Friday, August 4, 2017



(Moria Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017)

            Okay, enough. I get it. Look, I’m fully aware that, as a white CIS male, I’m about to speak from a place of utter privilege in this review, and if that makes you decide to dismiss my view, so be it. Just know that my views on class struggle and Marxism lend a lot more to this review than even my white skin or my straightness.
            Gary, I was just as terrified as you were when this buffoonish demagogue who spouts xenophobia and racism like it’s his well-done steak with ketchup order at his palatial estate in Mar-a-Lago. I was just as disgusted at all the outpourings of racism, of hatred, of hyper-nationalism, of sexism, of gay-bashing as you were. But as perfectly poetic as your day-by day, post-election musings are, we must talk about one of them:

“November 23, 2016/West Virginia, as always/you are fucked again/And I don’t care. You earned/your plummet to the bottom/Ignorant Fucks. Go eat coal/Choke to death on hydrocarbons/Die, ignorant assholes. I just/don’t care anymore.”

            As I said before, far be it for me to tell anyone how to react. The problem I have with this poem is that, as important as identity politics are, they cannot overtake class politics, and class politics are what’s at play in places like West Virginia. Coal sucks, and should be phased out, but you simply can’t tell a group of people who will be jobless without the coal mines that they should just die and go fuck themselves. That’s not how you rally a stricken part of the proletariat to your side. That’s not how you convince them that, through education and repurposing through renewable energy, their labor will still be needed, and that they will still have a purpose, and a place, in a post-fossil-fuel society. You can’t tell a group of poor people to die because they’re scared and voting in a way that, what the feel, is their best chance for survival.
            What upsets me the most about this volume is, aside from this invective, it is a remarkable protest piece, encouraging direct action (“When the gun ship comes for you/because you stand in the way of something/someone more powerful wants/think not of the choices you made/but of the choices others make/without regard for you/and hurl the last broken brick in your hand.”) that is absolutely needed in times such as these.
            I want to fight side-by-side with you, Gary, and I want to help give you the advantages that people of my race have enjoyed for centuries. But we need the coal miners, just as we need the wheat farmers in Kansas and the car builders in Detroit. Let’s make the divide between the rich and the poor, not between one poor person and another.

            You in?


From works for children to the macabre, from academic research to sports journalism, and from opinion essays to the erotic, M. Earl Smith is a writer that seeks to stretch the boundaries of genre and style. A native of Southeast Tennessee, M. Earl moved to Ohio at nineteen and, with success, reinvented himself as a writer after parting ways with his wife of eleven years. After graduating from Chatfield College (with highest honors) in 2015, M. Earl became the first student from Chatfield to matriculate at an Ivy League institution when he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. The proud father of two wonderful children (Nicholas and Leah), M. Earl studies creative writing and history at UPenn. When he’s not studying, M. Earl splits time between Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Chattanooga, with road trips to New York City, Wichita, Kansas, and Northampton, Massachusetts in between.

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