Inner City Press Arts & Culture

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November 12, 2001 [After a poetic hiatus]

At Ground Zero

                                                                                            © Matthew Lee, 11/7/01

We who fluctuate between the weather and Dow Jones
We who pull democracy's lever while holding our noses
We still drawn to the cold beer and hair-trigger Jeremiads
Neither cops nor tourists, we ghoulishly peruse the ruins--

A million vagabond minds blown like leaves down Wall Street
Wooden-teethed nation-builders rant on marble stairs
We calculate the cubic feet of terrorists' self-expression
Seek to secede from a band of mud hut video gamers--

In whose name does this aluminum powder burn?
Who counts white powder grains and proclaims their origin?
News anchors parse the tyrant's indictment
Today's accuser tomorrow sees his assets froze--

While warrantless searches replicate
Pawnshops of Columbus relentlessly pounded
By corn-fed special agents, with vacuum and badge
They siphon our minds, cleansing all treasonous doubts...

* * *

September 5, 2000      [Program note: for you audophiles, 8/21/00 poem "Drowned by the Hype" is now available in RealAudio - click here to hear.  Now, this week's poem:]

Citigroupie Offers Schools to Corporations

                                                                                            © Matthew Lee, 9/1/00

[Note: On August 29, 2000, NYC Schools Chancellor Harold Levy, previously a corporate lawyer at Citigroup, announced that each of NYC's 1,100 schools should be assigned to a corporation. Reflection follows]

Public service for private
Gain: the man from Citigroup
Says he’ll save a million kids
By assigning each school
To a corporate interest. The Nike
Academy of Sweatshop Defense?
The Philip Morris Anti-Cancer
Institute? Lockhead teaching kids
To shoot Arabs or die in the sand
Sputtering that workforce training
Gave them a better life, brief
As it was? Free market solutions
To public issues starved of funds:

"I can only be who I am," the Citigroupie
Dissembles, smiling for the remaining hand
Held cameras of local TV- "My loophole skills
Now pledged to condemned generations
In neighborhoods where my bank never lent
At normal rates: we starve you, then
Save you, or make you dance
For usury to prevent foreclosure --
If this viciousness could only prevail
We’d have an army of predators
Beginning Alger-like in the mail room
Learning algebra from tax-felons
Down at Citigroup we never get caught
These skills, and those of consumption
We’ll indoctrinate, while being praised
As saviors, imprinting our emblem
On the torn Astro-Turf of JFK…"

The party of idealism now takes a corporate sheen
And who better than the bald lawyer of arbitrage –
The face that launched a thousand schools
On a horror-show ride of corporate cultism?
With no opposing ideology, the Monopoly Man
Recreates himself as Gandhi, fueled by still-vesting
Stock options, charging a rent allowance to the tax-
Payers while living in his own riverfront co-op:

"You can’t let public
Service bankrupt you,"
Says he, always spinning
Greed to a matter of precedent—

"If you want the best, let Wall Street schemers
Control every hospital bed but the poor’s
Gamble your school on a hedge fund: a rising
Tide is said to lift all boats (for its own glory)

"The neighborhood? They’re squatters.
On the promised land of corporate titans
Asthmatic and unaware of their luck
To live a hundred blocks from holding
Companies which market cancerous trinkets
To their off-spring and then deign
To repair the shit-hole schools to which they’re condemned:
We starve you, then sell you still dead water
To quench your thirst for the TV world:
We’ll test the toys of war on your children
And make you thank us for connecting them
To the mainstream: swallowing integers
And the identities of those who’ll wash our floors.
We bought both parties, laid a down-
Payment on the logo of United Nations…
Even in Medellin they know,
‘You’ve got to get them young’ – and so the schools
Must be ruled by the populist slogans of publicly-traded
Conglomerates who alone offer the technical skills
To cross Bill Clinton’s irradiated bridge
Into a future where a few more Vernon Jordans
Can play a few more rounds of golf with Beelzebub
Relegating identity politics to its rightful margin
To protest mosh pits parodied by funny-men fronting
As me n’ you, undercutting and uplifting
The corporate jingles which fund their orgies of narcissism
Every incursion digested and addressed
All opposition reduced to lifestyle ("Damn I want
Those shade-grown Salvadoran beans") -- Pol-
Itics frothed like expresso, baristas merging, throwing
Options to the white-aproned throng only imagined
With noses pressed to the dying networks’ glass
Waiting for the ultimate old-growth Christmas tree
From which liberals string lights, hypnotized by Citigroup-
We bow down and allow the ultimate dealers
To control our schools despite the Federal law
Delivering death by injection to those who dare
Sell toxins within a vial’s throw
Of the temples of wisdom, now blue like banks
And playing the digitized jingle
Of the Citi which never sleeps—
Converted by the tortoise-shell sincerity
The face of compassionate corporatism piped-in
Where offspring of victims salute the sodden flag
Whose stars are indexed in the Dow
The language of greed’s the new global standard
Why not let Citigroup instruct
Our kids in how sin can really help
As long as other victims
Feed the

* * *

August 28, 2000

Global Compactor

                                                                        by Matthew Lee, c. 8/26/00

Humanity's dreams reduced to a spike: from Times
Square go due East, it rises, all nations'
Flags the same size, for every dialect a set of head
Phones: hear domination, through cacophony-

Still, even unequal words
Are better than tanks, for most.
Sometimes keeping peace, in all our names
Until retreating, on cargo planes. Imperfect
World - nevertheless, the chance of hope
(Some votes carry more weight then others)
Resolving to inspect some weapons, not
Others, condemning
Some forced couplings, not
Others, aspiring (it is said) to the full
Eradication of poverty, by Two Thousand Fifteen
And to the very abolition of death, five years
Hence: therefore proclaiming (empty speech):

In July, Two Thousand, ever-chipper corporations
Pledge their allegiance to empty words: transparent,
We'll be, heeding our duties social
And to the planet, of course, saluting
(Our spouses and children breathing too)
Mister Kofi Annan, calling now the honor roll
Of profit engines revving under the sold blue flag:
Dupont!   Presente! Perhaps it can heal
Those born of napalm-roasted wombs
It designed pain, now preens
The salves and solutions it offers, under
International copyright, of course - Royal
Dutch Shell!   Presente! A few opponents killed: no
Matter! Nigeria, on balance, benefits from the extraction
Of fossil fuels so randomly dealt Nike! Of course!
Carving its swoosh into the new generation
Of Southeast Asian seamstresses! Some lesser
Known gems, those who sin in foreign
Exchange, paying reparations, now, for slave
Labor, like Deutsche Bank, viper-like, it even
Makes a buck from loan sharks' loans
To bus drivers' widows in Brooklyn-

