acutely real.  And compelling, and heroic.  At that very moment, in that mob among others just like it, numerous, around campus—the bottles, the rocks and bricks, the two by fours suddenly took on a compelling heroic Promethean significance can you believe it?  In perfectly clear night, windless, and early spring crisp whose chill fired the excitement through all of us, at least the location where I was among about two or three hundred of us pitching bottles and bricks, rioting and screaming at the campus police and their cars, and anything that half way resembled authority.  All of us.  All caught up.  But different this time.  No longer statement.  Now, the deed; and, with a rationalized purpose.  Suddenly.  No longer part of the problem.  Suddenly, we were the problem, thousands of us on campuses nationwide at precisely the same moment for precisely the same reason, all of us Shelley’s Prometheus.  Sisters and brothers—they became sisters and brothers—went down that day in horror, for what?  For contrary countervailing voice against a war we didn’t believe in at all, brethren inducted against their will, dying against their will, committing atrocity the way we saw it against their will, and all of it further superimposed like a profane palimpsest by not so distant civil rights martyrdoms while guys like Dow were gettin fatter on nepalm of all things, and all enlightened for us by the SDS.  Talk about carbonari.  They were it.  The ones who, suddenly that night, became our illuminati because the events of that day had drawn back the curtain on the government’s secret cabinet and unveiled atrocities the SDS had been uncovering and telling us about all along—that the government didn’t give a shit.  It was all a detonation just waitin to happen.  And the morons that day in Ohio gave it all to us on a platter like the head of John The Baptist for God sake.
“Son of a bitch” was the only resounding phrase in my head especially as we the mob watched the Suffolk County tactical police along with the Setauket Fire Department amass their invasion force we could see at the campus entrance.  All the revolving lights yellow and red sweeping through the woods, and the squad cars and the fire trucks strung out from the campus entrance along Setauket Road and all the tactical cops four abreast I guess about two hundred of em, like centurions in shields and plexiglass helmet masks waitin for the signal.
All of it only infuriated us more, made our Communard moment all the more real, gave what we were doin an even greater significance.
But we didn’t know what was comin.  Because, warriors we were not.  Communards, we were not.  We were egg heads, let’s face it.  The closest we ever came to combat, to conflagration, to anarchy, to revolt was snowball fights as kids in the old neighborhood, and, now, debates in class by day?  What the hell.  Naïve brave, yeah, I guess, but none too smart.
And the lack of smarts really hit when I found myself in about twenty minutes—that fast—about ten feet away from a wall of armored tactical cops with very grave and very mature serious and set faces behind plexiglass masks wielding head and body bashin batons and knocking anybody down by choice with their torso length shields we were a joke.  And, I was outta there because there was only wall behind me nowhere to go but down, and that wasn’t for me, friend.  In retrospect, years later, and as I look on it now, the “fight like a farmer, you know what I mean?” was bullshit.  I’m sorry for that.
So I took a deviant run sideways, found a door round the corner of the building, and started runnin up a stairwell.  I was alone, I couldn’t believe it, either smart or just plain chicken shit, one or the other, but it did get answered for me later on that night.
To the third floor, far as I could go, and onto the dormitory floor.  I started down the hall just knockin on doors.  About seven down, just past the restrooms, somebody opened, opened even after I got two doors farther down from her, and I turned, and she just looked at me.  And I said, “Listen, can I just stay in your room with you till this whole thing blows over down there?  You see what’s goin on down there?  Here.  Here’s my ID.  I live in C Quad.  It don’t make sense stayin down there.  I needed to get outta there.  You see what’s happenin?”
“Yes,” she said, and she beckoned me in with her hand.  I mean I couldn’t believe it.  I couldn’t believe her, her refuge she so easily offered like some kind of partisan, I couldn’t believe her trust.  “I promise,” I said, “soon as it’s over, I’ll leave.”
“Don’t worry.  Have a seat, here, on my roommate’s bed.  She’s not here right now.”  She closed and locked the door.  Her room in North Hall was exactly like mine.  Closets on each side of the centered doorway, single bed on each opposite wall, a desk at the head of each bed, large sliding windows the wall opposite the door.
“You see what’s goin on down there,” I repeated myself, “Jesus. . . . Where is everybody.  Your hall’s empty seems like.”
