30 September 2008

a list of the names

it does not matter that the guard is set
once past the gate you don't care what is there
since you are clean of the wretched affair

it is a factor of intense regret
that no one notices the changing air
it does not matter that the guard is set

so now you have no need left to forget
just who you were and so much time to spare
to do those things that no one else would dare
it does not matter that the guard is set

the just gentleman

there's no one here to pay the price of shame
so we must meet to argue the full toss
as if the whole adventure were a game

you'd think to come out here to some acclaim
expect to end the day as chief or boss
there's no one here to pay the price of shame

it seems to me the story's rather tame
we were sent out to bear a paltry cross
as if the whole adventure were a game

you are the victim of some sort of fame
who watched as gold turned into vulgar dross
there's no one here to pay the price of shame

in time we will find ways to spread the blame
and then apply a soothing sort of gloss
as if the whole adventure were a game

our final task is to put out the flame
and make quite sure that you absorb the loss
there's no one here to pay the price of shame
as if the whole adventure were a game

walking fifty miles

on melrose hill i count each single star
the night is heavy but i have the time
to think about my purpose on the climb
and wonder at the passing of each car
this morning distances did not seem far
and now i feel each little bit of grime
still looking up the moment is sublime
and nothing can this perfect journey mar
each mile has put its stamp into my feet
so much is obvious in the tropic dark
as i make game of what is still a test
my heart must wonder at what i will meet
the kind of future that i have to mark
and the long hours still left before i rest

29 September 2008

past revision

if we mistake our wisdom for true fact
we end up in the soup and no mistake
that is the way to give all things a shake

you'd think that we would show a little tact
or give the ones who follow a fair break
if we mistake our wisdom for true fact

so much will ride on whether we have backed
our rapid action on something not fake
since nothing's left but to get on the make
if we mistake our wisdom for true fact

28 September 2008

inside the meme

we lack a sense of truly human mode
voices are raised when silence ought to reign
there is no way for us to read the code

each wants to reap what other folk have sowed
without a pause for any to explain
we lack a sense of truly human mode

no one waits here at the most urgent node
the place where all the symbols stand out plain
there is no way for us to read the code

we've come too far along this narrow road
to discount all the moments of small gain
we lack a sense of truly human mode

it's far too easy to let time erode
the certainties for which you should campaign
there is no way for us to read the code

a grain of powder would make things explode
and halt at once the long-prevailing pain
we lack a sense of truly human mode
there is no way for us to read the code

recounting the tale

this is the deed that falls out of my hand
your heart is open now to all our care
a touch of autumn comes upon the air
there is so little that we could demand
we look at nature and think it all grand
but know that not a thing is ever fair
that simple action is more than we dare
and each of us is forced to take a stand
my thought is open to whatever makes
sense in the morning when we first arise
to see the world fullest impure glory
not caring about all the shocks and aches
that keep us from the truest golden prize
or so we seem to tell that final story

The Treachery of the Stewards

 

John Maxwell

The real function of the state is pretty simple: to protect and enhance the interests of its members -- the people; to keep them safe and allow them to be as happy as they can be by doing whatever they want to do without damaging the interests of their neighbours.

The state can never disappear in any reality, because there will always need to be a trustee whose duty it is to enforce or guarantee fair play and to defend the human rights and the property interests  of the society.

The idea of universal human rights is a comparatively recent invention and the concept is steadily being extended, to recognise for instance, the fact that the resources of the earth, from which all wealth is derived, must be apportioned equitably among people and among nations. We are, for instance, just beginning to acknowledge that clean air and water are essential human rights and that no one has any right to damage these properties in their private interest.

In Ecuador the people have recently gone so far as to award rights to ‘Nature’ meaning that any interference with the natural world must be specifically and fully justified in the Public Interest.

This stewardship is the reason the state is compelled to intervene in matters as disparate as climate change and in the threatened crash of the world financial systems.

In the United States, where the wide open spaces of the West gave birth to the idea of Manifest Destiny and in Europe, where Africa was thought to be another wide open space, nations and cultures interpreted their strength as licence to plunder rape and murder whole populations on the ground that they were not using their ’God-given’ endowment as profitably as they should be.

