Dear Dirty America


All Right, I’ll Sustain This Great Adventure

June 20
13:00 2012

(originally posted at 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems)

All right, I won’t be attended to
before I lose my rude good health
won’t be well paid—maybe won’t be paid at all
what I say won’t prevent my contemporaries
from wasting their lives & ruining other people’s lives
all right, I won’t live on a mountain top by the ocean
I won’t learn Chinese & Arabic
won’t visit Mumbai, Timbuktu, Buenos Aires
never surf, never eat lobster, no apartment in Manhattan
won’t brainstorm & laugh
with novelists, actors, impresarios
or software engineers or surgeons
or knights of politics, epidemiology, scientific inquiry
won’t get enough money to be a philanthropist
never featured on magazine covers or awarded prizes
all right, famous people will die never having heard of me
also most of the people living in obscurity
who could have benefited
from what I learned with such difficulty to say
all right, plutocrats will spend almost everything on ego-gratification
while almost everyone runs as hard as they can
& never arrives at where they can stop running, til they collapse
all right, I’ll have to spend a lot of time
dealing with a medical & insurance bureaucracy
screwed up as the public schools I had to attend as a boy
just to stay alive to do what I do
like paying taxes to stay out of jail
all right, the Republicans & Democrats will argue & argue
while the people they get paid for serving suffer
from their insane policies & the wars they haven’t the wisdom to avoid
all right, the Jesuits, jihadists, communist cadres, & a million authors
entrepreneurs & union organizers & teachers & judges
will pose as the vanguard of humanity
& the only way I would be able to get a word in edgewise
anywhere near a microphone or camera
would be to claim to have a program as clear & simple-minded
or become an entertainer pandering to boorish
or so-called sophisticated fads & fashions
otherwise I’ll have to continue to do without almost everything
that money can buy
& concentrate on mere hygiene & managing chronic problems
& responding to emergencies & insane demands
by people I’d love to get free from, but can’t
all right, I’ll be listening for the rest of my life
to the confident arguments & misguided assumptions
of those sure that the best you can do
is to fit in among the conventions of your time & place
even if the conventions periodically break out
into holocausts & industrial scale wars
& ride on the shoulders of outcasts, scapegoats, prisoners
& millions wasting away in sordid little rooms
or on the street, in full view, but no one will look at them
mainly for the benefit of a few who eat everyone’s lunch
& their armies & armies of professional mandarins, too
including especially the priests of economics
who are sure that altruism has been proven to be a fraud
all right, all right, I won’t go bitter or sour
& I won’t pretend anything is simpler than it is
& I won’t pretend I’m part of the vanguard of humanity
all right, it’s no excuse not to keep undoing my defense mechanisms
& all the bad habits of thought & behavior they protected in a bubble
I’ll keep trying to improve
& keep doing what I can, too, slight or a lot, assisted or not, or opposed
to be of service to the most righteous
& the most innocent victims of misunderstanding & injustice
& I won’t give up on providing for myself
however close to the end of my ability to do it
& blocked & exasperated by the demands
even of those who care most for me
that I stop doing what I ought to be doing
which is having its effect despite their inability to see it
however much it is obvious to them
that there is no point in contributing to its success
their jobs are difficult enough, & they want to shop
or be otherwise distracted the rest of the time, til they die
all right, I won’t stop doing what I ought to be doing
in order to disturb their homeostatic sense of decorum less
all right, I’ll sustain this great adventure.

Eric Chaet, The Turnaround Artist, born Chicago, USA, 1945, raised on rough South Side, pre-computer factory, office, & warehouse jobs. Some teaching, some independent self-taught technical consulting. 1974, Old Buzzard of No-Man’s Land, poems, Toronto, Canada. 1977, Solid and Sound, vinyl LP of songs, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA.  Mid-80s to mid-90s, silkscreened, hitchhiked, & stapled 1500 cloth posters to utility poles along American highways.  1990, How To Change the World Forever For Better, brief prose philosophy, Greenleaf, Wisconsin, USA; 2nd edition, 1994.  2001, People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways, mostly narrative prose, De Pere, Wisconsin, USA.  Lives in Wisconsin, industrialized dairy farms & cows, remnant cheese & paper factories & factory hands & outlaw mammals & birds, post-construction boom, reactionary politics & obsolete machinery, a smattering of professionals & millionaires.  Poems published, over 50 years in many USA states, plus Brazil, Cuba, Ireland, Scotland, England, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Nepal, India, China, Singapore, Korea, & Taiwan, often in translation. 

You can contact him at the Leave a Reply box on each page of his website, 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems, <>.

Find Chaet’s book, People I Met Hitchhiking USA Highwaysand read a review written hereSee also, There’s still a little breath in the old American RevolutionOn Job Creation, and Stalin.

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