It’s known, at least it should be, that throughout
Los Angeles, the City of the Angels…
(A name, which by the way, good sense must doubt:
LA is more a city where the strange dwells
And devils would in pairs to stroll about.
Its neighborhoods, those precincts of estranged cells,
Would make a Paradise of Dante’s Dis,
The citadel most dread in Hell’s abyss.)
Again. It’s known LA holds copyright
To graffiti, for which it is renowned.
But it’s opposed because some call it blight
Though not because in Art they’re capped and gowned.
Graffiti strikes the devil of a fright
Into those souls whose homes are hallowed ground:
Who’d gladly cleanse their lives of tagging crews
As well as “niggers,” “wetbacks,” “queers,” and Jews.
Just how this came to be is hard to say.
But in the years from Hiroshima City
To Viet Nam, The American Way
Inflamed a truly savage Walter Mitty.
Who, when he came to shelter in LA,
Thought here white heroes surely would be sung
Until he saw “The News with Connie Chung.”
I am not now nor have I ever been
A member of the Social Science trade.
I can, however, say I do know when
It’s fit that Social Dullness should be flayed;
And have some small facility to pen
The rhymes to put this Dullness on parade;
And show you Dante’s Hell and Purgatory
Have nothing on a truthful LA story.
When people thought LA, they thought of stars
And homes set off in splendor in the hills;
They thought of Oscar Night spectaculars
And left behind their tawdry Evansville’s.
Men lived for blonds, the boulevards, and cars;
The women lived for men with gorgeous wills.
Both lived for “killings” made in real estate;
And then the Manson Cult killed Sharon Tate.
Then vanished “once upon a time” and hope
Of life forever lasting in the sun.
It’s gangs now, guns in school, rape, murder, dope.
And math instruction starts with 911.
It still was not impossible to cope:
There was Huel Howser, Bay Watch, O.J. Simpson
In the White Republic’s front-running show,
Old fashioned “Catch the N Word by the Toe.”:
Ms. Marsha Clark, the Prosecutor, states
That Mr. Simpson, in a headstrong passion,
Such bloody vengeance loosed, the New Age mates’
Blithe spirits bodied-out with them still thrashin’.
The Council for Defense asseverates
(Between their peeks at Marsha’s latest fashion)
O.J. is not a man to cut and run,
Although at this he was once Number One.
Now questions of the innocence or guilt,
Of justice, when a black man’s brought to court,
No matter his defense team fights full tilt,
Are likely, you should know, to be cut short.
A jury of his peers might really jilt
Race baiting as our oldest public sport.
Still “nigger’s” place is with his shoeshine kits;
And, God forbid, the victim has white tits.
Now even those politically correct
(Especially them) in whispered sniggers say:
“The Bell Curve shows the black brain is abject
Without the understanding of a jay.
They struggle really just to stand erect;
The brightest are but children at their play.
That’s why the instant replay was invented
And, too, it keeps the other proles contented.
The setting’s done. This trivial pursuit
Distracts me from my story’s frightful theme.
Here, as all poets must, I now file suit
With Muses Nine that they might bless my scheme.
Muse (I’ve forgotten which of you to toot),
Let me display a California Dream:
Homeowners in the burbs who took the laws
Into their hands and did it with chainsaws.
Now as I start my story you must know
I see home owning as one sees convictions:
Homeowners aren’t, by nature, status quo
But sentenced by the bankers’ legal dictions
To serve away their lives to get the dough
To suffer mortgage payments or evictions,
They help insure their hard won residences
By razor wiring of their picket fences.
To play it safe for property and limb
And make a city pasture for their kids,
Their blond, blue-eyed, angelic cherubim,-
(The angels, by the way who put the skids
On Eden’s real estate for sake of Him
Who thought by doing so to drive up bids)-
These white homeowners formed Associations
To guard against genetic variations.
Much like their paradisal parents past
(That archetypal get rich quick duet),
These modern Eves and Adams feel harassed
By foes who’ve made their lives a public debt.
No more will they pay taxes unsurpassed
Which keep their lives in hock and is a threat
To their attempts at fashioning New Eden
(And hiring cheap labor for the weedin’.)
The Neighbors Watch, for so these cells are called,
Has taken up the challenge to defeat
Dark envey’s raid behind their Berlin-walled
Tax sheltered homesteads on Prop.13th Street.
Alone they fight the “beasts” they think have crawled
From nearby urban chaos to unseat
Themselves, their wives, their progeny from bliss,
As did their serpent seed in Genesis.