Plantation slavery and the Industrial Revolution it midwifed, seemed to allow the most ruthless exploitation of people and natural resources. Which is why places like the Congo, Angola, Niger, Bolivia, Brazil, and other places have been so ruthlessly exploited that their people remain miserably poor while the foreign investors and their armies so richly rewarded themselves. It is why the so-called ratings agencies in the US were able to believe that junk securities issued by mortgage consolidators were worth more than the bonds issued by starving developing countries. Not only were they worth more, they attracted much lower interest rates because of their presumed worth  Big US companies like Caterpillar are now aggrieved at having to pay ‘extortionate’ interest rates of 7% in the current credit squeeze while developing countries like Jamaica consider themselves lucky when they are asked for twice that.

Widow’s mites

And that is why several years ago, when Jamaica and Donald Trump each found themselves financially over-extended, each owing about $4 billion US – Jamaica was forced to abandon free education while Trump got to keep his yacht.

Free enterprise capitalism has been so cornered by the parasites that finance companies that produce nothing, have been able over the past few years to extract 40% of the US GDP as their reward for bringing together “willing” buyers and sellers.

And it is why at the United Nations this week, foreign nations – among them some of the United States’ closest partners, have been so angry at the American failure to regulate their business more fairly and with less prejudice to the rest of the world.

The bureaucrats have triumphed. The managers have captured the wealth of public companies, paying themselves enormous rewards, while the so called shareholder interest has been pushed aside as the managers seized more and more power, allegedly in the interest of shareholder equity. The shareholders are awarded nice little dividends while the managers and financiers take the real harvest in tax-free capital gains.

Last year Goldman Sachs paid out $16 billion to its ‘traders’ who do nothing but make educated bets on stock and commodities markets. Each trader got $600,000 for a year’s ‘work’.

Quick! What’s Jamaica’s GDP?

Bauxite was discovered in Jamaica more than a hundred years ago, contrary to official myth. And the man who discovered a way to transform it into aluminum cheaply was, I believe, born in Jamaica.

In the 1940s however, with a world war looming, the aluminum cartel decided to look for bauxite nearer home than Guyana, more easily safeguarded from German submarines. So Jamaican bauxite, though non-standard on the then world market, became attractive and ways were quickly found to fit new bauxite refineries to process it. That fact was made even more important by two other facts. One, that Jamaica was almost 50% bauxite and two, that Jamaican bauxite was strip mineable, lying on the surface of the earth, needing only to be scraped off.

For years, until Norman Manley came to office in 1955, the bauxite companies paid Jamaica the handsome reward of one shilling ( about 15 American cents) a ton for Jamaica’s only significant mineral resource. In return the companies were supposed to restore the fertility of the soil.   No one knew that this would be impossible if only the first nine inches of topsoil were retained. It didn’t matter anyway;  most of the despoiled land was never ‘restored’ and despite the fact that a fine of $25,000 an acre was to supposed to  be levied on  unrestored land, our Commissioners of Lands, for reasons known only to themselves, allowed the bauxite companies to escape penalty and to ruin the Jamaican land , to destroy its fertility, rob us of its agricultural production (worth much, much more than bauxite); to destroy communities, sending bauxite refugees fleeing to the Bronx and to Kingston ghettoes, impoverishing them and casting them aside as worthless detritus of ‘Development’.

Bauxite crimes are amplified by something else:  The waste of alumina production, red mud is a toxic stew of caustic chemicals and heavy metals like cadmium and arsenic, damaging to human brains and bodies. The fumes of the refineries destroyed the ‘zinc’ roofs of their neighbours and does unknown damage to the lungs of their children. The red mud – even more dangerous – is a long lasting poison to  the underground aquifer which supplies most of Jamaica’s water from its rivers and wells.

One would have imagined that after sixty years of bauxite mining and alumina refining that the well financed Jamaica Bauxite Institute, the Water Resources Authority and the Commissioners of Lands would by now have made definitive studies of the damage already caused by bauxite and the continuing threat to human and animal life, to agriculture and to the tourist industry from this dangerous and unsustainable version of ‘Development’.

But since the Jamaican intermediaries seem so convinced that their true mission is to protect the bauxite companies from Jamaican interests, I think we will be waiting for a very long time to find out the extent of the damage that the industry has done. And, as I have pointed out before, in sixty years, with the exception of Don Tretzel-managed Kaiser and its gift of the Puerto Seco public beach, the companies have given nothing to the exploited communities and people they have so grievously damaged. Not a single technical school! Chickenfeed.

