1 December 1999


All the coiled tension is released as a jet of steam
Every Volkswagen etched in clarity into the night
What if every bar in this town decided to refund all the money
You had spent there
At once
We are still trying to find a song we all like
This disappointment is one we shall soon wear
The words melt like sugar on the tongue:
"Campaign Finance Reform"

The newspaper machine will accept your newborn
But cannot provide you with change

What if every married woman you ever shared a dancefloor with
Brings you tea in your dreams
Like a mechanical ostrich trying to teach itself to fly
What if the health club had kareoke night
And every ambitiously muscular young man
Pumped iron while wailing
"Open Arms"
As the weight machines clanked on behind
What if every cigarette you have ever smoked
Appeared at your bedside
To beg forgiveness
In this age of information sickness
Even your pillow feels like a billboard
The muzak keeps you up at night
But what if every unintended message
Rewrote itself
While the preacher drones a scalpel to your mind
The weight of every forgotten decision
Cakes your shoes with mud and worms
In the orchestra pit the pundit aflame
Announces the election results
The trees like neon the forest a business district
The pile of change and keys on the bar
Dissolves into electrons
And the paragraph about the liquor commissioner
Is a stain that eats through the delicate newsprint

When the weight of anticipation
Makes spiders descend on a thread in the bathroom mirror
Your razor a crazy caked concession
To your hairless race
Unappreciative you scan the columns for your next job
The stories are bricks the columns mortar
The front page a brick wall
Your car hopelessly totalled

Those with the strength of innocence are tolerant of Gore
And those who would be bought will sell themselves to Bush
But there are no hopefuls

A spoon of lactic acid dissolved in coffee
Will keep you at your desk all day
And a fast Internet connection will make you forgetful

You can't tell what level anything is on
And bad information is as good as the real thing
Without a hungry cat to remind you of your inviolable biology
You are staring down a future without literacy
But with online OED
And you are having trouble organizing your papers

What if Reagan woke up long enough to apologize
Or suddenly nobody liked bad music anymore
What if Sun and Moon went under or
Everytime you went to look for weird poetry at
Barnes and Noble you found none and
The new music section at Figaros was
In a time when nobody is engaged enough
To recognize the unfamiliar

What if your liberal arts education marked you
Obsolete and you recieved threatening phone calls
What if Barrett Watten wasn't
And nobody admitted he ever was
What if the sign outside the factory reading
Got taken down they said because of the grammar
What if George Ryan confessed
Was imprisoned
And was reelected anyway
What if the world ended
And people kept smoking cigarettes and complaining
What if someday they resort to fighting wars by dropping living human beings
Out of airplanes
Onto cities made of explosives
What a fucked world this won't be

Newspoetry at Spineless Books