"But we're only," its learned counsel says,
"Defending the bondholders' rights - the evictions
Are besides the point"
(except for those losing their homes -
Let me explain: ol' Deutsche plays collection agent
For mortgage loans by smaller fry: high rate,
High risk, the spread funds Rolf Breuer's
Carpaccio in Milan, failing to report trade
In the ever-volatile Filipino peso - no matter!
A mere cost of doing business! Sign on with Kofi
And see these image-moguls smooth.
The view from Frankfurt? Thumbs up,
As you Americans say! UBS? Another Third Reich
Powerhouse: why reveal accounts
Of those now dead and killed? If caught
Pay two hundred dollars to pass "Go"
And proceed to short the sovereign debt
Of the Global South- Geneva! A splendid city!

Kofi understands: his prestige rises
With so many titans, willing to bind themselves
With silken sheets to empty words! We aspire!
Why verify? When Kofi needs us
More than we need him? It's synergy! Perhaps
We can merge. At least, stop traffic
On Sin City's arteries - now Disney-fied!
Napalm's painless, eviction short and sweet
In the digital cartoon of our sponsor-and here's
Al Gore! Interests converge: The cutting
Edge of empty promises: Nike condemning sweat-
Shop labor, Shell piloting solar-powered
High-Occupancy Vehicles, the funeral cortege
Of Ken Saro-Wiwa -- Nike donates a nylon
Body bag, while Dutch insurer Fortis
Now has a stake in a funeral insurance concern:

From cradle to grave! Our logos will mate
With every symbol short of the Cross
The Crescent and Moon - and even these
Our M & A boys are considering: the shapes
So natural together, we Global Compactors
Chanting "synergy," "shareholder value"
Ringing Arthur Levitt's bell, fornicating
In Davos, Seville, quaint islands we will spare
From execution, to hold Summits
Like the Fed in Jackson Hole, fly-fishing
Human skin with the titans of industry
(Oxygen tanks held ready by houseboys)
They're so polite! Hunger, of course
Is the best training - Here! Come to the gala
Of the Global Compactors - we recycle!
We have been advised to negotiate! "CEO
To NGO," (an orgy of acronyms) all global
Indices promising opportune blue-flagged skies
In the sweat lodge of exploitation
We feign concern through sirloin-fattened vein
Only cancer and disease, until the era of full prothsesis
Rains equally to the North and South: we can agree
To disagree, because we together aspire
To the cheap values of empty ideals
We are the Global Compactors! We
Are your last hope! Invest
In us, and against yourself: either
Way you win
(And lose)

* * *

August 21, 2000

L.A., August 14-17, 2000:
Drowned by the Hype (Round Four)

                                                                   © Matthew Lee, c. 8/18/00
                                                                  [Now available in RealAudio - click here to hear. ]

Routinized, motorized, tear gas sprayed in jaded eyes
Inside, on the hard wood floor, back patting
How they'll take on HMOs, tobacco, even
Repeating their speeches on video screens
This is the sound byte, not the gun fire outside
In the protest pit, the white noise background
Of directionless dissent, so it is portrayed
By lap-topped journalists comfortable with room service
Charging lap dances to corporate accounts
They whose strings were pulled by Citigroup
Now eat shrimp canapés with leather-faced stars
"We're for the people," the robotic triangulor says
Protest confined to a pit, voices in the wilderness
Muffled by vinegar-soaked bandanas
Driven back, in the shadow of Wells Fargo
Under the logo of KPMG Peat Marwick
Past the windows of skid row
Staying at the Panama SRO, the Goldenwest,
San Peeedro Street, detoured past Kosher burritos
On the air-conditioned floor, the consummate insider's
Portrayed as the vessel of minorities' dreams
"If he can, you can" - but the dreams he carries
Are those of Aetna, and other Hartford-based insurers
"We're the party of the people," busted blood vessels
The last nose of Camelot, Eleanor Holmes Norton
Sent out to sell the unsellable, declaiming
The greatest peacetime prosperity in history
While the District she represents includes
An unmoved ghetto, an Anacostia where empty buildings,
Their plywooded windows painted black,
Stand dusty, the proffered salvation
No more than a new private prison
Skid Row circumnavigated with crime scene tape
Tapes looped again and again: "We are the party
Of the people, if entrusted with this office,
I'll fight for you." With rubber bullets
The sound bytes fly, like, "Free trade is fair trade."
"I'll never compromise your right to choose." Tear gas
Kills brain cells. Pico, Olive and the Fig,
All smell of death, disruptions quickly erased
Misreported, drowned by the hype

* * * *

August 7, 2000

Movement of the New

                                                         by Matthew Lee, c. 8/4/00


To say it began in Seattle is not quite true. But
To pretend that what came before predicted -- that
Isn't true, either. Tree huggers, steel workers
Anarchist drop-outs and vegan college seniors: all
Together at Sixth and Pike, breathing the tear gas
Sprayed at with pepper spray from canisters
Like spritzers of soda water in movies from the ‘Fifties
Except policemen's faces in black, eyes like bugs'
Behind their gas masks, orange-handled rifles
Stamped with signs, "NON LETHAL" -- the gas is made
In Casper, Wyoming, got a nice nickname, "Def-Tech"
While the non-Def Jam rappers picture Clinton
Leaning back in the Roosevelt Hotel -- Bush
Now says he'll restore respect to the White House
Clinton tipped his hat to “youth with real issues”
While Madeleine Albright called for the National Guard
While sea turtles marched, puppets ate the globe, finally
After over six hundred arrested, a sixth refused to give their names
The delegates gave up, the round of trade talks
Cancelled, resuming in Prague in Sept Two Thousand
Brits prepare, to plant grass among the riot cops...


