Experiment in Destiny and other poems

by Jane Gilday

Experiment in Destiny
Today is a turning point. I pledge–to no one in particular–to never again
lie or tamper with stone-cold fact or with reality. Fiction will henceforth
not be on my palette, because i don’t have a genuine artist’s palette–
i mix my colors in black plastic tubs left over from microwave entrees.
Staring at old frozen food dishes tends to kill the romantic soft-focus allure
of fiction, and fiction, make no mistake, is good for business.

Actually the business of business is fiction.

But back to mixing colors–often I’m too lazy to mix them, so
i’ll use those pre-fab polyvinyl acrylic craft paints that
come in little bottles, marketed under brandnames like “Kozy Kottage
Krafters Kolors.” This approach has little of the tortured aesthetic
zeitgeist paradigm-probe aura to it none of the arcane
atelier vibe of ‘le studio de beaux arts’ but it sure is cheaper and
more convenient.

I might as well go all the way and forswear language abuse. Willfully
inventing words or deliberately using inappropriate words without offering
the reader a key to the mis-map may help one produce stunning
crypto-symbolist wordplay, but also paves the way to stitches and legal
problems. I’ve been abusing language for so long it’s become second-nature,
so this new clearheaded approach will probably require some
resolve, but i’m gonna be strong. “Steely-jawed” is my new middle name.

See? I failed already. “Steely-jawed” is a perfect example of all that
I’ve just decided to abhor. I’m not even sure if abhorence isn’t
just another example of language abuse. In reality someone who is
“steely-jawed” would probably be some form of an invalid–it summons forth
images of braces and neck restraints; colostomy bags and the residue of
terrible events. “Shhhh, he hates to be pitied! Though his lower jaw is now
mostly cor-10 steel, he wants to be treated like any other normal lad. He
didn’t chose to be hit by flying construction debris, it was just a
misfortune, a horrible destiny.”

SEE? You’ve fallen right into my losing struggle, haven’t you?
‘Steely-jawed’ summons forth images of comic book heroes, but i just began
to convince you otherwise. Thirty seconds ago you were rolling my statement around
in your head, thinking “darn it, Jane is RIGHT, I HAVE been fooled by that ‘steely-jawed’
turn-of-phrase for far too long. Oh that poor kid. It must suck to be steely jawed.”

Actually it doesn’t suck to be steely-jawed because nobody is steely jawed,
except for cartoon heroes. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s been indulging in
language abuse, and it makes me so glad to be able to say–in all good
conscience–that, while guilty of abusing language, i have avoided
the lures and perils of graven imagery. Walt Disney surely had a lot to
answer for when he faced his final judgement. Walt was Graven Image Wizard #1.

He left behind a world littered with phantasmic animations which created
great anxiety in the minds of defenseless humans both young and old. Why
doesn’t Donald Duck wear any pants? Is Mommy gonna get me those blobby
rubber shoes that Mickey and Minnie wear? It looks like they’d have to
remove half your foot to get it into those things. It would be like having
twin upside-down teapots for shoes. I have to pee and i can’t hold it in any
more and all those birds just exploded when the bat demons flew out of the
volcano of doom. I want some Jello.

One of my first definite sexual arousals happened when i saw Disney’s “The
Shaggy Dog.” Being able to turn into another creature at will was the
sexiest idea I’d ever encountered. For months afterward I’d mentally
pleasure myself every night, tucked-in and drifting off to sleep, by
imagining suddenly becoming a shaggy dog. It was all mental, no rubbing or
frottage and certainly no bodily fluids or spasms were involved. The
pleasure was unbearable, just lying there tingling all over, imagining
adventures in dogdom.

Prior to this I’d had similar experiences from two other Disney0esque
releases: “Pollyanna” and “Tammy.” One look at Hayley Mills and I
sensed ‘kindred spirit.’ Tammy (who was played by quite-adult
messy-divorcee-with-rat-pack-martini-hangovers Debby Reynolds was obviously exactly
who I would someday grow up to be–a perky teen with scarf-tied ponytail,
everything about me shouting “zesty” to the world, portrayed by
a figure of some ruination in actuality.

