January 6, 2006

glance, don't stare


-- by Pablo Gonzalez Trejo

Lester Rodgers
-- by Klipschutz

"I did a stupid thing" & he did,
the kind that draws a crowd of uniforms,
drawn guns, a swarm of wide-brimmed funny hats.
"The pay-off was too fat to resist.
Drive a load of herb to Massachusetts,
too easy to call work," says Lester Rogers,
silver-headed, silver-bearded Rocky Mountain buccaneer,
forty-two years of faded jeans & one long river,
breaking silence to a stranger on a train.
He rubs in Tiger Balm & pours out
an after-dinner shot of Jagermeister,
on his way to be arraigned, rolling east,
blue-black windows pressing in on either side.
(He offers me a shot, retakes the footlight.)
"Pulled me over outside Davenport
for Colorado plates. Cited me. Not wearing a seatbelt."
The police dog made a beeline for the "dog-proof" plastic bags.
"So much for too easy to call work.
Should've known, I never won a gamble in my life.
Even if I’d wanted to, who would I give up?
Never knew any names or saw their faces—
the arrangements were all made with codes & pagers."
Carpet-layer by weekday, musician by most nights—
zydeco, country rock, bluegrass, novelty—
up-at-dawn, straight-wages, trout-fishing Lester
got popped, in God’s country with a cargo of good shit.
"Better Iowa than Illinois," he shrugs.
A lawyer flew his own plane in from Tucson,
posted Lester’s bail on his own bond.
Now Lester must keep his appointment—
"Mexico? Yeah, right. I have a daughter—"
probation, deferred sentence, heavy fine,
or stand forth & pray for strength to do his time.
He pours another shot on his way to do just that.

The Men in the Machine
-- by klipschutz

Without DeLay
Jack Abramoff
pled guilty
to persuasion
to lobbying
his way into
the earshot of
politicos for
sale inside
the Beltway
on the Hill.

Five
counts of wire
fraud one
county of
conspiracy
these he did
deny with-
out DeLay
by his side.
-skyboxes
-heroin
-a chain of sandwich shops
-a "gang style hit"
-a Dial-a-Mattress franchise
all were
in the mix
oh
and
hundreds of
millions of
dollars.

Tom DeLay
(R - Sugar Land)
a k a
The Hammer
The Exterminator
The ReDistrictator
Hot Tub Tom
(who asked "Is-
n’t this kind of fun?"
of Katrina’s refugees)
soon had a felony
indictment of his
own to deny.

DeLay
Abramoff Abramoff
DeLay vaudeville
or a law firm
or a debt we
all will pay
the interest on
for years and
years to come?

[The Men in the Machine was originally published on The Dust Congress September 30, 2005]

Ovid in Tears
-- by Jack Gilbert

Love is like a garden in the heart, he said.
They asked him what he meant by garden.
He explained about gardens. "In the cities,"
he said, "there are places walled off where color
and decorum are magnified into a civilization.
Like a beautiful woman," he said. How like
a woman, they asked. He remembered their wives
and said garden was just a figure of speech,
then called for drinks all around. Two rounds
later he was crying. Talking about how Charlemagne
couldn’t read but still made a world. About Hagia
Sophia and putting a round dome on a square
base after nine hundred years of failure.
The hand holding him slipped and he fell.
"White stone in the white sunlight," he said
as they picked him up. "Not the great fires
built on the edge of the world." His voice grew
fainter as they carried him away. "Both the melody
and the symphony. The imperfect dancing
in the beautiful dance. The dance most of all."

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