Saturday, January 4, 2014

Road Trip

The Easterner

“The furnace-brain of a demon king
Sleeps under the Rockies’ insect wing
In columns of water erupt its young
Highways unroll like its fetid tongue
‘Cross plains caked in snow like molted skin
Through states we could only have earned for sin
Through empty fields and belching gas
From rendering plants at every pass
Where they butcher hogs and melt them down
And serve them at each poky town.

“Didn’t you sense the well-earned hate
Breathed from every fast-food plate?
From farm-kids and locals who lost their lands
To distant, Eastern, burnished hands?
And less deserved, the hatred dripped
From the local gentry’s mottled lips.
Weren’t you left in fearful daze
By his wheezing joke about ‘the gays’?
You thought he’d ground his final axe
‘Till he got going on ‘the blacks.’

“The highway arrives at an urban place
And the demon reveals its nether face
A burg which grins through skyscraper teeth
Treading evils underneath
And howling cold like stinking breath
Bears smells of striving, grasping death
It lords over Chicago’s impotency
In the face of coal-fired misery.

“What bugs you are! -- you choose to reside
On this demon’s pock-marked country hide
Where monster lakes breathe swirling storms
And mountains spit on huddled forms.
Didn’t Lindsay or Sandburg or ol’ Guthrie
Or any beloved plainsman see
The horrors prepared for ‘the people, we’
In these man- and God-forged factories?
Gall makes each sainted bard a liar
‘This land’ scalds with cold; it chills with fire.”


The Westerner

“Sure-- but tell me true you didn’t feel
When Dakota winds bit at your heel
A passion through your body steal--
Some slumbering, resented patriot zeal.
Didn’t you see the demon-grin sag
At the signs of life in its bitten crags?
Or see the storm-clouds blushing beat
A sullen, sour, chaste retreat?

You fancy in urban cubby-holes
You’re as safe but not as blind as moles
But your Beacon Hill gives paltry light
It breathes not our Western fierce delight
For in Boston you have such sins as we
More, some say, uncharitably
What's more: you lack the cherished sight
Of time and space to set things right.


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