Round Two was A 16 in corporate canyons
The District's cops were schooled, surveillance tapes
Of wrong moves in the great Northwest
This time they closed the home-base down
Gazpacho peppers deemed toxic, the vegan cooks
Left chained, ankle to hand, in school busses
Over night, given advice about their rights
They'd be left to sleep in tents, pay fifty bucks
And leave town, no more lock-down, no plastic pipes
To link arms until the hack saws come. Why hesitate?
Tape-schooled, the D.C. cops simply arrested
Anyone standing on 20th and K
Let 'em blockade 19th and Eye--
The IMF, World Bank, continue their businesses
"We barely even heard them," one Banker said
Complaining over Cajun chicken, how little this rabble
Misunderstood the burdens of a uni-polar world
The need to open markets, with bullets, rubber
Or real, if necessary. It works like this:
The WTO demands free market, the World Bank moves
In with loans; as prices fall, here comes the IMF
Offering relief, to trade for new austerities
Fewer rules, less health, no social-minded
Subsidies. One world! Under the benevolent
Rule of McDonalds, Monsanto and of Citigroup
Kids sewing sneakers in airless rooms
Tribes killed to let a pipeline through
Farmers wrestled from the land by reservoirs
Mega-dams feeding mega-needs, the music of greed
Myopic tube, reducing resistance to a busted cop
Car window, the arrest count mounts
The movement of the new, it grows
Idle and white, perhaps, for some
But Act-Up, too, and the outward looking
From the Third World Within...


Round Three's in Philly, where fat cats
Converge, with strippers and Pat Robertson to
Crown Bush as the new face of corporate compassion
At Broad Street's end, temple of a failing bank
A mainstream march, and then the poor
Peaceful, both, while plans are made
On August 1 to block the streets
As gridlock falls on Spruce and Vine
A raid on puppet warehouse, cops on bikes
And ‘copters over Center City
Arrests climbing over four hundred
Bails at seven figures, lists of leaders
Faxed to L.A -- Round Four
Will make or break this movement
Or maybe Prague on S26, or maybe Quebec
In Twenty Oh-One. The movement of the new
May grow, WILL grow, whatever tear
Gas fills the street, whatever bails
Are set to scare those looking on
Last chance to avoid
Death by corporate rule...

* * *

July 31, 2000

Ways of Dying in Manhattan

                                                         by Matthew Lee, c. 7/29/00

        Method One: Box Crusher [New York Daily News, July 28, 2000, pg 2]

He came from Tlaxcala into Washington Heights
Working six days a week selling cheeses to yuppies
At day’s end, time to crush boxes to bundles
In a moment, the crusher had pulled in his torso--

Raymundo Juarez, husband of Araceli, is dead
The safety switch jammed so there’d be no delays
He sent money by wire to his daughter Michelle
While his father is crying, the shopping goes on...

    Method Two: Airless Vault [Fox 5 T.V. News, New York City, July 28, 2000]

She worked in the vault at Depository Trust
The market’s back-office, in lower Manhattan
The door closed behind her, and then she smelled smoke
Pushed a button for help, but it only got worse:

Electronic trades still supported by paper
There’s no sprinkler with water in the vault at the bank
It shoots carbon dioxide to safeguard the stocks
But our lungs live on air -- in a moment she died.

       Lack of Aftermath at the Stock Exchange

There’s no minute of silence, before trading begins
Neither super model nor cow, no moment on the stage
Generals? They can ring the opening bell
Killers bring good luck. Losers cause the Dow to slide

And fall it did, parallel to her death. A loss
Of confidence in tech-stocks, the Reuters round-up said.
No mention of Raymundo, martyred for convenience of gourmands
Traders head to the Hamptons, their picnic baskets sanitized

In Tlaxcala, and further South in Morazan
The spread is sorghum bread. Up North
We call it live stock food. Some vegans, too,
Shopping around the news of Raymond’s death.
Everybody loves Raymond (well, the one who speaks English)
She shouldn’t have been in the vault (lawsuit’s defense emerges)
Raymond himself blocked the safety switch (we can revise everyone
Into a piece worker
). No one’s to blame
Just isolated tragedies of the working poor
Those who crush the boxes of our luxuries
Those who file stock certs in the catacombs--
The proof of purchase rules
Over the cellars or the sold. Mold makes cheese
More valuable. It appreciates, managed by mysterious
Ethnics. Our schools should be run by a hedge fund--
They’re already run by Citibank. And now that Coca Cola
Runs Mexico, Raymundo’s companions
Won’t have to come, to be crushed
With the boxes. Progress is incremental,
Like the ripening of cheese, the appreciation
Of the tech-stock fund, the distinctive tang
Of sheep’s milk from a little town, where looters
Scatter the condiments of Burger King
And pundits cream on the irony of it all
The simultaneity, their hearts-playing grandmothers
Learning Russian from cassettes--
Some get pace makers
And some a cardboard grave
Western Union rules Tlaxcala
United Fruit owns the Cincinnati Reds
No insurrection, where three rivers meet
Worshipping Andrew Mellon, growing seedless brains
The history of rancor confined to a theme park
Only the Luddites oppose vaccination
Come! Hollywood’s the yeast of apocalypse
The strategists of control profitably note
That those in designer jeans rarely rebel
So ship them already, in metal tombs
Of immigrants, hungry for the risk
Of box-crushing portfolios, glad, they were, to know
The smooth technology protecting their future
The legal plumbing that’ll ensure their legacy
Even if the crushing machine shall claim
Even if all air shall be sucked for the common good
We will continue, infinitely informed, a replaceable army
Short-selling cheese, ignored those harbingers
Of our own decline: humans reduced to cardboard
Killed for the primacy of paper proofs
The person may die, but the system remains - for this
We suck air, out of vaults, it’s too bad
She was resting there, that he worked
Beyond his tolerance, to meet Sanitation’s demands
To jam the landfills -- he himself will be recycled
Resurrected in the cyclical cries of the poor
The body and the head must re-join one day
We memorialize by forgetting, consuming death each day
In the face of oracular newsprint, hard wired to the false promises
Of the appearance of saviors on contested terrain
All pacified now, under a heavy syrup of Coca
Cola as the drug war proceeds: these deaths
Form the indictment, for the Last Supper
The last fetid locality will be sampled
Wrapped in a prospectus, endlessly
Scrutinized like genetic code, the mind’s own mark-
Up language linking itself to previous invasions
Of termites and arrogance -- let Raymundo
Ring with stiffened hands the last bell
Of the session’s subservient trade
You who believed, now see that life’s a disease
The disparate martyrs of Wall Street, baptized in C.O2
Investing in secrets while they’re unlocked
Fission leaves us blind...

July 17, 2000

London, 1865 = Manila, July 10, 2000

                                                                   by Matthew Lee

When Dickens wrote of dust men
In his minor classic “Our Mutual Friend”
Critics said he sensationalized
A part of London that was dying--
Not only of emphysema
But of progress.
“We will live on trash no more,”
The burghers said -- and soon a fence was built
So that only a corporation
Could profit from the thrown-out bones.
It was 1865, and they said he was looking back.