There is one more piece of vandalism to come.

As I have written before there is what I believe is an Olmec pyramid in the region of Gibraltar/Moneague (see pic) which has not interested our official cultural stewards. If I am right this monument would rewrite the official history of the hemisphere and make it clear that ancient America was populated from Africa. But whether the African connection is provable, the pyramid is part of the cultural heritage of mankind and should be protected, examined, catalogued and preserved for its transcendental importance.

In trying to locate   the pyramid using the Google Earth programme on my computer I believe I have identified a fairly extensive set of ruins which suggest to me that the pyramid was part of a much larger settlement antedating Columbus by nearly 2,000 years.

These relics lie in the direct path of the latest plan for bauxite devastation and in the path of the bypass road  which is being built to facilitate the more  extensive and  more expeditious depraving of the landscape and culture of St Ann, the former Garden Parish. It also lies in the path of the exploitation and destruction of the Cockpit Country, the geological, biological, historical and cultural heart of Jamaica.

I am appealing to people like Butch Stewart, the proprietor of this newspaper and other patriotic Jamaicans to finance an expedition to discover exactly what is at Union Hill and its environs.

If I am right, the destruction of this unique cultural artifact would be the modern equivalent of  the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria more than 2,000 years ago and ust a little less wicked than the Rumsfeld-sanctioned  looting of 8,000 years of civilised history in Iraq.

We cannot allow this vandalism in the name of ‘Development’.

 We cannot allow any further Bauxite ‘Development’ which impoverishes us financially, culturally and  socially and destroys our communities, our precious water supplies, our history and our peace.

 We owe it to history, to civilisation, to ourselves and to humanity to find a more civilised way.

Copyright © 2008 John Maxwell

jankunnu@gmail.com

27 September 2008

so no abatement

this is beyond the bounds of normal place
you have not seen just where we have to go
but only how the motions are all slow
and no one wants to quicken up the pace
for any reason we have lost the race
to those who claim full knowledge of the glow
and have set forth in full and earnest flow
the masters and the captains of full grace
there is no haven left for your odd sort
who speak in sentences and will not judge
without the fullest sense of what is due
not only on the street but in the court
who are most honest and will never fudge
saying only those things that you know are true

at a simple line

we reach the limit of the clearly known
so many fools have seen this place before
and we are ready to pass the last door

it is so easy to say we condone
those things that both the sage and prude abhor
we reach the limits of the clearly known

there is no time even for angry groan
so long ago each of us learned the score
and found that fun swiftly became a chore
we reach the limits of the clearly known

26 September 2008

so here's a tale

hidden at the sad centre of this maze
is something that we do not wish to find
the sort of truth we want to leave behind
to perish in the dark of fallen days
but what we know in all of time's delays
is that the march of pity is not kind
those things that are to memory consigned
will pop back up right into open gaze
visions are true though we may name them lies
and thrust the tale down into oubliette
before a word can honestly be said
we have the art of feigning true surprise
but not the one of counterfeit regret
for that alone we have to earn our bread

in hoc signo vinces

you had a dream and had to watch it die
no one would speak as all the good folk fell
there is no safety left beneath this sky

you saw the anger blazing in his eye
and listened to the hostile shout and yell
you had a dream and had to watch it die

nothing was said you had no time to cry
nobody thought even to toll a bell
there is no safety left beneath this sky

the times are sour and the season's dry
no word is left for anyone to tell
you had a dream and had to watch it die

we have no thought to interfere or pry
no hope is left that we might have to quell
there is no safety left beneath this sky

you enter now the kingdom of the lie
the place appointed for your living hell
you had a dream and had to watch it die
there is no safety left beneath this sky

terminal announcement

no one must see where tired phrases go
what truly matters is the broadcast lie
our motives are as pure as day-old snow

nobody cares what stubborn breezes blow
nor what the colour of the morning sky
no one must see where tired phrases go

tomorrow comes the radioactive glow
for now we punish those who dare to pry
our motives are as pure as day-old snow

we gave our bank accounts a chance to grow
and watched as all the numbers mounted high
no one must see where tired phrases go

we do not care if you hatred bestow
upon our heads we have the time to fly
our motives are as pure as day-old snow

this is the hour that you will come to know
when all our assets have to go bye-bye
no one must see where tired phrases go
our motives are as pure as day-old snow

