mardi 24 août 2010

Why the American Economy is in the Dumps

why is our economy in the dumps? one reason might be that we are paying the salaries of every politician, cop and ditchdigger in afghanistan, for every contractor, every road, the whole kit and caboodle. add to that iraq, then israel and egypt (to name a couple). then add to that 700+ military bases around the world. then add the rest of the defense budget, including all the money not allocated directly to defense, like energy and homeland security, which has DOUBLED since 2002 and is on track for a 2% increase in 2011, NOT counting the two wars.

meanwhile the average american cannot have what he or she needs, like jobs, healthcare, or education. even the israeli citizen has public healthcare. when are we going to rise up and say enough is enough, and i'm not talking tea party...


Manet, Nina de Callias, 1873

for Maureen

"How are you even alive today?" she asked,
eyes popping out of her head,
body taut with dread and excitement.
I answered, "Because I write,
because I get to express myself while
looking for truth and justice."

(On the great American way, hey-hey,
the flat-beat drum across the plain,
the White Buffalo and the Wannabe...)

I'd come to see her because I needed help
getting off my pain meds, I wanted to
detox from a drug that had made me
even worse, hopeless and miserable,
with vertigo so deep I couldn't see straight,
rapid heart beat and blood pressure so low
the nurses always exclaimed, "Great!"
as they ripped the cuff off my arm.

(Maybe if I were an athlete in red Nike shorts,
doing warm-ups and five-mile days, but not the
pathetic gray lump sitting on this chair...)

I recounted for the new counselor
all the facts of my sad history,
the rapes, the violence, the mental illness,
the times I was hospitalized or homeless,
the frightened child, the abandoned infant.
She needed it all to assess what kind of
judgment I had in my debilitated state.

(And why I spilled the beans in that 
holy church, god only knows; I guess
memories get triggered easily in my world...)

I was triggered tonight by Spike Lee,
five years after Katrina: watching again how
the government turned their backs on the
black and poor, tore down their homes, 
closed their hospitals, left the mentally ill
adrift on the Gulf without a shithole or paddle,
shipped the rest off to Houston or Nevada.

(Left it to Sean Penn to drag the bodies out
and to Brad Pitt to rebuild the entire Ninth Ward,
and fuck the Army Corps of Engineers...)

I've been living like a corpse on the water:
For 14 years I've been stuck on a couch,
too sick and depressed to fend for myself,
driving up credit cards to afford bogus cures
because my government wouldn't invest enough
to find out if this was an AIDS-like retrovirus
as anyone who lived with it suspected it was.

("There's nothing wrong with your
autonomic nervous system!" "Thanks to oxycontin
you'll live in a box." "Don't sweat the small stuff!")

My doctors turned their heads,
turned them over to the head experts
because they didn't know what to look for,
not that the geniuses at Disease Control
had given them a handbook, but rather
told them we were neurotic and tired
and finally, furiously, they blamed us for it all.

(Isn't that what callous authority does
when it doesn't have the know-how?
It blames the victim...)

After that, you just stay home, you resist calling.
No matter how sick you get, you get through it.
You think, they've got nothing to offer me;
this is as good as it gets.
I may be housebound but I've got my films,
my music, my poems. I've got a kind husband who
brings me tea and kisses me on the forehead.

(Like an animal that gets sick, you want
to crawl away in the dark, but like a human being
you never forget your former life...)

Tonight I'm sailing down the Mississippi
on an old life raft patched with band-aids.
I'm still taking the pain meds. They want
me to see a psychiatrist next, assess the old
labels and chemical imbalances.
What I need is a miracle, a friend, and a
reasonably good doctor who believes me.

(Or I'll die like everybody else,
I'll go the way of old cfs-ers: a heart attack
or a gun and an old Indian song.)

We brown ones, we broken ones,
we Congolese girls, we Tanzanian fishermen,
we victims, we predators,
we addicted, we atheists,
we hungry, we homeless,
we gamblers, we murderers
we invalids, we children.

(Survival of the fittest in a
savage landscape, just so much water
in the common well...)

Mandan - Hidatsa Lodge, abandoned after smallpox outbreaks

Our day will come:

lundi 23 août 2010

The French publish an me-cfs study today

based on the results of all the xmrv/mrv retrovirus studies...


