eric chaet – central bankers save big gambler buddies!

25 09 2008

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND No. 152 | September 23, 2008


by Eric Chaet

Central bankers intervene to protect big gamblers
take money from everyone else
to keep their friends from suffering the consequences of bad bets
they’ve been misallocating money all your life
more for them, less for wiser investments
text books that tell the truth, hospitals, libraries
clean water & air, food for the hungry, medicine for the ill
bridges that lead from here to somewhere we’d rather be
prose, poetry, speeches, budgets, & laws that don’t just sound cool
but mean something you can build something good on
not just more of the same struggle
in hopes of getting back to a slightly less desperate struggle.

The central bankers say it’s for everyone’s good
maybe everyone they know
representatives of government don’t understand
any more than reporters understand
they mumble what the central bankers said to them
to the TV cameras & microphones
people everywhere are confused
can it possibly be a racket that makes Mafia operations look puny?
it’s all as legal as police, judges, & prisons.

The capitalists have overthrown feudalism & clericalism
that’s progress, I mean it, hooray for the Capitalist Revolution!
the capitalists have also suppressed everyone with only their labor to sell
as tho it’s shameful at least, maybe a crime to be born without assets
or to suffer reverses because you didn’t understand everything
or because a tornado or disease is bigger than a human being
or because you’ve cast your lot with human well-being & the future
not immediate jackpots, lots of toys, the admiration of the deluded.

Yes, tyrants have used the indignation & rage of the poor
Stalin, Hitler, Mao, the whole revolting list
but the capitalists also suppress
the indignant, angry, or resigned & wasting-away poor
& discredit anyone who even suggests
that what they’re doing is tyranny, too
tyranny with a great cover story about liberty & justice for all
& free enterprise
how all your problems are caused by foreigners & trouble-makers
& those they have suppressed mumble
what the capitalists’ talking heads tell them year after year.

How do you qualify to be a capitalists’ talking head, general, or admiral?
you must show some ability
it helps to be good-looking per the fashion of the time
fair complexioned
with a brief last name that sounds normal to a Norman
after a little conquest & a nice meal
but rule number one: you mustn’t be questioning
the doings & rationale of those making the unwise allocations
profitable for themselves on a scale beyond the ability of most to imagine
while everyone else is a hurricane- or cannon-fodder tax-payer
get a job, buy gasoline, heat your quarters, serve.

It makes you dangerously cynical against serving anyone at all
easy prey to diseases that overwhelm you when your spirit is low
no wonder people turn to crime, legal or illegal
no wonder the best youths rarely achieve what they hope to achieve
give up & die, or become middle managers for their oppressors
while many among the dullest are celebrated
for scoring touchdowns, singing love-sick ballads with corny accents
everyone pretends rural & small town waitresses & mechanics use to court
or making fortunes marketing sugar-laced canned goods that cause diabetes
or gadgets or fashionable trinkets whose production requires
the poisoning of rivers, aquifers, forests, babies, & elders.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than feudalism & clericalism
you have a better chance to be one of the winners
it helps if you’re willing to care nothing about the losers
in fact, that’s a requirement, for most promotions.

The financiers who have profited the most
from taking the biggest risks with others’ money
bailed out yet again with money you must pay or go to jail
even if you never bought into their confidence games
when those games would otherwise collapse.

The central banks & those who claim to represent you
who delegate the authority to them
continue their revolution against being ruled by solidarity with you
their feudal & clerical enemies long ago defeated.

Yes, I’m aware most poems aren’t like this one.
That’s not my concern—I only hope it does some good.

Who pays the talking heads, generals, admirals, congressmen, presidents
famous authors, experts interviewed every day on supposedly public radio?
Where does the money come from?

