To 82 Women: A Former English Major Processes the Weinstein Scandal

First pub­lished in The Satirist
https://www.thesatirist.com/poems/82-women-former-english-major-processes-weinstein-scandal.html

[Af­ter An­drew Mar­vel­l’s To His Coy Mis­tress]

Would you had clout enough, or ties;
Your cringe, my dear, might not be so un­wise.
We would mu­tu­ally mas­sage, and think which way
To wank, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Roche-Bobois
Shouldst rub­bers find; here, I’ll take your bra
Turn down the bed; I would
Love you ten sec­onds be­fore the flood,
And you should, if you please, re­buff me with a sob
Un­less, that is, you want to keep your job.
My veg­etable love should grow
It some­times takes awhile, you know
(It’s partly why I do this)
A minute or two should go to praise
Thine ass, and on thy pussy gaze;
Twelve sec­onds to adore each breast,
And maybe twenty for the rest;
A fin­ger laid on every part,
I don’t give a shit about your heart.
For, lady, you de­serve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I al­ways hear
My class­mates’ voices: ‘Fatty! Zit­face! Queer!’
And yon­der all be­fore me looms
-I’m ugly, af­ter all-just empty rooms.
Say no and I will take it out on you
And in my mar­ble john, will coo
My echo­ing song: ‘please watch me mas­tur­bate,’
And it will be too late.
I’ll yank your con­tract; you’ll flee to Dubuque,
To moth­er­hood, per­haps, and tod­dlers’ puke
And your nascent gifts all turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
Un­til the next one.
Dubuque’s a fine and pri­vate place,
But none, I think, do there em­brace
(None with in­flu­ence, at least).

Now there­fore, while the youth­ful hue
Sits on thy skin like morn­ing dew,
And while thy as­pi­ra­tions war with self-re­spect
Now let us sport…look! Fi­nally erect!
And now, like a hooker vir­gin an­gel
Rather at once my junk de­vour
Come on, let’s go and take a shower.
Let me roll your un­der­wear and all
Your sweet­ness up into one ball,
And lift it to my face
De­mol­ish all your wishes with rough strife
Drag you through the iron gates of life:
Then hug me at the Os­cars: air-kiss, quick!
And keep it to your­self that I’m a prick.

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Ashley Judd, Harvey Weinstein, Vince Vaughn BEI/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

©Melinda Rooney, 2018

The Love Song of Kellyanne Conway

After The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, with abject apologies to the spirit of  T.S. Eliot
Eliot’s words, with tweaks of my own here and there,  appear in standard font
Quotes from Kellyanne Conway in italics

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Let us go then, you and I,
When the polls close,
The evening spread out against the sky
Like Newt Gingrich, taking the wings off butterflies

Let us go, leave the school gym, walk through half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights
An Elks Club
Or bachelor party

If you have the time, if you have the inclination to speak to a stranger
If you want to divulge what is a very sacred, private matter
–the way that you just voted
An overwhelming question

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Those conversations never happened.

In the room, the women come and go
Weigh all of the issues,
All of the images,
All of the information
And make a choice
Almost at the last minute.

And indeed there will be time
(I want to do right, apart from my gender – I want to do right as a campaign manager)
There will be time, there will be time
(Women have been late-in-the-game deciders)
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder
Nearly two and a half million people die every year that are on the voter rolls.
It takes time to get dead people off the voter rolls.

And create
Every life should have a chance,
Regardless of race, socioeconomic status or circumstance

And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate:
Why would I hang a sign around Ted Cruz’s neck that says ‘Iowa or bust?’

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
An avalanche, indeed, an unprecedented deluge:
Negative,
Caustic,
Burn-it-to-the-ground
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Falsehoods
Alternative facts

Oh, do not ask
Why would I hang a sign around Ted Cruz’s neck that says ‘Iowa or bust?’

Because then there’s only two options:
Iowa, or bust.

I don’t sugarcoat things, but I’m very polite in delivering them.

In the room the women come and go:
“Please speak to me from the waist up: my brain, my eyes.”

