Dear Dirty America


You Wouldn’t Know It By Looking At Me

July 19
20:32 2012

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

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me
but I’m Beethoven, Napoleon, Confucius, George Washington
you wouldn’t know it by my clothes or shoes
or the way my eyes are unfocused when I show up for breakfast
but I’m John D. Rockefeller, Rotheschild, Midas, King Sa’ud
you wouldn’t know it by the company you find me in
but I’m Shakespeare, Adam Smith, Socrates, Picasso
you wouldn’t know it by my physiognomy
but I’m Hercules, Atlas, Samson, Genghis Khan
Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, Mother Teresa, Athena
I’m the great whale, great ape, redwood, giant squid
I’m the elephant in the room
people who imagine I’m just a metaphor keep referring to
I’m not only a direct descendant of Adam & Eve
but even of the first amoeba, the first mitochondrion
the first cell to commit to an organization of specialists
& the first cell to go rogue & do the best it could
per what it would encounter in the wild world
you wouldn’t know it by the way others behave in my direction
but I’m way ahead, I’m lapping the pack
they’ve already forgotten most of the race
the first toddling step & the journey of a thousand miles
the first hundred meters, the first mile
the first 6 thousand years, the paleolithic million
the first billions when atoms were looking for work in the molecules
as tho docking with supplies for the orbiting space station
proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids
& reasonable & unreasonable information
you wouldn’t know it
but I’m the one who set all these zippy-zappy technologies going
fire, cultivating crops, spinning, weaving, sewing
brewing, leavened bread, cheese, rhetoric, drama
rooms, windows, doors
pottery, wheels & axles, music, money, metallurgy
reading, writing, ratios, calculating
motors & engines, electronics & coding
I’m the spark, the enzyme, the catalyst
the conception is an aspect of me
& I’m an aspect of the conception
we race thru the universe alternating like magnetism & electricity
I’m the one who made the bargain
others hustle to become part of & continue to be part of
again & again, I plunge in & compete for a role myself
I admit there’s a great deal more I can’t control than I can
& you may occasionally observe me
running around like a chicken without a head
sighing, groaning, cursing, complaining, whining even
still, no one’s larger & or more in charge than I am.

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 Creationand Stalin.

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