to stop the leak under the sink. It's got a thread
that winds in and out of the universal joint and fits just
right into the space it needs. Form
fulfilling function. Nothing more, nothing less.
People push or pull flatbed carts jammed
full with a month's worth of supplies. Pet rocks,
flatscreen TVs, choppers and grinders
fill the shelves to the ceiling.
The guts of an electromechanical paradise
complete with digital anonymity and an order
that defies death, slay, dismember, and organize
chaos into beauteous wax floors.
"Calvin Klein, Wal-mart, Kathie Lee: They all
want the same thing. Chinese labor, the cheaper
the better," she smiles, pouring the tea.
What demonic mind might conceive such gargantuan,
phantasy needs, these odds and ends parsed from reality,
these bits and pieces of a machine that could crash
and burn at a moment's blink, the engines
of hours in perpetual motion, always in gear,
going nowhere but somewhere anyway,
while Time, the convenient notion that it is, pulls me
inescapably to biological demise and Hallmark tears.
- Near Cloudcroft, just before White Sands,
- in Billy the Kid country, Alamogordo, where they shoot missiles
- from the sky with lasers and sand turned to glass,
- I walked the factory floor in my cheap suit, poseur wannabe
- efficiency expert walking in the shadow of a real
- engineer. The factory manager led us thru the darkly lit,
- cavernous shop built from metal. Barrels
- of chemicals and inventory reached the ceiling.
Here's a gadget from Planet Zoid. It fixes that
thing I thought I should avoid. Here's one
from Planet Surd, can you think what word
they said to design it so well, so precisely?
Here's the gewgaw that prettifies,
adorns bare walls to stop them pressing in,
a tennis ball to smash across the court of my boredom.
The smelter where the metal pots and pans were poured
and then machined cooled from the previous day.
Suspicion of us floated in the air like a carrion bird.
One wiry limbed, dark-haired woman eyed
me blankly with densely hot coals piercing
the murky dankness rising from the dirt floors.
Later, she drove a forklift so close to me,
I thought she would hit me. Who knows what
resentment and despair pushed her to that edge
of murder, teetering at the brink, let the chips fall.
If only I'd find the piece that puts the mechanisms
of my life right, like The Wizard of Oz handing out trinkets.
The thingamajig made to fulfill each moment's need
or unknown desire, fitting together that puzzle
that tastes like the distilled light of a million stars,
whose light illuminates a universe without end,
without this coming and going, this rushing roar
of infinity in ears tone deaf to unjust labor
after just a few days of routine and ennui.
The owner lived on the East Coast, and her Manolos
touched the dusty steps when profits dipped. The only job
in town, they clawed thru tequila nights, bad romances, and small town
gossip to assemble those cheap pots and fryer pans
we buy, use a year or two and throw away instead of fixing,
or donate to Goodwill to be fixed and sold to the poor.
If cliche is the armature of the universal, as pere Ubu says,
then you my Walmart are heaven on earth, kingdom come,
and I'm thankful for the infinite things that I can buy,
made in realities beyond my knowing, on Planet Alpha
to Planet Omega, alien worlds of work and time whose pith
I know are real but would rather not imagine.
He improved conditions, said the shop manager.
The first thing he did was dismantle the spy tower
in the middle built in the 30s. Their motion precisely
timed by clock and binocular...
"They all want to project a smiling face,
to appear to be caring and compassionate,
because that makes people feel better about
buying the products that have their names."
It's in my head, this motion that won't stop,
I think, until the meat machine shuts down,
torn into its elemental nonentity
that sustains me and the universe that I
make to stand up on its own two feet.
"Thank you for caring so much about
our poor Chinese factory workers,"
she tells us. "But really, it's all about profit.
If I paid my workers more money, I'd have
to raise the price to my buyers, the people
who are sending you here to inspect
my factory. Do you think they would accept that?"
The Kabbalah writes that each letter of Hebrew
has a number. Placed on dirt, the tetragrammaton
stirs it to rise and walk. Each bit and piece of luxury bears
a serial number. Added together and pronounced,
who knows what god that meaningless number might summon.
"Gua yang tou, mai gou rou," she replies,
quoting an old Chinese proverb.
Translated: "Hang a sheep head but serve dog meat."
Sheep Head Dog Meat [wip] Audio tweet: chirb.it/axBxvM
(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.
* Story about sweatshops clipped from, "Confessions Of A Sweatshop Inspector" by Joshua Samuel Brown http://www.albionmonitor.com/0108a/sweatshopinspect.html