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
I went out on my own, years ago, to try to create some additional choices
in a parallel universe.
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
I tell people all the time, ‘Don’t be fooled, because I am a man by day.’
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
I’ve noticed a lot of people are very bold and blustery on Twitter because it’s easy to do that With the poison keyboard
And a hundred and forty characters.

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My morning coat, red, white and blue with buttons shaped like cats, My collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My felt hat rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —

In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
There’s plenty of room for passion, but there’s very little room for emotion
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the Tappers, Cuomos, Holts,

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I have measured out my life with talking heads
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Above the chyrons
Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

They say a bald man is trustworthy. He has nothing to hide.

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
There are many ways to surveil each other.
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
I never knew how ugly and how stupid I was until, well, you know.

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin
To reject the spin
The overreach and distraction?

And how should I presume?
Sexual harassment is as difficult to prove as it is to disprove. 

And how should I begin?
Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.

Shall I say
Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?
Are you gonna look me in the face and tell me that?

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

Women are trying to have it all but are trying to regain control
And, although it shouldn’t be, men behaving badly is sort of an occupational hazard
They think that they’ve got a monopoly on talking to women from the waist down.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the silver bullet, the magic elixir, the fool’s errand
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To say:

You can’t appeal to us through our wombs,
We’re pro-life.
The fetus
Beat us.
We grew up with sonograms
As if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen

We know life when we see it.

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That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
This whole biology-chemistry-abortion-gender agenda
Would it have been worth while
If one, fixing her makeup and fluffing up her hair, and turning toward the press corps,
Should say:

“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

We know there are lots of leaks everywhere.
There’s nothing we can do about that, except not leak ourselves.

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I serve at the pleasure of @POTUS.
His goals are my goals
His message my message.
Uninformed chatter
Doesn’t matter.

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©Melinda Rooney, 2018

From the Clickbait Archives: Facebook Ad Resolutions

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Chestnuts can roast all night long, but the risotto has spoken:

So little of 2017 left.
So much amazing underwear on sale.

Down to the last minute?
Resolve to make a positive change
You can use your writing skills to build the life you want

Send a girl to school for a year
Kiss your boring walls goodbye

I never expected my life would flourish like this
We aren’t the only ones reporting faster oyster growth.

We take your style personally
Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists
Listen to Coco Chanel on this one.

The Best Sleep of Your Life

This is how to release what no longer serves you.
This is the thing that’s going to set people free.

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©Melinda Rooney, 2017

 

A Variation on 22 First Lines

 

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[the poem consists of the first lines of 22 books; each line is footnoted. If any of these lines leap out at you , run out and get the book(s). And if you’re ever in Galway, get over to Charlie Byrne’s (http://charliebyrne.com/). Gratitude, admiration, and apologies to each of the authors quoted here. Italicized lines are my own. ]

Scanning Books at Charlie Byrne’s

i.
Wonderfully, it was the boy-[i]
The cancer-ridden only son of a dangerous driver who has thoughts about turning herself into a man[ii]
-
Who saw the gods leave,
Wicking away like water off a skillet.

They departed on the day of the strange tide.[iii]
The plane was nearly empty.

Disease is a fundamental aspect of the human condition.[iv]
‘I’ve been knitting voraciously since I was seventeen.’[v]
He said this to a lover once.
‘I think it is what cured me.’

The premise that there is basic human wisdom that can help to solve the world’s problems: [vi]
It’s what he has replaced Them with
This boy now man
A book: 12 years in the writing
49 years in the making.[vii]
At first glance, it looks very similar to its predecessor[viii]
Pages thin,
Transparent,
You can read the next one through the last.

He drives across Ireland,
A gentle rain, as light as breath,
That soaks him to the skin.
Surely They’re here somewhere;
Hiding is not the same as escape,
Except for when it is.

He settles for the cows.
Blind with highway hypnosis
He has pulled onto a muddy verge, stepped out, watches.
His glasses fog.

Cows have no need of gods, he thinks
They have no need of stories
For them, the present is sufficient
It’s never been for him.

One protests in the rain, the others are silent, damp, standing, pacing, lying down
Tails swishing
Rain in their eyes
Audible chewing
A waft of manure

Women in the river, singing.[ix]

Some that once were here are gone now
Others have yet to arrive
Tucked against their mothers’ flanks
Wondering why they’ve come

If cows wonder.

