...A REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST

(A Proustian Rumble)

The sun sets on crystal mountain | peaks, gold and mother of pearl, 
jagged lace | glycerin, napalm, light cascades and silver linings—
mahogany dashboards | a two-seater in flight | dials and control 
stick, whacked | music from a Victrola spins | crackle, dog barks and 
city sirens | trucks shift gears, airbrakes hiss | late-nite bustle of the 
24/7 day. 


4 guys sit in the dark | crooning from the flatbed of a pickup truck—
songs of teenage lust and rebel fists—a poet, a singer, an actor and an 
artist | pass time as life's freight car shuffles by | the sound gets louder 
—splinters and cracks | eardrums bleed cacophony | two-toned shoes 
and the blare of radio AM band —50s doowop, bop | Jesus sandals, 
love beads and patchouli | the songs of Elvis, Rolling Stones and Black 
Sabbath | the underbelly of the underground, hallowed by time | made 
holy by consent.


Orly | the geek bites heads off chickens | modern entertainment—
an ancient ritual | Big Bang, particle theory—bombast and the 
impossible—yet true | if you say it, somebody's got to believe—in 
what? I said—and lied to hide my principles | because it's easier to 
sing songs of love than tell the truth.


Liang Xiu-Fat | Chinese expat—vows never to give a sucker an inch
—and don't mind the buzzards | they fly by night and eat carcass by 
day | "Load the truck! Overnight deliveries take effort—but we'll beat 
anyone's time!" | a new commerce sets sail on the slow boat, breaking 
records, smashing quotas | an overall success at the cost of an 
American Dream.


Wally, the Ozymandian Oz—keeper of the flame and borrower of 
books—exists on verbiage, slowly chewed, digested by bits | insists 
on a magnum opus but, I've less to give than a complete book of verse 
—my palette empty, paints dried | orange skins, lemon peels and 
cloves | breakfast tea in Britain and racist baristas in the USA | have 
shut down my soul. 


THE MEMORY OF TIMES LAID WASTE

It doesn't take a lot to lose | your shirt, your pants—your dignity
goes through revolving doors | rose pink Cadillacs, black nylons,
discotheques and blue blazers | endless nights | rise to death at dawn.


It's a wicked hand gets played the suckers, the losers, low riders and 
gimps. Their heads flush with shame | whales part waves across the 
floor | to private parlors, where chips denominate in the thousands, 
and gilded tables hold single-malts | Cuban cigars and caviar.


To not reap from the table of Good Luck | but eat of the God who 
wanders | the desert beyond Paradise and Sunset, hungering for those 
who still believe | dreams of pockets lined with gold, streets paved 
with silver | buckles, cowboys who eat of the Sacred Cow | to wake 
from the cold | hard facts of broken ids and shrunken libidos.


To give up want | but still need—park shopping baskets in the halls of 
the one-armed-bandits | hands out | for their last coin. Bean burritos, 
soda pop and plastic | put it in the slot | cash registers | ring up grocery 
bills—money orders, cash and coupons.


An endless masquerade | faces | doorways with no exits—the call of 
freedom taunting through the walls | the blazing of the neon | flashing 
billboards and cheap breakfasts beckon | stir your souls into the heap.


(The gambler stands a mile from winning, one last turn will 
drop the bucket in his lap.)


ANTHEM

Ships sail past barren coasts | to new worlds | hopeful sunrises, 
forgotten sunsets | spheres of influence, barter and conquest. Left 
in the wake—the sea-foam of history | flotsam and jetsam scattered 
on the beach | the detritus of the human race—the leftovers of an 
indulgent commerce—greed and capital. 


My city is deserted | littered with the stuff of war | a Mercedes-
Benz sits broken | axles exposed to the sun | its blistered glass 
an exposé to prosperity—cracked leather seats and a stolen 
radio | the unwrapped remains of society’s insatiable appetite. 


Storefront windows maw | cavernous | they participate in the 
deception to the consumer | the gratification of the itch—impulse 
items | stripped from shelves by looters, scavengers | mercenaries 
who prowl for contraband. Carnage becomes the reward of the 
mighty.


Night time finds me behind the woven barrier where I lay my 
head | read by candlelight. I searched the Inner Harbor. I gaze 
across the open sea. I find nothing but despair and the wistful 
thought that perhaps this is all a dream. My Glock at the ready, 
my rucksack full of hope, my sleeping bag connected to the 
doorpost—an alarm to defend against intrusion of the nomads 
of the night.


We search for canned goods as if for gold | a campfire to smelt 
the dross from the refined—paté of liver, or salmon—pork and 
beans, minestrone. To catch the last beams of the crooked sun 
as it glows red through the cracks of boarded up windows, I send
a last farewell. I'll sleep fat and dream of sheep tonight, pastures 
of  plenty, and blue beaches far away. My bed of styrofoam and 
polyester, shredded paper, birds' nests and rat droppings.


The wind will cut my sails as it drags anchor across deserted 
streets | it forwards love letters from Annapolis, hate mail from 
the Capitol | a glimpse of a future I will never see. Taunting 
me with mystery—Peace and Love and destiny. Brinksmanship, 
saber-rattling, and death | complicit in the violence of the ape 
man—the chimpanzee who learned to walk | I am caught in the 
savanna of a globalized deception | war was inevitable they said
—monkey-see monkey-do. 


TERROR THAT STALKS THE NIGHT

The sky over Havana | still reeks of Castro. 
Years of collaboration with bloc nations,
lack of cooperation with its northern neighbor and her allies.*

    *This is what they want you to think. In fact,
        it is the blockades that have kept Cuba starving
            (North Korea | Iran | Russia—equally so).

We, once a great power—
diminished to the size of a small-handed
minority | rule. Our hopes dashed on the shores of the world. 

These truths we hold self-evident: 
    We, the agitator—We the People. 
        Are the terror that stalks the night. 
            We are the destroyer. 
                We are the enemy.