The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Sunday


Occupation
By Suji Kwock Kim


The soldiers
are hard at work
building a house.
They hammer
bodies into the earth
like nails,
they paint the walls
with blood.
Inside the doors
stay shut, locked
as eyes of stone.
Inside the stairs
feel slippery,
all flights go down.
There is no floor:
only a roof,
where ash is falling --
dark snow,
human snow,
thickly, mutely
falling.
Come, they say.
This house will
last forever.
You must occupy it.
And you, and you --
And you, and you --
Come, they say.
There is room
for everyone.

--------

"The two senses of the word "occupy" dramatize a psychological conflict between the need to resist authority and the conflicting demand to give in, an inner struggle forced by the outer, violent conflict," writes Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Using words in law, in politics, in daily life, we keep some associations and discard others, depending on the context. On a form to fill out, 'occupation' means something like 'profession'...on the bathroom door, 'occupied' means that someone is in there. In conflicts between nations, 'occupied' means that alien forces are present and in control...to make sense of the world, we disregard some shades of meaning and apply others." He notes that in the poem above, the building of a home and the Japanese invasion of Korea are a single occupation. "The invitation to enter an enduring house suggests the political rhetoric of the invaders. Or, do phrases such as 'This house will last forever' reflect the inner, defeated rationalization of the oppressed? Either way, the poem exposes the fearsome sort of language that works to justify brutality."

Last night I had two really stupid dreams! In the first one, a gossip magazine had written this nasty article about Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, claiming that their marriage was all a publicity stunt. The writer claimed that when he interviewed them, everything was staged, even a phone call from Russell Crowe in the middle of dinner to impress him. So Paul and Jennifer decided they had to do some PR to fix their images, and I'm not sure exactly how but I won some contest to spend a day with them, where it was tacitly understood that I would then tell the magazine how wonderful they were. I was wary because of course I knew they were going to be on ridiculously good behavior, but since I like them as performers, I figured it was worth doing anyway, because it's not like I'd get to know the real Paul and Jennifer under some other circumstances.

So I went over to their place, which was decorated suspiciously like my sister's old house. Jennifer and Paul had recently had another baby who looked just like him -- reddish-blonde hair -- and when I got there, they were feeding him in their bed, which was enormous and fancy and I was surprised they were willing to risk getting baby cereal and baby puke on the comforter but I figured they could afford to have it cleaned. Paul was popping Cheerios in his mouth and generally goofing off to make the baby laugh and didn't seem at all concerned with impressing me. We ended up playing with the baby, who was a very happy just-crawling little monster, and their older children, and spent nearly the whole day talking about their kids and my kids and going to the park with everyone's kids and my husband. As we were leaving, I wondered whether they thought I was very boring since all we talked about was kids and not art or movies or anything, but I also figured they tried to steer the conversation that way so I'd say how family-oriented they were, so I wouldn't accuse them of having their celebrity friends call to impress us and anyway it wasn't like we were ever really going to be buddies anyway. And Jennifer was a good cook.

Then I dreamed that I was having lunch with ribby and seleneheart who were in grad school with me at the University of Chicago (the role of the latter, whom I have never met, was played in the dream by my college friend Sharon's roommate Laura, a smart and hot Latina, which I am not sure describes seleneheart but it seems plausible enough). At the table next to us were two other people with whom I did not go to grad school either, but they are both academics I knew briefly in an older fandom and found to be hopelessly pretentious, for they always resorted to the language of literary theory to make arguments when someone else was making smarter points in common parlance. In the dream, they were having an incredibly snotty conversation and I was mocking them under my breath, but ribby and seleneheart refused to join in because they were afraid we'd be overheard and then the self-proclaimed BNFs, that is, the self-proclaimed big name academics, would try to rip us all new ones in Feminist Theory class later. I said I was already planning to drop out of grad school so I didn't really care.

It would have been very like certain people I knew at the U of C to tear someone a new asshole in theory-speak in Lauren Berlant's feminist theory class, and for Professor Berlant to support whoever could quote Kristeva the best, regardless of whether the argument actually made sense. But I suspect the latter dream was really about fandom, which I HAVE all but dropped out of...I dropped out of the fandom I shared with the snotty academics awhile ago, and am encountering so much crap in HP fandom that you've probably noticed I've not been doing much. Though what's the first dream about, if not fandom in some form...my suspicion that Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany are really rather boringly domestic in real life or my wish for same? I am sure I dreamed it because I saw that Dark Water was on cable, briefly thought about watching it, and then went naaah, I don't love Jennifer enough to sit through that...and because of that article from a few weeks ago where that journalist savaged Russell Crowe!

So as you can see, Bar Mitzvah stress and the time of month is wreaking havoc with my psyche! But not as badly as my mother...after thinking we had the tables worked out, we had a conversation tonight in which she suggested at one point that I not sit with my best friends, who are coming in from out of town, at my own son's Bar Mitzvah to avoid messing up the table arrangements at which she has all of HER friends sitting as she insists they MUST be seated, with the people who don't like each other separated and the people who do like each other kept at the same tables because god forbid they should have to get up out of their seats to say hello to people they see all the damn time locally! She did not seem to understand why I found this outrageous on her part and got huffy. So we are having one table of ten, two tables of eight, one table of seven and three tables of six for the adults, which I think may look weird but it is so not my problem anymore!

Saturday we went to the Animal Planet Expo, which was in town at Ridge Road Recreational Park in Germantown and was much fun...lots and lots of the people who came brought their dogs, and younger son was interviewed for Chomp Chat on the Discovery Channel about our cats! There were lots of slides and moon bounces and stuff that my kids are a bit too old for, but they won foam alligators at one booth and we got to see tortoises, snakes, cockroaches, a butterfly garden and assorted other animals in the various tents, though we didn't go through the truck with the alligator and the exotic birds because there was such a long line. We needed to get to Target for the last minute school supplies we didn't know about till the schools actually sent list homes, and new pots since the handles have now fallen off of two of ours and lava lamps as prizes at the Bar Mitzvah and inanities like that. (Has anyone tried the new scented Downy detergents that smell like the fabric softeners? Am tempted to use the lavender vanilla on all the clothes but if it's too strong, I don't want to risk it!) From there we went and all got haircuts, even younger son who was strongly resisting but I convinced him to get it evened out in the back so it would hurt less to comb, and he did. At night older son had a meltdown, which I thought was about Granny and I still think is about Granny, but the ostensible reason was that he got new slippers and didn't want me to throw the old ones away. Kids!


Kids play with giant animal building blocks outside the Animal Planet Expo truck, which had an alligator, exotic birds and more.


And people brought their own pets to see the free biscuit vendors. Look at that face! Well, and the girl, too!


There were many, many people with dogs at the expo. That whole crowd is watching a demonstration with dogs in the middle.


See the hat that boy has on in the photo above? They were giving out these Meerkat Manor hats! (cara_chapel, I got one for you, and a fan, too. *g*)


Now this is how you bring your bird to an animal expo! In a backpack! I thought that was very cool.


The site of younger son's possible future fame! He talked about our cats on camera! And they gave him a t-shirt. I am sure it is cheap for them to get content at these expos by giving out shirts.
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Sunday we are going to try to go to the National Museum of American History, which is closing in a week until 2008 for renovations. And I might watch the Emmys, or I might not bother!
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