They don’t, he decides.
They merely are.

Unaccustomed to driving on the left,
He’d clipped a couple curbs
Little Left, Big Right
He couldn’t get too nervous, couldn’t think about how nervous
Or it would be all over.
Critical thinking is something we all do, but we are not necessarily aware of it.[x]

Bó.
In Irish, this is what they’re called.
He makes a point of tackling the language
Of every place he’s ever been.
(A highly inflected and idiomatic language, Irish presents a great challenge for learners.)[xi]

I might be the villain of this story, he thinks. Even now, it’s hard to tell.[xii]

ii.
Words come first, a grid of squares, a puzzle on the plane:
ACROSS:
1. Fastenings
2. Krishna __________
3. Trouble
4. Dickens name[xiii]

Voices next,
In Ireland
People here temporarily,
For different reasons,
Fuzzy with jetlag.
The lives touch across time for a moment
,
Make a little knot of noise
Then go their separate ways
A handful of people
(the palm of God; He doesn’t care what you believe)

And finally, lives, some little moments that will someday go in stories:

Three days shy of her 15th birthday, Alison Pope paused at the top of the stairs.[xiv]

In the early 90s (it might have been 1992, but it’s hard to remember when you’re having a good time) I joined a rock-and-roll band composed mostly of writers.[xv]

Dear Franklin,
You know, I try to be polite.[xvi]

Some that once were here are gone now
Others have yet to arrive:

On the evening of March 27, 1969,
My father was in Leningrad,
In pursuit of his advanced engineering degree.[xvii]

Nine days after Mama disappeared I heard she was throwing down with Shelton Potter.[xviii]

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.[xix]

Do not set foot in my office.[xx]

I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old.[xxi]

Both before he came here
And after he departs
Each of them has seen, will see
What he is seeing now.

Human life, so bound up in stories
That we are thoroughly desensitized to their weird and witchy power.[xxii]

Order’s inescapable
Big Right
Little Left
Is that the form they’ve taken now, the fickle, absent Gods?
Perhaps they’ve been here all along
In cancers,
Cures
On planes
In puzzles
The hand-lift waves of passing drivers

The gods are maybe ours to conjure
Sure and the stories are ours to tell
Hanging here, in veils of mist
Before and yet to come

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@Melinda Rooney, 2017, with acknowledgement to copyrights of quoted authors

[i] Ireland, Frank Delaney

[ii] Ithaca, Alan McMonagle

[iii] The Sea, John Banville

[iv] Mania, A Short History of Bipolar Disorder, David Healy

[v] Alterknit Stitch Dictionary, Andrea Rangel

[vi] Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chögyam Trungpa

[vii] Absent Voices, Rochelle Altman

[viii] The Pamphlet Debate: On the Union Between Great Britain and Ireland, W. J. McCormack

[ix] Arcadia, Lauren Groff

[x] The Art of Deception, Nicholas Capaldi

[xi] Irish Grammar, Nollaig Mac Congáil

[xii] The Borrower, Rebecca Makkai

[xiii] New York Times Sunday Crossword Omnibus, Vol. 2, Ed. Will Weng

[xiv] Tenth of December, George Saunders

[xv]On Writing, Stephen King

[xvi] We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver

[xvii] The Book of My Lives, Aleksandar Hemon

[xviii]Sweetgirl, Travis Mulhauser

[xix]The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

[xx] Black Swan Green, David Mitchell

[xxi] Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

[xxii] The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, Jonathan Gottschall

 

Keynote: Variations on a Theme of Steve Jobs

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Ten years ago, in 2007, Steve Jobs and Apple introduced iPhone to the world.  For those of us too young or too old to remember it well, which is to say all of us, it’s worth watching again, or for the first time, if only to see his dazzled audience erupt in wild applause as he demonstrates ‘cover flow,’ a conference call, sending a text, flipping a photo from portrait to landscape, accessing voicemail: things that are so woven into our daily experience by now that they’ve come to seem humdrum.

But man, are they ever not.

