Kadavergehorsam* in the Land of Opportunity

Come, come Angel of Death,
please visit my rented-room, let us talk?
In late-1980s,
a University of Scranton graduate,
I planned marriage, children,
building prosperous future working
for Taylor Borough’s Amity Lumber Co.,
and Municipal Waste Landfill,
at $7.25 an hour.
Daily, I watched garbage trucks enter
upon the landfill’s State Certified scale,
where total garbage tonnage was calculated,
municipal waste processed for proper burial,
and lots of “Green” fell into Amity family coffers.

Angel of Death,
please help me remember here?
Was it Saint Thomas Sunday
when Amity family approached,
asked me to speak at a Taylor Council meeting,
provide persuasive argument why residents
should consent to landfill expansion plans,
come within 200 feet of people’s backyards,
in vicinity of kid’s swing-sets, bird baths,
elderly hammocks, vegetable gardens.
Angel of Death, I’m sure you heard many
muddled tales like mine, so please don’t go?
I want to make confession,
and undergo America’s favored purification act,
become, “accountable for actions,”
before you come along, and account for me.

That anticipated night,
at Taylor Borough Council meeting,
I rose, stood confidently at podium,
told residents how unwise for them
to protest Amity Landfill expansion.
With Letterman charm, I asked,
What mattered foul garbage odors, rodents,
potential ground water quality threats,
daily noise from dump-trailer
and “haul-pack” heavy burial equipment?
Talking DOWN to crowded assembly,
including friends played and grown-up with,
I explained how Taylor needed “good jobs,”
and guaranteed how veto of Amity Landfill
expansion would forever stymie T-town’s economy.

Angel of Death, I am sure you understand
how I needed to secure prosperous future,
and while doing my duty for Amity family,
I emphasized financial benefits of having
Municipal Waste Landfills built
in post-anthracite coal hometowns.
Chided assembly, called to mind “N.I.M.B.Y.,”
I cynically remarked how no one wants
prisons and heroin-addict rehabilitation centers
located in neighborhoods.
“And until the Federal government invents better
Final Household Waste Disposal Solutions,
Taylor’s garbage must go somewhere,”
I lectured.

Angel of Death…,
upon speech conclusion, a hullabaloo,
comic annihilation of my purported
“eloquence,” compromised testimony.
Afterward, hot September night,
angry Taylor citizens waited upon my exit,
owner of local barbershop threw me the finger.
Alarmed, I hurried to car’s sanctuary.
And now, Angel of Death,
as I approach hour of flesh-bone demise,
and while there’s still time to confess
before becoming just another “obedient corpse,”
lowered into an E.P.A. approved grave,
including double-lined abyss,
State-of-Art methane collection system,
at age 62, I want you to know
that it’s terrible to have learned
all the loyal “duty” Adolf Eichmann did,
all for upwardly mobile career advancement.
And in comparison, Dear Angel,
I ask you to internalize how easy
OBEDIENCE once was for me
to a Municipal Waste landfill owner’s
will and revenue goals.

In closing,
and prior to application for “final dirt cover”
upon all that one (like me) must leave behind, ((This line sneakily appropriated from the mouth of Bono’s band U-2, song titled, “All that you can’t leave behind.”))
I must keep hope your C.E.O. understands
where I have been – through arbeit darkness
did I tread for decades, not blind,
just banal 20/20 vision.

* A German word meaning “obedience of corpses” found in Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the Banality of Evil.” Arendt explained how Adolf Eichmann, as a law-abiding citizen, “consistently acted upon orders – always so careful to be “covered – he became completely muddled, and ended by stressing alternately the virtues and vices of blind obedience, or Kadavergehorsam, or the “obedience of corpses.”

Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pa. He can be reached at: ChucktheZek@aol.com. . Read other articles by Charles.