Dear Dirty America



April 18
22:30 2012
by Eric Chaet

(originally posted at 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems)Aggregates are piled up all around me
& across every path it occurs to me to try
beyond my ability realistically even to estimate the numbers
cars, buildings, people
crystals & electrons
feedlots & lumberyards
shapes & masses of various densities
trillions of insects & rodents
scrambling when you pick up a stone
or stumble over a rotting log
hives, herds, swarms, commuters
conventions & rioters
drawers & closets full of clothing
pants, shirts, underwear, socks
threads, polymers, fabrics
boilers, furnaces, refrigerators, washing machines
air conditioners, telephones, cathode-ray tubes
rooms full of people scheming & making deals
children everywhere playing with toys
their brains seizing on experience
laying the infrastructure of capacities
unaware of economic crises or wars
what people say were the causes or what the causes actually were
which causes have had their results
which causes are infants themselves
however many decades or eons they have been evolving & developing
waves, the sea, clouds, the atmosphere
rain, snow, ice, rivers, lakes, ponds, puddles
cemeteries full of what’s left of those who died worn-out
or the victims of illness, accidents, or violence
bright & dark matter across the night
concrete, asphalt, clay, buff & black crumbly soil, debris
seams of ore & ingots in vaults
grass, trees, what people call weeds
all the tangled roots, branches
leaves, flowers, pistils, stamens, pollen
twining stems & arms, magnetism & electricity, lenders & borrowers
partisans of capital, of labor
of this or that party, religion, or sect
all the commentators & arguers—& all their issues
& issues between & among men, women, family members
glaciers of traditions, language, history, & misunderstanding
old technologies of building, hunting, agriculture, husbandry
brewing, baking, cooking & storing
wheels, pottery, metallurgy, navigation
adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing
numbers & accounting
roots & exponents, the squares of the sides of right triangles
alphabets & ranges of polyphonic possibilities
cascades of fashions & changes wrought from mere frustration
& the avalanche of technical advance & obsolescence
schools, hospitals, agencies
soldiers & policemen
weapons & tactics
adolescent rebellion & the life-long commitment of revolutionaries
who won’t forgive those who insist on dominating them
& those who insist on dominating them won’t forgive them, either
rational commitments, irrational commitments
well-informed, poorly-informed decisions
giant corporations & sales forces & attempts to persuade
small proprietors bucking the trends
renters, assistants, wage-earners, job-seekers
scavengers, thieves
administrators & traders in shares of stock, bonds, deeds
those who claim authority to legitimize contracts
& enforce written & unwritten laws
never-ending attempts to separate you from whatever money you get
shelves full of packaged seductions
images & names
aggressively paranoid men & more & more women
seductive forays of young women & more & more men
money & business plans & regulations you must comply with
whether you want to compete
or to seclude yourself away from competition
distorted understanding of your culture by foreign jihadists
& distorted understanding of other cultures
by jihadists of your own culture
publishers’ publications & broadcasters’ programs:

the aggregates would bury me alive
I have to dig myself out, over & over
I cast up & aside shovels full of soil & fragments of artifacts
pipes & wires, nuts, bolts, screws, nails—
you don’t dare ignore what you encounter
you could easily disrupt what you depend on
you have to clean your antennae like the grasshopper
& stretch muscles & align vertebrae like the cat
you have to thread your way thru narrow openings
there is no provision for your mind or soul
else be dragged
merely into traffic back & forth
earning someone else profit, authority, or status
massive misallocation like that which turned Egypt, Mesopotamia,
& the slums of New York, Chicago, & Los Angeles into deserts
& battle-grounds & playthings for gangs
& imperial armies, politicians, & contractors—
like a nova in reverse, to live wisely & purposefully
& sometimes relax in sweet amazement
understanding gathering itself & growing like a well-cared-for infant
til you are capable again
of using what would otherwise destroy you.

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 by the Leave a Reply box on each page of his website, 100 Peculiarly Useful So-Called Poems, <>. 

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