I’m not talking about killing anybody
I’m talking to you
I’m not just performing word-tricks hoping for praise
let’s do something else
let’s put ourselves to work doing something else
something better
each of us & together, too
can you imagine?
individual freedom, justice for each individual
not this bunch of rich gamblers too big to fail, everyone else expendable
it’s hard even to imagine doing something else
when they’re doing what they’re doing on such a scale
right out in front of everybody, maybe secretly, too?
once again expediency & injustice seem to prevail
it’s the oldest, most discouraging story
& anyone who makes a peep about it being unfair & intolerable
seems crazy misinformed probably a crank idealist unrealistic
if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?
count me among the crazy.


eric chaet | one letter and four poems

24 10 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 102 | September 16, 2006

I have many, many days in which–not considering myself either a writer or a professional anything–I achieve nothing. Most of the time that drives me to crazy, having been raised to be (maybe by nature, too) a purpose-addict. Occasionally, it opens up my understanding, allows integration of all kinds of pending matters–which I’m always deeply snooping into (my profession, I suppose, if I have a profession)–& allows me, once I resume work, to do what I could not do, if I kept producing, even on the bad days. I believe it’s better. But, oh, how rough it is on my reputation & economy! And bad habits are easily developed & sustained, too. Likely, it will be the death of me. I’ll resist, & try, occasionally, to produce something that makes up for all kinds of days of pretty-good production. —Eric (Excerpt from a letter)


ThisPoetry Dispatch” (#101, Eric Chaet–Revisited) might also qualify for my occasional online offering, “Notes from the Underground”–or even serve as subject matter for a “Blei’s Blog” where more personal literary essays concerning ‘The Writing Life’ appear periodically and are archived.

(NOTE: At the request of some readers, I will soon begin archiving particular columns from past offerings of both “Poetry Dispatch” and “Notes from the Underground”).

Eric Chaet continues to fascinate me as a writer with a mission, a man with many things on his mind—all of them concerning a better, a more meaningful life for us all on this increasingly sad planet of. He reads widely. Considers the human condition on a grand scale—history, philosophy, literature, American culture—and in his heart, I’m sure, think we are better than we are. Or ought to be.

His poetry is HIS entirely. He marches to his own poetic drummer. Nobody else’s. It may not be your cup of tea. Or yours. Or academia’s No matter. He knows what he wants to say, suggest, consider…have you consider. If they tend to lean a little toward the essay for your good, so what? He conceives them as poems. He hears them as poems. He hopes you will accept them for all the life and thought they hold.

I refuse to argue about who is or is not a real poet. If you’ve read and written poetry long enough, you know who speaks to you and who doesn’t. You know why. You know your own strengths, weaknesses, and what it takes to continue to be more.

We’re just all trying to say the good thing. Get it ‘right.’ Say it in a way it will be remembered. And, hopefully, call the reader back for more.

This is a little of what Eric Chaet is all about. Listen. Norbert Blei


letter.jpgOne Letter and Four Poems, from Eric Chaet

Norb –

Your review of Anna Kavan’s work [See Blei’s Blogs] reminds me of an idea I’ve long held–that many people (among them writers, but I’m not talking about writers particularly) are like expressions of dominant genes, and many
others are like expressions of recessive genes.

As I learned it–and gene theory is morphing and becoming more complex
fast–including more and more that isn’t so, as well as more and more
that is so, I suspect–those people who are praised and rewarded, as
though naturally, without any careful thought, in any particular time
and place–e.g., Marilyn Monroe, Eisenhower, Elvis–have dominant
genes. In our culture, they’re large rather than small, light rather
than dark, aggressive rather than cautious, etc.–as a rule, with
plenty of exceptions, of course.

When the culture radically shifts, then recessive genes may be switched
on, or, again as I learned it, those who had the recessive genes, now
have genes which may very well be more advantageous than the previously
dominant, that is, evolution now favors them more at the expense of
those previously favored. Then you get a shift a characteristics among
the population of the new culture.

