This Moment’s Bill of Rights

Freedom from prison, which is the idea (and the practice) that some can murder a little and be put away, while others can murder a lot and be praised and given leadership roles.

Freedom from leadership, especially from democracy and its twin, oligarchy, the belief that power should lie at a distance from the self.

Freedom from universal health care, which begins with bending the often stiff knee to the right of polluters to give us cancer, the right of a priestly class to horde diagnostic technologies, and the right of corporations to kill us at a rate we all pretend not to notice, after we have offered our severed breasts and balls on the high ziggurat of their contempt.

Freedom from electricity, especially electric blankets and chairs, and from contempt for sunlight. Praise for the solace of night-time darkness and the staccato glory of stars.

Freedom from universal suffrage. The name alone should tell us something.

Freedom from the notion that if something needs doing, we should get someone else to do it. Freedom from ventriloquism.

Freedom from standing armies. Standing armies, not politicians, should take a seat. Take a load off.

Freedom from protection.

Freedom from subsidized child care, which asserts the right of corporations to remove us from our babies.

Freedom from free universal education. Praise for the ability to see what’s not free about children in a box. Free universal hooky, big trees, canoes.

Freedom from literacy, and from every form of false consciousness. Praise for honest stories, and for cultures where books are available for the quiet hours after a day of direct experience.

Freedom from Western guilt, with its phony solicitousness for people who are “developing,” like they’re getting tits or something. Which they probably are, with all these hormones in the water.

Solidarity with practical people who think utopia and poetry are impractical: their beliefs are themselves so utopian and embellished and wrought as to be a form of poetry.

Solidarity with slow people, especially the slow, strong thinkers who took the time to read and understand that last sentence, when their culture advised them to spend the time reading another article about Obama.

Freedom from travel. Praise for here.

Freedom from gifts, and from all such forms of bondage and largesse. Freedom from rectangular forms of money. Praise for inconvenient, time-consuming forms of exchange. Praise for the word ‘lugubrious’, because it does what it says.

Freedom from human rights, which is the belief that some people should be punished and some shouldn’t, some forms of torture shouldn’t be called torture, some species don’t suffer even though they thrash. Freedom from the triumphalist belief in the superiority of sentience.

Freedom from hard labor and from that greater suffering, the desire for hard labor.

Freedom from ’tention and from the attention economy. Praise for widespread unemployment outside the field of vegetables and related fields.

Freedom from cushions and luxury. Joy in cold winter days and warm nights, or in full hard summer sweats and cold swims, the rough frottage of knock-about days. Calluses for the skin but not the heart.

Praise for a quick death and a long, fecund composting.

Praise for the creator of sunlight. Thanksgiving for the summoning of my spirit from the humus of now.

DAVID Ker THOMSON was in the company of poets at the Bard College Language and Thinking summer program.  He can be reached at: Dave.thomson@utoronto.ca




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