Yesterday in Manila, a mountain of garbage
Collapsed on a shanty town
They call the Promised Land.
Fifty were killed,
A thousand made homeless.
The Mayor said they’d been asked to leave
But refused. One woman blamed God:
“Why did you take her?”
Her daughter was pregnant
When buried in garbage.

Is it God that’s kept people
Living around a garbage dump
Trying to survive off its scraps?
Is this what the World Bank gives loans for?
The “Open Economy” so touted by Citigroup?
The Asian Tiger the business press
Puts on its covers in the airport lounge?

Even in Dickens, the dust men
Weren’t buried. Neither mutual
Nor friends, one world progresses
While others fight for plastic jugs
And pray that the mountainous sore
That alone sustains them
Does not collapse
At least for a few days...

* * *

July 10, 2000

Border of the Bronx Zoo

                                                          by Matthew Lee, c. 7/5/00

They’re gently caged
These water buffalo in the Bronx
Zoo. Two hippos roll in the mud
They’ve dug out, their hides broken
In sections like armor. The tiger on the hill
Is fed meat every Wednesday. Surrounded
By water he sleeps, while deer graze
Behind a gentler fence. It’s a reverie--
Through the swaying trees, tenements
And their windows loom. Out across the avenue
Cops sleep in cars, pounce at night
Into unmopped stairways. The animals
In the zoo are safer, and more relaxed
Than the people on the zoo’s perifery.
No one pays to come here
There are no observers
No solidarity brigades for the working poor:
Gypsy cab drivers with guns to their heads
Mothers evicted ‘cause their sons sold drugs
Or so it was alleged. Cops ask for ID
In a way the animals are never asked
Unless we get football scholarships
(As a teen in the 180th Project did,
Last year, carrying our dreams)
No one pays to see us
Little short of death is reported
No one here knew the ease of life
Over the fence, inside the zoo...

* * *

June 26, 2000

Fire on St. Ann’s

          by Matthew Lee, c. 6/22/2000

Routine flashback: windows smashed from frames with hooks.
Crime scene tape pens in the crowd: angry voyeurs,
Kids on bikes, some firemen in shorts, others in heavy rain coats
Mustachioed commenters, “The roof’s on fire, call the Red Cross.”

The last original tooth on the jaw, One Fifty Six and Saint Ann’s
Today joins the litany of ruins, like its neighbors on Eagle
Once, just north, was a round-windowed brewery
Now a green hill, already a tree is growing.

So this is a funeral: routine but not routine
For those who lived there -- every corner
Has its mourners, every paper trail
Ends at a building now gone.

More fire trucks arrive, the piraguero, seeing business
Wheels his squeaky truck east from the Hub
Mango and condominiums, which replaced previous tenements
Fire leads to progress, a cynic or slumlord would say.

Kids, their bats in sacks, stand staring
The singing of an electric saw, removing the roof
Once lives were saved, they still destroyed
What shelter remained: another ghost.

Turn back, down Brook, so empty now, woods
Begin on pavement, bare brick backs of discount stores
On Bergen, haberdashers howl, through history and weeds
The mushroom cloud, our funereal balloon

Building lit like a cigarette, smoke-rings scribing
Once last for those who called it home
Order the plywood, stack up the cinder blocks
Stucco the headstone, shatter the stoops

A building died today; a helicopter filmed it all
Omitted from the local news, not near enough a highway
To be “news you can use” for those who hunger for new cars
Window by window, they stubbed it in the ashtray of the afternoon

And down in the subway, no one knew
Corks on the infrastructural sea, it’s assumed
That tragedy continues, in the outskirt zones
Jaws denuded of teeth, families whisked to the welfare hotels

Downtown they speak of plans, of resurrection
Lies at a distance, sites assembled by arson or neglect
Hovels for back office workers will always be needed
Metal if not brick, mental if not real...

Transcribed, for nothing, another death amid the smoke
The number of homeless crosses the ticker tape
Between NASDAQ and weather, confined to the past
Some memories matter, the penned-in reported only

Routine flashback: you’re poor, and so you burn
Another nameless bodega turned tombstone
“Weren’t these buildings always empty?”
No,” you’ll answer, flashing-back and suddenly strange...

* * *

June 19, 2000

History of The Bronx

           by Matthew Lee, c. 6/17/2000

Like a dog’s nose, or a mitten, cooled
To the east by a silent Sound, the west a sickly dribble:
They lived on clams, slept shaded under sudden cliffs
Time’s passage was a myth, a growing list of elders’ names.

Then Jonas, Judas, offered beads, a loner forging north
Only his name remains: The Bronx. His farm a tenement
The subways over fields threw seeds, and railroad flats
Sprung up by the stations, then in between, corrupt

Predicting or knowing the railroad’s route
Soon masons laid the sandstone frieze
From Poland and Calabria, up from Ellis Island
The beckoning dream, the banging radiator’s steam

An Irish machine, pledging workers’ votes for F.D.R.
Down the Grand Concourse in an open car
Hero of tailors, bedrooms of the Workman’s Circle
Trotsky on Hoe Avenue, bootleg Bathgate chicken store

Then slaughtered, Kosher, highways’ scars
Underside of the world of cars
Most whites seduced to Freedomland
Landfill towers on the Sound...

The vacuum filled by Southern folk
Chasing deferred dreams on Boston Road
From Rio Piedras to Vyse Avenue
Heating with stoves when boilers broke.

The treeless streets reflected flame
Basement clubs for the Savage Skulls
The empty streets a mere backdrop
For Jimmy Carter’s whistle-stop

Still mothers fashion their own worlds
Ignoring spooky airshaft scenes
“Be home by dark,” they had to say
“No you can’t go out and play.”

Where once, on clams, they lived, at peace
Like war zones, cruised by the police
Kids thrown off rooves, or lost on smack
The woods of plenty scream of lack

The churches tried, amid the rats
To lure even the slumlords back
The trains remained, and with them, hope
Of jobs on rides along the slopes

The silent Sound slaps Hunts Point rocks
Trucks passing through destroy their shocks
You can’t write off this hilly land
From where the workers make demands

The myth of Time, circles around
New strivers on this rocky ground
New curtains in the empty eyes
A new myth grows, under the sky....