Vigilantes, they’re proud to stand alone.
Although on Law Enforcement they may count,
These local paladins’ testosterone
Demands, in home defense, they’re paramount.
(Their wives’ desires, as well, this way are prone
Except the home defense they wish they’d mount -
Unlike the yards, the flowers, and the grass -
Would positively welcome getting ass.)
What lies beyond the bubble of these burbs
Is Milton’s Fiery Lake of Black Despair
(So hints The Times in “Life and Style” blurbs);
But burbans say it’s none of their affair.
“Our peace and quiet thou shalt not disturb
Else we shall send you to intensive care;
And, if perchance, you, after dark, should dally,
You’ll wish you were the cross at a Klan rally.”
I said that in LA none can escape
From graffiti to which I’ll now attend;
And show you some homeowners who’ve gone ape
(Or, actually, completely round the bend)
At this spray painted kudzu urbanscape
And how with tagging’s outrage they’d contend;
How Beto crossed the border searching work,
And found instead some burbans gone berserk.
Our twenty-something hero here arrived
In a manner that circumvented custom;
At least among illegals that style thrived
Despite the presidents who said they’d bust’em.
In conscience, I can’t say how it’s contrived
Though knowing, you would surely be non-plussed some.
But perseverance overcomes defeats
Except when seeking floor row Lakers’ seats.
These are reserved for movie stars of note,
The heroes of our fantasies’ frontiers.
(My fantasy was starring in Deep Throat
And pumping iron into X-rated rears;
But since delights like these are as remote
As sitting with Jack Nicholson and peers,
I’ll stick with Beto’s pisser of a story
And hope to bask in his reflected glory.
As I was saying, Beto’d newly come
From Mexico where art, the God’s munition,
On palace walls, with masterly aplomb,
Commends the peasant workers’ opposition
That fought the hacendado landlord scum,
A struggle now that’s finally reached fruition:
The landlords own the the land and all its splendors,
While peasant proles come north as orange vendors.
Fruit vending is the entry-level venture
That Beto undertook to get the loot
To finance his American Adventure
Which is (you guessed) to corner citrus fruit.
On sunny days or even in a drencher,
Beto is out there hustling like the Newt-
He, too, has contract deadlines to be met
Though not for jewels would pay the National Debt.
Our hero lived a frugal life, quite Spartan
(Although no warrior but a lover) he
Survived in digs so cramped a Dolly Parton
Couldn’t breathe without a, “Darlin’, Pardon me!”
For men alone this last would not dishearten
But Beto bunked in with a family-
Some distant cousins and their grade school children.
(If Dolly had dropped in, she would have killed ’em.)
The children were of some advantage though:
They taught “the English” to their busy father
Who passed it on to Beto, called Calo.
Their mother had a job and didn’t bother.
She was a garment factory sewing pro
Who thought: why struggle through the puzzling pother
To learn the gringo’s language which at work
Is spoken by the foremen who’s a jerk.
Before fair light of day the city blessed
(What rays, that is, can tunnel through the smog)
The adults left their nestlings in the nest
(A sign out front warned all: Beware the Dog)
And drove to work with friends. They were so pressed
(I’m minded of a cab ride once in Prague)
Together that when finally they’d arrived,
They looked as if they’d wrecked and yet survived.
But now enough of background and of stricture.
(It’s “show don’t tell,” the story masters say).
I would not have you think I’m writing scripture
Or a Francis Ford Coppola screenplay-
His solemn kind of over-budget picture
That shoots Italians in a family way.
Let’s jump cut now to Beto’s malefaction,
Since it’s passed time this poem had some live action.
Before fruit vending, Beto’d put his hand
To many jobs were somewhat better paid.
Then business by recession was unmanned
And, like a whore who’s failing in her trade,
Because her profit margin’s not so grand,
It moved where higher profits could be made.
Which, in this case, was Beto’s Mexico
Where he’d return with riches or not go.
To prostitutes I must apologize
For showing your profession disrespect:
I called you “whores” when “workers with your thighs”
Though somewhat gauche is doubtless more correct.
And, Reader, please forgive my poet’s lies:
I said no more conceits. In retrospect,
I lied. What verse I know I learned from Byron
Which makes me shoot my mouth off and keep firin’.
Besides there are no stories without “views.”
I merely make mine plain in satire’s fashion.
Correlatives objective make me snooze
And dull imagination and dull passion.
Pound said, “Make it new.” I say, “Make the News.”
