for Gerard Smith, and for Marianne
Marianne knew that all the crap about the surface-sensitive patch
clinging to a microcracking tank car was solely to justify
the BNSF team coming up from Texas and Arkansas,
miming in yellow jumpsuits for the yokels skeered
to touch the HCL remnants.
Make it sound scientific.
They're evacuees, after all.
As far as she was concerned,
fate hung on Monster Magnet,
one of a dozen Wham-O heroes
who could whomp X-Men,
Justice League of America,
with equal abandon,
and lift up to 20 pounds of steel!
But the story doesn't begin here.
He is the one who comes after me,
the straps of whose sandals
I am not worthy to untie.
Seven hours before the toxic cloud,
Shabaka and Juan were telling us
how to wait to die,
how to dream of the master executioner,
how to hurt your own hand.
"It's the toothpaste-tube theory of hope," Shabaka said.
"No matter how flat, you can always squeeze
a day's worth of hope from a tube."
Index fingers wiggle from eyebrows.
"Do I look like the devil?
I was the only one waiting for the angel of death.
Was it the prosecutor? Was it you?"
Juan sought vengeance on a nurse practitioner
stuffed with Red Man chewing tobacco.
"The death row brothers taught me
the silly ways of anger,
'Hey Puerto Rican Johnny!'
they would call,
'Learn to read! Learn to write!
Learn to speak English!
Learn not to hate!'
And some were Muslim, some Buddhist, some Christian,
but I left them condemned
when my walking papers came."
You will be visited by two spirits.
Prepare ye the way of Monster Magnet.
Reverse 911 calls at 5 a.m.
serve as proof no prophet is accidental.
Death angels are common critters
on a Maundy Thursday eve.
A pressurized tank on a rusting siding
sang an executioner's song in faint hiss.
The 250 imitation-Sendai wanderers
paying homage to Grace Best
dodged this particular bullet
with the grace of higher power and Monster Magnet
which is more than one could say
for the flamenco guitarist from
SUNY's cookie mountain,
paid purchase just as evacuations commenced,
and even the Lorentz force of a Monster Magnet
had little influence in the matter.
The Church of Wham-O
taught me the grace of cartoons and extra digits
six finger six finger man alive,
how did I ever get along with five.
The eulogy of Bullwinkle.
The tennebrae of Sponge Bob.
Disney's Flowers and Trees for a misplaced Gerard.
But the story doesn't end here.
This day gone flat from one too many evacuations,
and the shadow of the gallows of your family tree.
But a flat tube still holds hope,
and Monster Magnet still has pull.
The second-tier Wham-O's in the bullpen
are all nondescript Superballs, Hackysacks.
And by last count, there seem to be plenty
of catastrophic death angels in the neighborhood.
If you don't like the look of today's catastrophe,
give it six hours.
Another will be along shortly.
Looks like a job for Monster Magnet.
April 20, 2011
A TV on the Radio song in memory of Gerard Smith: