Dear Dirty America


To The Retiring Pope

February 15
19:41 2013

photo by Ramac

Benedict, may your remaining days be relatively painless
with relatively little discomfort—
may your memories be mainly comforting, rather than tormenting—
may those around you be mainly kind, not insane, uncaring, cruel—
as, frequently, in nursing homes
or among family members, impatient to resume
whatever it is they were doing or hoped to do
before you lay the burden of your suffering on them—
you’re like Paul of Tarsus
transmitter & distorter of Jesus’s life & teachings—
& Jesus, himself, was a transmitter & distorter
of courage, of mercy & righteousness
believing himself no mere human
but half-God, or son of God, Savior, per the prophecies
that SOMEONE would come & get us out of this damn mess
of Romans, Greeks, Pharisees, Sanhedrin
& the cocky fools Isaiah described so well—
parading their so-called successes
in days leading up to slaughters, diasporas, holocausts—
U.S. political party careerists
financiers parlaying slave & opium fortunes
& all they can extract from grocery shoppers
who need fuel for metabolism
& who are hypnotized by advertising—
from renters & mortgage-payers
sour job-drones & those desperate for jobs
who need fuel for heat, foraging, commuting—
you managed a base of devotees bigger than Facebook
almost as many as Chinese or Indians—
dynamically exploding or peaked & already deflating
tho we can’t yet see—
according to the dubious statistics of reporters in their 20’s
humming foolish pop songs
& those who are older
but whose understanding & methods crystalized
when hired by this or that network or magazine
& their focus shifted to getting & keeping
houses & cars & kids & domestic diplomacy—
the way Jesus’s understanding & methods
crystalized in his adolescence, probably
& Paul’s likewise—
except he converted suddenly on the road to Damascus
which even now is being fought over
worse than the south side of Chicago, my childhood home
or even the territory & market share
of Mexican dealers in dope & pilgrims—
excuse me, Benedict, I don’t want to forget you—
I believe in attending to people before they’re obituaries—
then, let the dead bury the dead—
I doubt, but hope this reaches you
I don’t have the credentials to be allowed
by paid, scheming, misunderstanding intermediaries
to communicate with important people—
I care for you
tho I’m no Catholic, or even a Christian—
tho no one is more devoted to Jesus’s life & teachings
however I believe Jesus was deluded
concerning who he was
which gave him courage he needed
audaciously to intervene without an invitation
to look for trouble
to broadcast, however distortedly, thru Paul & others since—
each was imperfect, some ambitious, some just struggling
not to be murdered before they’d established
that they mattered at least to someone—
life’s hard, life’s glorious—
the Roman empire was built on conquest & slavery
as was the British empire
especially in Ireland, greater India, & Dixie
& the Chinese opium trade—
& my nation, the USA, is run by financiers
who are the heirs of the British empire financiers
& allies of the remnant British empire financiers
now also allied with similar people
in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai
& all around the world, really
here & there among the harried, ruled re-actors—
the financial oligarchy is the only real democracy
as the lords fighting over medieval Europe
were the only real democracy—
& the popes sometimes fought for their share
& sometimes attempted to temper the violent anarchy—
but only Jesus, if we are to believe what Matthew wrote
attempted to transform the whole thing
all of what humanity was & is doing—
only Jesus & those of us who attempt to use our lives similarly
tho we can’t comfort ourselves that we are half-God
or sons or daughters of God, or the prophesied savior
or the one called upon to transmit that one’s message
& organize humanity under his aegis—
tho we’re nowhere near so audacious—
I don’t suppose many will call you brother, Brother Benedict—
to thank you for what you managed to do actually for the good
& have mercy on you
for traveling around in luxury in your funny hat & robe
& your bullet-proof Pope-mobile
while pedaphiles & all kinds of corrupt officials
did their deeds, & got away with it—
you couldn’t do much, tho maybe you could have done more
I don’t doubt that you were doing the best you knew how—
you had childhood & adolscent dreams & obsessions, too
& were surrounded by people telling you how great you were—
I don’t doubt that you’re doing the best you know how, now, too—
&, before you die, I hope you find peace to rest in
oh, such moments are so sweet—
some delight & grateful awe—
that your last days don’t get all tangled up
in the struggle of cardinals for the palace, big hat, & publicity
they imagine will finally satisfy the terrible hunger
for importance & meaning that never wobbles, once & for all.

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 Comment

  1. Beaver
    Beaver February 17, 05:49

    I think this was so beautiful and honest. And look at those a.p.a guidelines so sexy. Still eloquent , the writings of a serene and sincere person.

    Reply to this comment

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