Though this advice turns college poets ashen,
Who cares? With them, it’s all pissant declaratives;
And writers’ schools propose prose for their narratives.
Frye says: We don’t read stories now in verse.
I say: The poets don’t supply them much.
The syntax I’ll admit can be perverse:
Verbs, adjectives, and nouns, a motley clutch,
As if they’d had an accident (or worse)
And needed rhyme and meter as a crutch.
But rhyme, and meter, form, with its resistance,
Is how I bring my stories to existence.
Now to my tale. Time: summer, Friday night.
That summer day was long as Beto hawked
His oranges although he’d not had a bite
To eat himself so that his stomach squawked
So loudly that it sounded Christian Right
When its “reforms” for welfare’s snares are balked
By those whose common sense or intuition
Would warn against repealing all nutrition.
I said his day was long and now it’s dark.
He’d met with some success. Some bags were sold.
(Despite the often-wounding foul remark.)
All this had left him giddy as he strolled
From where he worked to where his friends would park,
The friends with whom he’d share what Fate had doled.
The fact that all these hours produced small change
Should not, if you consider it, seem strange:
Our hero measured riches by survival
(As felons given leave to cop a plea).
Illegal in the States, then your arrival
Must certainly be paid for COD.
Thus, if at end of day, you’re alive at all
With money in your pocket, you’ll agree,
You’ll count that long day’s journey a success
Unless you can’t avoid the INS;
Unless you can’t avoid a gouging rent;
Unless you can’t avoid the IRS;
Unless you can’t avoid an accident;
Unless you can’t avoid the Law’s caress;
Unless you can’t avoid all nourishment;
Insults; low wages; race discrimination
Which finally leads to “naturalization.”
As Beto strolled away, he hoped the car
Was waiting. (It broke down at every turn.)
He wished he was a man who played guitar
(The fact he couldn’t was of no concern.)
He’d play for crowds (not crowds vehicular)
And maidens (or not maidens) who would burn
With passion for a man whose voice could sing so,
It charmed the money from the fist of gringo.
Now, on the whole, he thought a maiden better,
A judgment call with which I can’t concur:
And not the least because you first must shred her;
And then there is the fact she’s amateur;
And, thirdly, when you finally go to bed her,
You’ll find, that when you pet it, it won’t purr
At least not for a half a dozen times
Which makes it more like work or writing rhymes.
He saw his name in lights boast his renown
(Which is a common failing in LA).
No more, “Hey,Wetback, go back to Dog Town”
Which, on and off, I said, he’d heard all day.
This exit was well known for dressing-down
Its vendors and his friends said, “Stay away.”
It wasn’t rich but neither second class.
It was a burb where whites revered their grass.
His friends had warned him there’d been disappearances.
But Beto thought, “Returned to Mexico.
Because they couldn’t stand the interferences
With people working hard to make some dough.
The US was a country of appearances:
They wanted you to work here but said, ‘Go.’
And, too, they thought America was Eden.”
But, if he could, our hero’d live in Sweden.
Too giddy far to think about it more
And walking now beneath a freeway span,
Hearing cheers for the “Latin Troubadour,”
Beto stumbled on a tagger’s spray can.
In front of him, a wall whose fresh décor
Suggested what it would to any man
Who knew, in lights, his name would someday blazon.
So why not jump the gun with some self-praisin’?
He never stopped to think he’d been setup
Which only goes to prove he was an alien;
But, as I said, his spirits were so “up”
And being high you can’t tell what travail you’re in.
Those who, to earn a living, shake a cup;
And who, to read a book, must grow a Brailley skin
Provided they’re homegrown, could not have failed
To see some sneaky fucks want Beto nailed.
This tactic, called an ambush, was perfected
(As well as pioneered) by settlers who
To clear this land of races God rejected
(So we might shop along Fifth Avenue)
Thought since, by natives, treaties are respected
What better way to make their dream come true
Than promise them their lands by legal right
If they, from tribal browns, morphed lily-white.
The Cherokee, as shown by Howard Zinn,
Developed farming and a form of writing.
While this might have been good enough to win
Their lands for them, it also brought a tiding
That they’d be castigated for this sin:
That is, they’d proved not only whites presiding
Over owning their land would be victorious;
And so the Trail of Tears became notorious.
From those days on this tactic stayed the same.
For in America though beings alien
(From space) would be received with warm acclaim;
If human, it’s a coffin they will nail you in
Especially if Non-White’s your proper name.