I firmly–except for brief crises of faith, I guess you’d call
it–believe that we are at the end of one culture. As to whether or
not we are on the verge of anything so well-defined as a new culture, I
don’t know. And I’m quite certain that if we are on the verge of a new
culture, there’s no reason to assume it will be an improvement, or not
an improvement–likely positive and negative elements–just a different

But many of the writers who are unpopular, yet have a small but
intensely loyal following, it seems to me, are people expressing the
recessive genes of the current culture–and their loyal following share
those genes. Most examples would be unknowns–but Dostoyevsky, post
Moby Dick Melville, and Kafka are obvious examples, too.

You may take this business about genes to be a metaphorical or literal
as you please–I think it works pretty well from one end of the
spectrum to another.

I have always been drawn to those with the recessive genes–but if I am
to survive and thrive a while and deliver what I’m capable of
delivering, within this culture while it lasts, I must attend to those
with the dominant genes, more than I am inclined to do.

I study the economic writings of the investor class, I watch the films
of Schwartzenegger, Stallone, and Norris, I read Norman Mailer who
characters attempt to become Hemingway heroes in New York, say, and I
watch “The Unit,” Mamet’s American fascist series on television–about
people who thrive by being very good at being unscrupulous–lie, cheat,
get others in trouble, assassinate–while they fulfill missions that
seem evil to me, but which they are sure are good, because they come
from “our” side.

Mailer is a slightly different kettle of fish. Rightly, he identifies
artist with criminal and psychopath–not among the dominant, but not
among those who allow themselves to be squashed into drones, either. I
don’t mean he’s right about everything, not by any means. But that one
insight is worth the price of at least one of his books. It’s been
almost 40 years, but I particularly liked “Barbary Shore“–which he
wrote shortly after “The Naked and the Dead,” and, being about
artists–mostly neurotic, tho he tries to transcend it with psychosis,
in New York City–was nothing like the blockbuster hit.

Be well.




When I was young & wanted to join
the community of those who had transcended
the tedium & self-deceptions of their time
whose transmissions I’d discovered
hidden here & there among the others
at the store front public library on Kedzie Street
straight & shop-pocked western edge of my geography
my problem was that what I knew transcended nothing
only invaded thru the membrane of my fear
I could barely even cope with what I hoped
somehow, to rise above & leave behind.

Now it’s very different:
I know so much that you could use
to cross streets, to fly from frowns
from accusations, foolish hypnotic furniture
if I could only find the way to transmit it
to you now starting out against the holes
into which others insist you pound your self
I can barely even cope with what I know
& hope to send to you while also, still
struggling to initiate & complete transactions
with my fellow travelers
thru our little neighborhood of time
who fear & laugh at me & see no reason to trade
what’s come so hard, to me, for trouble–
enough to provide for myself thru evening
when I must release my concentration, & sleep
til another dawn, another struggle.


ENEMIES by Eric Chaet

So, you’ve organized again to break down & possess what’s greater than
recruiting support by blaming others doing the same thing–
blowing up anyone who won’t be governed by you,
harassing travelers & anyone else unwilling to serve as your soldiers,
mocking conscientious students of anything other than serving your
destroying the most useful people by praising those posing as useful
assuring them that The Invisible Hand loves their efficient selfishness,
treating kind, generous development & contribution of originality as
naive immaturity–
you’re just the ones to teach kind generosity to put on its costume &
& solicit–under streetlamps, along curbs–sex dates-for-pay
with dissolute heirs of conquest, fraud, conspiracy, & intimidation,
whose only so-called work is baiting traps at the ends of mazes.

It’s the Cultural Revolution, McCarthyism, burning of witches,
khans, vikings, Jim Crow, pogroms, nazis, caesars, black list, shunning,
black shirts, brown shirts, snobbery, Inquisition, lynching, morals
Khmer Rouge, Taliban, slavery, powdered wigs, bullying gangs,
yet another attempt at totalitarianism disguised as defense of liberty–
& everyone who has been trying to relieve human suffering
is forced to use up their courage just facing the morning,
while all the cameras & microphones are aimed at your laughing &
puppets–of you who imagine your final triumph is assured & near–
instructing the deluded how to destroy their would-be benefactors, &
the time, attention, & effort of their lives for safe little cubes,
toys, & a lullaby.

But what’s greater than you is greater than you,
& truth is as real as birth, age, & death–
if your schemes require keeping truth hidden, sleep with one eye open–
& without rest, the beats of your heart are compressed & carefully
& your only allies are as dishonest & greedy as yourself–
& I, born & raised in, & undefeated by just such a struggle–not unique
in this way–
am perfectly aware, tho you pose as my protector,
that I’ve only survived so far because I have nothing you want,
& because you believe it’s good economy to eliminate others you fear
more first.



Is somebody going to help me, or nobody?–which is it?

If it’s somebody, will they know who I am & what I need?
Will they be in a position to provide it?
Or if it’s nobody, will I know who I am & what I need?

In this land where only a few kinds of prowess are rewarded,
& everyone else is treated as competition or dirt by everyone else,
where lying murderers are elected to take Washington’s & Lincoln’s
& Jesus is something you mumble while wolfing a chemical & injustice
will I be in a position to provide what I need?

Occasionally, someone has helped me–
otherwise I wouldn’t consider waiting an instant.
Occasionally, I’ve been able to help myself–
otherwise, I’d have laid down already & died by the side of the road.

I wouldn’t have managed even to escape my mad father’s yelling &
or my mother’s demented attempt to save me by pulling me back into an
let alone the tyranny of the other boys at school, or of the teachers–
God forbid you should show some flame of intelligence they didn’t
the tyranny of the police or of the neighbors united by common
or the tyranny–by school, tax, seduction, misdirection, the protection
racket–of their rulers.

Those would have been way too much for me to face up to–
I’d have put my hands on the hips of the dancer ahead of me & got with
the program–
unless, occasionally, I was able to help myself,
& burst like a bird out of a carelessly latched cage,
right out into the middle of the fragile, carefully choreographed
game of reasonable purpose–who invited me?–
joyfully singing an entirely different song,
or just full of exponentially surging fight, flight, piss, vinegar,
hope, & defiance–
take me or leave me alone, already.



The generation rebelled, was punished,
& fell back, abashed, to made the best of what remained–
its hopes & compensations out of reach, ashamed of its failure.

But it hadn’t failed–
only its success took longer than expected,
& would be part of something neither rebels
nor those who punished them could imagine.

And those who either slyly,
or because oblivious to all but advantage,
never rebelled, but only did what was required
to impress those most liable to reward them,
ruled–ashamed, too–again, unless deluded–
over a time in which every failure & every success
required cagey representation–never was what it was meant to be–
was always part of something none dared yet conceive
even the price, let alone how lives would be arranged
once its tentative alien sprouts projected leaves, flowers, fruits.

eric chaet | somewhere in china

20 10 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 73 | May 28, 2006


Somewhere in China,
someone—say, a man—
is not benefiting from the industrial transformation,
is not benefiting from the financial bonanza, the bee-hive,
has, for decades, been quietly saying
something completely different, when he speaks,
something as subversive against the complainers & critics,
as against the wicked government & clever entrepreneurs,
subversive even against the victims clinging to the old ways
among the poisoned villages & paddies on the cities’ outskirts.

He’s rarely listened to,
or if listened to, what he says is rarely grasped & remembered:
it seems to have so little to do with what needs to be done,
to succeed in the race along the same line as his own—
opposite direction, tho—& he meanders now & then—
pace varies, too—along a road he builds as he goes along
of what the others discard.

He’s not imprisoned—he’s not taken that seriously.
Maybe something he said was quoted in a newspaper,
but, if so, inaccurately.
Maybe he was on a TV news show,
but only as a prop, someone walking around back of a crowd,
that’s gathered around a collapsed building or mine,
or exploded fire-works factory.