It’s nearly an hour long, but if you’re feeling low about humanity lately, it will restore your sense of wonder: here are the things we are able to do. The talk is a work of art in itself, a litany of miracles intoned by a simply dressed man who’s remembered as part geek, part tyrant, and all genius.


What follows is a found poem from the transcript of that talk, which has been engraved in my memory since my son, then 14, showed it to me in 2007: ‘You’re not going to believe this,’ he said. ‘Grab onto something.’  Its words are, for the most part, Jobs’s: verbatim in some places (the final stanza contains the longest direct quotation); tweaked for fluency, coherence, and scan in others, with some words of my own mixed in, sort of a verbal glue.

Steve Jobs was possessive of what he created: notoriously secretive, intensely private, sometimes litigious, wary of theft. But at the same time he was a collaborator and borrower par excellence, taking and using the work and ideas of others to create something entirely new. I hope, from his place in the Cloud, that he will see this recycled piece in that spirit.

images

 

Keynote

i.

Push here for the days I’ve waited,
We’re gonna leave them here for now
Hit this little button here
And put them all to sleep.

Hit it again, and wake it up
And here it is: today
Portrait to landscape
Sleeping to waking
This
Changes
Everything

No, I mean it!
One from three
A leapfrog product
All we need
It’s all we need
It’s everything
It’s in my hand
It’s built right in

This stuff off a server? Up there in the cloud?
I, a proud father
Captured it here
The things we never knew we wanted
Right here in my hand.
Miniature interface
Graphite and hardware
Web-fingered software
Battery life
Custom-mold silicon
Speaker and microphone
All of it, here, in the palm of my hand.

Featherweight management,
200 patents
It takes you back home from wherever you are
Your life in your pocket,
The usual suspects
Mouse, clickwheel, multi-touch
Infant to man

Now here’s stuff you can’t see:
An ambient sensor
Accelerometer
Proximity sensor

Wait.
What does that do?

Well, have you heard about spurious inputs?
Those things your face does when it’s pressed to the screen?
A sensor ignores unintentional touches
It turns them all off
So the data stays clean.

This is not what you find on most phones.

This is not the crippled stuff.

ii.

It’s amazing
Amazing
How hard, making calls
Actually having to dial them each time
Right?

How many of you do that?
I bet more than a few

So you’re gonna use contacts like never before
Bring down your contacts right into your phone
Set some stars
Hit the buttons
The bandwagon
Arrows
All of those things that you find in the world

Here’s what it looks like when you get a call
Here’s what it sounds like
Go on, take a look
Push it right here, boom,
And there, you can see them,
Favorites and recents and contacts and mail
Scroll through them,
Scroll through them,
Scroll through them once more
These arrows and buttons and stars.

Ring
Ring
Ring

Jony! How are you?
It’s over 2 years!
I’m thrilled
I remember
When we started all this.
It’s amazing
Amazing
Wait—whoa, what is this?
Sorry J, I got a call coming in

J, can I put you on hold for a minute?
Hi Phil
I’ll just touch him and bring Jony back.
Hey, J, are you there?
Hey listen, uh, Phil’s here
I’ll conference you in

And so
Here we are

Wait
Hello?

J? You there?
Phil? You there?

Wait
Jony. Jony.
Phil.

Okay, take care, Jony.
Phil, thanks very much, but I gotta go, so–
Bye-bye.
Yeah, alright.
I’ll talk to you later
Like sometime this fall
Okay then, alrighty.

And I end this call.

So, now there’s a way to make favorites here.
Move Phil if I want to, you know, to the top.
Jony, well, Jony- now he’s changed his number.
I’ll just remove Jony.
And boom, there we go.

It’s that simple.
Very, very easy.

If I wanna see all the ones that I’ve missed
I go up, touch that button
Boom: ones that I’ve missed.

If there’s a new message, it goes there and tells me
Error prevention
Error correction
I won’t not make some, I probably will
But then I can just say sounds great, see you there
And then I can send that. And then, there it is.

It’s that simple.

You don’t have to manage the network, you know.
Be sure, no, be certain it will do the right thing.

iii.