(Though maybe not if you’re Episcopalian.)
We’ll cuddle with Armani or a Gucci
Before we’ll greet a Tran or Yamaguchi.
But white skin is congenial to the Right
Because the Johnny Rebs are in command
Of bringing the conservatives to fight
For their America, the Holy Land.
The City on the Hill won’t be contrite
Because it only makes a just demand:
If coloreds aren’t cleared off, then WHITE’s are dead
Or, worse than that, the country will go RED.
But back to Beto who’d now tagged his name
Though he could barely see it in the dark.
This was an ancient ploy for gaining fame
Much used by those who have no bite but bark.
Talk radio, our culture’s modern shame,
Like tagging, is for those who’ll leave no mark;
And’s used by burban whites who want to vent
As tagging’s used for colored discontent.
Our age is now bombarded by the Fool
Whom media conglomerates all flatter.
The more we are infected by their pule
The less that being human seems to matter.
Bartenders, in time past, would use a stool
And for drinks were subjected to this natter;
As were psychiatrists with their high voltages
Who sent fools screaming into early dotages.
All Beto did, however, was express
A wish, a hope, a dream, a fond desire
That Goddess Fortune might one day caress
His hopes from out the Hell of daily hire.
As burbans, if they’re honest, would profess
They, too, are tired of living under fire.
When Beto tagged that wall from top to bottom,
A voice from out of nowhere said, “We got him.”
The night, I said, was late; the light was poor;
And Beto thought just how he might escape.
But time is of the essence to be sure
If you would flee a crime scene or a scrape
For which you are not ready to endure
A prison cell with all its concrete landscape
Which, lately, since the liberals lost Rawls
Have increased at the rate of shopping malls.
A human bulwark of polite civility
The liberals used to be a decent sort
Who, like Rawls, damned all mention of utility
When disadvantage needed life support.
At any rate, that is the way it used to be
Before the latest surveys which report:
The effects of this government largesse
Resemble, in their symptoms, PMS.
The poor and working classes felt their title
To what was promised by the Democrats.
They made their social programs such an idol
That when they were withdrawn they fought like cats.
What turned the country really homicidal
Were Republicans in ten-gallon hats
Who thought these programs were anachronistic
And verged quite closely on the communistic.
Long gone is the age of commiseration
We thought was ushered in by FDR.
For recent presidents, all consolation
Is bottled up and stoppered in a jar
So tightly that it leaks no aspiration
Except perhaps to rob an armored car
For money there is plentiful and cheap,
Although you run the risk of the Big Sleep.
And where’s that scholar Rawls, I’d like to know,
Just now when all he’s thought for is undone;
Or is undoing? (It remains to show
Humanity’s just a cost overrun.)
How can he stand aside as blow by blow
Conservatives force us back to square one?
It’s true he died but that is no excuse
Why God in Heaven won’t…Oh, what’s the use?
But back to Beto. His escape delayed
(Thus creating our story’s problematic),
We know he can expect no timely aid
From Rawls who’s on a Heavenly sabatic.
But that’s the way with those who make the grade
In schools discoursing problems democratic:
The while we suffer tyrannies infernal
They’re off to solve our problems…in a journal.
Our hero stood shock still. The voice drew near
And shouted, “Motherfucker, kiss the wall.”
Thus Beto bid good-bye to his career.
(But since he couldn’t sing his loss was small.)
It was a fantasy. But to adhere
To fantasies should not shock us at all:
This is the land that promises blank checks
To anyone for anything…but sex.
Because it’s cash or marriage, either one.
The US is the land of opportunity
So what if either choice adds up to none?
Just think if we could have sex with immunity
Financially, that is, and just for fun?
Conceive of how it would help our community:
You’d never more be caught in an affair,
So spared expenses in intensive care.
The voice then morphed into a pair of hands
Or, rather, hand since one now held a gun;
And harshly bid him listen to commands
As shamelessly he frisked our simpleton.
I leave my hero here just where he stands
To help you understand just what he’s done.
I would not have you think that his creation
Should be completely free of aggravation.
I have no sympathy for fools, adult
Or otherwise, no matter what their status.
And, as for Beto’s plight, I don’t exult
Nor glorify a posse comitatus.
But what did he expect? What else result?
Life’s not a game from Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus.”
And, like a dog, to spray the public’s wall
Turns someone’s world into a public stall.
And worse. A tagging will inflame their impotence,
A deadly sin to those whose taxes pay
For reasonable political competence
To keep them smiling and the world at bay.