To this day I perfectly recall–and can sing–the theme song from “Tammy”.

Nobody in my family thought bit unusual that I’d been invaded by a
walk-in spirit who came from a teen exploitation movie. I was a mere 6 or
7! Need you any more proof of the dangers of graven images? This sadly
overlooked evil plagues our society to this day. I have met so many Joni
Mitchells and Kurt Cobains! More arrive every day, and not one
of them isn’t who they aren’t.

I’m certain that this form of decadence comprises much of what Islamic Terrorists
seek to obliterate in their onslaughts against The Great Satan of The West.
Can’t you see them now, cross-legged, be-robed, in caves and tents, discussing this?

“I know nothing of essential worth but my olive grove, my goats and my
eventual happy death, yet these young people everywhere kneel at the altar
of Pink and Justin and Snooki, desirous of getting this party started. Just last week
I beheaded my youngest to teach her this lesson.” Assembled turbaned heads bob sagely
in agreement and return to discussing the yield factor of putty bombs, their energies kept up
with sips from the tribal samovar and tastes of yat yogurt.

Those who experienced helpless erections at the thought of western she-demons
dervishing like The Great Whore pledge to themselves to undergo the cleansing ritual
of flagellation come the next holy day. If that fails, they’ll smash their satellite dish and
cut off their left thumb. It is only proper. Foulness demands cleansing.

Though they attack Our Way Of Life, one can almost agree with them, can’t one?

Well, if one delights in the dubious game of playing Devil’s Advocate one
can almost agree with them. Maybe. But doing so completely overlooks the Tammy
Question. You know and I know that Tammy’s in love.
Try as we may to deny it, it is fact. How did this come to be? What can be
done about it? SHOULD anything be done about it?

Tony, Liz and Eddie all thought they held the answer and look where it got
them! Crumbling pages in forgotten tabloids with lurid headlines, smear
campaigns and near-universal wrong-headedness in every piece written about
them. Resistance brings mis-quotes. Life can be SO cruel.

Face it, world–Tammy is here to stay. We may seek to control the
consequences through legislation or preventive education of our young, but
there’s no going back. We must confront Tamnation and deal with it. It
will require sacrifice, tears and steel-jawed vigilance–and these things
we WILL have. We MUST develop and utilize our valor, otherwise ruin awaits

Opposing Tammy-ism is Hitler. Hitler is everywhere. He was here before young
Adolph was born and he’ll be here when we set foot again on Mars. I smell him in
every flag that ever waved; in each crisp salute from eager fresh
conscripts. I can’t help but imagine him naked with a boner every time I
hear a woman say she “loves a man in uniform,” but that’s just the
Tammy in me gone apeshit with jealousy. He resides in the pixels of Driver’s License
photographs and within the shoddy punctuation of Playboy articles on
state-of-the-art Audiophile Gear for Sophisticates. Hitler is everywhere.

What’s with all those “Home Entertainment Centers”? Aren’t they actually just
“Very Large Staring Devices”?

But back to Adolf and Tammy–sophisticated perhaps, but also ‘Father knows best’
at such a cost, and we got there only to leave a cheap flag and disturbance in the dust.

Were Hitler and Tammy to wed it would be total disaster. I needn’t
prove this. It’s not a postulate or theorum. They ARE wed. It is
fact and actuality and we’re all paying the price. We pay for the catering and
the oom-pah bands. They call it taxation but it’s really a wedding-guest
fee. Ban-Lon, Graphite fishing rods, miracle fibers and antibiotics were all
first-conceived as tributary wedding presents for the newlyweds,
commissioned by canny merchants who hoped to ensure a place
at The Wedding Feast Table. The exact details can still be found in the Library at Alexandria,
or what’s left of it.

Oh sure, there’s been resistance. Sporadic at best. Far-off rumbles in the
hills and a renewed thirst for Rum at those outposts where journalists
gather to compose trade whoppers.

