Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
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One Star In The Dirty Window
for the occupiers of Wall Street
One star in the window and that’s enough to see me through the darkness for another night. Trying to weave a flying carpet out of a snakepit. Toxic wavelengths of mind. Poison arrowheads that make it worse to be wounded than killed outright. And all over Perth tonight I imagine there are bruised hearts like mine and yours turning cyanotically blue from having drunk from the same tainted wellsprings of life like fish that have no choice. The apples of October have been laced with the razorblades of Halloween by the psychopathic tree that hands them out like treats to the children in the doorway of an upright coffin. And the leaves are burning up in a fever of arsenic. Spiders work the loom like the strings of the system that hooks us by our gills in its seine nets until the great wild seas of our awareness and the dangerous freedom to look for new ungovernable continents within us so we can flee the corporate corruption of this one is reduced to the neurotic dimensions of a fish farm. If you are poor. If you’re worried about how to pay the rent this month. If it’s winter and there are harpies and sprites and ghouls threatening to turn the gas, the lights, the elements of life off like trolls under the bridge your money built to bilk you until it collapses from lack of repair. If you don’t how you’re going to manage to buy your kid a birthday present this year and you’re even more afraid of Christmas. If you’re poor and your prospects are as bleak as this deserted street tonight now all the ladys-in-waiting, princes, jesters, and warring kings have called it a night and emptied their street court like a bar. If you’re chronically tortured by the rags of dignity with the blood of a lost cause upon them like something that cost your mother and father their lives to fight for. And you’re ashamed of the straitjacket you’ve been forced to wear in order to have some overseer raise a spoon to your lips three exact times of the day like banking hours and GST cheques. If you smoulder with rage like a underground cedar fire burning in your roots like fuses of lightning afraid to explode. If you’re poor. If the weight of the world is on your back heavier than any cross the spiritual spin doctors of the complicit church and their political henchmen encourage you to carry like a virtue all the way to a fabricated heaven on the installment plan, but you can’t bear the load as a volunteer stretcher-bearer anymore, carrying your own corpse to the grave, while they rave in the wealth of what they have deprived you of here and now. If you’re poor. If you feel like a subliminal archetype of guilt in the collective unconscious of a society of quisling theosophists and weight-concscious c.e.o.’s sitting down to salads of money they eat out of the skulls of the children they’ve starved to death. If you don’t make enough money in Oregon to appeal to hypocritic oaths that sit on decisive committees to see if your son is worthy of a kidney transplant. An education. Piano lessons. A future that isn’t always an echo worse than the voices we heard yesterday protesting to the vampires that without a free blood bank they didn’t stand a chance of surviving the contributions they’re expected to make at night. If you’re poor in a chilly apartment in Perth tonight and you’re being eaten alive by the eggs that have been laid on your forehead like the living host to sustain the young of the killer bees that have sewn their nettles in the honey of life like the military-industrial complex of the hive. If you’re poor and you don’t get one year’s free subscription to satellite radio on the bus you have to take to work every morning surrounded by ads for the latest Ford-150 pick up truck ready to do a man’s work at the dropp of a hard hat and then go hunting in the country, and the new black paint is trying to imitate the skin of a naked woman, because your sex life depends on what you drive, and the sumptuary laws of the lies you’re allowed to wear like a Roman triumph are too stringent to get the dirt out of the dowdy greens and browns of your serfdom long enough to get laid by the calendar girls who sit like mermaids on a brand new truck, but have never sung to you. If you’re the poor wretch sitting in the doorway of the Bank of Nova Scotia across Foster Street in the small hours of the morning like a bird that gets to pick the parasites off the back of the hippopotamus that keeps rolling over on you in your sleep. For a fee. To hold up your end of a symbiotic relationship whereby you’re expected to eat shit and call it your daily bread. Eat humiliation, a ration of rat meat, and call it a just portion. Eat your education like bitter food for thought when you see how the fascistic ignorance of antediluvian fat men and their gold-digging wives are dignified by the juke-box of the news as if the point of view of a maggot on how to turn base metal into a gold butterfly it will never become were worthy of the same air time they give to eagles. One hundred news outlets with the same six slug lines like the top hits of the day. Catastrophe du jour. With rescued puppy stories for the trimmings. Eat information like the news. It’s Chinese food of