Why should taxpayers pay for tagger’s impudence
That they see blazed, to their obsessed dismay,
As they bend to their workaday commute?
It’s things like this can turn a man a brute.
Much as it spawned the man handcuffing Beto
Who menaced him for tagging up his name-
A foolish act but why would these men sweat so?
I said before it’s impotence and shame.
But race, too, figures in. It is their ghetto:
And every ghetto-lifer is the same:
It doesn’t matter where you make your hood
For anyone outside it is no good.
But how, you ask, will this create a brute
From colored or redneck white-collar crews?
Because they’re isolated they impute
To other loners that they’re all bad news;
And so it’s questions later. First, you shoot
Then maybe afterwards you ask their views.
But wouldn’t be persuaded if you did
Because a man can’t think straight through his id.
The id won’t compromise its satisfaction:
And all it does is want what it wants now.
It’s willing to commit any infraction
Against the laws of life. It is lowbrow.
Will stoop to any lengths of malefaction
In order once for all to disavow
The morals of our egos, superegos;
And so, you see, the id has no amigos.
But people live in like-minded communities
Which usually are based on social class.
And so their ids develop in these unities
Collectively and won’t allow trespass
Of others whom they know will cause disunities
Especially if they’re let in en masse.
It is the ground of race discriminations
And has been known to lead to altercations.
I see my psychobabble’s turned harangue,
A sin in modern verse along with rhyme.
It’s said: rhyme snatches verse in its pressgang
And whisks it far away from the sublime
To serve a gulag stretch in Pyongyang;
Or, worse, TV forever in prime time.
But I don’t care. I’ll go to North Korea
Before I’d read a “modern’s” diarrhea.
Now Beto, frisked and cuffed, is made to sit
Beneath the letters that proclaimed that he
Would one day rise by his “illegal” wit
To see his name engaging Fame’s marquee.
Just at the present, I’m forced to admit
Our hero’s sweating out Gethsemane;
But if you will recall Sweet Jesus hung on
To rise and make a film with Monty Python.
His knees were tightly snugged beneath his chin.
His hands hard manacled behind his back.
His mouth was duct taped round and round again.
If they could, they’d have hung him on a rack
The better to begin his discipline,
As they had been instructed in Iraq:
A prison by the name of Abu Ghraib
Is where they’d tortured Muslims who’d turned reb.
Alas, our wars have only brought us more
Vile violence at home and mad destruction
That gathers up its strength with each encore
So that it doesn’t take Chomsky’s instruction
Informing us that we’ve gone so hard-core
That we’re about to pull the whole construction
Of these United States down on our heads
And will not get relief from taking meds.
I had a friend who’d fought in Viet Nam
Who when he was at home wore his wife’s dress.
He’d figured out that it was Uncle Sam
Who’d caused this form of post-traumatic stress.
Then one day disappeared. Went on the scram,
Until the nightly news on CBS
Reported that he’d tried to M-14
Some Viet but was killed by a Marine.
No wonder that we find the world confusing
Since now the Vietnamese make our Levi’s.
It goes to show some men can’t win for losing
(An old cliché but one, I think, applies)
As does another, “cruising for a bruising,”
For what my friend went through would traumatize
His mind so that it wasn’t Uncle Sam
He shot at but a guy from Viet Nam.
So Beto sits, a prisoner of war.
Held captive by a man he cannot see.
His intuition tells him that rapport
Won’t be established with, “Please, pardon me.”
The most he now believes he can hope for
Is to be treated with some clemency.
He entertains that thought until he hears
A word that turns his hope to hopeless fears.
From somewhere to his left, in blackest dark,
His captor speaks in loud triumphant tones.
(To whom he speaks at first’s a question mark
But Beto then remembered high tech phones);
And what he hears, alas, is one remark
That, if not death, portends some broken bones.
You will, I hope, forgive linguistic rigor
When I inform you that the word was “nigger.”
There are no people now in all the world
Who do not know that white men in America
Whenever this foul epithet’s unfurled
Means, at the very least, the whites don’t care for ya;
Who do not know that when this word is hurled
You’d better duck or, like the Basques at Guernica
You’ll find that you have finally culminated
Onto the list of those abominated.
If you’re a “nigger,” Human Rights don’t count
In America as we saw in Philly
When MOVE was bombed; and though not tantamount
To what we helped with in Augusto’s Chile -
(Because he had a corporate bank account
And thus he could go at it willy-nilly) -
In Philly cops are designated hitters
Who get to toast the blacks to crispy critters.