The suspects range from Sandy Botticelli to Miss Muriel Lindenwald
(1873-1934). Muriel taught home economics to both Amelia Earhart and Charles
A. Lindbergh. What such rebels have in common is
better than 20-20 vision and metabolisms unlike those of ‘normal’ humans.
They have rarely operated in concert because most of them have no idea what
they are. “What they are” is simply Not Human, as ‘human’ is commonly
construed. Therefore, their activism tends to be carried out without
conscious intent. This makes their activities both inefficient and
near-impossible to trace, prevent, combat or define.

Were you to ask most of these malcontents what they thought of the
powers-that-be, their answers would arouse no suspicions. “Tammy and Hitler?
Oh I ADORE them. Where would we be without them?”

Such statements are so innocuous! So, what made such folks dangerous?
Was it was simply that they didn’t believe in Destiny-with-a-capital-D and
spent their lives dismantling Destiny in ways so effectively simple that,
before anyone knew, large chunks of destiny had gone missing?
Many folks believe that Tammy and Hitler are fine and
dandy, that all of it is somehow made holy by destiny’s blessing. Maybe
they’re right. Who knows? The whole idea of dismantling destiny seems akin
to language abuse, and even though I may go on about it, I can’t prove to
anyone I’m guilty of it, even when caught in the act.

No matter, I’m a language abuser of long-standing. I also plead guilty to
Image Abuse. Image abuse is easy. Not only easy to carry out, but so
insidious a strategy that nobody even realizes it’s being done. All they
know is the kids are getting harder to reach with each passing day–all they
want to do is save the environment or document their left-handed nihilism in
gel-pen scrapbooks, or text their friends about texting. Throwing their lives
away without a thought for good health & burial plans.
Their concerned parents haven’t a clue why this is happening.

“Justin Bieber” my patootie. It’s more like “Justin Weener”. He’ll deface your
Barbie lunchbox and eat his boogers with relish, even if you’re his number
one fan. Then he’ll expect YOU to eat his boogers.”

So why the mayhem? Where have the Elders of Destiny gone wrong?

The answer is right on their walls–in the ‘art’ which hangs there, in those
official-looking pieces of art in gilded frames Ma & Pa bought as requisite
proof of good breeding, good taste and success. Forget TV and Hollywood as sources of
brainwashing. Those media just make people stupid, make them MORE vulnerable
to destiny’s intoxication. Painted Image abuse leaves people immune to
destiny. Tammy and Hitler end up as virtual dolls, to be played with, pulled
apart, tossed away and forgotten. Things not important. Let Image Abuse sink
in deep enough and you get entire generations, and soon whole populations,
driven by deep non-verbal forces which motivate much of their life-long

“Someday my prince will come” and “We are the champions” are thus deemed silly
mindless jingles instead of the brilliant and effective programming devices
they actually are. People who weren’t shaped by such jingles find themselves
entranced by mockingbirds, paying no attention whatsoever to the talk show guests
who’re Concerned About The Economy or Family Values Under Attack. Others collect images of
people with halos. I have a friend who convinced various Human Services agencies that
she’s completely, helplessly crazy–crazy enough to qualify for Food Stamps,
rent subsidies, free medical care and a monthly cash stipend besides.
Crazy money to blow on whatever she wishes.

Among those who know of this person’s situation there’s much
disapproval. “What would happen if we all lived like that”

I haven’t any answer for them, although I think my
‘crazy-in-the-eyes-of-the-government’ friend to be the most successful and
honest person I know. I’ve tried debating this, but it only angers them. “Oh
she’s just irresponsible and lazy, she’s trash.” Meanwhile they give away
most of their lives in the service of both Tammy AND Hitler, certain that
doing so will earn them Destiny’s Favor. They know which side their bread is
buttered on. They are certain of this even as their anxious treadmill
lives spin in wobbly circles ever more anxious.

Meanwhile my rentless crazy friend lives a life free of fetters or care.

