“We Don’t Intend To Be Here When This Shithouse Goes Up.”
(For W.S. Burroughs and L.D. Posey)
Under mottled gray clouds, the wind swings slack telephone wires twanging with each gust. Puffs of dust off the rooftops. A screen door slams on an empty house near the end of the street. A red dog lopes on a diagonal path into the wind, it’s head low. The dog crosses the street and hops to the plankwood sidewalk and sits near the door of Bate’s Merchantile, its eyes blinking.
Twenty minutes past noon Late November 1901 Shawnee, Indian Territory.
“This whole territory’s gonna pull in the marks, Leonard. By the shitload.”
Oeschlager strikes a match, and delivers his observation holding the flame between the two men’s cigars. Leonard looks into the clear neutral eyes of Oeschlager and dips his chin.
“Now your simple-assed businessman doesn’t see what this means beyond a tidy profit pulled in on dry goods or real estate. The possibilities that are coming go way beyond Supply and Demand. People are flushing out with The Hungries. And they can be had for as long as you care to put it to them.”
Cat squalls outside in the alley. Sound of old newspapers tearing beneath ratcheting claws. Dog barks.
Oeschlager gives suck to his cigar. “Wait’ll the machinery hits the street. And the street goes asphalt. They’ll be ours from then on.”
Lights go out in Europe. Dog barks ratcheting claws.
Oeschlager blows gray smoke against greased windowpane.
A Greyhound bus heaves up, its air brakes sigh. Sun fires off rippled steel. Tail lights blink twice: RED RED
Leonard drops ashes in lap. Jaw drops. He quickly looks to Oeschlager who stretches a baby’s smile.
“Got the material, got the means. No other outlets. The territory’s sewed.”
Dog barks ratcheting claws through greased newspapers. Lights go out in Europe. End of the line.
A mist sweeps low over alfalfa fields gone dry where Black Widow spiders nest. The spiders skitter momentarily as one organism and go dormant. Untrained unthinking packs of boys emanate from old queen’s nightmare, rearing tossing manes matted with semen and blood. Prajnaparmita Sutra chanted in heart of ghetto where plastic shopping bags waft up and are held spectral in the ozone.
Gya te gy te ha ra gya te hara so gya te bo dhi sowa ka
Gone gone gone to the other shore. Landed at the other shore.
Television screens ghost light like moons in darkened living room in Tulsa, Des Moines (St Louis). Dentist’s cold eyes reflect needles rusted in midnight sewage. Newspapers rattle in alleys of memory. Cigarette burns to yellow viscous ash.
Satellite debris falls in Chicago’s Loop at noon. Many shoppers are killed. Sophisticated alloys rip flesh eyeballs bone, splattering Picasso sculpture. Blood drops tap sidewalk. BART train veers off track on Oakland overpass drilling insurance office. Pulverized tongues teeth continue to wail through doubleknit fabric shredded smoking flesh.
Lights go out in Europe.
Oeschlager shrugs. Stubs out Cuban stogie. Pulls crease of pant taut. Rubs fingers together
“This whole territory’s gonna pull in the marks.”
’39 blue Chevy backs out driveway, gravel crunching beneath tires. Smells OLD. Hot steel dashboard to the touch. Alto saxophone riddles the afternoon with squeezed eighth-notes. Traffic punctuates with rubber and steel the remaining spaces.
THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION
The means of production means No Good. Feed the fires of Europe. Don’t let the flame go out. (All over Europe: the Lights go Out)
Toss it over. All over. Pick up your marbles and get Home.
“Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag…” And burn it.
Never will get it all out Here. Fills up as fast as stuffed cistern. It’s seams split.
1901: Yellow dust whuffs up and turns several times low over the road before drifting up into the Red Ochre Blue.
(from Desperate Acts, Michael Reynolds, Full Count Press, 1984.)