This happened 20 years ago or more -
Dates never were my thing – but I don’t care
Because race hatred is a kind of war
From the Constitution’s opening prayer
To the Tea Party “birthers” who abhor
A black as President. Common as air .
In these United States it’s the preservative
That makes us what we are, that is, conservative.
Now Beto, who is rightly terrified,
Resolves he’ll fight before he’s “taken out,”
A sanitary phrase for “homicide”
But fitting, Beto thinks, beyond a doubt:
He knows, like blacks, he’s trash they won’t abide;
And doesn’t want to travel down that route
Because it leads to where he’ll be conversin’
With God or Satan, one, person to person.
Then, suddenly, a car swerves into sight.
Though traveling fast it slows and faces stare
Which any child can tell you’s impolite
But people, when in cars, just can’t forbear;
And nothing is more ogled with delight
Than bodies headed to intensive care –
Unless, of course, it’s bodies trapped and burning
For which we seem to have some kind of yearning.
A freeway holocaust’s a modern shrine
At which devout commuters pay respect
To fellow pilgrims now turned Frankenstein –
At least they’ll look it when a broken neck
Must be stitched back onto a twisted spine.
(It’s obvious the creatures on Star Trek,
Or sci fi movies, were inspired by these –
How else conceive of faces like squashed peas.)
The faces Beto sees are teenage kids
Come out that night to cruise the boulevards.
Now simple common sense, you know, forbids
You’re thinking of there cruisers as your pards,
For all know teens are barely hominids;
But Beto’s hopping they’ll be his lifeguards.
They seem to take an interest as they pass
Until, from out a window, hangs an ass.
The car burns rubber as it wheels away;
And sounds of jeering mock all Beto’s hope
That they’d take pity on his sad dismay.
And so, now wondering just how he’ll cope,
He thinks he has two options: fight or pray
(If he were Woody Allen he could mope.)
An act of will propels him up to fight
But he’s smashed down and dragged from out of sight.
He’s not dragged far – down to a moonlit glade –
Hemmed in by freeway ramps and what will grow:
Scrub oaks, and palms, and eucalyptus braid
A sylvan scene that hides the burb’s skid row.
These urban Walden’s give relief and aid
To tribes of homeless though, unlike Thoreau,
They cannot meditate their duties civil
While watching their kids’ bellies swell and shrivel.
I’m fond of sylvan scenes along a freeway,
The ribbon of concrete that flows all through
Our cityscapes of hopelessness, dismay
Where misery collects like morning dew.
Though planted, they hold promise of a day
Of what will happen when we humans screw
Ourselves from out our requisite environment
And devastation forces our retirement.
No matter how we try to pave her over,
The earth survives beneath the sidewalk’s cracks;
And shoots of grass, though not exactly clover,
Have sprouted up from hidden bivouacs.
The earth will once again become a grove. Her
Resilience will resist all human acts;
And though it may be eons in the making
Each day a little “weed” does some groundbreaking.
But where was I? Oh, yes. The sylvan scenes
Along the freeways where the homeless camp.
The center of these groves provides the means
For persons we call vagabond and tramp
To rest and hide to cook and eat cuisines
And all because a freeway needs a ramp;
Where cops refuse to go at least at night,
And burbans hate it for its urban blight.
This one in particular had a spring
Which made it far more livable than most;
It trickled up and made a tiny ring
Where families sat at night and played the host
And listened to their school age children sing;
Tell stories learned in school about a ghost
Who’d once upon a time haunted this dell
And, generally, they got on very well.
[“It’s good we are protected from this site
And, better still, if it should disappear.
God, Father, where went Eisenhower, Dwight,
The Fifties, and Annette, the Mouseketeer?
These homeless with their children beg (from spite)
On corners by our malls and interfere
With happy dreams of carousels and crystal.
To grant the poor relief give them a pistol!”]
Opinions like the one expressed above
Are commonly communicated in
Prayer missiles launched up to the God of Love
In fervent hopes that he will punish sin;
That He (It’s always “He”) will rid us of
Those souls who (if they have them) don’t blend in.
And if He chooses not to follow suit,
Then rebel Christians will give them the boot.
I’ve always been amazed or, rather, awed
That Christians who profess to do God’s will
More often now than not find that It’s flawed
And take His lack of Judgment rather ill
When He withholds His angelic death squad
(Prepaid for with each sacred dollar bill
When given in their church’s celebrations)
From their petitioning annihilations.
