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Thursday, October 07, 2010


by Terry Wright

Godlessness is dead but even the underworld recycles.  Each sin must be placed in its own colorful asbestos bin.  Outed with shame you look like trash.  Satan is green again.  The preacher is a pol        or a mole slumming on your school board.  His mindset set on detecting welfare scum.  Take care smoking out body mass counts.  Blame is cheaper than training. Stage a filibuster on Foster        and stall that minimum wage hike.  Scrawled in magic marker WILL WORK FOR FOOD is guillotined by your tinted power window.  Cast deep six cheats and slackers under stones and block grants.  Toss around mandates like a rental truck packed with fertilizer.  You say you want a revolution.  Tell the ferryman to stick it as you rock the boat on talk radio.  Charon’s stuck in a hell of a service job without a signal flare.  No way he’s got a future or a free laptop.  No success story here to rant on the House floor or ride out the Third Wave.  Downsize everything.  Big Bird’s resume reads better anyway.  She’s a flamer and will pole you across in a blazing nest.  Hey.  It’s your Viking funeral.  You’ll burn out and drift with the herd before docking.  No crock or urn will hold what’s left.  You signed on     and the blood’s still damp on The Contract.  The hit man is not Mafia but pirate-for-life Scalia     and burial at sea sounds good to me.

Author’s Notes: “Neo-Humanist Graph” is from a prose poem series entitled “Graphs.”  I once described the series as follows: “In the physical or digital world, graphs display data using a pictorial device.  In mathematics, graphs abstractly represent a set of objects, some of which are linked and shown with abstractions called vertices, while the links that tie pairs of vertices are known as edges.  Graphs often take the form of diagrams that show a relationship, sometimes functional, between two sets.  Generally, these sets take the form of points or numbers, but, here, in these diagrams, other relationships are displayed as the vertices become abstract forms of the heart and mind, and the edges tie together context, whether social, political, cultural, or personal.”
      underworld recycles: Michiko Kakutani, in a NY Times review of Don Delillo’s Underworld, describes the controlling metaphor of the novel as “waste, with chemical and nuclear toxins, as well as the more mundane trash our ravenous, bulimic society recycles.”  sin must be placed: From Aorearoa, 3-8-09: “’Thousands of the worst families in England are to be put in sin bins in a bid to change their bad behaviour,’ Ed Balls announced yesterday.” Satan is green: If the “underworld recycles,” it follows the devil must be green, just as he was in Chaucer’s “Friar’s Tale.”  mole slumming: The moles will not be content in middle management., 6-6-07: “During the first GOP presidential debate last month in California, three Republican candidates raised eyebrows by indicating they did not subscribe to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.” detecting welfare scum:  One member, according to the Urban Dictionary 2010 calendar, would likely be a “scummy mummy,” a “dirty bitch who has kids for one reason only, to get welfare money.”  cheaper than training:  And certainly less expensive than incarceration.  filibuster on Foster: Dr. Henry Foster was filibustered and blocked as a nominee for U.S. Surgeon General in 1995.  Eric Zorn, writing in the Chicago Tribune, 8-22-09, explicates the word filibuster that “originally meant ‘pirate’ and referred to the U.S. mercenaries who invaded and seized Caribbean and Central American territories in the 1800s. Wordsmiths saw a similarity between these pirates and the senators who seized control of legislation by stalling debate to thwart majority rule.” WILL WORK FOR FOOD: An early appearance of an anomaly.   slackers under stones:  Stoning may be the oldest method of execution.  Tom Head, on, writing about civil liberties, explains how it works: “The prisoner is buried either up to his waist (if male) or up to her shoulders (if female) and then pelted with stones by a crowd of volunteers until obviously battered to death. Under the terms of most fundamentalist courts, the stones must be small enough that death cannot reasonably be expected to result from only one or two blows, but large enough to cause physical harm.”  rental truck packed: During the early preparations for the Oklahoma City bombing, according to Delphic Wikipedia: “On April 14, 1995, [Timothy] McVeigh paid for a motel room at the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, KS.  The following day he rented a Ryder truck under the name Robert D. Kling, an alias he adopted because he knew an Army soldier named Kling with whom he shared physical characteristics, and because it reminded him of the Klingon warriors of the Star Trek media franchise.” Here’s McVeigh, later, reflecting on his victims’ deaths: ”Think about the people as if they were storm troopers in Star Wars.  They may be individually innocent, but they are guilty because they work for the Evil Empire.”  want a revolution: The Beatles: “You say you want a revolution / Well, you know, we all want to change the world.”  For a case in point, see Sam Green and Bill Spiegel’s The Weather Underground. Tell the ferryman to stick it: But only if you possess a few coins and have remarkable bartering skills.  Charon:  In Greek mythology, Charon is the ferryman of the dead, a daimon in service to underworld king Hades.  His fee was an obolos (coin) placed in the mouth (or two coins covering the eyes) and collected from only the properly buried dead.  rant on the House floor: Today’s filibusters are bad theater and so literal-minded.  Where are yesteryear’s surrealist 24-7 readings of cookbooks?  Third Wave:  Both the 1980 book by futurist Alvin Toffler and the 1967 experiment in high school fascism conducted by history teacher Ron Jones.  On his web site, Jones says he invented “a class salute by bringing his right hand toward his right shoulder in an outwardly curled position, resembling a wave.” Despite Third Wave’s ontological likeness to Third Reich, Jones claims he “borrowed the term from beach folklore.”  Big Bird’s resume: According to a Usenet post on, 7-17-08, Caroll Spinney, the performer who plays Bird Bird, “remembers a visit to Georgia Tech in 1972, when the costume was ‘ravaged’ by ROTC students. When he found Big Bird, one of the eyes was hanging off.” your Viking funeral: I will have to get my own.  The Contract: The Contract with America, a document released by the Republican National Party in 1994.  President Bill Clinton sarcastically referred to it as the Contract on America.  pirate-for-life Scalia: Antonin Scalia has been  vigorously boosting booty from textualism and originalism on the U.S. Supreme Court since 1986. burial at sea: American director Alfred Hitchcock, dead April 29, 1980, said: “There is nothing quite so good as burial at sea. It is simple, tidy, and not very incriminating.”
Terry Wright teaches creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas and serves as Associate Editor of the Exquisite Corpse Annual.  Terry believes his sunrise can beat up yours.