Dear Dirty America



January 24
23:36 2013


Picture: Ming Dynasty (
(originally posted at 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems)

A man is fighting a dragon 
could be a woman fighting the dragon
I don’t dare move in too close to see:
darting, feinting
roaring, lunging
flames dodging
could be a boy or girl
fighting the dragon
like in some child’s fairy tale.

But it’s no fairy tale—that much, I’m sure of.
And it’s a human being—I’m sure of that, too—
no other great ape wears clothes.

Doesn’t seem like a fair contest:

That dragon’s bigger than Albuquerque!
bigger than Athens! bigger than Singapore!
bigger than Dubai! bigger than Ecuador! than Senegal!
as tho it’s made up of, I don’t know,
tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of persons
under a huge costume
like Chinese New Year when fire-crackers go off.

A person
against a dragon full of other persons:

And the dragon has trillions, hundreds of trillions
of dollars, yen, euros, yuan, rubles, rupies, pounds
stocks, bonds, derivatives, titles to real estate
that dragon is loaded!—
blackmail revenues, too
from London, Vegas, D.C., Beijing, Delhi, Tokyo
Moscow, Seoul, Sydney, Sao Paulo, the Big Apple—
& the contracts on billions of mortgages
on little homes & farms between the metropols—
& silos & warehouses full of grain
& ranches of cattle & slaughterhouses—
battalions of troops, missiles, satellites, submarines
regiments of spies, provocateurs, assassins, publicists
dupes, patsies, & telecommunications networks—
& the person has zero
just the clothes the person is wearing
oh, maybe a few bucks in leaking pockets
or a credit card with access
to more than he or she dares use
or he or she will be trapped once & for all
enthralled, enslaved
helot, peasant, terminal rat-racer—
so you can tell it’s a person not some other great ape.

The dragon has hundreds of thousands of dim-wits
(some may yet brighten up
some have probably been in the dark too long)
serving as arms, legs, gastro-intestinal tract, etc.
maybe a few dozen shrewd but narrow, shallow people
with generations of experience manipulating outcomes
serving as brains—
I mean experience consolidating industries
banking & shipping, trading drugs & slaves
sugar & oil
issuing & redeeming
arranging wars, elections, & subsidies
setting prices, minting coins, printing paper money
reiterating orthodoxies of religion or economics
organizing countries & markets
revolutions & restorations
international flows, commodities & credits
favors & punishments
public relations, mind control—
excuse me, I meant:
entertainment, journalism, education, advertising.

Poor little person just seems so worn out
mainly just dodging & trying to block
big dragon’s awkward but so overwhelming—

you can see that the person just wants to give up
& cry like a baby.

Suddenly, I know what the person is thinking:
is there some way I can become part of the dragon?
Can I make myself agreeable to the dragon?
Some service I can offer?
But would I be betraying all the other people?

(The other people haven’t always been so good to me!)

Maybe, I can back away & dragon will forget me
& I can live on whatever
dragon doesn’t incinerate or swallow?
But isn’t that cowardice?
Isn’t that betraying the other people—
who haven’t always been so good to me!—
or even myself?

Wait a minute! Did the dragon stumble?!
Could it be there’s internal squabbling
inside that dragon’s head?
Not cells all perfectly aligned for domination?
Could it be
that dragon’s arms, legs, & gastro-intestinal tract
aren’t perfectly coordinated, totally invincible?

Maybe the person will survive & be stronger for the battle
when the dragon collapses from exhaustion & purposelessness
& more capable of dealing with whatever dragon emerges next?

Meanwhile, you’ve got to admit:
that dragon has still not eliminated that person!

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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  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous January 28, 18:30

    It’s a personal victory simply not to be swallowed up by the dragon or roasted by his fiery breath. And not to kiss his ass either. Still around, still in town…

    Donald O’Donovan

    Reply to this comment

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