“Almost,” she said.  “There’s a few of us up here.”  She spoke with an accent.  She pointed with her thumb to the window.  “The rest are down there.”  She sounded French.  International student, apparently.  I’d been to some of their club’s gatherings, the grilled monkey meat from Indonesia, Jesus, but I’d never seen her before.  “That will all end fairly soon,” she said.  “None of you really had a chance.  You need to just stay here for a few hours until it’s all over.  It’ll all be over soon.”
I just looked at her from the edge of her roommate’s bed opposite.  It was all her composure that floored me.  It all heightened the almost comic pathetic I started to feel about all of it, about our futility and its contrast to what was the fast growing feeling in me of bombastic ideals that didn’t amount to diddly, diddly against a contrary and resistant and superior and secretly understood and purely violent oppressive force.  It all humiliated me for a moment as just plain childish foolhardy naïve under her gaze across from me, almond colored and almond shaped eyes locked in their study.
“You did the right thing” she said.  “Retreat now and fight another day.”
I was overtaken by what she had just said; and, her beauty that I had just suddenly realized; an accompaniment of perfectly straight dark brown hair that fell free from widows peak on to the side of a remarkably intelligent pale high forehead.  Who was she, who was this person?  I’d never seen her before, this slender beauty, opposite, possessive of so much reserved sagacity, almost reticent but for the potency of such few words and expression that hit with some sort of wisdom’s timeless knowing.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before.  I’m sorry, who are you?”  I offered up my name, “but you already know that, you saw my ID.”
She half rose from her bed, a closed smile, extended her arm in handshake, that slender hand of hers magnificent, even felt magnificent, “Simone de Blanqui.  I’ve seen you before, I know who you are.  I’ve seen you many times in your quad’s cafeteria.  I have friends in your C Quad.  You have a following, you know.  My friends take notice and point out their wishful prospects.  But, then, you’re only what they have in C Quad, yes?”  She smiled.
“I suppose.  I am flattered, please tell your friends.  But, I’m taken, I’m afraid.  I do have a girlfriend.  She’s graduating this semester.  She’s an education major.  She’s been student teaching this semester.  We’re hoping she’ll find something close by here on the North shore after she graduates.”
“Then, the two of you are planning a future no doubt?”
“Yes, we hope so.”
“Is she attractive?”
“I’m glad for you.  Undoubtedly intelligent too?”
“Yes.  Very. . . .  I’d be with her, now, but we lost each other, tonight, in the chaos.  I probably need to go find her.”

“Chaos? . . . .  That’s what you call this? . . . .  You’ll find her, I’m sure.  But right now, you need to wait.”  She paused.  Then, “Well, you are apparently a noble man.  You could have kept all this from me, you know, given the situation of this chaos of yours as you call it, and our moment, our moment alone, here, right now. . . .”
Noble.  I ain’t feelin so noble right now findin refuge from some woman I don’t even know. . . .  Not that I’m deeply grateful, of course. . . .  And, then, it wouldn’t have been very honest, really, true to her you know what I mean? . . . In spite of how attractive you are, yourself . . . I mean. . . .  Of course?
“Of course. . . .”
“One should respect all, ne c’est pas?
“Ahhh.  You detect the origin.  My accent.  And, yes, respect all, my nation’s own unspoken creed, egalité.  We’re almost arrogant about it.  We are even accused of arrogance although it is merely a sign of our defense, you know.”
And we spoke of ourselves from there, she a Political Science major, an exchange student who originally started at NYU, transferred to follow the liberal bias of Stony Brook and its faculty, Nelson Rockefeller’s Glass Case U. Berkeley of the east brain factory and all that, and I, English major fascinated by comparative lit. no future in mind just driven by what my heart told me where it took me, but kept it to myself and from her how terribly undirected I really felt, downright scared, but would never admit it, not even to the stranger, Simone de Blanqui, or to my friends, and especially not to Karen who was out there, somewhere that night.  And, then, our conversation turned back to that moment, that in a way turn-key American moment of that night and the events of that day for all of us and its effects for all of us for the next decade, even for all of us, now, because of the way it all went down countrywide would you not agree?
“This is not really my fight yet, you know,” she said.  “This is your fight, your people’s fight, still.  Not ours, yet, although we do take offense by how often our own conflicts somehow always begin here.”
“My fight, our fight?  How do you mean?”