* * *

June 12, 2000

Friday Night On East Tremont

         by Matthew Lee, c. 2000

...And suddenly The Bronx is Vietnam
A gunship swoops, the trees in disarray
First comes the search light, then the strafing
Teens dive for cover, the wind enormous--

Sirens scream on Lafontaine
Stretchers folded out, on wheels
Indian doctors awake on their cots
Well trained for triage, the night begins

Cut to the precinct, the suspects are held
Rap sheets run digital, the wireless web
“We know you did it” Peeling yellow walls
The streets outside a world away

Young D.A. summoned from Pelham
Wife and baby watch the news
Conviction means election, vindicating law degree
Mother called in Scranton, told to turn to Court TV

“Deal now or face the needle” Head of Legal Aid arrives on scene
Cops offering styrofoam coffee, delayed small talk and Sweet n’ Low
The players smell promotion, accomplice hides in basement on Hughes
Hears the choppers, leans against the boiler room wall

Wrong apartments tossed on Monterey
Civil liberty’s for the rest of the week
You shoot a cop, your neighbors pay
Water for coffee, could be My Lai

“The bitch speaks English, Sarge, I know she does”
Jab at the ribs with night sticks, mother, where’s your son
You knew the car was stolen, we’re come to take back the T.V.
Rent-A-Center precinct, foreclosing on Dominican dreams

Trying to head to work in Jersey
Bus service stopped in the free-fire zone
“I pity these people,” one doughboy whispers to another
Out of the buildings with hands held high

I.D. checks, one thinks it’s immigration
Jumps to the air shaft, the lot a razor wire away
Pit bull’s bark, the flash of a Glock-Nine
Fiancé for Cite Soleil crumpled to the pavement

Serial number filed off, the gun is in his hand
“Itza clean shoot,” the military court decrees
Copter’s radius expanded four blocks a minute
“Bastard’s getting away,” open up the gunship doors

Better’n the Republican Guard, better’n Pablo Escobar
Turkey shoot on East Tremont, coordinates called in from the field
Mortars? Check! Lock on? Yes! Lock n’ load!
Be all you can be, like bottle rockets on the Fourth of July

Tenement takes a direct hit, second and third floor exterior walls
Shelled like an egg, the spotlight like salt, the yolk coagulates
“Watch ‘em run like roaches,” artilleryman ejaculates in glee
So much for community policing The war is on Friday on Tremont--

* * *

June 5, 2000

Poem: Tele-Vision

                     by Matthew Lee, c. 2000

Five workers killed in the basement of Wendy’s
There to quickly spin is the leader of the burger cult
No mention of the scores of hands, being cut off in Freetown--
The repeat of Oprah reviews a million women’s lack of response
“I just don’t want it,” she confides through rouged lips
A quake-voiced expert studying transcendence suggests masturbation
A man confesses, “You don’t please me” -- cut to ad for an unnamed drug

Burger massacre updated-- disgruntled employee, white-aproned scapegoat
An expose of Desert Storm, turning trees into wax paper, scrupulously fair
A personal trainer, at thirty three, has testicular cancer -- somehow it’s Biblical
Projecting our own nerves into the blow-dried fantasies we pay for
Some say the Word is Dead, for others, that’s the central noun
-- “If you don’t move, it won’t hurt you” --

From Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle, the homes of brutality cannot be seen
Flash cut to those who profit from frigidity
What good’s an ice box when the Teamsters are all buried
They meet in velvet jackets under ceilings thick with gold leaf
The cocksure anchor reports on rapes in Johannesburg
It’s unclear how the American public, if moved, will react
We can review the percentage of dollars flowing directly into services
Cancerous teens plunking their Make A Wish pianos
For every burger, one bereavement is erased, at least eased
The tabloids tell of Croatians leaving half-Serbian babies on the ground to die
The last of the just condemn the adoption of Chinese babies by lesbians
A new form of marriage in France can be dissolved without lawyers
Like the Sea Monkeys advertised in the back of Eighties comic books
Jack the Ripper was an Aztec, the premise leads to wet spots on Sunset
Like gators, the metal wheels of our unfolding dreams
Spin -- “if you don’t move, it won’t hurt you” --

Across land bought for trinkets, pioneers transmit their lungs by dog sled
Derided as pork barrel, the junior heroics in the shadow of the eternal
She finally responds, after a diet of self-help and herbs
Dutch cargo ships carry Ecstasy to the increasingly jaded
And it’s all exposed and condemned, lost in the sea-squall of outrage
Our steaks are pulsing with steroids, while others listless lie with flies
Gave at the office, given to in a loveless house, until the cool and quaking voice
Advises her to touch herself -- “if you don’t move, it won’t hurt you” --
(But moving not, it cannot please) -- orgasmic seniors open locks
Frazzled execs consume barge trips like nachos, their love of NAFTA
Finally explained, while other oldsters play trifecta
As they did in the Koosman Era, before bones were found in the Badlands
Toxic, all of it, the cell phones melted the screenwriters’ minds
And daily the dialogue begins to mirror that which it created
In the beginning was the Word” -- and Death, like the gadfly in the agora
Selling Reeses Pieces to the pastel bootie of Nasdaq
The G string sings, the Word is dead
Spewed like the endless circulation of fruit punch
In bus station diners the excluded converge
Fed by wires, trading on destiny
If you don’t move, it won’t hurt you...”

* * *

May 30, 2000

Pittsburgh By Day

                      by Matthew Lee, c. 2000

Where three rivers meet, nine generations’ meat
Have built a city, laying bricks on river-fronting slopes
Burnt-orange row houses where labor’s reproduced
The sons replacing fathers in the blast furnace of history--

Arriving in the Why Two Kay, a tunnel named for British fort
The green replaced by darkness, a sudden glint of glass
Capitalism elaborated in a chess board of towers, Alcoa’s queen,
The knight of PNC, the stoic rook of USX--

They say it sways, and by design, as wind along the rivers flows
Some smoke no steam-clean can remove, and so, again, the wrecking ball
Down Forbes and Fifth is set to swing, sing Kaddish for the haberdashers
They turn the soil for franchisees, tying their future to virtual retail--

Here in the gift of the profit-thirsty Scot, the reading room of widows
They carefully catalog the daguerreotypes of Pinkerton crackdown
The echoes of Homestead still defend Old Birmingham
Where mothers prayed the plants would take their sons, and yet not take--