25 September 2008

voice at the temple

so much to say and we are out of touch
with what belongs to our most secret heart
nothing remains not even a small crutch
to hold us up this is not on our part
the source of pain the reason for our smart
what makes us grow will lead us from the fire
take us to ease and much abate our ire
all that we plan to do is outlive shame
ignore the voices of the angry choir
and in our time ignite a living flame

what has been hidden in the deepest hutch
becomes a matter for the painter's art
it starts out little but it becomes much
we may not recognise it at the start
but learn to know it before we depart
as something never easy to acquire
a teaching that must pass from child to sire
that might reverse the meaning of the game
this is the thing about which we inquire
and in our time ignite a living flame

we make our manses pretty and as such
have many hidden words we must impart
before we let the visions leave our clutch
so we cannot allow the light to dart
our of our hands into the open mart
nor can we let you tune upon your lyre
the sounds that might with ease go even higher
instead we hold you down and keep you tame
insist that you do nothing but admire
and in our time ignite a living flame

prince you may think yourself a proper flyer
controller of your own life and desire
but there are forces here you dare not name
that will take over when at last you tire
and in our time ignite a living flame

meeting the hour

the universe it seems must turn to stone
all of our hopes must vanish into mist
we face the pain and horror all alone

you do not hear us when we have to groan
and voices cry upon us to desist
the universe it seems must turn to stone

silence is broken by a little moan
not one of you will rush here to assist
we face the pain and horror all alone

upon the heights another wind has blown
the blossom by another sun been kissed
the universe it seems must turn to stone

for what's been done nobody could atone
this is a force that none could here resist
we face the pain and horror all alone

our needs have been stripped to the very bone
we aren't expected ever to persist
the universe it seems must turn to stone
we face the pain and horror all alone

24 September 2008

a tree may fall

so much to do and so much more to fear
words limit us and do not give us ease
on this and this alone the world agrees
as day follows day and year succeeds year
the twists and turns of each normal career
seem but the leaps of ignoramus fleas
or else the palpitations of disease
and we are pushed to the far edge of care
those are the choices of an age of crime
when every speaker utters a new lie
word after word oppressing human hearts
until we seem to have run out of time
and nothing's left beneath the hateful sky
that will respond to our remaining arts

23 September 2008

this is not significant

what's absent is the sense that we are whole
for what belongs here has for now been lost
between the summer and the coming frost

what we thought the beginning was the goal
the meaning in the symbol had been glossed
what's absent is the sense that we are whole

so many stars that dance around the pole
but fail to guide us when we're tempest-tossed
that's what we find out and we pay the cost
what's absent is the sense that we are whole

early in the morning

those who find ways to strangle their own hope
are not the kings whose purpose we must praise
their only journey is down the last slope
we want nothing to do with their lost ways
our choice instead is with the morning blaze
the light that comes before the flaming sun
the star whose meaning we can never shun

we pay out many lengths of this rough rope
and wait for what seem endless sets of days
it is our task simply to wait and cope
with all the matters within normal gaze
we aren't rewarded with any bouquets
nor can we see no matter where we run
the star whose meaning we can never shun

we are not cleansed with any weight of soap
nor hampered by the endless laws delays
if we can't walk our enemies can't lope
and the wise donkey it is that now brays
truths that the coming god is he who slays
all that deny him and what's well begun
the star whose meaning we can never shun

we have the choice to abstain or to tope
stand still or dance in these complex ballets
be silent or announce the modern trope
knowing that the one who speaks first betrays
all that he is and these are no clich├ęs
so much is said but nothing has been done
the star whose meaning we can never shun

so much lost meaning

this is what touches to the very core
leaves us uncertain open to the cold
still with full knowledge we can learn to soar

this is no journey you have made before
nor any story that you have been told
this is what touches to the very core

you think to close the last unblemished door
and make secure those in the normal fold
still with full knowledge we can learn to soar

not one of us but has been keeping score
and does not wait to hear your usual scold
this is what touches to the very core

you need to hear that we learn to adore
that from our former nature we're cajoled
still with full knowledge we can learn to soar

what we have gained is not in any store
it can't be measured only in soft gold
this is what touches to the very core
still with full knowledge we can learn to soar