YesYou own it, although it always, somehow, makes its way to cross many borders, has always been of eternal recurrence, as if you are our cosmic fate.”
She paused and pointed her thumb to the window again.  “You need to expend your energies more potently and with singular demonstration striking, you Americans, you true Americans of our own eternal return.  Remember who you are, who you are supposed to be.  Think of what you started for us an ocean away, a world away, a spirit of revolution a century and more that followed with tragic eternal recurrences. . . .  I’m sorry, political science, you know?  But human spirit.  Don’t do it like this, not like this, not like tonight.  You dispirit all of us who are watching.  Your opposition is too powerful, too rich, with too much at stake.  They will always overwhelm you with confrontation, their own sort of para military confrontations.  It is what they do best.  They wish to terrify you, don’t you see, and by terrify. . . subdue, frustrate, and enslave.  Assassinate your ideals, leave you in a vacuum to then be occupied with their material rule.  You should know.  It’s immemorial this.  Have you not read, you English major, Europe’s aristocratic centuries, the industrial revolution’s peerage, that despicable William Pitt . . . we French hated him . . . your Gilded Age, our Belle Epoque?  Take your lessons.  Don’t lose your heads.  Be potent, plan, and conspire, conspire, yes, . . . for they don’t frighten easily.”
“I don’t know if I wanna get that involved.”
“Then why were you out there?  Look.”  She got up, pulled me to the window.  There were enormous flames, suddenly, that hadn’t been there before, just leaping out above the trees, out there above cupolas of tall foliage distant.  “Something drove you, something fired moral conscience, something of innocence still untouched by cynicism. . . .  Look inside you, for God’s sake, before you Americans who have made yourselves owners of our eternal recurrence lose it for all of us.  You Americans, you frustrate us by what you take for granted, especially your most significant moments that plead before you, that you find more convenient and less expensive to ignore.  Your time has come once again.  Do you see it?  Eternal recurrence.  What shall you do to all of us this time, you who forever pride yourselves with your country’s great revolution and all your ikons of liberty.” 
All this sudden diatribe just threw me you know?  How it all came out of her, all of a sudden, like some incendiary dialectic, it just threw me over, made me speechless, kept me speechless, I guess, also, from the force I felt comin out of her over it?  But damn it all if I didn’t feel real close to her right then, I mean spirit close, you know? like when you just fall for somebody, you know the precise moment when it hits, it’s indelibly marked for ya for the rest of your life?—Even though I felt like she just told me off.  I mean, at that moment, right there at that window, her standin right next to me, the fact that she had literally pulled me there, it’s like she pulled me into her own timeless and intimate centrifugal space, body and mind and full of that energy of hers that, sometimes, you feel is the inexplicable wonder of somebody?  All I could do was just look at her, I mean, in wonder, you know?  And I watched night sky dance all aglow on her, on her face, her forehead and her aquilined brow and delicate nose straight, her pronounced and quite agitated now upper lip beneath that straight hair loosely fallen from widows peak enough, just perfectly enough, to echo her voice of revolt, her own tiger burning bright, brightly burning from within, and all upon her, aflame too, from the night sky and flames massive like Orc, leaping, among sparks shooting up like rockets, bound above the treelines, spotting across campus.  Was this her revolt, this burning upon her, her own revolt with us for us, or against us, I couldn’t tell.  But she was magic.  She was like magic.
“Your America’s public opinion has just died tonight.  It has just become a dead myth.  Those fires are an effigy.  You are all, now, only a government, and it’s not even yours.  I mourn for you. But your anarchists are at work tonight, ami.  Look, among you, even here but very few.  Do you see them?  They are also those fires out there.  They rise, always, when oppression condemns, when it puts our ideals to death, leaves us nothing to believe with.  They’re doing your work for you.  The work you can’t do.  The work you can’t afford to do.  But someone has to, keep the voice alive, not perish and be totally forgotten.  Because that’s what your pigs want.  These fires won’t last, but they won’t be forgotten.  Like today, just like today, those tragic executions, senseless now, their outrage, but to become the spirit of another myth later, to romanticize over, to never forget—but that’s up to you.  Senseless outrage to you now, even to some cops you just ran from, . . . but not to the pigs who sent them, no not to them, not to the real pigs, the real pigs behind it all.  Your public opinion, it finally died tonight, they killed it, and there was nothing you could do.  There may never be, maybe your eternal recurrence.  Not chaos this, ami.  But pattern.  Eternal return.”  She paused a moment.
