Monday, June 17, 2013


I used to think it would be nice to go live in a commune, possibly an island one, with likeminded friends. These days, not only do I not know anyone who conforms to my original standards for Jotopia citizenship, but I don't either.

I've been feeling increasingly misanthropic recently. The sun has brought out the scummier members of my community, and they're heat drunk and uninhibited by daytime beer in the sun. Young, ruined looking grannies sit with their progeny on the beach and F and blind repetitively. As I pass with my kids, it sounds like a chant of 'Fuckenfuckenfuckenburblefuckenfuuuck'. A skaggy, runty, malnourished looking couple pass the chemist in single file as I'm leaving, and he says, loudly, as he passes the open doorway, 'Hee-yor, he used to come out he-yor and rob this chemist bloi-ind, re-mem-boooorrrr? I walk out my driveway to the strains of some woman's drunken litany of swear words, her fucks and worse the only intelligible thing as she wanders up the road with her family, her young partner pushing a small, alarmed looking four year old girl on a scooter.

Sometimes it's all a bit dismal. But then I'd hate to live in a middle class enclave either, and listen to clich├ęd conversations about, I don't know, SUVs and the way the au pair won't clean the toilets properly either. I want the normal people, with a side of alternative, maybe. I suppose what I'm looking for is the comfort of the middle classes, which makes me not like myself much either.

Perhaps Jotopia is a little place, most likely an island, where a group of like-minded people are blending together into a pretty light brown, and secure children play. Available food necessitates a version of the paleo diet and we have sustainable energy. It's an interdependent community where acceptance and love are  the greater priorities. Responsibility is valued over gain. Everyone has the same and we work for each other and the land. Equality is not something we consider, because it just is.

The stuff that's going on at the moment - Turkey, Brazil, Syria... school shootings, hate crime, the NRA, 'pro-life' protests, deforestation, healthcare and special needs being sacrificed for the assets of the financial elite and a monetary system that does little to address (or some might say perpetuates) starvation or inequality... I know idealist visions never work out, but I still prefer my one to what's on the news at the moment.

Michael Longley: An Amish Rug

As if a one-room schoolhouse were all we knew
And our clothes were black, our underclothes black,
Marriage a horse and buggy going to church
And the children silhouettes in a snowy field,

I bring you this patchwork like a smallholding
Where I served as the hired boy behind the harrow,
Its threads the colour of cantaloupe and cherry
Securing hay bales, corn cobs, tobacco leaves.

You may hang it on the wall, a cathedral window,
Or lay it out on the floor beside our bed
So that whenever we undress for sleep or love
We shall step over it as over a flowerbed.

- See more at:


Ms. Moon said...

Beautiful poem.
I am not made for communal living of any sort. This is something I have known always and am more sure of every day.

Jo said...

I don't envision a commune. Just ... fewer people, and no arguments about sex or race or religion and no one having it all while others don't have any.

Stephen said...

Well said Jo - great post.

Jo said...

Thanks, Stephen. We haven't met, have we?