the mind. Not very filling. With a fortune-cookie and a fat tape worm of better things to come wrapped around your bowels like the noose of a downed powerline that spared the cost of the rope to lynch you by your large intestine. If you’re poor and you’re always the falling leaf and never the apple. If you’re poor and it’s always autumn to judge by the banks of junkmail and bills that are swept up on your doorsill at all times of the year. If you’re poor and you’re punished for being out on the streets after curfew for having dropped through the cracks of your caste by a neocon leper colony privatized by the messianic lobbyists of free enterprise with one finger on the scales of equal opportunity because there isn’t a feather’s worth of good in them when they go before the jackal god of death and their grubby hearts are found wanting. If you’re poor and you’re listening to the North Carolina state legislature discussing your extermination in the civic minded tones of the Pied Piper of Hamlin and you’re eating your self-respect like the plague rat of why the rich suffer. Because in their creationist myth your womb is the enemy of the state. And you the infectious carrier of the pestilence. If you’re poor and sitting by the window on a warped floor behind the heritage field stones of an upstairs ghetto apartment in Perth feeling like the second coming of the Irish potato famine with no where to emigrate this time to be third in line below the Scotch and English on the food chain. If you’re poor. Tattoo this on your forehead like an Egyptian destiny you and your eyes will live to see fulfilled. It’s not your fault. Even if you’ve given up. Even if you’re gaping like zero, like absolute nothing, between two hissing sibilants of a serpentine medical symbol unravelling. And the dragon’s lost its wings. And the physician doesn’t care enough to heal himself because he’s lost his faith in oaths. Or dangerous hope has given way to futile despair and they’re both siblings of the absurd. It’s not your fault that you were born into a society where even the mirages in this desert of stars are bundled and sold like real estate. That illusions and diseases apply for patents of ownership. That even the constellations have become the work of surveyors not shepherds on a hillside and the poor are being foreclosed and evicted from the signs of the zodiac because they can’t pay the rent or the mortgage on the house they were born into. Or the hydro on the stars. Even if your spinal cord tinkles like the burnt out filament of a dead lightbulb and the shining’s gone out. It’s not your fault if the universe that was airlifted to you at birth as your portion of life with nothing missing was intercepted and sold at prices that eat their own on the black market of free enterprise for the poor, or they couldn’t afford it, and socialism for the rich because they couldn’t survive without you. You might be like the sea in the lowest place of all but all things flow like rivers down into you. And the depth of the valley of shadows and death you’re walking through alone is a function of the height of the mountain that digs it like a grave it will be buried in. When all the grains of sand like stars come together they make a sea of waves where life thrives in the here and now spontaneously not a pyramid for the sake of a single capstone whose happy afterlife is founded on quicksand.
Saw a huge spiderweb once under a streetlamp at Carleton University thirty-six years ago. Six spiders, their abdomens obese as lightbulbs, six tumours ripening on the panicked cells and neural networks of more frenzied insects drawn to the light out of the dark than their webs were meant to accommodate. The webs were ripping under the weight of the horrified fruits of their gluttony stuck in the powerlines like kites and running shoes and treacherous parachutes. The dew spangled veils of the morning were being torn off like consumerist dream catchers to entice the mob to the artificial radiance of the light that drove them crazy. But the spiders were too satiate to move. And they were being pulled down along with their prey under the massive superflux of their immensely successful catastrophe. Pleonaxia. The disease of more and more and more. And all the insects had to do because the conglomerate spiders were too immobilized by the obscenity of their gigantism to stick an ice-pick in the back of Trotsky’s neck in Cuba was to keep a cool enough head to extricate themselves puppet string by puppet string, spinal cord by spinal cord, straitjacket by straitjacket, wing by wing from the web. But most were paralyzed by their own fear waiting for the fatal moment of the ruinous agenda to come like a budget cutting knife to end their nightmare. And after all these years that terrible insight still provides me with blood-freezing metaphors into the present economic system that preys upon the poor by beading the foodchain with black thoraxes as if they were the ninety-nine names of God and it were a rosary we could all say our novinas on pleading for more lifeboats and happier lifelines than the rigging of this ship of state that’s going down with all of us aboard as the captains of industry jump like rats in Genoa back into the year 1348 when there were corpses galore to feed on.
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