Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

Join our Facebook group!

Join our mailing list!

How Our Leaders Are Elected
by Michael Ceraolo

Article IV:
"guarantee to every State in this Union
a Republican Form of Government",

with no specifics about how this mandate might be made to happen
(some hints might be found in the 'fabled' Northwest Ordinance,
with its high property requirements and such);

otherwise, there is a seemingly strange silence
in our secular Bible
about the right to vote,

seemingly strange
only if one has bought into the myth
that all democratic wisdom that ever was and ever will be
was invested in the Founding Fathers

Actually, at the time of creation the common sentiment
was that the vote was
"a darling privilege of free men"

and should be
"extended as far as considerations of safety and order
will permit"

The poor,
it was believed by the beloved Fathers, had
"no will of their own"

thus would be at the mercy of the rich,

that they had too much will of their own,
"an immediate revolution would ensue" ;
either way,
they could not be trusted to vote intelligently
the seemingly strange silence
carries over to the teaching of history,
it is generally implied,

if not explicitly stated,
the history of voting rights has been one long straight road
to the 'universal suffrage' of today
Not so fast, voter-breath
The road has been more like an eccentric tide:
sometimes it comes in toward universal suffrage:
"The course of things in this country
is for the extension,

not the restriction of popular rights"

at other times and in no particular pattern
the tide goes away from it:

property requirements are dropped
grudgingly and gradually,

taxpayer requirements are put in place,
pauper exclusions are pushed,
poll taxes are implemented;

the Fifteenth Amendment enfranchises blacks
for a very short time in the South
Why that is precisely what we propose"
said a future Senator),

Asian-Americans and Native Americans
remain formally disenfranchised for far longer;

the secret ballot comes into play as a de facto way
to disenfranchise the illiterate and the immigrant
as the more formal barriers lose favor
"the theory of the educational test
is that it furnishes an indirect method
of excluding those who are undesirable,
not merely because of their illiteracy
but for other reasons"
all who would exclude did not have to enumerate
what those other reasons were

then the tide turns again (slightly) in the twentieth century:

women gain the vote,
only one hundred and thirty years after
the founding of the country;
Native Americans and Asian-Americans
some years after that;
the poll tax is outlawed in the nineteen sixties;
one-person, one-vote is at least
acknowledged as an ideal
(though far from acknowledged as an actual practice);
blacks are re-enfranchised only ninety-five years
after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment;
eighteen-to-twenty year-olds are enfranchised
in the early nineteen seventies,
being required to die for their country
in four wars (and more)

there are still movements of the tide the other way
(always in some other guise than disenfranchisement),
residency and registration hoops to jump through,
periodic purgings
(legitimate and otherwise)
of people
who didn't vote in some specified period of time
known to the purgers and not the voters,

to say nothing of the continued existence of the Electoral College
and the rule of many legislative bodies
that they were the sole judges
of the qualifications of their members
(meaning that they can and have refused to seat
duly elected candidates, according to their political whim)
                not complacency,
                                             must be eternal,
"The long and ugly tradition",
centuries old and with no end in sight,
of election fraud

A tradition that is always
at least one step ahead of any technology used to cast a vote,
at least one step ahead of all attempts at reform,
at least one step outside of the history books
except for certain impossible-to-ignore instances
that are always presented as
egregious exceptions to the rule,

rather than the rule itself

the partisans of both parts of the Party of Power
have phrased it thus:
"We are playing for a mighty stake
and the game must be played boldly"
"The devil must be fought with fire"

And they haven't been shy about the many methods:

where the bribers and bribees equally go free after
"engaging in activity that, historically,
George Washington engaged in"

where economic coercion
by employers public and private
"especially in depressed times"
is practiced:
"if you want to eat, help out here"
"almost 100% of those voting
actually supported the issue
in the manner in which we asked them to"

where moving and even closing polling places
can be done on a moment's notice,
done with impunity:
"We intend to succeed by intimidation"
"It's no secret that the name of the game for Republicans
is to restrain . . . turnout as much as possible"

where any and all manner of questionable voters
passed unquestioned:
"we have people who registered here 20 years ago
and haven't been back,
they're allowed to vote"
"It is only necessary for a man
to proclaim himself for"

(here correct for gender bias,
and fill in the blank with any candidate's name)
"to have his vote accepted
without regard to his residence
of qualifications for suffrage"

some public official could say
(with a straight face):
"I don't think our poll managers
would let a dead person vote"
another official would proclaim:
"Dead or alive, they would all cast a good vote"

where some would vent their contempt
for the process and the people involved:

"In fact"
"To hell with the Constitution"
"there is no right of suffrage"

where some would invoke a 'higher' authority:
"It is the religious duty of Democrats
to rob Populists and Republicans of their votes
whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself"
and vice versa,
"do justice by their party"

where even the ultimate power would sometimes be used:
"In some wards it has become
as much as a man's life is worth
unless he votes as ordered"
"I am fully convinced that no man
could have voted other than the Democratic ticker
and not been killed inside of twenty-four hours"

Pin It       del.icio.us