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i’m working on a short ep titled yesteryear—older songs that i’ve finally finished, re-worked or are otherwise ready to be put into an actual production—and my 2020 spoken word & guitar piece, “how do we hope now,” will be on it. i had this as a single on bandcamp for a hot minute as it was published with reprise, reprise!, but took it down to put into an actual record. the poem is in three parts:

1. the state of the union

& how do we hope now
on this stolen land of shameless greed
where art is whatever you want it to be
but only money means one good goddamn thing
among the lovely, lonely masses
lost in screens to hide their sadness
in a world of thieves & schemes & fascists
screaming at the news broadcasts
& driving lucid men to madness

how do we hope now
that they took the word and branded it
with a politician’s face
in a piece of propaganda
as the state bailed out the banks
while the 99% were sent the sheriff

this is the united states
a land of wealth and terror

& how do we hope now
that we have been abandoned
left to wait out death itself
alone through a pandemic
as economists claim saving lives is, once again,
“just too expensive”
& then the pundits act surprised
as riots take the summer & the Senate
in the sordid forms of our
fractured proletariat
a schism of the zeitgeist which
rejects what it’s defined by
yet still conditioned from advertisements
online & in social media

an understanding we don’t have one
& that history goes to the victor

& how do we hope now
that war is endlessly repeating
with greed its only leader
war is endlessly repeating
& war is endlessly repeating
but it demands protest be peaceful
while pleas are met with police & beatings
war is endlessly repeating
a reality show of horror
seasons 1-19 now streaming, featuring:
drone strikes overseas
a domestic militarized police
institutionalized violence
& income inequality

“mission accomplished”
a reliable industry,
war is endlessly repeating
supported by a market, a profit motive
& a public relations machine
war is endlessly repeating
& now it’s coming home
to those who didn’t know
that it’s been here all along

how do we hope now
in this syndicated hell
how do we help one another out?
how can a person fight the devil
when the devil owns their house?

2. i can’t help myself

brand new pills for an age-old condition
whose side effects listed are remarkably specific
“know somebody profits from what you think is missing
& not even death is a legal alternative”

name-brand pharmaceuticals or it’s back to the bottle
i’m enduring freedom to cope with its options
in love with a ghost so i chose california
to sit in the sun with & watch the apocalypse

3. but hi how may i help you?”

close your eyes
breathe in slow this death-machine of time
as it wanders wild, sowing chaos with every stride
hear it roar across the prairie just before july
watch it soar electric, feel the pull of its tide
along the lengths of silent caves your heart
probes throughout your mind
& hold fast now to every glow of light you find
& call that incandescence by whatever it inspires
& carry it inside of you in spite of this empire
& feel that gleam of hope explode into a spark
a fire
a cavalcade of glorious flames
that burn all the prisons & every bank
every last dollar, quarter, dime, nickel & cent
wall street
the white house
records of personal debt
let them swallow los angeles & the whole internet
both political parties & the military-industrial complex
ignite each mega-church & every last television set

scorch them all from your soul
exhale & open your eyes
& see that fire live on
in the natural light

the stoop out front is nothing like the table i fell through last month while on the phone with an emergency few would understand. three armenian men in suits argue a building away, but their voices flood the street & i can’t stand how pop music has devolved into shit-talking about being rich. capitalism has made a commodity of the past so every generation to come will have no culture within its grasp.

the man smoking in the street has impeccable timing as his cigarette burns out right as his friend pulls up in something fancy. a page is turned by the wind like a wildfire. i’ve set myself up. i’ve come to terms with what i’ve lost but fear the losses still to come. i pay more attention to those pangs than the pain in my back. the soil here is all spoiled in this land of secret panic & public displays of perfection.

there are no stars out tonight over hollywood.

though not unexpected, the rittenhouse verdict is a travesty of justice. it’s a signal to white supremacist militias to arm themselves at protests, demonstrations, or whatever they choose. noted asshole congressman matt gaetz has firmly established himself as a supporter of these intentions (along with many others who i am too angered & depressed to discuss in-depth).

at this point there isn’t much else to say. the president stands by the decision. this is not establishing a precedent, but affirming the systemic intent for what madness & murder is still to come.

they say i’ll be able to dream again now that i can’t take a drink, but the nights end in the same terror that news broadcasters begin the day with. what hope was had is now pressed increasingly under the boot of capital. dreams can’t exist in the united states without human sacrifice. what an age for sobriety, or to maintain any sense of hope. the windows can’t break because they’ve been boarded up. the storm is coming soon.

new shoes arrived in the mail today—shoestrings & all. no more zip-ties, no more eyes-on. only the landscape of los angeles—as beautiful as it is brutal, as uncaring as it is obsessive. no longer crazy as i take the right pills every day. i’m not that ignorant of time or the mind, but now old songs have all sorts of new meanings.

we’ve reached a place where all that is debated are spotify playlists & sports teams. nobody can agree on all of the important things. grown adults acting like children, children terrified of a future on fire. the night is darker, earlier, and none of the weather makes any sense.

Colin Smith (b. 1982, based in Los Angeles) works in a form of assembly within and across disciplines, both in digital and analogue formats. Following in the ideas of media theorist Marshall McLuhan, the medium of his work is often dictated by its message—the diversity of projects that result are each an attempt to represent a particular thesis, a certain context.

Educated in graphic design and photojournalism, and self-taught in the visual arts, Smith has additionally worked as an art director, freelance designer or creative consultant for a variety of small businesses and independent clients around the world.

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