New in Des Moines

Aug 26

2014 Reading List Book 48: The New Testament by Jericho Brown -

Chatted last night with Jericho about this book—it was our August Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection. It’s a fascinating book, dealing with guilt and redemption, pain and joy, all tied together in beautiful lyric form. Jericho is an awesome poet and a terrific person, and if you want a taste of his work, check out the @RumpusPoetry feed on Twitter. I spent some time on Sunday tweeting selections from the book.

Aug 17

“May the force be ever in your favor, Harry.” — Gandalf (The Chronicles of Narnia)

By Lemony Snicket

(Source: elderwand, via ramblingpoetry)

Aug 16

Anonymous said: this is about people wanting JUSTICE for a boy who was MURDERED in cold fucking blood. please stop being so ignorant with your "not all cops" bullshit


Uhm excuse me, but no. GENERALIZING AN ENTIRE GROUP IS WRONG NO MATTER WHAT GROUP YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. THIS IS NOT A HARD CONCEPT. And if you’re attacking ALL cops because of one, you aren’t talking about justice, you’re talking about revenge. So please, don’t be so ignorant.

-the Polish one

Sorry, but no. This is like the whole #yesallwomen ad #notallmen debate, Not all cops are bad news. Not all cops are racist. But enough are that especially if you’re a person of color, you have to assume that the cop is probably going to hassle you for no reason until you have reason to believe otherwise.

Look, I’m of the demographic that theoretically has the least to fear from cops. I’m straight, white, male, middle-aged and have a middle-class income. And I’ve been hassled by cops for no reason, so I know if it’s happened to me, it’s happening to lots of other people who don’t have my level of privilege.

Put simply, I don’t trust a police officer until I have positive reason to do so. I understand that we must have police forces in a civil society, and I wish I could give all cops the benefit of the doubt, but given their actions time and time again in all the parts of the country where I’ve lived (all three coasts and the middle), it would be foolish of me to trust blindly. If the police want that kind of trust, they have to earn it, and right now they’re doing a collectively shitty job.

Aug 15

2014 Reading List Book 46: Imago by Octavia Butler -

On one hand, I ask myself why I waited to long to read Butler. On the other, I’m enjoying this so much that I’m kind of glad I waited. Imago is the last book of Lilith’s Brood. Like some of her other series, this one is connected from book to book, but the books also stand alone in that they’re not focused on the same characters every time. Lilith plays a major role in all three books, but she’s the primary character only in the first one.

This book is from the perspective of Jodahs, one of Lilith’s children (with four other co-parents—I’m not going to try to explain it here). It’s called a construct, because it’s been built of both human and Oankali DNA, but what makes Jodahs really unique is that it’s the first Ooloi construct. I keep using “it” as the pronoun because that’s the proper one to use—Ooloi are sexless. They’re also the connecting point between mates, whether human or Oankali, and they manage the genetic composition of all offspring. So what Jodahs really is, though the book never states this explicitly, is the first generation of the human-Oankali hybrid species that had been talked about since book one.

What I like most about what Butler does in this book is the way she shines the fears that the humans have been expressing all along about this genetic trade back onto the Oankali. Up till now, the expectation has been that the Oankali take what they want from humans “in trade” for allowing humans continued existence as part of the Oankali. But really the choices are between assimilation and extinction, and the Oankali don’t get that, because they continue on much as they had before, with what they see as the good parts of the humans added to the mix.

So what Jodahs represents to the Oankali is their own practices coming back to bite them in the ass. Jodahs is a true hybrid, a new species, a whole new genetic path for the two species. It’s a terrific book and a great series.

Tips For Being An Unarmed Black Teen


Satire site, The Onion, posted this today.


(via branza)

Aug 14

What next in Ferguson?

I don’t know, but I can tell you what I fear. The fact that Ferguson is calm now with the state troopers in place shows that the Ferguson PD was the largest part of the problem. The fact that the St. Louis county Prosecuting Attorney is incensed at Governor Nixon for moving the state troopers is also not a good sign. At this point I would not be surprised if nothing at all happens to the cop who murdered Mike Brown. I hope I’m wrong on that, but I won’t be surprised.

What I so expect to happen is that once the state troopers go back to their regular duties, once the Ferguson PD resumes control, I think there will be some payback. I think that department, unless it’s purged and rebuilt, will double down on its treatment of POC. And because we will have all moved on to the next story, we won’t hear abut it or protest it or get at what’s necessary to keep it from happening again.

And that is fucking depressing.

Aug 12


Aug 10

Silence is Not an Option -


Another young black man has been gunned down. His name was Mike Brown. He was unarmed.

My [redacted] e-mailed me because she knew I would be upset about this story, because she knows all of my heart, and all I could say in response was, “I am numb.”

I don’t care if Mike Brown was going to…

Aug 09

“I’m fascinated with the voyeurism that defines so much of contemporary culture. We watch others, we watch ourselves, and share images of ourselves being watched. Revisiting the stories and myths that encompass many of the poems in Spectator necessitated a kind of voyeurism, too.” — The Rumpus Poetry Book Club Chat With Kara Candito. (via therumpus)

(via therumpus)

Aug 08

2014 Reading List Book 45: Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler -

This is book two of the Xenogenesis series, now packaged as Lilith’s Brood. It is, like most of Butler’s work, nearly impossible to reduce to a handful of sentences, but I’ll try anyway. Butler is examining what might happen if 1) humans nearly destroy themselves—in this series,the tool is nuclear war and 2) what would be the cost of being saved by aliens who just happen to be observing them. In this book, she searches for the nub of what it means to be human, and how some people are unwilling to be anything else. There’s also the idea that humans without hierarchical systems revert to savagery pretty quickly and the threat that Earth will be destroyed when the Oankali leave, so the only chance humanity has is to move to Mars. And there’s loads of dystopia and confict, which will surprise to one who is familiar with Butler’s work. Can’t wait to get to the last book.