Now let me show you something else.
I’ll pick Italy.
Push that button and we go right there.
I turn, I’m in portrait.
I turn, I’m in landscape.
Here, look at the pinch: make it bigger, now smaller
So let’s take a look now.
What’s this all about?

Satellite photos, directions and traffic.
Touch maps with my finger, the world on a screen.
And here we go. Scroll here. Go there, now we’re there.
Just go over there now; come back over here.

Get rid of them all just by hitting the X.

I know!
Let’s go to the Washington Monument.
Double-tap here,
Hit this button and

…uh, let’s just let it catch up to me

Okay, so now
The Washington Monument.
People down there!
There we go. Look at this!

And now here’s another one, uh, Eiffel Tower.
Look at this, right here, the real Eiffel Tower.
There’s people down there! On my phone! You can see!
Look at that.
Do you see them?
Do you think they see me?

So now, over here,
Colosseum in Rome
Here we are, Colosseum.
Colosseum in Rome.
Satellite imagery.
Look at that. God!
That’s the Colosseum,
The Colosseum in Rome.

Here we go,
Here’s the weather.
Let’s see what it’s like.
49 now, 61 later
We’ll just stay in here then, until it warms up.

Here’s Paris right here, and it’s nighttime in Paris.
It’s nighttime in Paris, and warmer than here.
Wow. Aspen. No snow until later this week.
Hawaii–it’s raining, that’s not good at all.

[I hope you’ll never really know
Because it’s really bad out there]

iv.

Let’s put it together
and see what it does
Is everyone with me?
Okay. Here we go.

Go on ahead and touch your music
While I set some stars by hitting the marks.
Slide it across now
We’ve only just started
Go on, touch your music
Take your finger, and scroll

See? Here we are. We’re in artists right now
A little rubber banding when I run off the edge
And if I wanna pick one
Well then, I pick one
I scroll here
I tap it
And boom, there it is:
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With A Little Help From My Friends

See?
We wanted something you couldn’t do by accident in your pocket.

Music fades,
The screen changes.
There’s a call here, coming in.
So I can ignore it, but I think that I’ll answer.

I answer it.
Howdy.

Oh, hi Phil. Hey listen, I’m busy right now–
–A photo? Hawaii?
Uh, Okay.
Hold on.
[So I go home, right here, and I’m still on the call.]
Okay, let me look.

[I scroll through the photos
I think it was this one…
Don’t know why he wants it
He looks like a slob]

Yup, Phil, here, I’ve got it.
You want I should send?
[Now watch this. I tap here? And boom. There it goes.]

This is what it’s like when you put it together.
A real-life scenario
Here’s where you are.

v.

You know, when I was in high school.

Steve and I, well, mostly Steve, uh, he made this little device called the tv jammer. And it was, it was this little oscillator that put out frequencies that would screw up the tv. And he would have it in his pocket, and we’d go into like a dorm where he was going to school and a bunch of folks was watching like Star Trek and he’d screw up the TV, and somebody’d go up to fix it,
and and and
just as they had their foot off the ground,
He’d turn it back on. And if they put their foot back on the ground he’d screw up the TV again.
And within 5 minutes he’d have somebody like this for the rest of the Star Trek episode.

I don’t think anyone is gonna look at anything quite the same way again.

What does this tell you?

Those of us there, we will never forget
And I don’t think the world will, ever again.
First was the first one
The second came next
And now here’s the third, in the palm of my hand.

I wanna get home, so I push the button,
I wanna get home, and it takes me home.
The button, you touch it, and it takes you home
It takes you back home from wherever you are.

Look at all the days I’ve waited,
We’re gonna leave them here for now.
We skate to where the puck will be,
Not to where it’s been.

Why do you do things the way that you do?
Alan, he asked me this 30 years back
Why do you do that?
Why?
Well, Alan, tell me
Why do you do things the way that you do?

It’s really not too shabby, is it?
We’ve really only just begun
I think I’ve shown you everything
Let’s go ahead and turn it on

You know, I showed this once to someone
Someone who’d never seen it before
Well, what do you think? I asked
I remember
He told me
Dude, you had me at scrolling.

download

©Melinda Rooney, 2017