“And how would you know?”  I felt myself wax almost indignant, just almost, I guess, because of gratitude for a very timely hospitality that night.  But after all, I did still have American soul, soul enough to still get indignant when someone outside my own family passed judgment on us.  Even when we could admit to ourselves how messed up we were, and how critical of ourselves we could be, for what it was worth.  But to take it from somebody else?
On the other hand, maybe we need to hear that, too, friend, we still too naïve American egoists in light of an older world’s wisdoms.  Do we have the guts, the humility to even listen to it?  How many short wave radio broadcasts from the rest of the world do we bother to listen to, especially about us?
“How would I know?” she said.  “Our Old World history tells us.  We listen to it very carefully because it cost us too much.  You haven’t had yours yet.  That’s how I know.  But we still love you.  We love you, yet we despise you, too, for your own arrogance, your arrogance you impose on all of us.  Ours is different than yours.  Ours is in defense.”
Who was this person, this Simone de Blanqui, as if speaking across centuries?  I was transfixed.  All I could do was listen.  I had no answer, my own limitations possessed no answer.  And so, my moment of pause.  A long moment of silence, out of respect for her and her history, I guess, maybe for both of us, I hope for both of us.  A deep silence felt, intimate yet admittedly ambivalent for me, yet between us, only us, only ours at that moment I just relinquished to its own freedom to be, its own unique being, our ownto revel in for as long as its own moment she allowed me and that I’d never feel, again, not ever, again—and the tragedy I feel about that today.  Then, only then, could I say goodbye. And I left her standing there, standing still, her own profound silence, facing the window, aglow with the flames still on her.  Still.  Somehow, I felt relieved and lost to be out of there, all at the same time.
I left North Hall through the glass doors of the front entrance this time, a radical departure you could say in light of that night, and out into the crisp air.    There wasn’t a soul in the lobby.  And the Quad was completely still, completely empty, for God’s sake.  She was right, you know.  She was absolutely right.  Except for the red glow in the night sky somewhere off to the right, it’s like it all never happened.  What the hell kind of revolution was that?  It was like this stupid ass feeling that we had all played out some stupid ass war game like gnats up against the real thing that was even very tolerant for our sakes.  Those fuckin guys were pretty good, actually.  They wiped us all up with not even a casualty.  I couldn’t get outta my head the face of one, behind his plexi mask just before I bolted, expressionless and grave, musta been in his fifties maybe, pushin everybody outta the way, dispersing us like nothing.  I almost felt like thanking him for not crackin somebody’s head.  I don’t know.  It all got real juvenile, suddenly, even though I still had that residual feelin left in me that “I was there, man.”  Now, more than forty years later, so fucking what?
Walking down the asphalt pathway From North Hall, I thought about her, up there, and what she’d said, and I wondered how stupidly naïve and impotent and young we all really were, and how many light years more mature this Simone de Blanqui was than I.  What the hell, light years more mature, more savvy, more tolerant even with me is how she made me feel, got her savvy point across, maybe even told us all off with me, and with the wisdom of a mother almost.  That final impression she left me, walkin down that path along the treelines was “don’t waste your time with games.  Do or don’t do.  Have courage to give your life, or don’t bother.”  The real Communards, thirty thousand summarily executed?  I don’t know.  Yeah, but, our demonstration, nationwide, this night, all speakin out, all bein heard, the groundswell the chance!  The revolution.  After tonight, so fucking what?  Walkin down that asphalt smooth pathway, feelin not even a threat, that Simone de Blanqui felt way over my head.  Those polite few hours with her up there, I was way past my depth.  I realized.  She was the real thing, way past us.  Watching and waiting.  Not wasting her time.  Some kinda spirit she was, like the owl that flies at twilight, only to stop and say, “are you okay, now?  Well, see ya, got bigger fish to fry.”  We were lightweights.  Still are.

