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Tuesday, March 03, 2009


by Mike Harper

This is our legacy: a city constructed of empty wallets,
a country whose borders are lined with digital wealth
which floats above our heads as sure as it is ironclad plastic.
our futures, vaulted beneath our voluptuous APR, hopefully might gain interest
from our new saviour, Stimulus – let's not crucify him on our dollar sign cross we've
hung around our necks like a soft curved noose in which we trust (it says so on the bill);
the gallows are under eye of penthouse suite and corner office,
while the slack on the rope lessens cent by cent, a biweekly thread from our paychecks –

This is our legacy: no riots for bread, no countrywide drought, no proletarian fists,
but the necessary fasting from multimedia lattes where we have no famine.
the eighth wonder of the world will be our excess retail lying dusty on the shelves
of our local, neighbourhood, WALMART, the beauty of the overcast sunrise under GM clouds,
our Debt, holding the belt for heavyweight champion of the world! for decades running.
Cast your eyes away from the Pyramids and the Sphinx, Stonehenge and The Acropolis!
They are only tangible and crumble, unlike our Dream Manifest,
which is set with stone checkbooks and credit mortar,
the Eiffel Tower only mimics our oil fields,
the Hanging Gardens of Babylon do not hang so elegantly as the ties of our beloved CEOs,
and the Great Wall is almost as long as the receipt for our Debt.

But our excess exceeds!
like the rambling tangent of geriatric memory, like mediation of a Buddhist monk,
like grandpa's Thanksgiving prayer pit against hunger,
like rush-hour peppered by the red sea of lights on car backs and intersections,
like library codes, like Mass, like politician's speeches, like celebrity murder trials,
like the moment between "will you?" and "yes!", like graduation ceremonies,
like waiting for the bus, like The Velvet Underground and Nico,
like waiting for the doctor to tell you the truth, like pulling the plug,
like a museum when you're seven years old, like finding a light in a church parking lot,
like the crescendo, like the aria, like Southern California sun or Portland rain,
like all the things we hate and love, that are, and will be, it goes on,
and on, with them, in place of them, written into our history like a declaration of dependence;
we are woven to our wallets, spent by their emptiness.
This is our legacy.

Mike Harper graduated with a BA in English at Cal State Fullerton and works to sustain a community of local artists in his corner of Orange County, California. He poetry is a palimpsest of questioned suburban imagery. Ingredients: 2 shots of espresso, 1 carefully rolled cigarette, 1 bicycle, a dash of modernism, a touch of dissent, and continual immersion in the community of his environs.