third part of this disharmony on ‘What’s Wisconsin got to do with us/U$A?’
Incarceration. America. Wisconsin. A story of Kelly, 65, and his dog, Eldee, 10.
There are few people I know — green-leaning democrats, Trump-leaning republicans, and a smattering of plenty of archetypes in between — who will dance more than a few seconds looking at prison, drunken life, needle drug seeking, poverty, family dysfunction, estrangement, toothlessness, and opinionated guys down on their luck and with no material assets to speak of, though he has a home, a camper pick-up and loads of musical instruments and equipment.
He isn’t third-eye blind by this Chlamidyia Capitalism. He’s an atheist, but like many, he digs some of the bible to dig at those thumpers who put the leather-bound good-book above all else (sort of).
6:17–19, NIV. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
Before we move further, sure, why is it Chlamidyia Capitalism, which all intents and purposes is the disease version of Predatory-Disaster-Usury-Casino-Exploitive CAPITALISM.
Chlamydia trachomatis (/kləˈmɪdiə trəˈkoʊmətɪs/), commonly known as chlamydia, is a bacterium that causes chlamydia, which can manifest in various ways, including: trachoma, lymphogranuloma venereum, nongonococcal urethritis, cervicitis, salpingitis, pelvic inflammatory disease. C. trachomatis is the most common infectious cause of blindness and the most common sexually transmitted bacterium.
Different types of C. trachomatis cause different diseases. The most common strains cause disease in the genital tract, while other strains cause disease in the eye or lymph nodes. Like other Chlamydia species, the C. trachomatis life cycle consists of two morphologically distinct life stages: elementary bodies and reticulate bodies. Elementary bodies are spore-like and infectious, whereas reticulate bodies are in the replicative stage and are seen only within host cells. (source)
So, think about it: KK was born under a bad sign, sort of — Merrill, Wisconsin. Pubs and Bars, and then churches. One hundred combined total for a town of 9,350 in Wisconsin.
Mill jobs that are back-breaking, dangerous, mind numbing. Sort of the syphillis version of Chlamydia’s cousin.
People from outside Turtle Island — Those of German descent are most numerous, followed by those of Irish, Polish, Scandinavian (primarily Norwegian), and British heritage. Persons of German ancestry are widely distributed but are more concentrated toward the east and in Milwaukee. Irish groups are found mainly in Beloit, Fond du Lac, and Sturgeon Bay.
We are talking around 1850 when these undocumentated and illegal immigrants flowed like a proverbial STD plague into Indian Country. The Indians at the Time of Contact, 1600-1850
That is the foundation to this country’s many hundreds of ailments, certainly tied to murder, theft, rape, miseducation, plunder, medical malpratice, corruption that all those immigrants somehow had on their skin. The Chlamydia of Exploitation which caused so much blindness in the hearts and souls of those early interlopers.
Now? Generations later, the children are confused in their Zoom School Delirium, while others are destined to liver damage, collapsed veins, toothless smiles, and so many mental ailments.
Dual Diagnosis is tied to addiction treatment — booze, drugs, what have you. With a co-occurring problem, rooted in the brain: Of the 21 million people in the U.S. with a substance use disorder, 8 million also live with a mental illness. It’s more than 21 million, but for now, the top mental illnesses are: Mood disorders that often co-occur with substance use disorders include:
Major depressive disorder
Dysthymia disorder (persistent low mood for at least 2 years, accompanied by 2 or more symptoms of depression)
Anxiety disorders commonly diagnosed with alcohol or drug dependency include:
Generalized anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
Other mental health conditions that may co-occur with substance abuse can include ADD, ADHD, schizophrenia and personality disorders.
Now now, I know it is difficult to see the rape of the Indians as part of the mental disorders listed above, but I have to say it goes deep into the DNA, so looking at Wisconsin or the so-callled Midwest, what I experienced in eight short days was entire groups of people, families, with so many bloody items packed in their baggage.
Before I move into Kelly’s specific social and spiritual work house shit, it is good to see what We/They/The Germans, Irish, Brits, Scandinavians, Poles, et al, did:
Native American cultures had occupied the Upper Midwest for centuries before whites arrived in the region. The invading whites were properly impressed by the thousands of burial mounds then to be found in the southern portions of the region, left behind by the extinct Hopewellian and Mississippian cultures. The Indians encountered by the whites at the time of contact depended upon fishing and hunting for a livelihood and spoke the Iroquois, Algonquin and Siouan languages. The European presence to the east had by then transformed Indian life. Indians became dependent upon guns and other western goods (and, often, got western diseases in the bargain). They warred with each other for primacy in their trade with the Europeans. Huron dominance of the Upper Great Lakes and eastern trade, and the Hurons themselves, were destroyed by the Iroquois in the mid-seventeenth century. The Sioux had been forced to move west by the Chippewa. Indians formed alliances with one and then another colonial power as power shifted from one to another. Charles Langlade, a half-white Indian leader known as the father of Wisconsin, helped the French defeat Braddock and the British; then fought with Burgoyne and the British against the Americans, and then lived out the balance of his life as an American. Remnant tribes huddled together. Stockbridge Indians, moving west from Massachusetts, lived with the Oneidas in central New York, before moving (with some Oneidas) to Green Bay, where they negotiated with resident Winnebago and Menominee Indians to win the right to establish a settlement.
