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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Scott Hightower

What We Live For

“Please help me undo this button.”
Lear, V, iii


It is either prepare to spend

a lot of money to get equipment

or make friends with someone


who already has room, staff,

equipment, and imagination,

and would be willing to share


now… in the spirit of keeping

live performance… alive… live.

(Though equipment is very hot stuff:


virus loves a microphone and lens

cap!) As for the show going on,

the authorities are only talking


about sport stadiums, renegade

churches, and restaurants…

but here in NYC we all know it’s code


for living theater, opera, ballet;

everything we love and live for…

Performers will HAVE to have


antibody tests… the divided self…

though, there are several plays

that might actually benefit


from masked performances.

Japanese, Venetian, French.

Modern. Or old Greek


masks with fabric stretched

across the mouths to keep spit

from flying all over fellow actors


standing, proclaiming from

the processional end. Hang

in there. This won’t last forever.


Wash those paws. Wilson,

a border collie, an alert sheep dog,

eyes a screen of sheep


from across a keyboard;

I, too, have shifted to working

remotely from home.

Fuck Pants

(With thanks to:
Debra Drummond Berger, the poem’s Alpha;
and Jody Johnson, the poem’s Omega.)


Sept. 6, 1916, Memphis, Tennessee,

the long ancient curve of attentive

Old-World shop service

began to drop at Piggly Wiggly.


With stocked shelves and shopping carts

for roaming the modern shopper’s grocery

department store, Piggly Wiggly

offered new rules of engagement.


By 1935, Porky Pig—sans pants

[plurale tantum]—with a bowtie, a stutter,

a son of a gun/bitch blooper,

and help from Mel Blanc


was out and about and on his way

to uncovered stardom.

Five and a half decades later, ochre

Homer Simpson sits alone on his brown couch


wearing a tight superman undershirt

and tiny briefs (another plurale tantum)

worthy of SpongeBob SquarePants.

His eyes balloon into an opium screen stare.


“Mister, git your skid-marked plurale

tantum off that sofa!” Who knows

what studio news broadcasters wear.

Today, a friend calls to tell me


how in this tedious time of isolation

and distancing, she is going

to have to learn to let her

lycra yoga-latte pants breathe.


Fuck pants! Now, work

and entertainment stream in.

And, for groceries, there is

on-line shopping and delivery


Scott Hightower is the author of four books of poetry in the US and two bilingual (English/Spanish) collections published in Madrid. He lives in Manhattan and teaches at New York University at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

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