Second Paper Supports Viral Link to ME-CFS

on August 23, 2010 4:02 PM

There's a new twist in the ongoing battle over whether a virus is linked to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). After the journal held it for 2 months, a study supporting a link between a mouse retrovirus and CFS was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). Many are still doubtful of the link, but they're impressed by the authors' efforts to ensure accuracy.

In the new study, conducted by scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Harvard University, researchers scanned for traces of a virus known as XMRV in samples taken from 37 CFS patients, collected by Harvard Medical School CFS specialist Anthony Komaroff in the mid-1990s. They found evidence for the virus in 32 (87%) of the patients, but in only three out of 44 healthy controls (6.8%). It remains to be seen whether the infection causes the disease or vice versa, says NIH virologist and co-author Harvey Alter—but he's "confident" that the findings are correct.

XMRV—less succinctly known as xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus—was first implicated for its potential involvement in prostate cancer, a link that's still under intense debate. Then, in a Science paper published last year, a team led by retrovirologist Judy Mikovits of the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease (WPI) in Reno, Nevada, found evidence of infection in 67% of CFS patients, compared with just 3.4% of healthy controls. But since then, four other papers failed to find the link, or any evidence of XMRV infection in humans at all. The last of the four, by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was also held for a while, at the researchers' request, while they tried to figure out how government labs could come to such opposite conclusions. The CDC paper was eventually published on 1 July in Retrovirology.

Skeptics were concerned that the XMRV Mikovits had found might be the result of contamination by mouse DNA in the lab. To address this, the new study's first author—FDA virologist Shyh-Ching Lo—and his colleagues tested every positive sample for murine mitochondrial DNA. They found none.

While the paper was on hold—also because of conflicts with other studies—the team ran additional checks that bolstered the data further, says Alter. "I felt we needed to do more to prove our case," Alter says, in part because an additional, third reviewer, had looked at the paper at PNAS's request. For instance, the researchers took fresh samples from eight of the patients and found that, 15 years on, they were still infected and that the virus had evolved, "just as we would expect from a retrovirus," says Alter. The wait was "time well spent," he adds.

The data do seem solid, admits Steve Monroe, who co-authored the conflicting CDC paper. "It's simply a good paper," adds Reinhard Kurth, the former director of the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, who helped test some of CDC's samples and did not find the virus either. Alter—a widely respected virologist and winner of the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research—"clearly knows what he is doing. They did everything correctly," says Kurth, who nonetheless says he remains skeptical.

So too does virologist Robin Weiss of Imperial College London (ICL), who says he's seen too many instances of proposed new human retroviruses that fell apart on closer inspection, including one he reported in arthritis and lupus patients in 1999 that turned out to be an innocuous rabbit virus. (In a 40-page review that he co-authored in 2008, Weiss called such mishaps "human rumor viruses.") "You can have a very good reputation and be very careful and still get it wrong," Weiss says.

Part of the problem, skeptics say, is that the researchers didn't exactly replicate the Science paper. XMRV is a so-called xenotropic murine virus, which means it can no longer enter mouse cells but can infect cells of other species. (Murine means "from mice.") The researchers in the PNAS paper say the viral sequences they find are more diverse than that and resemble more closely the so-called polytropic viruses, which is why they adopted the term MLV-related virus, for murine leukemia virus. "Let's be clear: This is another virus. They did not confirm [Mikovits's] results," says retrovirologist Myra McClure of ICL, a co-author of one of the four negative studies.

Still, "in the grand scheme of things," the viral sequence found in the PNAS paper closely resembles those of XMRV, says Celia Witten, the director of FDA's Office of Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies, who was not an author of the paper herself but spoke on Lo's behalf. Witten adds that the data "support" the Science paper. Mikovits—who is "delighted" by the new paper—says the difference is not important. In as-yet-unpublished results, her group finds more genetic diversity in the virus as well, she says.
Meanwhile, a working group coordinated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is coordinating an effort to answer the most baffling question: Why some labs find the virus in both patients and healthy people, and others find it in neither. Initially, some believed there might be geographical reasons, because the first three negative studies were all from Europe—but that theory seems unlikely after the CDC paper, whose patients were from Kansas and Georgia. Patient selection could play a role: Different studies have used different diagnostic and recruitment criteria. But even given this messiness, it's hard to explain why four studies wouldn't have included a single infected patient.

