by Ron Gavalik on November 7th, 2016

It's Monday evening, November 7, 2016. I just got off the phone from a call with a Democratic Party pollster. Here's how it went:

Me: Hello.
Pollster: Is this Ron Gavalik?
Me: Who's calling, please?
Pollster: I'm [insert name] with the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Me: *sighs* Oh, brother...
Pollster: Do you have a minute to talk?
Me: I'm sitting on the can, so sure.
Pollster: Excuse me?
Me: For God's sakes...I'm taking a shit. What?
Pollster: I have you on my roles as a likely Hillary voter.
Me: Oh, do you, now?
Pollster: Is that correct?
Me: *laughs* That's rich.
Pollster: Rich?
Me: Yeah, that's rich.
Pollster: Does that mean it's correct.
Me: It means I don't vote for Social Security privatizers.
Pollster: I still not sure what you mean.
Me: I know... Sad, huh?
Pollster: If you say so.
Me: I am voting for Dr. Jill Stein. I encourage you to do the same.
Pollster: I'm in New York, so I've heard of people swapping votes.
Me: No swapping, man, just be a citizen.
Pollster: I believe a vote for Stein is a vote for Trump.
Me: And I believe a vote for Clinton is a vote for war and death.
Pollster: Ok then.
Me: And you know it, too, don't you?
Pollster: We need to defeat Trump.
Me: You don't give a damn about the people.
Pollster: Ok, sir. Have a good night.
Me: Yeah. Don't call here again until you've come to your senses.

That, my friends, is precisely how I feel about every single Democratic voter in this election cycle. They've allowed themselves to be tricked out by the splendor of party success. Some of these otherwise decent people have ignored the Democrats' war crimes in Libya, in supporting Saudi Arabia, or in multiple other regions. Some of them actually support the natural racism that comes with a corporate-capitalist domestic policy. Some of them just throw out progressive values for the fear of an orange orangutan. Regardless, I have no time for them or their corporate party's agenda.

Civics, it's not just for ninth graders

Across the country there are people of determined moral character who assign momentous importance to American politics. In most of my published free verse, the poems and written moments are laced with political perspectives. In conversations among friends and colleagues, all topics, no matter how exciting or mundane, always come back around to political philosophy. We agree, the United States is an idea, too often mistaken for a simple land mass. That ever-fragile idea of freedom from tyrannical aristocrats requires thoughtful men and women to come together in exploration of our civic lives. Study. Debate. Empathy. Humor. Love. Courage. Devotion. These are the attributes of politics that define our pleasures and pains. Citizens, in the duty and privilege that title carries, are the only organic mechanisms that keep democracy from falling into the dark temptations of totalitarianism.

Unfortunately, far too many of our fellow citizens have given up on civic life. Men and women in every voting demographic continuously trade the scholarly ideals of democracy for the ignorant sledgehammer of authoritarianism that is now represented by the financial and political establishments within both major political parties.

Financially crippled by the back-breaking greed of corporate oligarchy, too many good people have grown enraged over anti-politic topics. Womanizing, hairdos, clothing choices, tweets, and other non-legislative issues have dominated the realm of what the media sets as the limits of acceptable debate. Without the mental capacity to understand the complexities of global warming, terrible trade deals, or rapidly changing race and religious demographics, many citizens search for easy scapegoats and "pied-pipers" at which to direct their resentment.

Rather than point the finger at the swelled power of the corporate state, Americans of low political and economic comprehension have unleashed a violent fury at the abstract specter of terrorism or racism or sexism or an increased non-white population. In a fog of seething rage, our sense of justice is faded, and with it, intellectualism, and the pursuit of truth.

The celebration of our lack of knowledge, reactionary terror, and the desire to oppress change through violence has come to a head under the the presidential candidacies of a charismatic moron: Donald Trump (a.k.a. Drumpf) and a total corporate fascist: Hillary Clinton. Believe it or not, these petty, privileged, sideshows of the corporate state have awakened the demons within us that will haunt our nightmares for years to come.