Soot on the headstone of Homewood, the rich’s tombs in Shadyside
Imperious Frick and his bankers, all dead now, each with his name on a park
Where the children of unionists listen to rap, pierce their lips on Carson Street
The row house chic is marketed, authentic worker housing all the rage--

But voices die, by Panther Hollow Lake, the green and cliff-like hills
At once protect and isolate, the Post-Gazette is rarely seen
In Harrisburg much less the Coasts, revivers toiling in silence
As once the muscled arms pushed ore translucent in the fiery pits--

The Bessemer converter, like an alchemist, gave form to rage
For days the Homestead mill stood conquered, silent, starved
Then Carnegie and Frick sent hired troops, marching under stars and stripes
The week-long utopia became one kind of killing field, and then another--

The ships of World War Two would never be replaced
And soon steel was cold rolled, in Korea and other slave states
Labor’s home court went the way of Forbes Field, fully erased
From Schenley Park, and bitter men told their kids to study math--

No more production, only the circle-jerk of information technology
The high school athletes as senseless as muscle cars in traffic
Join the nerds or check in at the Allegheny County Jail
Indicted and condemned on Ross Street, in the shadow of Mellon Bank--

And through the slit-like jailhouse windows, the hum of the Internet’s backbone
Steelcity, USA, emasculated and hyper-linked, sold out to Nordstroms
Glad-handing tax breaks to any vulture with an R.E.I.T.
A case study in capitulation, the vultures lure and then convert--

Leaving you watching “your” Pirates on your Web-TV
Over pirated cable in the remnants of the South Side Flats
Where sadly trains scream empty by,
Excluded by the rivers three...

* * *

Pittsburgh By Night

                                                          by Matthew Lee, c. 2000

The smell of the smoke is only in your mind
History, yes, can be demolished and rebuilt
Through unreported space nine generations move
One expecting factory wage, the next collecting credit cards

Fire-belching midnight, carbon veil of corporate power
Empty gothic stone accountants, counting rolls of cold-pressed steel
Somehow Roman, this Sunday blood-lust at the line of scrimmage
A frail cadre in ashen suits, commanding a generation’s battle with iron ore--

I sing of the flood, the Allegheny’s ill-will sweeping away the workers huts
File clerks domesticated by the whiz of Pinkerton’s bullets
Come read ethnic history through the beneficence of those
Who sucked your forefathers’ blood
Where have they gone, those swash-bucking shopfloor ne’er-do-wells
Enslaved by a paycheck and biology’s call
Fancy ants, in jump suits, with slide rules
Laughing at tabloids that question the ruling class
Snookered to buying the latest novel turning screw
The promise of ease, an illusion in the rat’s warren of bureaucracy
Primal potatoes smothered in heart-stopping cheese
I sing the song of Franco Harris, his immaculate salary cap
Vicarious pig skin smoking break of asbestos--
I feel pig iron’s firmness, the tendrils of my brain
Enslaved by the hieroglyphic echoes of strikes put down by the gun
Strike three, the struck-out smiles of the Pirate’s Brian Giles
Deferring compensation into the Third Millennium, the pineal eye
Monongahela bleeding, pronunciation’s urban renewal pleading
A fried oyster’s just a zepole with a heart of fish
Yes I am cold, I am nylon, I deceive workers against my will
My works are written in cancerous lungs, the diagnostic pencil
Of Gnostic negotiators, making the bottom line sing arias in airshafts--
Let me fly, away from Death’s blast furnace
Let me dance, on the graves of the creators
Let me sing, of another set of streets on which I’ve Pittsburgh-seared my brain
Which makes an interim music, a dirge preliminary to the end of thought
Where computers generate our emotions, following the cow-trodden paths
Where Hooters replaces a paycheck, translating itself for a minimal fee
Regulated and disclosed, the annual percentage rate of hungers
Multiplied by a mystical factor “x,” the relative worth of the ethnic tribes
People’s nauseating fear running a marathon to the crematorium
Where, peaceful, stone angels fly with vandaled wings
The Egyptian temples of capitalism’s mistrust
Trussed up like the greedy beef of decadence’s desire
Singing the song of the city of steel, much later
When oxygen becomes rare, and the streets blur
Under history’s laminated plastic ---
Under the smoke-filled skies of memory....

* * *

May 15, 2000:

A Western Journalist Dies in Sierra Leone
at the Cusp of the Millennium

                                                       by Matthew Lee, c. 2000, Inner City Press

A pile of hands, unmatched like socks, Sierra Leone
Anatomy’s laboratory in Freetown’s streets - the glossy
Magazine profiles the senseless death of the thrill-
Seeking stringer, uploading footage (without socks)
Deemed to be too graphic (no human hook)
Prosthetic limbs (not an option in Freetown)
What do they think? (carrying water buckets’ handles in their teeth)
Where’s the outrage? (long since shifted to the now-rare white savagery)
Comparing Croatia to Freetown (like celery root to sweet potato)
Question: who can project (themselves into the drama of butchery)
He who broadcasted (lounged on a bed with imported beer)
A Romeo of self-destruction (hence the profile, sickeningly limited)
Four score of hands (versus one dream deferred by intent)
Their relation left open (like the nameless wrists of Freetown)
Mocking the Droits de L’Homme (advertising tight underwear)
Narrative never to be resolved (at the margins, no teeth to brush)
A martyr calling attention (no matter how brief and vodka-selling)
The world’s eye and conscience move on (no lack of lead stories)
Famine becomes routine (“we’re the poorer for it,” that's the bon mot)
“Was it worth it?” (the paralyzed journalist is asked)
Since the answer is “no” (the depressing response is buried)
Somehow similar to the overdose on horse (of the scion of blue-grass journalism)
The standard for heroic so degraded (that cocktails stand in for thresholds)
He was blond, and he died (like the imaginary Aryan Jesus)
His voyeuristic concern for chopped hands (more human interest than the clipped)
Nameless he died for our sins (resurrected in glossy advertisements for vodka)
Empty trucks convey the signs (to those who choose their respite at random)
Drunkenly, like Columbus he discovered the slaughter (chopped into facts)
Like the hands, still moving (they dictated his frenetic homily)
Homo Sapiens, the species which seeks power (if necessary, by fear)
Unique and glossy (and nauseous, in the pile of hands)
Unmatched memories bundled (like socks, or the hands of Sierra Leone)

* * *

June 14, 1999:    Bronx-Fed

Here in the Bronx they hold a fair
A ferris wheel that takes you high
Above the urine-smelling streets
The moneyed castles over there