He’s not one of the famous dissidents,
tho he’s been talking against those who govern
longer than they.
He’s not famous at all, & he isn’t setting money aside, either.
The people around him are as used to him as to old Lao Tzu,
but they aren’t always so glad to see him as they were Lao Tzu—
according to Lao Tzu.

Anyway, maybe the man’s not in China, after all.
Maybe he’s in India, & not considered a guru,
no software whiz or hand-held electronic gizmo-producer, either.
Or in west Africa & not a corrupt official or rebel—
or maybe he’s in South America, & has no use for the agendas
of any of the pro-Yanqui or anti-Yanqui factions or cartels.

When I was a child,
people joked that since China was on the other side of the world
the people must be upside-down.
But now the wicked rulers of China & the USA are allies,
my shirts & pants were made in China—
got them for 25 cents each, like new, at separate rummage sales—
& wages have dropped like a rock thru a hole thru the Earth,
relative to houses, cars, fuel, education, health care,
or influencing a legislator.

So people in China must be oriental as we are oriented,
as Einstein says that clocks are the crudest meters
with only the vaguest relationship to the relative speed
& value of light & events—& space, too, isn’t as we thought—
& Euclid was only right if you’re a cartoon on a sheet of paper,
not walking along a road after rush hour, dandelion morning,
observing sheets, shirts, & pants pinned to a catenary, flapping in breeze—
bud-bursting tree of life, & green, blue, & floating white horizon beyond.

Other day, in a cafe,
a man who heard me talking about the USA
told me, “Love it or leave it.”

I replied with my eyes & voice lowered, to control my fury:
“This is my country—I was born here.
I worked for this country in Mississippi, Missouri, & D.C.,
& there are still millions left out.
If you don’t like the way I’m talking in my country,
you leave.”

The fellow in China is saying something similar
(so did Socrates, but it was Greek to the Athenians,
arrogantly determined to get their asses kicked, permanently)—
tho his language is by no means Indo-European—
with different symbols, syntax, & pitches
rising & sinking like thrown horse-shoes or ducks on a river.

Many parallel lines may cross at a point,
& events from different times & places
have more to do with a development, sometimes,
more to do with an inflection or an utter transform—
than those immediately adjacent or sequential,
or repeated, it often seems,
by everyone, everywhere—thoughtlessly, carelessely.

eric chaet | what you commit yourself to doing

15 10 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 65 | April 18, 2006


There’s always more to it:
It took you so long to get started,
because you saw
how everyone who gave it all they had
ended up with results they complained about,
but, finally, having to get started,
you started,
found ways to stifle your negativity,
eagerly embraced
what you hadn’t thought of before
that seemed promising,
& gave it all you had–
& while you were doing it
ignorant zealots took over your nation
& almost every big organization,
& other ignorant zealots decided
that the whole nation–
ignorant zealots, you, everyone–
were enemies of God & targets of opportunity–
& family members got in trouble & needed help
or tried to manipulate you,
or maybe it was people you took for friends,
who allowed themselves to do what you wouldn’t do
& were spiraling down in the consequences,
or someone in your area polluted your water
or soil or air or mind,
or maybe it was someone far away
& the pollution traveled thru the air or underground,
or thru the school you sent your children to,
while you were trying to figure out your taxes
to avoid going to jail,
or lots of people produced what you produced
& the price dropped,
or you were the only one producing what you produced,
& no one around you recognized its value–
or maybe you made a little careless error
distracted by odd little pains in your gut or back
or distortions in your vision or hearing
& burned down the room where you stored
your inventory, tools, & files,
or got addicted to beer or pills or powder–
& you were left without any means of sustaining
not only your way of life, but life at all–
there’s always more to it,
the goal line keeps moving,
there are always more really insane people
you must count on to deliver what you produce
or supplies you need to continue producing,
or even just to live until tomorrow,
& more people who see you as fair game
& more people whose need for help is genuine
& more people whose game is to claim to need help
& new laws & technologies, wars, & plagues:
what you commit yourself to doing
needs to be worth all the unexpected obstacles,
irritants, enmities, misunderstandings, old age, & death,
whatever the results along the way,
whatever others think of your results so far.