Beto’s captors (you’ll see there’s more than one)
Are called The Chainsaw Posse Brotherhood.
They’ve left their prayers to do what must be done.
Where Beto’s now, a homeless camp once stood
Whose inhabitants were custodian
To local dumpsters in the neighborhood.
(America, if known for nothing more,
Is known for trash and prisoners of war.)
These homeless with their children kept from sight
As best they could; but still they had a dream:
That if their lives were lost, their children might
With education gain some self-esteem
And take some heart against their parents’ plight.
If homeless they could do this, they might seem
Again to be the parents they once were.
Instead they roused the burbans blood and fur.
First, it was scorn, then protests, finally threats;
And all because it was against the rule
Which states (in nursery rhyme) that never pets
Or animals should be allowed in school.
These burbans (here I lack the epithets
To simply dis what’s past all ridicule)
More vicious are than Zionists or Serbs
When they defend God’s homeland in the Burbs.
Though even Serbs and Zionists desist
(Sometimes, at least) from “kill it if it’s breathing.”
American traditions don’t exist
Which spare a “foe” that’s not got past its teething;
And even when “it’s” dead we can’t resist,
In history books for children, from bequeathing
The joys of our technologies superior
In slaughtering technologies inferior.
Those homeless vanished then and left no traces.
Perhaps there was a trace: a suckling’s thumb
(Found by the football team out scouting places
To practice their sporting curriculum
On girls who had resisted their embraces)
Was brought to the police. They wouldn’t come
Since their attention was on center ring:
Their night was occupied by Rodney King.
Some whispered rumors floated here and there,
At barbecues or drinks around their pools,
About the Neighbors Watch who’d braved that lair
And chased the vagrants off and saved the schools.
“This other talk of posses is a scare
For naughty children and for bloody fools.
Who’d fuss so much about a baby’s thumb?
You’d think it’s one of theirs. All rather dumb.”
It’s on this killing ground that Beto lay:
His limbs staked out, his mouth sealed tight with tape.
He wonders how he might escape this fray;
Or even if there’s hope of an escape.
And then he passes out, fear holding sway.
He’s never been in such an awful scrape.
Will Beto end all bodiless – well chewed
By chainsaws or by critics if reviewed?
Why’d Beto have a problem such as this,
I mean it seems so blown out of proportion?
Except the burbans felt they’d been remiss
In not chain-sawing who’d proposed abortion,
Rather than marrying his little miss,
And threatening her father with extortion?
They hadn’t lived that scandal down as yet
So Beto will be settled for that debt.
(But these are problems that we’ll never best.)
His captors, their chainsaws now set on idle,
Await his coming to before he’s lessed.
Full measure they will have of their requital:
They want to see his eyes and brain screen test
Their bloody retribution homicidal;
And while they watch and wait they plan how to
Best infiltrate LA’s ACLU.
They talk of First Amendment rights to speech
(So long it’s theirs they never stood opposed)
And how it is “Jew 60’s hippies” teach
That burning flags and genitals exposed
In public are examples we should reach
For; that our social values be disposed
To welcome public sticking of utensils
In cavities below our lost prehensiles.
They talk of Glenn Beck on the radio
And like him even better on TV;
Fox News will tell them who is friend or foe;
And when to privatize the DMV;
Tea Party patriots, they won’t forgo
They’re living in a land that made them free;
And they know this because Ann Coulter said it;
As well as other things that I will edit.
This works them to a frenzy, one and all.
(They are an even dozen clothed in smocks.
They’re dressed this way so that they can forestall
They’re leaving telltale clues for the Sherlock’s -
No matter, like the baby’s thumb, how small.
They’d love to leave behind their John Hancock’s
But they’ve learned circumspection from rebukes
From soldiers at Mai Lai who “did” the “gooks.”)
They’re mindful now that homicide convictions
(They hold these in abundance some would say
Although, to me, they smack more of addictions)
Are needed when a body meets foul play.
Especially in more peaceful jurisdictions
Where people, good folks all, don’t like display;
And so the question they must answer deals
With how he’ll disappear from head to heels.
But not to worry Beto won’t be found.
(Besides “illegal” vendors come and go.)
The Brotherhood invested in Chowhound,
A dog food maker that is in the know,
Where body parts are taken to be ground
And shipped around the country. Goes to show
This method is convenient when you off a
High profile case as in one… Jimmy Hoffa.
Thus to my story’s climax I’ll now turn.