A lady shot in her wheel chair
She winces as her daughter rides
The horse in garish circles round
These weedy lots by fences bound

You clutch your wallet, upside down
As buildings orbit power’s lack
A random bullet changes lives
Here down in Rikers’, here’s the wives

Who show the children Philly Cheese
While eggheads meet to set the trap
It is the world that’s upside-down
I see the eggheads underground

--From Washington the bureaucrat
Says only experts have a right
To view the tapes while eggheads meet
To set the rates that we must pay--

That egghead choked on fine old cheese
And ‘fore he died let out a wheeze
Full of regret he didn’t spin
In circles over ghetto parks

Missed broken windows flapping breeze
For winter dusk behind the tomb
Where interest rates in secret set
By old men blind to worlds of want

Constructing jails of laws to keep
The poor away from those who have
Ill-gotten gains and juice consumed
In furtive clubs of balding men

So bullets lead to wheelchairs, then
Yes every city has these zones
Where empty stores line sidewalks worn
Redundant in this moneyed world

And blenders dice the fruits to juice
And curtains flap in window sill
And power’s lack does not now bite
As in the past and will bite still...

 c. 6/12/99, Bronx, NY,  M. Lee & Doggerel Productions, All Rights Reserved

* * *

June 1, 1999:

Police / Brutality

May 25-28, 1999: Dante Johson, Justin Volpe, Louima and Diallo

The jails upstate are full of hate
The sickest get their private rooms
So those they hurt can’t satiate
Revenge that in their innards blooms

They twirl their sticks in groups of five
They flag you down, you’re still alive
Yes sir, Yes mam, you’re s’posed to say
And hope they let you walk away

And in the Bronx they look for guns
And chase a teen because he runs
And grabbing, shooting, bullets fly
‘Til on the street in blood he lies

And then five cops each knock on doors
And from the lobbies climb five floors
Ask through the doors about the teen
And asking each just what they seen

You heard a shot, correct? That’s right.
You saw the kids put up a fight
That’s why we shot our pistols off
The teen now stitched lets out a cough

And says I din’ do nuthin’ wrong
The cops just smirk, they’ve heard this song
How every skell turns pure as snow
Then hires a shyster swingin’ low

With lawsuit papers smuggled in
Don’t worry, shyster’s got a pen
Just sign the suit, one third’s for me
A hot new niche -- brutality

But still the cops in groups of five
They make you glad you’re still alive
Walk slowly quiet blocks to home
Rub still intact your brittle bones

That cops could crush with swinging sticks
In custody they’ll take their kicks
I’ll kill your family if you tell
The hell inflicted in this cell

But on the stand the cop’s voice quakes
It’s a confession that he makes
He lost his mind and can’t say more
And how can we even the score

Of six sick cops, a jagged stick
A psycho cop who gets his kicks
In torture games while cuffs are on
In hearing pain’s last gasping song

The jails upstate are full of hate
The sickest get their private rooms
So those they hurt can’t satiate
Revenge that in their innards blooms

There is no music for the damned
There’s no forgivenness in this court
And when the judge’s gravel slams
His freedom days are running short

The city pays but won’t train cops
To stop the torture in their stops
This surge of power’s their real pay
A psycho-study’s writ one day

How segregation’s wrought this sin
Of the sick city we live in
Where cops swing sticks on every street
And look for teens that they can beat

The big sick cop he drops his eyes
He now knows he deserves to fry
Color of law, they euphemize
Official witness caught in lies

And in the streets we walk in fear
But there’s no end to cops who lear
While swinging sticks out in the streets
In packs of five, you see white sheets...

 c. 5/28/99, Bronx, NY,  M. Lee & Doggerel Productions, All Rights Reserved

* * *

May 26, 1999:

“Phil Takes the Fifth”

Senator Gramm and Houston’s Fifth Ward

A vast flat expanse of shotgun shacks
Bordered by ship channels and railroad tracks.
Look through the weeds at the towers of banks,
Preemptive donations in exchange for some thanks.

The windows are boarded, but kids play in front
Those who speak up face a D.C. witch hunt.
It must be extortion, if the banks make a loan
So a mother of three can now own her first home.

The Waco Motel with its vacancy sign
Closed its visitors’ book ‘cause it still wasn’t time
To build back decent homes on these hist’ry-filled streets
While in the downtown they build stadium seats.

And the city’s for sale, selling names for a buck
To an energy giant that’s down on its luck
With its corporate chieftans in glassed-in towers
And empty streets ordained by these powers.

But because of an Act that was tacked to a law
Back in Seventy Seven ‘cause they finally saw
That refusals to lend could themselves be crimes
And lead to a long string of vacancy signs.

So they said that the banks were required to try
To lend back to families when for loans they’d apply
So the streets where they lived could reverse their declines
And there wouldn’t be so many vacancy signs.

So the groups took the law and they did what they could
And the banks who came in found the business was good
And while many still lack from fair access to loans
There’s more hope on the streets where the seeds have been sown.

In the Fifth Ward of Houston there’s a group that’s laid roots
And that’s gained the assistance of more prosperous suits
Who for public relations or to show what they do
So their applications will speed right through

Have been willing to lend in this ward number five
And block after block’s been kept alive
So a shoeshine man can now own his own spread
Get some land for his family before he is dead.

And so now on a corner that was poisoned with gas
There’s a brick classic building with a room for a class
On how to get in the American Dream
And how to approach the financial machine.

And the group shows the banks that there’s cash to be made
For significant help they’d be willing to trade
A statement reciting all the good that’s been done
The renewals block by block that by loans have been won.

While in other states where the bank still exclude
The maps show who should still be sued
And the process, though halting, continues to work
To bring to the task those who still try to shirk.

But for absence of voting, or knowledge, or more
Phil Gramm takes his claims to the Senate floor
Saying the groups who have urged that the banks make some loans
Are extorting the banks (which has yet to be shown) --

But some banks are empowered by Phil Gramm’s attacks
And now turn their backs on this ward and its shacks.
The answer? The people and the lessons they’ve learned:
No progess is given, it’s got to be earned.

And you can’t leave the laws in the hands of the few
‘Cause it’s rolling back laws that the lobbyists do
And what little protections we’ve already won
Can by midnight amendment be lost and undone.

To avoid a repeat of the vacancy signs
We’ve got to stand up and speak our minds
And show all the cities that still suffer from lack
Of enforcement of laws that are now being attacked.