The discordant results may also stem from subtle differences in handling the samples or performing the tests that would have led the four labs to miss the virus. But CDC's Monroe says he's confident that the lab can identify the virus. As part of the NHLBI program, researchers at FDA, CDC, WPI, and other labs have all blindly tested a panel of samples, some of them "spiked" with different amounts of the virus; all of them performed well. Further exchange of samples and reagents is now under way to understand where the differences came from. "They should be able to clear this up by Christmas," says Kurth.

Many of the main players in the controversy plan to attend a workshop organized by NIH on 7 and 8 September. Mikovits, who is on the scientific committee, says she has seen the abstracts of two presentations confirming her findings. "I think it will be fun," she says.

Virus sleuth. Study author Harvey Alter says he's confident about his findings. Credit: NIH

Our hero, Judy Mikovits, retrovirologist

UPDATE 8/24/10: Just my own thoughts, but could the variations of cfs we find be due to the variations found in the mouse retroviruses? I have always felt that my cfs, for example, is not exactly the same disease as others I know. If this is true, it would answer a lot of questions that the researchers are asking.

dimanche 22 août 2010

dysfunction poétique

day breaks and i'm still up
i sip the too white coffee and nod
in the dawning i attempt to write a poem
i must work i desperately tell myself
i must try to put it all down to words
in case i'm gone by nightfall
but nothing comes of my spinning wheels
they say nothing comes from nothing
and they do seem to be right
as i mute the tele and light another butt
think about all the stories i have outlived
yet comes no description no color no passion
no crisis no denouement no brave ending

i give up quickly and succomb
i search the channel guide for another film
but realize that at last i've seen them all
there's nothing new under the moon
and then i hear the rain begin to fall
hard against my windows and doors
softening the dirt under my reddest roses
the winter daphne lays wrapped in morning glory
and i can smell that fresh earth through
the open door that stays perpetually open
like an open invitation to the world
yet goes unnoticed as i'm a voluntary guest
the primadonna in this nuthouse
filthy and cluttered from years of illness

i light another cigarette and sigh
and type a few more bandied-up words
pretend that a poem has come to form
then read it several times over
make the necessary corrections
then publish it like manna from heaven
with every trial the desire is stoked
the way the clouds just opened on the earth
there's alliteration and near rhyme
because i was brought up on nonsense
i'm egging and hamming myself up
to life to death to transcendence
i'm writing the comic strip of poetics
a façade to carry me through another day
for without that charade what's left of me

do i think i'm kidding myself
or my audience if and when they come
looking for material to assuage their pain
uplift their souls or confess their sins
am i writing the rough draft of consciousness
something to hang on to like a thread
a dirge for the half-living and dispossessed
the invisible ones stretched out on couches
dipping salty crackers into peanut butter
mentally keeping up the plunging blood
yes we're all hanging on a twiglet
cluttered with angst and self-pity
beyond formation in the nothingness
the sad poetry of illness

i'll be satisfied with this poem in the end
i'll lay back down and begin to sleep
i may weep in my dreams when they taunt me
but i'll wake up knowing it was only a dream

jeudi 19 août 2010

9/11 was an inside job

babel land
war on terror

i take you by the hand
i treat you like a friend
i'm not manic

jihad means
never having to say 
you're sorry

get it through your head
black eyed twins
make the best specimens

i like the way your
hair blows in the wind
in every direction

i fall over in your love
i'm made tame by your
dark whisperings in my ear

timing is everything
if you think that
time is everything

though i'm not ready
for marriage i've always
been a free spirit

your eyes are black
diamonds i can't wear 
on my fingers

allah akbar there is
no god but god when
the bomb goes off

how do three buildings
fall perfectly down onto
their own shadows

it's a mystical question
here today
gone tomorrow

my libyan lover played
pink floyd's the wall whenever
he made love to me

i'm in complete maya
conditioned to believe
my own eyes

the nazis learned
all the evidence can
not be destroyed

you tell me i have
bedroom eyes
it's a conspiracy

mardi 17 août 2010


un poème de 1999

ces quatre murs
le ronron de la télé
les pillules dans une boîte
les idées folles
le petit déjeuner
aller au wc
une chaise pour moi
un poème idiot
travailler quatre heures
rentrer chez moi
attendre la nuit
je ne peux plus lire
un xanax pour dormir
ma vie entière

blank verse

ace in the hole
take a bunch of daffodils
and lay them on the stone
there's a lot going on
whether you see it or not

