Thursday, June 6, 2013

Journey Through a World Desperately Out of Balance

Climbing Franklin Ave
in search of a view
in the hollywood hills
accosted by signs
forbidding trespass,
warning of armed and
private justice,
no view to be found
multi-million dollar estates
commandeering the horizon,
not an itinerant soul in site
except for Spanish-speaking gardeners
in coveralls and armies of servants
hired to sustain the elaborate and
costly american dream.

Meandering through the back alleys and
corridors of downtown Los Angeles
homeless and the dispossessed, everywhere,
at night fall they scatter like gypsies
staking claim to park benches and
whatever space that will accommodate,
members of a vast itinerant army
without leadership or purpose,
not so pleasant reminders of the
dimwitted idea of prosperity.

Walking the streets of Los Vegas
in the shadows of the towering casinos
business cards proffered
by buxom women
suggesting sensual delights at
competitive rates,
a slot machine paradise
where cheap food abounds,
the siren call of easy riches,
a fortuitous throw of the dice,
paradise awaits.

Beyond the boundaries of this
make-believe oasis of implausible wealth
squalid houses and bereft children
clothes lines with the wash hanging indecorously
against the brilliant desert sky
whose occupants are those who
service the visitors to
this synthetic oasis and
clean their toilets and
change their besotted bedroom linen,
live out their lives without benefit of the
dilapidated american dream.

Wandering through the D train on its early morning run
in that city that moves without rest
where commerce is the clock that times runs on,
paying homage to all those curled up on unoccupied seats
without a home or safe place,
terrified of the shelters
where chaos is the norm,
where personal safety is left at the door,
paying respects to all those plagued by
unsavory demons dancing in their heads,
all their belongings deftly placed beneath their seat,
to those speaking in tongues,
reciting verse they memorized in grade school,
airing repetitious arguments with those who
gave up on them long ago,
to those made wretched by loneliness and
wrecked upon the unforgiving terrain of mental illness
with its jagged peaks
deep, dark and foreboding valleys
and perpetual night.

Wandering through tunnels far beneath
the new York skyline
where whole communities abound,
a caravan of  sleep-deprived battalions
digging out uninviting niches
in the stark underground
with rats for neighbors,
breathing fetid air,
a place where hope cannot thrive
in a world that has already
pronounced them dead.

Above this inferno that
not even Dante could imagine,
there are those who sit upon their riches
derived more from subterfuge than
honest endeavor
and accumulate their earnings like
hysterical and crazed hyenas
within their gated lairs,
they are incapable of
meaningful introspection,
a proven ability to build
absolutely nothing,
a self-proclaimed
superior race without the
capacity to master anything
except treachery and the
illustrious art of subterfuge,
holding all the cards
squandering all the gold,
wearing privilege
without sufficient grace,
taking possession of the future
without weighing the cost of
their icy calculations,
modern day alchemists
turning all things that
fall within the slant of time
into possibilities for endless profit
with an accountant’s fatal logic,
they live a lie and
barely deserve the dirt that will
ultimately cover them.

Investigating the deluge
that was Katrina and the
diaspora that drowned
the soul of New Orleans,
the wrecked homes,
the devastation and
unruly death brought on by
such calamity.

Upon this chaos, the
parasites descended
sensing profit in the mouth of catastrophe,
with voluminous bags of money
they planted seeds of acquisition among
row upon row of good intentions,
sequestered within their voluptuous airs
was the venom that filled their disposition
and established their grandiose conclusions,
they came in the hope of conquest
like the conquistadors that were their inspiration.

Hiking the trails of the Great Northwest
once the wondrous home to
magnificent evergreens,
sprawling unfettered verdant valleys,
where people are strangely grateful
for the remnants that have been left behind
by those who see profit
in every scrap of nature
in every unturned stone,
in every wily stint of nature,
now it is left to the pinball wizards
and electron-beam junkies
with as much an affinity to nature
as a toaster oven with internet capability.

In the shadows of
all this magnificent moneyed plenty,
tent cities grow and multiply
enhancing the human geography
with the denizens of the new reality,
desperation a way of life,
begging an institution,
old men in wheel chairs
queuing up at the baseball stadium,
for a loaf bread and a
free bobble head,
young women picking up tricks
at the laundromat,
children studying the
advanced art of invisibility,
human endeavor
replaced by machines
deepening the pockets of
wily industrialists
at the expense of the worker’s soul.

Paying homage to the nation’s capital,
wandering the halls of power and
idle and capricious justice,
battalions of lobbyists
agents of the royalty of commerce,
solicitors of acquisition
their briefcases brimming with
receipts and promissory notes,
eyes on the prize,
they come to bargain
to craft legislation
with slimy regulations
to trump benevolence
with profit’s wet dream,
to squeeze coins out of the
pockets of the many
to fill the coffers of those
who already have everything,
they come to
usurp the public good
for the investment bankers to
dismember, piece by piece.

Not far from this white-marbled
citadel of affluence and
limitless power
lies the boundary
separating privilege from penury
paleness from color,
lavish homes from prison cells,
expensive appetite from aching mindless hunger,
across the divide
where even the policemen are skittish
where a monstrous bleakness resides
sucking the will from agile minds,
shredding hope from the
corpse of the spirit,
into the aching frontier
where guns are distributed like candy
ammunition always plentiful
death always resident,
not far from where committees are
forever in session,
the news being made,
deals being crafted,
where power is so
thoroughly idolized,
lies the dark reality of the
moribund american dream
a corpse ceremoniously displayed
where politicians and their wily aides
line up for autographs,
vital organs removed,
the air scented with
only the ghost of reality remaining,
beneath the re-sculptured torso,
beneath the painted yet pallid features
all vitality of life blood replaced
by syrupy substances to
forestall but not prevent  
inevitable decay
with blank death presiding.

At the banquet table
to which few are invited,
greed is dispensed on
golden skewers,
bountiful earth is
methodically dispatched
piecemeal with grave intent
into the graveyard of the future,
the game is defined,
the rules determined
the winners all chosen,
all seated,
before them lies the entrails
remnants of the spirit of
wizened compassion,
all prepared for the return
on their investments.

After the meal has been
thoroughly consumed and
spoils divided,
the guests impaled on the
sharpened edge of inglorious vanity,
the crumbs are dispensed with fanfare
to barely fill the bellies
tormented by hunger,
not enough to rescue the dispossessed
from their hapless future or
quell the restless spirit of the

modern age.