Life is a Dream

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A View of the 21st Century from the 18th.

Michael Chertoff, the US Secretary for Homeland (In)Security was on the Sunday talk show circuit justifying Washington's extra powers on it's war on (an abstract noun) terror.

He made an interesting statement that has not been the subject of mainstream television coverage, but the British Financial Times noticed it.

Cherftoff said:

"Certainly the ability to be as nimble as possible with surveillance, and their (the British police's) ability to hold people for a period of time gives them a legal advantage.

"What helped the British in this case is the ability to be nimble, to be fast, to be flexible.

"We have to make sure our legal system allows us to do that. It's not like the 20th century, where you had time to get warrants."

In light of Mr. Chertoff’s remarks, and the Bush Administration’s mid-term tactic of frightening the American people into re-electing those in favor of further eroding the Bill of Rights, I thought about Mr. Abraham Holmes, an Anti-Federalist, and a man for the 21st century, who should give pause for those who assert over and over again that the Founders of the Republic never contemplated a “Post 9/11 World.”

-Tristan Isolt


Mr. President, I rise to make some remarks on the paragraph under consideration, which treats of the judiciary power.

It is a maxim universally admitted, that the safety of the subject consists in having a right to a trial as free and impartial as the lot of humanity with admit of.

Does the Constitution make provision for such a trial?

I think not: For in a criminal process a person shall not have a right to insist on a trial in the vicinity where the fact was committed, where a jury of the peers would, from their local situation, have an opportunity to form a judgment of the character of the person charged with the crime, and also to judge of the credibility of the witnesses.

There a person must be tried by a jury of strangers - a jury who may be interested in his conviction; and where he may, by reason of the distance of his residence from the place of trial, be incapable of making such a defense, as he is in justice entitled to, and which he could avail himself of, if his trial was in the same county where the crime is said to have been committed.

Those circumstances, as horrid as they are, are rendered still more dark and gloomy, as there is no provision made in the Constitution to prevent the Attorney-General from filing information against any person, whether he is indicted by the grand jury or not; in consequence of which the most innocent person in the Commonwealth may be taken by virtue of warrant issued in consequence of such information, and dragged from his home, his friends, his acquaintance, and confined in prison, until the next session of the court, which has jurisdiction of the crime with which he is charged (and how frequent those sessions are to be, we are not yet informed of) and after long, tedious and painful imprisonment, though acquitted on trial, may have no possibility to obtain any kind of satisfaction for the loss of his liberty, the loss of his time, great expenses and perhaps cruel sufferings.

But what makes the matter still more alarming is that as the model of criminal process is to be pointed out by congress, and they have no constitutional check on the, except that the trial is to be by a jury, but who this jury is to be, how qualified, where to live, how appointed, or by what rules to regulate their procedure, we are ignorant of as yet; - whether they are to live in the county where the trial is; - whether they are to be chosen by certain districts; - or whether they are to be appointed by the sheriff ex officio; - whether hey are to be for one session of the Court only, or for a certain term of time, or for good behaviour, or during pleasure; are matters which we are intirely ignorant of as yet.

The mode of trial is altogether indetermined - whether the criminal is to be allowed the benefit of council; whether he is to be allowed to meet his accuser face to face: whether he is to be allowed to confront the witnesses and have the advantage of cross examination we are not yet told.

These are matters of by no means small consequence, yet we have not the smallest constitution security, that we shall be allowed the exercise of these privileges, neither is it made certain in the Constitution, that a person charged with a crime, shall have the privileges of appearing before the court or jury which is to try them.

On the whole, when we fully consider this matter, and fully investigate the powers granted -explicitly given, and especially delegated, we shall find Congress possessed of powers enabling them to institute judicatories, little less inauspicious that a certain tribunal in Spain, which has long been the disgrace of Christendom-I mean that diabolical institution the INQUISITION.

What gives an additional glare of horrour to these gloomy circumstances, is the consideration that Congress have to ascertain, point out, and determine, what kind of punishments shall be inflicted on persons convicted of crimes; they are no where restrained from inventing the most cruel and unheard of punishments and annexing them to crimes, and there is no constitutional check on the, but that RACKS and GIBBETS, may be amongst the most mild instruments of their discipline.

There is nothing to prevent Congress from passing laws which shall compel a man who is accused or suspected of a crime, to furnish evidence against himself, and even from establishing laws which shall order the court to take the charge exhibited against a man for truth, unless he can furnish evidence of innocence.