black sky
deepest night ever seen
venus like a car beam
in your eyes
no moon

scratch that itch
and put it down to dryness
nothing helps
not benedryl nor smack
nothing but a bandage

create a horror show
for the ones coming home
we've wasted years for this
the decrepit solitude
the scars of blitzkrieg

fuck i can't think
it's like another brick
red, dense, durable
fumigate the afterthought
down with cfs

lundi 16 août 2010

présent indicatif

arranger le dos
la colonne étroite
les fesses serrées
les jambes indiennes

et de la tête en haut
ce fil d'araignée
qui étend la nuque et
basse le menton

et tout doucement
laisser tomber
les épaules détendues
les poignets aux genoux

les yeux concentrés
au milieu du front
derrière les paupières
faire flou la vision

retenir l'haleine
en dehors de soi
et puis respirer
profondément dedans

remplir le ventre
comme un ballon
doucement le serrer
laisser sortir le vent

et l'une après l'autre
les haleines coulent
comme un petit ruisseau
qui se vide dans l'océan

et rien n'existe
que la réspiration
simple et calme

sans penser
le ventre plein
le ventre vidé

pas de problème
pas de blizzard
pas de progrès
pas de chaleur

pas d'oiseau
pas d'héros
pas de gagnant
pas de prison

pas de pauvreté
pas de faim
pas de mort
pas de guerre

la petite haleine
comme une fleuve
transportant tout
sans aucun but

voyage suprême
l'amour en soi
rien n'existe
que la compassion

dimanche 15 août 2010

An Early Adieu

Watercolor by moineau: In the Hospital

If this were actually it,
I'd have to admit a lot of anger for
the last 14 years of my life,
the loneliness, the loss of friends,
the mistrust of my family,
and all the ignorant doctors who
tried to make me see that I made
much too much about being in pain,
pain without end, exhausting,
often excruciating, until that
hour comes and I take my pills and
wait for salvation, relaxation,
and maybe even resurrection
if I'm lucky... for a few hours.

I read today that if only I
practiced cogitive behavioral therapy
I could make myself happy, like
the way you can be happy even
though it's raining outside...
I think I could be happy if it
were raining, if it were hailing,
if bombs were falling on Iraq
or children were starving in Africa--
I have the facility like you to ignore--
but these things are "outside", not "in".
The interior is not so easy to partition
or wish away or meditate through,
and when the clock strikes three
and I've already been waiting
four hours for that relief,
well, it's a penetrating fact,
that burnout.

Where people are concerned,
the emails and support groups,
how I loved my on-line friends!
They were easy, slippery and fun;
they'd wait days for a response.
But those off-line chums that
never called or those that tried
but did not get an immediate
response, especially when I was too
over the top to answer the phone,
they felt so jilted, ignored and angry.
I'm sorry to them all, and
wish I could jump to the phone
with enthusiasm, but there are
times, weeks, months, when
I just can't budge, and even if
i did, could you stand to
hear about it?

Or seeing my grandson a few times
per year and knowing that family
takes so much more but not
having the energy to survive the
two-hour trip to visit,
the car sickness so extreme, and
then the guilt and near torture of
feeling less than mother human or
feeling nothing and nowhere at all,
trying to rise above the nausea,
the constant curves and edgy vertigo
and endure... and love...

My partner of 17 years has
seen it all and was angry too,
but he had to give up something
intrinsic to be with me:
sex, big hugs; just little touches, a small
foot rub perhaps because
I feel like I've been beaten up with
a hammer and it's the day
after and each bruise scalds
and so... ouch! sorry...
that's a hot spot I suppose, not
your fault, how could you know?
He's become a good cook,
dishwasher... and my best friend.
But is it enough? He says "yes",
that good man, but he gets more
and more tired as the years
wear on and nothing changes;
no libido, no concerts, no outings
together. Yet, love can be strong
in spite of pain. Dare i say
we're lucky?

But oh the emotional flatness
that comes with narcotic use,
and the paralysis and low
blood volume, orthostatic
intolerance: I just don't want to
move sometimes, its movement like a wave,
and yet, move, walk, force,
grow strong, go to France
and then crash with nausea
and sudden increased pain
and bam! you're back exactly
where you were two years ago;
back on the couch,
and everything's dark and
vertiginous... again and again
and again... the same day.