This climax close attend for it’s complex;
And pray the Fates don’t Beto’s fate adjourn
In favor of the burbans’ Chowhound X.
For my part it has given me concern
You’ll think that I machined a deus ex.
My climax though is true and shuns device
Unlike the Sheen turned Gekko first then Fleiss.
When Beto wakes a thousand points of light
From pen head flashlights seem to stab his eyes.
He struggles up against his bonds and fright;
But all in vain, so helplessly he lies.
Once more he struggles up with straining might.
Not going gentle from his life implies
He doesn’t need an alcoholic poet
To tell him how to live life or forgo it.
He’s like a butterfly pinned down by boys
To watch as its life flutters its last flutter.
The Posse Brotherhood, like them, enjoys
Its victims’ tortured writhing and last shudder;
As would those pilots who had bombed Hanoi’s
Inhabitants into a twisted clutter.
Their disadvantage was sky gods mechanical
Won’t let them stop to get keepsakes organical.
But Beto is no butterfly or bug.
His eyes rebel with anger and contempt;
And though he’s staked down tight he seems to shrug
As if from mortal fear he’s grown exempt.
There’s nothing in the world so wounds the smug
As when their self-importance you’d preempt
As Beto’s courage does. They go berserk
And set their horrid chainsaws teeth to work.
Their engines are now revving to the max
As they advance to carve their hapless guest
When klieg lights blaze and shouts behind their backs
Inform them that they’re all under arrest.
The Posse Brotherhood, dead in its tracks,
Complies with this command though unimpressed:
So certain are they that with due reflection
The cops will join in Beto’s vivisection.
Now normally this logic proves correct;
But that night other forces, unforeseen,
Arrived to help our hero and protect
Him from what only horror movies screen.
That is, his being cut up by a sect
And sacrificed for tagging what’s obscene,
His name, which contradicts their main thou shall:
“Not lower prices in our home’s locale.”
Police, all riot clad, moved quickly in;
And Beto is released and helped to rise.
Their mood’s already uglier than sin
(For cops this shouldn’t come as a surprise).
They’re ill prepared to take it on the chin,
As they did when their searching nullifies,
The Posse’s charge that Beto tagged their wall.
For when they looked, they found no tag at all.
The Chainsaw Posse Brotherhood stood firm,
Outnumbered though they were at ten to one,
Asserting “this tequila sucking worm”
Had done what they insisted that he’d done.
They think their word alone should help confirm
Their charge because each one’s a native son.
An argument ensued but was no use
So haughty burban pride turned to abuse.
Now anyone with half a brain should know
You never cop an attitude with cops;
They have less humor than did Edgar Poe;
With tempers less well tempered than Cyclops.
And so the Posse met its Alamo:
The cops did somewhat more than bust their chops.
It’s fitting, don’t you think, the burban slime
Received their just desserts…at least in rhyme.
I can’t describe the slaughter as did Byron
The slaughter of the Turks at Ismael;
For Byron had a macho streak and I none
(At love and slaughter both he’s nonpareil).
That burban-bashing bloodbath was a dry run
(Though it was worthy of the Prize Nobel
Awarded as it is for bringing peace
Which mostly happens as the dead increase.)
I said it was a dry run but for what?
And who would likely turn the Posse in?
And why would cops go kicking Posse butt?
(I said their mood was uglier than sin;
But certainly no cop would bust a gut
To save some “damned illegal wetback’s skin.”)
The answer to these questions ends my story
And carries on the customs of Old Glory.
It seems that night that LA’s peace and quiet
Was broken, as it is from time to time,
By Anger’s urban earthquake -Human Riot.
But for the cops it is a “Miller Time”:
For weeks and months and years, they’re forced to diet
From butchering the “niggers” on prime time;
And just as they were leaving for the ghetto
Some conscience stricken cruisers called in Beto.
Those burbans, still alive, are all in jail.
And Beto should have had the final laugh;
The cops though were enraged at their travail
So took a chainsaw, cutting him in half –
Because they’d missed the riot’s “slaughter sale”
Of “niggers.” Riot was the fatted calf
Of every cop who’s ever had to work
Its wee hours… when you’ve leave to go berserk.
This is the age of cutbacks, so maintaining
Our public spaces, like a freeway wall,
Is made much easier by “Off With Staining,”
A chemical that’s made from ethanol.
You cannot paint a tag when it is raining
Or even if too damp out, say, nightfall.
The cruisers did return and in a flash
Wiped it out, leaving Beto Chowhound Hash.