I do not pretend to say Congress will do this, but sir, I undertake to say that Congress (According to the powers proposed to be given them by the Constitution) may do it; and if they do not, it will be owing intirely-I repeat it, it will be owing intirely to the GOODNESS of the MEN, and not in the least degree owing to the GOODNESS of the CONSTITUTION.

- Abraham Holmes (1754-1839)

(Associated with patriotic and Antifederalist Otis family of Barnstable and Freeman family of Sandwich. Delegate from Rochester to Massachusetts ratifying convention in 1788, where he opposed ratification.)

*Taken from the Library of American edition of “The Debate on the Constitution” Volume One.
Wed, August 16, 2006 - 3:09 PM — permalink - 0 comments - add a comment

If you can't love me...

Bless me Father, for I have sinned.
My last confession was last night
in your bed.

Father, David whispered, it’s time.

You brought down the Eucharist
and broke it between you fingers.
The mass went on as if nothing had happened.

Bless me Father, for I have loved.
My contrition was this morning,
when I said good-bye.

Father, David said, are you alright.
You look tired.

I’m fine, David.
Trouble sleeping, that’s all.

Soccer this afternoon?

Not today, ask me tomorrow, yes?


Forgive me Father, for loving you,
the way I did.

I found this stuck to the sacristy door.
David handed you an envelope
It has your name on it.
You took the envelope and put it in your pocket.

Thanks for the “Gospel of Mary.”
It’s almost as good as the “Song of Songs.”
Got any more?

You reached in your bag
and pulled out Dante’s “The New Life.”
Take this, you handed it to him,
and I’ll see you tomorrow on the soccer field.

In the emptied church you tore open the envelope and read the letter:

You said you loved me.
But it was a lie.
I’ll never wash my hands of you,
like Pontius Pilate,
nor will I ever wash your feet with my tears,
like some whore, that I played being in your bed,
when there wasn’t anything,
that we didn’t do.
I know you remember it all,
but will you remember me,
the one who loved you,
only you,

Forgive me Father,
for not forgetting you.
Bless me, if you can’t love me.
But don’t absolve me,
for I don’t regret longing for that which shall never be.

-Tristan Isolt
Mon, August 7, 2006 - 11:11 AM — permalink - 2 comments - add a comment

The morning after the morning after...

Foolish girl,
what did you expect,
after you left the nunnery,
but tear stained dreams.

The bright lights of the city kept you warm,
going from bed to bed,
like a penitent on a fruitless pilgrimage.
Foolish were your dreams,
silly girl,
your face stained with tears,
writing letters left to be unread on some table far away,
so far way,
from you.

Pretty was your face,
even when you cried yourself to sleep,
like a child, newly woken from a nightmare.
No amount of rosaries will make up for your dreams.
Foolish girl.

Turn off the lights,
your lovers don’t like to be seen
loving themselves loving you,
or seeing your pretty face stained with tears.

When you woke up,
your clothes strewn on the floor,
he’s sleeping body next to yours,
cold like crushed snow,
even though his lips had been warm after midnight,
when they said they would never leave you.
You dressed, fixing your hair in the dresser mirror,
after washing off his smell, leaving him slumbering,
dreaming of you.

You walked into the church,
while mass was taking place,
during the “peace be with you.”
But you weren’t in the mood,
and stood beside the Virgin instead,
remembering the timeless moments you spent
praying without any hope of forgiveness.
Your pretty face stained with tears.

After everyone had gone, you knelt at the altar.
Hour after hour passed and your lips never moved.
You got up and left the church without leaving an offering at the Virgin’s feet.

You foolish girl, with tear stained eyes,
your pretty face,
waiting to be kissed,
by lips lonelier than yours.

-Tristan Isolt
Sat, July 29, 2006 - 8:46 AM — permalink - 2 comments - add a comment

If you can"t forget...


When I left the sacristy,
My sister was waiting for me,
Holding a handful of stargazers.

"Feliz Cumpleanos" she smiled,
And kissed me on the cheek
in plain view of the congregation.
"Let's pretend I'm your mistress," she whispered in my ear,
"So that your next sermon will be about Mary Magdalagne."

I've always admired the spontaneous mischief
in my sister, who fortunately never joined a nunnery, thanks to a youthful screening of Luis Bunuel's

I've never heard her confession,
But absolved her when she wasn't looking.
When she briefly modeled, I warned her,
That idol worship was forbidden
Outside the Catholic church.
She forfeited the idea of posing for Playboy
After she found her boyfriend's collection in his apartment.
She cut out all the centerfolds
And stapled them to his bedroom walls
And ceiling, and blew him a kiss "goodybe."