There was talk of setting aside part of what became the Northwest Territory as an Indian reserve or even as a state with all the perquisites of other states. Such talk ceased as white settlement approached the area. In each of the Upper Midwest states, whites assumed title to one stretch of Indian land after another, in breathtakingly short order, as that land became accessible to them. The white advance often culminated in a final desperate stand on the part of the Indians, as seen on a large scale in the uprising led by Pontiac (1763-66) and again in that led by Tecumseh (1811-13), and on a lesser scale in the Black Hawk War (1832) in Wisconsin and the Sioux Uprising (1862) in Minnesota. Often friends among the whites, in applying one or another “white” remedy to the Indian “problem,” were as destructive to Indian ways of life as were their avowed enemies. The defeated Indians were finally exiled from territory coveted by the whites, to reservations within the Upper Midwest states or to remote western areas devoid of white settlers. Once the wars and resettlements were over, significant numbers of Indians remained in each of the three states, on the reservations and in the cities. In fact, in the recent past their numbers have increased dramatically. The white debt to the Indians in the exploration and settlement of the region is indirectly evidenced in the abundance of Indian place names for every feature of the landscape.
Amazing, the trail of tears whites have generated throughout the globe. Exile from their own lands. Land theft, and this little two paragraph “something” above yammers about white debt reflected in Indian names for roads, shopping malls, lakes? (source)
Kelly showed me spots in Merrill. I have the photos, and I haven’t uploaded them all yet. One telling image is of him in front of a seven story building, subsidized apartments now, where when Kelly was 13 and a paper boy, he went to one of his clients to collect money, and, the pedophillia, the dirty rape of a boy, occurred by a man who later became a foster grandparent.
For the boy, and for the man, and then, for the newspaper, which technically was Kelly’s employer, a tale of different tales unfolded. Of course the boy is not believed, and there wasn’t even a slap on the wrist for the old man.
This is the quagmire of generational trauma, the dual diagnosis, the co-occurring mental pain and trauma caused by that very act of child abuse, rape, played out a thousand times a day in the world.
He told me it took him just a few months ago to understand the seeds of his own self-destruction with booze. Drinking and driving and busted. Plenty of years sober. Not a fan of the 12-step higher authority deal of AA.
Depression, anxiety, bipolar, who knows what else, seeded at age 13, but scabbed over, over time. You kind of have to get on living, and surviving, and so Kelly did do that, and meeting his Cheri 44 years ago, well, even though she lived without him for a decade total, and even though Kelly went from clean and sober to busted and locked up after drinking and driving, she was a driving force in his life.
The reason to live, even has she suffered small cell lung cancer. He had purpose, a mate, a listener, someone who shared the dream of camping and getting out of the swamp of Wisconsin memory hell.
They had taken trips, and loved the West, loved the Souix Nation’s history, loved the Red Man. At the benediction or unveiling of the monument marble bench at the Merrill Cemetary, there were items especially special to Kelly and his mate: bronze bison, mason jar of farmland pickles, violin, quilt with bisons, glass map of North Dakota, family pictures, flowers, and Mountain Dew.
This town is like many of the towns throughout the Midwest. Where my spouse is from, Kansas, she said “it’s flat and bland just like Kansas . . . bars everywhere.” She said the cemeteries in my photo collection from this Wisconsin trip are better kept up. “In Kansas, even with Civil War monuments and gravesites, the weeds and grass are all overgrown. Nobody cares. Many are on private property so they don’t give a damn about the dead . . . or remembering the dead from long ago.”
KK showed me the dead at two cemeteries. Showed me guys who died young, some sick, others violently. The town of Merrill is sagging, somewhat forgotten, and alas, the memories, they are hard, like hardening of the arteries hard.
He is fine with me inserting photos of his family, the gravesites, the town, and even KK himself. Here he is with Eldee, the fat dog that stayed with his wife thdt
I haven’t even gotten to the prison time, the incarceration, the time he was on the lamb, on the run, having just had enough of the legal or criminal injustice system. That AWOL from a furlough did in fact, hurt his wife, as she was harassed by cops, their place — their home — was broken into by the cops, and the finale was when they finally traced Kelly back to the River Falls home, after being on the run in places Like Florida, and elswwhere.
I’ll end on some happy notes: a poem I read, wrote for the bench dedication ceremony, and two I did not write but read:
A Song of Rejoining
by Paul Haeder
love of one man
collector of heart songs
she held quilts of love
folded her history like
kneading pie crust
she held on long, traveled
deep within, breaking chains
family ghosts always present
yet she is a bright
star, you see in a summer
thinking of this mother,
wife, grandmother, friend
she is here holding up visions
a bench for visitors
a warm breeze in Merrill
the echo of her being
For the Anniversary of My Death
by W. S. Merwin
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what
Standing alone at the ocean’s edge,
Eager and unafraid,
You are the child I used to be,
Playing the games I played.
Now I have only a coward’s heart,
Holding you all too dear,
Learning at last that love shall teach
The fearless how to fear.
You are so little against the sky,
Eager and unafraid—
Oh, little son by the ocean’s edge,
I am afraid, afraid!
And, this short Part Three is best finished off with a Bukowski poem, sort of gritty, sort of filled with the death of drugs and drinking and old men and other men, in a flophouse. Emblematic of a life that could have been for Kelly but he fought that. Here we are, in 2023, and I went to Wisconsin to be a friend, to develop a friendship, and help out a little bit. I benefitted from the adventure.
by Charles Bukowski
you haven’t lived
until you’ve been in a
with nothing but one
and 56 men
and some of those
and over it all
much like that
in the dark
and worst of
what has happened
and what has