Are you tired of having your language abused yet? Blame me. I’m beyond

Tammy and Hitler are NOT hovering over humanity like twinned engines of rot.
If you’ve been pondering them, assuring yourself that yes, there ARE so
many instances of ‘tammyesque” and “hitlerian” in all you see, then you have
been deceived by my abuses of the language. This is what happens when they
let someone like me own a computer.

STOP! do not ponder that last sentence. Toss it out. There is no ‘they’ who
have ‘let’ me own a computer. And I have no idea whatsoever what ‘someone
like me’ designates or means, so I’m darn remorseful that there IS someone
like me. When they take me before the tribunal the only words of defense I
will be able to muster will be “Tammy made me do it–Because she was in
love.” If they’re Disney-ites things should be fine. If they’re from the
Fatherland, doom awaits. My next life will be as a translucent-winged creature beyond



True, I’m luna’d, moonish thensome,
cloudy of a shell in daylight
true I orbit deep and furlonged
ride the crossing meadows starhung
keep with veils, halos, aurant
vines gestating broken soil
pauper ragged in a twining
veined in ochre, mended mining
true all this and more octavish
eights of clover, radish cabbage
pumpkin nines with downs of lace
but satisfied with slow my pace.

Never working ever sloe eyed
spinning rubies from a hive
cider wasps with rosin bags
singing summer’s elder glide
strewn before and passage bound
Luna’d yes and not so wound
of wounds or buckshot urges mad
free unbound pastoral glad.



Masked like comedia d’arte
gone to cowpunched judea garland shows,
where minstrels met monsters on capital plains
of endless fortune, fate or scaramouche bleeders
with coins for blood eyes, lines of network stealthing.

Three unknown players with lute fish
the undevined mockery from drape-back
goat carts rolling theatre abroad,
in the lightning ward, con limón, la acidez en el ojo

Meanwhile, back at the palace
the king’s outhouse gang is counting money
seaping honey, whistling up the old wazoo
mid tent show receipts of the brothel
shows and advertising agents

What moral in a laudanum poultice,
in cockfights swearing camouflaged quarters
for news of strategic corsetry,
corsairs, frigates, brigands and retail?

Everyone is drunk save three
a faithful maiden, one faithful friend
and fated man from the bard depths
illegally loosed for rounds of jesting
jack shit bus rides of endless confusion

If you know the hour it’s late enough,
your clock watch needs heavier code,
navaho gaze or buffalo trace, pyx’d
in frosted Natchez under looming bluffs,
oh the merriment and pickpock larks

Pilots in outposts of wheeled command,
marking twain, entrained of a banked course,
pulling in to try town for an eve of flesh
barreled anew come morn on churned sheeting waves.

The merrymakers in chains
speed to every chasm and swindle
all the better to slice the magpie
hectoring duly of worthless prophets
ridden high atop a shifting chart

Cinema arts of meaning void
in ages of reality or other ages
come and gone pursuing knowledge
of misbegotten silkweed Vireo bowers.

Such pleasures may kill you.
Popularity clings to Feel Good.
Feel Good clings to weathered vain,
pointing to a cardinal glass spun
over a mirrored false bottom.

Am Anonymous, Nona The Gone,
they ask you now: what didja get?
a good price and then some more
galled and bittered seeds gone bare?

Rivers coarse and fine,
adjustments within an ultra sailor,
called and calling long for Persephone’s
answering murmur and quenching naught
but chaste of thirst or bullion.

Come to the square for auctions,
skin bay on nets of captive lapdancers,
haulers of some old sin washed in rushes
among found mercies while rodeo bathing.

This very moment, this one here,
in range of any ear unbound by eye
or tongue, a marionette rolls townward,
strings unlatching denizened pride,
bass and carp in wolf canals.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jane Gilday is an artist, poet and musician who lives in Pennsylvania. Her artist statement: “jane gilday is 8 years old and likes to color”

* * * * * * * * * * * *


painting by Jane Gilday


One thought on “Experiment in Destiny and other poems

  1. Judith Steele says:

    I love the writing about language, and the results of that, of Experiment in Destiny, and think I could read it many times. I only wish it hadn’t reminded my brain of that Tammy song!

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