She then disappeared to Spain for a year.
Her inscribed postcards to me always began with
"Mi amor," "mi querido," or "mi deseo,"
Knowing my elderly secretary,
Who daily prayed a rosary for her,
Would read them.

When she returned, I met her at the airport.
She hugged me tighter than I could remember.
Her eyes were still moist with tears.
"Llevame a la playa," she breathed in my ear.
And there on the sand, amid the playful children,
She sat on her elbows and stared at he blood red horizon.

That night, after dinner, we returned to my place.
The phone rang, and when she realized
I wasn't going to answer it,
She turned and looked at me with fresh tears in her eyes.
"It's over." I said, staring at the phone. "She'll be happier Without me."

That night we went dancing.
I wore an old double breasted suit.
She, a white dress with a gardenia in her black hair.
She knew the tango,
A dance I've admired, for its restrained passion.

We danced into the morning light.

"Why don't you leave this place," She placed the stargazers in a glass vase.
"And come with me, to forget it all." She smiled.
"If you can't forgive, you can't forget." I smiled back.
"That shouldn't be too hard for you to do." She looked at My silver crucifix.
"It shouldn't be." I breathed in the stargazers.

The phone rang.
After the second ring, she took my hand and said,
"Do you want me to answer it, and make her believe she's Been forgotten?"
"Mary Magdalagne," I pinched her nose between
My fingers, "can't be forgotten."
"Let it ring," I folded her hand in mine, "Let it ring."

Tristan Isolt
Fri, June 16, 2006 - 11:52 AM — permalink - 0 comments - add a comment

Let's Play

Let’s play.

Oh, what fun.
My body aches,
For your spell to bewitch me,
Again and again.

Like the night I went swimming in the sea
With a full moon to illuminate my way home.
I woke up wet,
My bed soaked,
With salt crystals on my lips.

Oh, the pleasure of you.
My body aches,
For you to bewitch me,
Yes, yes.
Oooh la la.

I can’t deny it.
I’m enslaved by you.
So let’s play and pretend we’re married
To each other and not the person we said ‘I do’ to.
Yes, say yes,
And let me dream us some happiness.

I licked the salt crystals off my lips.
Is it no wonder they were thirsty.
But they aren’t the only ones.

You walked into the room wearing my Go Go boots.
And asked me if I wanted a cup of tea.
I said ‘no thank you’ and rolled onto my stomach
And gave you my Cheshire cat smile.
I was your Bourgeoisie girl.
And you were my pleasure.
Oh, the pleasure of you,
My body aches, for the waves you created inside me.

So let’s play
Before the tide comes in.
Let’s play it cool,
I’ll be your bride,
If you’d be my groom.
If only I’d met you a lifetime sooner
Our end would be our beginning.
Silly boy, with your hair still wet.
I laugh at you for the past you left behind
And cry for your future without me.

Oh, what fun.

-Tristan Isolt
Wed, March 1, 2006 - 11:01 AM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment

The Waiting Room

After my father died,
When all the mourners had gone away,
I kept him company at the funeral home.
His white hair was combed back.
His lips colored red.
I kissed them one last time.
They were warmer than when he was alive.

Before my father died,
I visited him at his office in Houston.
He was a founding partner of his firm.
His portrait hung on the wall by the elevator collecting dust.
“If you’d been born a boy, I would say you have amounted to very little.”
He stood with the labyrinth, that is the gray city, behind him.
“A failure, daddy.” I faced him across his desk.
“I’m man enough to admit it, why can’t you?” I feigned a smile,
even though my eyes were quickly swelling with tears.
“Your mother is waiting for you in the parking garage. She wants to take you to the Galleria and buy you some new clothes.” He lowered his eyes.
“I’m leaving the country.” I said. “Don’t worry. I didn’t come to ask for money. I just wanted to see you before I go.”
“Your mother is waiting.” He kept his gaze on the blue carpet.
“Please tell mother I love her, yes?”
“Yes.” He said and looked up at me.
He kissed me goodbye, opened his office door, and closed it behind me.

After my father died, my mother never forgave me for not arriving in time.
“He asked for you, but never for me.” She said with her back to me in the hospital waiting room.
She was still beautiful, with her dark hair pulled back in a bun.
She’d been a Neiman Marcus model when she was my age.
My father couldn’t keep his eyes off her.
“Let the nurse know when you’re leaving.” She said to the morning sun light reflected on the window.
“And have her come and get me when you’re gone.”

