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Friday, July 12, 2002


Mirror, reMirroring

By Bill Costley


(for carolin combs)


Some of us will fail by failing,

Some of us succeed in a big way.

Some of us still muddle thru,

Living to regret our Success

As burn-outs in our Culture

Of flaming media creatures.


We still have an ambiguous choice:

Suffer our own group destiny &

Its pseudo-eternal exclusivity:

Publicity pariah. You've told me,

'Misery loves miserable company.'


Risk? Risk sudden disjuncture

>From set, peers, generation, destiny

Scripting your own variant way.

Reward: not obvious or reassuring.


This generation needs a good 5c cigar

Snarls the radical right, reacting,

obviously willing to sell one to us.


Speaking as a child of the '40s,

Teen of the '50s, adult of the '60s,

Parent of the '60s & '70s,

Grandparent of the '90s & '00s,

Who would wish your destiny

On you but the bitterest cynic,

Or failed latter-day idealist?


Your zen will be environmental.

Your mission, should you accept it,

Heroic resistance or quietism,

Politics or religion, war or peace.

There are, after all, only 6~

short story plots in pop-psych,

latter-day Oswald Spenglerism.


Constant: the capacity to resist,

the capacity to suffer without

visible external punishment.

I'm calling it: misery miserying.


I'd love you to prove me wrong.

I'd love you more. More is more.

More than the logic of decline,

More than Spengler's romantic

Determinism, more than suicidal

Hemingway's grace under pressure,

finger pulling the steel trigger,

shattering his father's suicide,

source of his model of manhood.


This poem's didactic & never ends.

The breath of life pales as gift.

I will tell you this until I die.

You're free to read it or not.


I assure you I'll fail. I give you

My failure in small installments,

Releasing me from any guruhood.

I was a witness to my own time.

I joined its revolution; it lacked

Any sense of its class-origin.

So it failed. Its best hope remains

Its hope. It's up to you to say

If it's your best hope or worst.

Ours was a just society, for all,

With plenty, assumed, depleted

By the ravenous class: brokers.


Our revolutionary ideals turned

Feral & this nation took on

The brokers' self-image: Wolf.

We must either flee it, join it,

kill it, or be eaten by it.

[04 APR 79; rev. 15 MAR 95; 02 JUL 02]