And yeah maybe Phil Gramm should be forced to come view
The results of the law that he’s pledges to undo
In the Fifth Ward of Houston, the call is clear
That the law be expanded and enforced every year.

     c. 5/23/99, Houston, TX,  M. Lee Doggerel Productions, All Rights Reserved

* * *

April is National Poetry Month Medley

April 4, 1999 -- Five Poems:

As If, Don Pascual, Abbott & Costello in the South Bronx (by Yvonne Santana), Signs (by Richard Amedee), An Embrace (by D. Mastrodonado), D.C. March 99

As If      by Matthew Lee, 1999

You search for shattered cities as if
Like a rune, there could be found the source of pain as if
By breaking and entering you could re-plaster the soul as if
By defending the right to stand forlorn these buildings
All the loners could be protected as if
Vermin weren’t already within our city walls, tossed
Over like a plague-filled rat, through belching smog
We dream in dulcid tones of broken cities as if

* * *

Don Pascual           by Matthew Lee, 1999

Don Pascual said he was going back,
Back to Santo Domingo, he’d bought a cement
Block factory, sending half his earnings
Every week from a furniture factory
In the South Bronx, he was going back,
To retire--
Then Pascual’s wife’s brain exploded,
Desrame cerebral, they called it, they said they tried
To revive Carmen over five days in the welfare ward
At Saint Barnabas Hospital, dozens came to visit,
After work, on the bus and in gypsy cabs
Tomando tragos through the tears
Until on the fifth day
Carmen’s gossiping friend
Suddenly said,
“It smells BAD in here,”
And another doctor was summoned
Who quietly whispered, “she’s been dead
For two days.”
They tried to revive her.
They didn’t know she was dead.
Pascual has a brick factory. He said he’s going

The dregs of the legal profession
Flaunt their se habla espanol signs
Along the corridor of Sheridan Avenue
Across from the Art Deco courthouse.
Senor Feliz,” Mr. Barnard says to Pascual,
“You can recover money, mucho dinero,
For the suffering of your wife
Rotting after death
For your own suffering
If you can describe it

Pascual signed the papers, through the tears,
Before more tragos, saying he might have to delay
His return to the brick factory, while the friendly Mr. Barnard
Recovered riches from the City hospital.
She was dead
For two days.
Mr. Barnard engaged in secret
Negotiation with counsel to Saint
Barnabas, arranged a form of kick back,
And sprung it on Pascual, still drunk with grief,
Still drunk with tragos. “Thirty thousand dollars,
Free and clear, not even on your taxes. You do pay taxes,
Don’t you, Senor Feliz? No matter -- just sign here,
And these riches will be yours.”

Thirty thousand dollars. She was dead
For two days. Pascual had always said he would return
To Santo Domingo. The money seemed short,
But Mr. Barnard was so nice. Free and clear.
Libre y claro.

“I think he’ll sign it,
I’ve seen his type before,”
Barnard hissed into the telephone
Receiver, to the eager
Claims adjuster
For Saint Barnabas. “Full release--
After that embarrassing incident,
This should be worth a good fifty
Thousand fee, maybe more.”
Yes purred the adjuster,
Just make sure he signs.

Don Pascual had always said he was going back,
Back to Santo Domingo, to the cement
Block factory he’d bought, going back,
To retire--
He signed the papers,
And left two days later,
With travelers checks.
She was dead
Two days.

* * * *

Abbott and Costello in the South Bronx

            by Yvonne Santana

    Life is like an Abbott and Costello skit. It is people sitting at a dinner table with their plates and silverware and the expectation of a good meal. It is twelve pieces of bread being passed around and Abbott is guest number thirteen. At the table, waiting for the bread that is going around in abundance, but not coming around. The scene is hysterical because we know what twelve pieces of bread and thirteen places set means -- because we live it...

* * * *

Signs    by Richard Amedee

I want to break out of just paying bills
I want more out of life than that
You see, I want a camera
To shoot some old signs
Before they get painted over or torn down.

In the Bronx
On the Number Two train
Just before it goes underground at 149th Street.
There’s a painted sign under a window that says
“Tito Puente, King of the Mambo,
Plays here every Tuesday.”

At 145th and St. Nicholas Avenue
A sign behind a building says,
All hits.
All the time.”

I used to think I couldn’t want for more
From a station than that.
Of course the hits were different then
I couldn’t see myself going back to that
And I couldn’t see Tito Puente going back
To playing that room either.

* * * * *

An Embrace     by D. Mastrodonado

    Write your piece, my friend says.

     And I think to myself, yeah gotta write the piece-- yeah, but I am writing it all the time, reworking it, working it out, with a grin at the view of the orange moon hanging over the six-story apartment buildings on Prospect Avenue, sad and satiated in the early morning walking down the street quiet and clear, too much but a yell would crack the surface of the sleeping air, writing a constant narration with the pour of hot water through the coffee grounds with the bark of dogs and the chatter down on the street (people moving about) and the rooster still going at it -- it’s just in him, gotta be heard -- the sun’s coming up with achy muscles and a heavy head but stretching stretching feels so good to reach for the terror and joy of the day, the sound of the free-flowing hydrant, the water through the coffee grounds into the pot, up and at ‘em, distant talk and laughter like hands loving the skin of a drum, keeping time with this constant narration, saxophones filling in the spaces like human flesh, beyond flesh, grabbed by the shoulders, eyes fixed on each other, speaking without words -- the sun now twirling down the sidewalk, newspapers and plastic shopping bags, and oranges and onions and tomatoes and cantaloupes, and strollers, and young life and old life bursting into silence and expression, and into tragedy, and into colors -- what more can be said, but the narration moves on with words so simple like digging the soil, flying as deep as it can, just laughing and conversing, carrying it on the shoulders, above the head, and flinging it too with tenderness, and always welcoming, the sensibilities always open, to the unexalted dramas, to visions, to the depths of your pair your visions illustrate, to that narration without words, without the need for words, bumbling dancing running into this day....

* * * *

Washington D.C. March 1999

                                         by Matthew Lee, 1999

Sick cities of trainless streets
Faceless hotels with tarantula-skin sheets

Receptive to money the Congress can move
A law to allow a Satanic embrace

The subways are loaded when snow’s in the street
The streets of South West are like tombs in the heat

To share is hard, like wooden legs deceived
And sodden pads forgotten with the lessons I received
The grid of wires dictate the hundred duties of the mind
I search the shark-skin desert for the bell tones of my kind

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