Before my father died,
I would get lost in the dunes,
Chasing after seagulls gliding on blades of sunlight,
Waiting for him to sweep me off my feet onto his shoulder,
Screaming into homeward bound breezes like a banshee.
My little hands lost in his hair filled with sand.
The morning light never shone so bright.
Before my father died.

-Tristan Isolt
Fri, February 24, 2006 - 1:06 PM — permalink - 4 comments - add a comment

La Dolce Vita

Name your price,
And I’ll double it,
And you’ll pay,
For you have no where else to go.

Your husband thinks about someone else when he makes love to you.
Your daughter rejected your breast,
But you always knew she was a mistake,
Telling her you loved her all the same.
Your parents died in a nursing home,
Where you’d put them after transferring all their property to you,
Their only beloved.
Their last memory being of the nightshift nurse,
Who changed them, without ever addressing them.

You look at your photos in a magazine.
Vanity Fair’s cover you never graced.
But the Junior League accepted you anyway.
Now you want forgiveness,
For the vanity you never achieved.

Bless me Father, for I have sinned.

Mary Magdalene you’ll never be.
But I won’t forgive you, if you can’t forgive yourself.
Name your price, your soul is worthless anyway.
Don’t you remember your confirmation,
When your eyes struck me harder than my hand did your cheek.
They looked up at me.
That night you phoned me and told me to read Leviticus,
Your favorite book from the Bible,
And asked me to choose my favorite passage,
Which you would perform,
In a Passion Play for me, only me.

Name your price,
And I’ll double it,
And you’ll pay,
For you have no where else to go.

Last night you dreamt that magnolias crested onto the shoreline,
Beneath the moonlight,
With stars sailing in the sky,
In a caravan towards an all engulfing fire,
Like moths propelled towards a blinding light.

I couldn’t bear it any longer.
My rosary beads had eaten away at my fingertips,
And I returned your call.
You answered, after having made love to him,
His sleeping body next to yours.
What took you so long, you said.
And told me to wait for you on the pier,
By the sleeping fishing boats with names like
La Dolce Vita, the Albatross, and Star Gazer.

But it poured sheets of rain
That sliced through the night,
Confining me to the sacristy,
And you to your husband’s bed,
Where you’d conceived your daughter,
Whose lips I touched when I gave her her first communion.
Her lips warm, her eyes like yours, far away, like in the Gulf,
Lost in the horizon.

You won’t forgive me, then.
I can’t, if you won’t forgive yourself.
You loved me.
Name your price, and I’ll double it.
You won’t forgive me.
For not loving me.

Bless me Father for I have no where else to go.
And my loneliness needs you tonight,
Even if I can’t forgive myself for what I’m about to do tonight with you,
In the place that you married me.

And where my finger touched your daughter’s lips for the first time.

Tristan Isolt
Mon, February 20, 2006 - 1:15 PM — permalink - 2 comments - add a comment

Kiss (the Whip)



Fri, February 10, 2006 - 12:54 PM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment

Holy Girl


Holy girl
Don't get up
For running

Stay with me
I feel sad
When you run

Sands of time
Are lying
On my chest

Stay in bed
I feel sad
When you run

Stay like this
On the hills
Of my chest

Don't wake up
I feel strange
When you go

Stop the night
Hold me tight
Holy girl

Don't stand up
I feel strange
When you go

- Air
Wed, February 8, 2006 - 10:29 AM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment


Time to die.
No confession.
No absolution.

You gave your last communion on New Year’s Eve.
Her lips touched your fingers.
Your fingers touched her lips New Years morning.

April is the cruelest month, she smiled.
Only for those who believe this moment will last forever.
It’s strange hearing you say that, she caressed your face.
I stopped believing a long time ago.

Bless me, Father.
For I have sinned.
My last confession was a week ago.

Good morning, Carlos.
Is it your same confession?

I made love to my wife, Father.
And thought about another the entire time.
It’s the same every time, I can’t help it.

Time to die.
No confession, no absolution.
Her fleeting smell on our hands.

Good morning, Carla, you caressed her hair.
She kissed you.
Her body warm.
Her lips warmer.

Don’t you have a mass this morning?

I have you.

You love me.

I love being loved by you.

Love me, asi, asi.

Wake up.
It’s time.
You stepped off the altar and walked down the aisle.
The empty church.
You opened the heavy doors and were struck by a homeward bound sea breeze.

Asi, asi.

-Tristan Isolt
Tue, February 7, 2006 - 12:01 PM — permalink - 0 comments - add a comment
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