Wherever you are, welcome to America in 2016

All I can ask of anyone who reads this blog is to remember, no matter who wins this presidential election, real progressives will have to fight hard for our values. The planet is only growing more unstable. The few social public trusts we have left are under constant attack. It's easy to get behind a candidate and defend them at all costs while ignoring their sins. It's more challenging, much more challenging to hold accountable these vain and venial politicos.

I'll be proudly casting my vote tomorrow afternoon for Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party. In my view, investing my vote in the nation's only progressive party is a no-brainer. I encourage you all to review the Green New Deal. If after reading, you can honestly say that you do not support such initiatives, fine, go vote and support one of Goldman Sachs' candidates. (They prefer Clinton, in case you're wondering.)

But if you identify with the green plan, for the love of everything holy, vote for it. Don't give in to the propaganda of strategic voting or the fear of Trump or the fear of Clinton. Don't let anyone tell you how to think or how to live. Your decisions and choices on how to live a civic life is entirely in your hands.

We can make a difference, if we do it together.

by Ron Gavalik on May 7th, 2016

There's something peculiar
about witnessing courage
in the face of hatred
True righteousness hits me deep
It flourishes from within
the way epiphanies bloom in scholars
or the way love overwhelms
young students

There's majesty in the underdog
who stands until his knees buckle
who shouts until her voice breaks
fueled only by fortitude
mocked for feeling empathy
hated for living truth

In moments of moral principle
I see peace amidst the chaos
poetry amidst the prose
in the eyes of the young
and in the old
who fight
for justice

by Ron Gavalik on April 22nd, 2016

On late spring nights
a breeze through cracked windows
feeds silent madness
It screams louder than life
Memories flow as a river
Their resentment for my existence
once brought depression
After years of absorbing rancor
the onslaught of sandpaper words
ground my soul into flakes
carried away in the wind

Hollowed into a human cask
guilt has nothing to grasp
Hatred from others means little
Perhaps amusement
A muffled chuckle
breathed into the pillow
breaks the silence
until sleep

by Ron Gavalik on March 4th, 2016

It is Friday, March 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. As I sit here in my cold office at the gig, I couldn't help but feel a rush of something psychologists refer to as future nostalgia. Yes, I know future nostalgia reads as peculiar. It is the sensation of confidence laced with righteousness. It is the knowledge of a forthcoming truth. It is to postulate the times to come will have an optimistic lining, despite climate problems.

Future nostalgia is to understand good people will have more books to read and more quality time to read them. Children will feel a greater sense of purpose. Workers will find more value in their struggle. Parents will be more likely to hug. Fruits and nuts will grow more abundantly in food forests. Fashions will be more fun, sewn by respected hands. Pleasant moods and belly laughs will be the norm. History books will include creationism as a footnote of darker times. The humanities will unlock parts of the imagination we never deemed possible. Electric bicycles will be common, operated on solar cells. Love will be shared more easily. Hatred given no quarter. It will happen, all of this, guaranteed.

Future nostalgia is why I can say, twenty-five years from now, when I am an older man, the murdering corporatists will be beaten, shamed back into their caves of gluttonous hatred. I will then drive to Vermont. I will sit on a park bench near Lake Champlain in Burlington. As I gaze out over the water, I will whisper the words, 'Thank you.'

by Ron Gavalik on February 18th, 2016

At the Bernie Sanders rally on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Alabama, a middle-aged woman in the crowd fell to the floor from illness. The entire rally silenced. All 7,000 attendees turned their focus to her welfare. When the medics arrived, the crowd erupted into cheers, a heroes’ welcome. The people then applauded the ill woman once she regained the ability to walk out of the event.

Two weeks prior, at a rally for the authoritarian populist Donald Trump, three white men stomped a black man. He’d worn a t-shirt that read 'Black Lives Matter.'