eric chaet | day before thanksgiving 2002

9 10 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 31 | November 23, 2005


Day before Thanksgiving, 2002, aged 57:
Sun came out & the river was, at the same time
metallic & full of movement–
scales, not like musical scales, more like fish scales–
come to think of it: a lot like musical scales–
major, minor–3rds & 5ths–chords, trills, octaves—
not quite silver or gold,
some alloy of walleye & carp, I suppose–
& the trees had conveniently ditched their leaves
for clarity of the vision–

&, so late in life, I finally figured out
what the Dutch Republic was & when,
& how it related to Spain & the Holy Roman Empire,
Pizarro, Cortez, Aztecs, Incas, & Cervantes,
expulsion of the Muslims & Jews,
Amsterdam’s pickled herrings,
the Baltic timber & grain trade,
Kepler, Elizabeth, Galileo, the slave trade,
Breughel, Spinoza, Rembrandt, Locke,
privateers, Venetian banks, knights, Mongols,
sugar plantations, Shakespeare,
the Reformation, pilgrims & witches,
English, American, French Revolutions,
Ottoman Empire, Bank of England, Napoleon,
Newton, Hume, Smith, Malthus, Darwin,
Rousseau, tariffs, profits, cannons, creoles,
Indian mutiny, Chinese opium, Irish potatoes,
steam engines, locomotives, boats,
the Taiping Rebellion, & Mexican
& Russian Revolutions, & the various
counter-revolutions & reprisals blatant or sly,
results of conflicting power assertions, & resistance:
no-one gets everything as they’d wish.

By which time, distinct flakes of snow
were streaming horizontally, from across the river,
from the big dark cloud of dirty wool–
(they imported rough English woolen cloth into Flanders & Holland,
finished, dyed, & sold it, especially to the French)–
that had gathered itself along the western horizon
behind the toy-like silo & freight-cars rattling south
like there’s no engine, caboose, or tomorrow–

Sarah called laughing to report that she’d just learned
never to shop for groceries the day before Thanksgiving:
the place was packed & the people all crabby.

eric chaet | the next moment

8 10 2007



Poetry Dispatch No. 39 | December 16, 2005


I live right in the middle of everything:
between Venus & Mars, the arctic & Amazon.
I have more money & freedom than some,
less than others,
more skills & understanding than some,
less than others.
I live between birth & death, history & the future.

On the one hand: elementary natural forces—
on the other: the market, political machinations,
traditions, & widely-held beliefs.

People don’t call me much, but I have a phone.
Some people have heard of me, but not many.
Some pay attention to what I say, but not many,
& not often, or for long.

I’m not without power—
but people with far more power than I trigger events
that sweep me along like tsunamis.
I live in the era of capitalist revolutionaries:
they innovate & organize, squeeze all possible profit
out of the labor & materials they synchronize—
these are no shrinking violets!—
then use the profits to innovate again—
leaving all they previously created obsolete,
& any who can’t keep up,
stranded by the side of the road
with a lot of fancy, odd-shaped appliances
that have little application
to their current needs or hopes—
like children’s toys,
five minutes after they tire of them.

I live among capitalists, the stranded, & children.
People don’t notice me—I’m one of them—
right in the middle of everything.

After the time of hunting & gathering,
& improvising a language,
while the tribe moves on;
& after the time when the peasants—
with their tools, land, & animals,
& confessors, plagues, & lords—
were sure where they belonged;
& after the cities, factories, nations, & wars—
I continue into whatever the future is going to be.

for liberty, but justice, too.
I’m for justice, but liberty, too.
Yes! I say. No! I also say.
I’m not altogether confident, or without hope, either.
The next moment is a mystery to me.
I not only don’t know what I’m going to do:
it’s not even clear to me
what I hope to accomplish.