The Columbia River below the Dalles Dam . . .
On the road in the American Northwest.
from ON THE WAYSIDE—
four new x-step (162-step) poems
. . . Randomness repeated
does not look like Chance . . .
Five cents a piece is
what we the
people pay the man
with his garbage bag
full of cans, gathered along the
of a noisy, filthy, awful
highway. For thirty
years, the cans have bought five cents
more of freedom, a sure, certain
insurance for the down and out.
From their cars, others
watch the man pick up his cans,
one by one, like metal mushrooms.
From the safe, fuel-injected time-
space of their speeding
vehicles, a faint voice comforts,
saying, "this can't happen to me."
But who can say? Economies
blow-out much like tires:—
always at the peak
of their performance. Then boom, bang,
collapse. Hard times lie just outside
the locked doors. Ask the man with cans.
Five cents each, we pay.
It's always been so,
that the one
who controls water
controls the kingdom,
and the one who controls the flow,
of information controls thought.
But now, the dam at
Fort Dalles powers data about
data, a new kind of meta-
control, a thirst for power
that drinks rivers whole.
The Dalles, once natural meeting place,
now hub of North American
squalor, the perfect site to mine
data for quick cash.
Like water, data flows, can be
filtered, turned off, colored red, blue,
black, invisible. First we asked
the river to give
us cheap cans. Now we
ask the river to connect up
the thoughts of the world. Water, like
data, can be used for power.
Let's hope for the best.
It always begins
with a straight
line, a straight line drawn
at a distance, a
line of force, of control, of thought
straight into the order of things,
a potential that
is wasted, just spilling into
the sea, in thought, just spilling, a
tight, high, knot in the arteries
of the pulsing earth,
a knot now filling a vast lake,
filling a vast lake with pressure,
spinning turbines that are heard from
here to Alaska,
spinning turbines, power of thought,
of force, of control, from here to
Alaska, electric nights, big
city, nights without
stars, rivers without fish,
fish so thick a horse would not cross,
water so clear you could see stones
of bright gold dance on the bottom:—
O river of knots.
It took Africa,
the pulse of
a whole continent,
to shake us alive
out of the trance of 2's & 3's
harsh stone by Bach & Mozart. Yet
could not stop the fall back into
the soft chairs of the bourgoisie.
Great rebirth of rhythm, dammed from
day one by the so
dazzling flood of disco-dollars,
sounds that sell soap on radio,
the supermarket of TV.
Why is 4 so square?
Captains of industry that beat
their rock 'n roll drum in the time
of buy, buy, buy, hammers that pound,
flatten dead the soul.
Tune in mtv,
cheap cheeseburger of trash-sound! Born
to be wild in a cage wired shut
by the tyranny of 4:—Try
to be serious.
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Eagle Cap Wilderness