When will I recover enough
this time to get up? And when will I
feel like talking on the phone,
taking a ride to the beach,
eating out in a restaurant,
making love to my mate?
When will I get up and not
feel like throwing up
because of some strange
whiplash, some odd brain
dysfunction no one understands
except some Japanese researcher
at the University of Kyoto
who puts out an abstract that
everyone ignores about how
pain shrinks gray matter?
I look at the date,
2004... Where's the follow-up?
Where's the drug?

So if this is it, if the heart attack
comes or the stroke or even
a suicide... no, my darlings,
I can never do that to you although
I think about it every other day,
and wonder, Would you forgive
me for it? Is 14 years enough time to
suffer 24/7? Is life on a couch worth
this much grief?

Or another trip to France where I will
be sick sick sick with stress and
ridiculed by the airline personnel?
Will they laugh among themselves
again or roll their eyes at the next
heavy white women traveling alone who
requests a goddamned wheelchair?
In my dreams, everyone is laughing;
I'm completely humiliated.
Doctors do the same, passing
around the dossier and steeling
themselves each time they come into
the room and have to deal with
one of us chronic pains-in-the-ass.
Must be tough never to have an
answer, it must be very deflating.
I feel for you... I'm full of feeling
for everyone...

I'm so tired. My eyes tell the story.
This is my early adieu
just in case I don't make it another
decade. Just in case nature takes
its course. Just in case they don't
get me to the hospital in time
or they decide to lock me up for
a month. (If they do, make sure
they've got my pain pills, ok?
Last time they never requested
them, the worst irony of all.)
Just in case my heart stops
by itself or with some prodding.
Just in time for sleep...
Just in time for rest in peace...
Just enough time to say,
I loved you more than myself:
I did my best to live for you:
I really did love you all.

Watercolor by moieau: Tu m'as laissée seule

mercredi 11 août 2010

Comment suivre l'Idéal

Je cours dans la forêt un jour de février. Il a plu toute la journée et les feuilles sont mouillées; je suis trempée des pieds à la tête, fait neuve comme une fleur qui pousse d'une graine, daphnée blanche si odorante je deviens folle, me tombe aux genoux, et reste comme un arbre. De mes orteils poussent des longues racines et de mes yeux poussent des hauts cris... muets.

j'entends quelque chose qui fuit comme le vent:  vite et de nulle part je la vois, une chasseuse avec une peau de bronze, des vêtements comme des ailes de soie transparente, son arc d'or et sa fleche en argent. La femme s'approche de moi et tend la main, son visage si proche, si beau, si rond, un soleil qui brille sur le mien. 

Je veux l'embrasser, j'ai le désir, mais elle se transforme avant que je puis: une biche qui tourne et court dans le bois, sans son et sans jeter un oeil derrière. J'essaie de la suivre mais je n'en peux rien; je suis plantée profondément dans la terre, toute épanouie et enferrée. Je ne peux qu'envoyer après elle mon parfum d'hiver, mon désespoir et une aile qu'elle a laissés embranchés.

jeudi 5 août 2010


accusation and confession:
i am a thought criminal.

a tattered antimatter flag
floats above the rain gutter.

in gray tones a phone rings.
no one is ever home. never.

a homeless man crashes the gate.
crows rush in to sift and peck.

they desecrate the labor ward
where i gave birth to god.

old man plays cat's cradle with
with bits of dessicated string.

crows argue string theory,
fighting over quarks.

the history of the universe degrades:
god lay stillborn on the table.

somewhere a phone rings
in this flat black emptiness,

now a room without a soul
where i am disappeared.

lundi 2 août 2010

Eagle eye

i'm experimenting with writing with my non-dominant left hand. i'm going to be writing one poem a day in this way, hoping to trigger and strengthen the right side of my brain... and memories.

Time to fly
said the little eagle

Time to release
the exasperated ego

I'm taking a trip
to the other side of my brain

I'm tired of being alive
with my eyes closed

Begging for crumbs
I put sand in the machine

This eagle is an anarchist
The kiss of life is death

Woe the elements in
the eagle's nest

The pauvre petite eaglets
in the afterglow of knowledge

Red spiders enter the nest
and eat the half-baked chicks

When full moon comes
the wing's on fire

Each rapid beat of heart

When one flies with fire
there is authentic music

Eagle eye morning star
sun moon and sky above

Terror on the earth below
as mothers sing to their babies