And, these forty some odd years later, I see pic’s on the web, now historical “photo” art of the 1871 Communard dead, lined up in their coffins, some with their eyelids still set at half-mast their eyes starin out at ya, and young as I was in my own seventy, and those pic’s remind me that we didn’t have a clue.  You should pull them up and look at them real close some time.  Go ahead.  Let your eyes meet theirs.  Stare real courage right in the face.  Very different from us kids with no guts too much naïve energy still too close to snowball fights from the old neighborhood, and dumb shit water fights on the third floor of C Quad.  And we’re still the same.  Only forty years older.  And, that’s why nothin’s gonna happen for us now, ‘cause we still don’t have the guts, we, a nation full, none of us, not even our august statesmen.  “Shit or get off the pot”—signed, “Simone de Blanqui.  I’ll never forget her.  The real Lady Liberty.  The one with calculating smarts afraid of nothing.  That ain’t us no more, I’m afraid.  The moment is over, friends.  It died in seventy.  Good intentions, no guts.  Just watchin everybody else duke it out for themselves, like in Madison.  Go back to them pic’s on the web.  Then, pray for the honored dead.  There were no draftees, there.  And, check out the honored dead of the Lincoln’s Brigade, while you’re at it.  Pray for them, too.  No draftees there, either.  Think about that one.
I did hook up with Karen that night, after all.  I ran into her in front of the square of the Science and Research Center, with her suitemate, Carol, as she was making her way back to her dorm.  I was so grateful, so relieved, so elated.  I mean I really loved that kid.  Seein her made everything home, everything real, again.  She was her typically comic pragmatic self that had this remarkable way of putting things back into a perspective.  “Can you believe it?  Now they’re burning the campus down.  It’s so stupid, ha ha,” as her eyes were laughing.  “Carol and I have been walkin around all night checking out the fires.  They burnt down the old barn, can you believe that?”  She shook her head with a frown.  “What’s that supposed to do.  What a waste.”
Carol left us and headed back by herself.  Karen and I went off to some tall grass off the square under a young plum tree, in the high green grass of that crisp spring night, and we made love and I watched her face, her wonderful colonial American Southampton Long Island German-Irish heritage face and her jade colored eyes that would rouse open on mine and that sparkled, ecstatic and content for the both of us, in the cool high grass very green under that plum under dimming red in the night sky breaking to a morrow’s dawn we didn’t wish to come, our classes, our readings, our books, her student teaching, my blank feeling about tomorrow, and the revolution was far, far away.I saw Simone only once after that, about two weeks later maybe, at a distance.  It was a very very bright afternoon, and the dust was blowing around in these really hot dry gusts of wind that always seemed to occupy the hilltop of the library.  I saw her standing in front of the entrance by these marble benches, and she was talking with one of the leaders of the SDS.  I recognized him right away.  I don’t remember his name.  He had this light brown beard and he wore these granny glasses.  I think, once, like a year or two earlier, he had gotten punched out by some laborer on campus.  Anyway, I was too far away to hear what the two of them were talking about.  The conversation was pretty placid, it seemed.  That’s the last time I ever saw her.  I didn’t see her any time the next fall, either.  It’s like she just went away, disappeared with a myth.
Okay, so, here’s the punch line.  Forget Allard Lowenstein and Howard Zinn.  We ain’t gonna change nothin from within.  We never could, even then.  That’s what she knew.  And she knew us, too.  That’s why she went awayForget it.  It’s over, man.  The revolution’s over.  Like I said—a lost generation.  We’re all dummied down.

So, whatiya wanna do now?  Should we pour another?

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Chris Paris, PhD is Associate Professor of English at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas where he has taught for the past twenty-seven years, and holding administrative positions for at least half of his professional academic career, there, as Department Chair of academic literacy in English, Director of UIW’s Learning Communities Program, and Assistant Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.  Presently, he teaches English full time—courses in rhetoric, rhetoric theory, rhetoric criticism, literature, and creative writing.  He received his doctorate in English Literature at Texas A&M University, College Station, where he specialized in the fields of medieval literature, seventeenth-century English literature, modernist American literature, and textual studies.  Before his academic pilgrimage, he spent fifteen years in retail management in New York City, and in San Antonio.  His children, Elizabeth and Nicholas, in his own words, “exceed any and all other priorities of my life; they are the true reason and inspiration for why we as parents do what we do.”

Chris coauthored a book of poetry in 2012, "The Beauty Between Words"

also in this issue


"We Are Briareus"
"Oh, Shelley, What Has Happened?"

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