Walking, walking, Camelot Inc.’s recommendation –
I am always walking Centralia Pennsylvania’s
Big Mine Road, a pleasant stroll, no Miss Americas,
hot coal-dust warmed sore feet, only 5-inhabited homes,
weeds in playground, Fire-Station operated by Feds,
a lonely “ground-zero” between St. Peter & Paul
and Ignatius Cemeteries, coal-smoke rises from dirt,
and there are no schools for killers to roam.
March wind in face, oligarchs oppress me at work,
I walk-on…, Hiroshima on my mind, stores boarded,
I am not going to take it anymore.
Atop a Centralia hill,
a spot where United Airlines Flight 624 crashed, 1948,
43-passengers dead, a few celebrities hit Mammoth Vein,1
metal-detector zealots search for buried jewelry,
I felt hot coal-culm beneath Payless sneakers, compelled to rest,
I met an oligarch, he carried a leprechaun walking-stick,
spoke in strange tongues, played harp in E-flat,
he approached me with swagger, disregard,
and the dirty old prick insisted I give him “10 push-ups.”
Witness to my grief:
… seven, eight, ugh, nine, this was me? (expletive) ten!
Diminished strength, winded, beauty lost,
an old high school football bench-warmer,
I triumphed over age, the oligarch got 10 push-ups,
a pound of ground-flesh @ $3.50, my resume for review,
and he smiled, he got all I had.
I envied omnipotent him,
and sincerely wanted more for Centralia & all oligarchs.
I had yet to drop dead at work, survived Iraqi-liberation,
suffered weekly pain & punishment at gas-pumps,
and I owed both the oligarch & CFR something.
With J.B.’s signed “Work Authorization”agreement in-hand,
together we climbed the Mammoth Vein.
At anthracite peak, I raised hands, repeated mumbo-jumbo,
and summoned my Devil-guardian, a sty named Tagarand,
who was assigned to put the “Try-anything-once,
See-if-it-works” oligarch to Test.
Money meant everything to Tagarand, I had none, he appeared,
and J.B.’s Temptation commenced, thunderously:
Hey, J.B. … if you are Fortune’s Son, can you see Pottsville
WalMart from here? Worship me and it is all yours.
Oligarchs do not live by cheap labor and low bread prices alone.
You can stick it, Tagarand.
Hey, J.B., o.k. … do you see that beaten Dodge K-Car
over there in Alfredo’s Recycling Center? Order it to life
and you can get behind the Wheel.
Oligarchs do not resuscitate autos on very word Socialists speak.
Chuck-it away and collect scrap-metal money!
Well, J.B. … you see that fiscal cliff, over there? If you are
Fortune’s Son, throw yourself down to Flight 624-bottom, and
all monetized debt shall be yours.
J.B. answered: You must not put junk-bonds to the test!
Go away, Tagarand, and take your odious friend with you.
Dark, dark, a day of enlightenment,
intimate winds, I am frightened, positively unaware.
Fare well childish dreams, oligarchs are not like us,
& Centralia’s barren fields, is this Hell’s renovated rooftop?
in a month, this year, I will need new sneakers,
snow seeps into soles, and given my W-2 and tax-return,
one would not consider I had a Jackson Hewitt soul,
only lottery “scratch-off” tickets to my name,
all LOSERS, CO2 seeped into 624’s cockpit,
a fiery Sermon on Anthracite Mount –
Lonely, I depart down Big Mine Road, I smoke O. P.’s,
severe weather devoured asphalt, I do not see D.P.W. trucks
and cold-patch on way – Which way home? Tagarand forgot.
But Truth is a pudgy oligarch, Forward movement, harps and
same old song, and even Brownfield-Greenfields have hope,
they turn again, walk, walk-on, in a coal-dust pile,
I found theater impresario Earl Carrol’s burnt driver’s license,
somethings not right, and Centralia “prophesies to fetid wind.”2
- Centralia, Pennsylvania is known as a most unfortunate coal-town which long ago, like many, dumped household trash, leaves and X-mas trees upon surface coal, and one day endured a gallant attempt by the local Fire Department who tried to minimize garbage expansion by lighting the mounds on fire, uncontrollable. A friend, Bob McClintock, resident of nearby Frackville, told me Centralia’s other tragic story about United Flight 624, at the time, the 3rd worst aircraft crash in history. Passengers are buried in a common-grave, and quaint Centralia is a place where Ukrainians are known to visit, experience American Transylvania. [↩]
- In Ash Wednesday, T.S. Eliot wrote reasonably, “And God said, Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only the wind will listen.” [↩]