Potemkin City Limits
A Speculative Fiction
A new iron curtain drawn across the 49th parallel. Cut all diplomatic ties as we expel all American dignitaries and issue a nation-wide travel advisory for any others left inside. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. The burned out shells of south-bound traffic lay strewn along a cold stretch of would-be interstate. Still visible below their charred remains: Pax Americana plates. Your stupid fucking laser-pucks™ were just the start. And while you may stand six full cubits and a span, we got a shepherd’s sling and five stones in our hand and the battle of 1812 lives in our hearts. We don’t care if we’re destroyed. We’ll never capitulate. We’ll take the whole fucking world down with us in flames. Just a speculative fiction. No cause for alarm. We got a good 15 years left ’til the United We Stand murals on West Broadway finally fade and we wave good-bye to such sad, childish refrains. Replaced with other stupid lullabies like you can have my guns when you pry them from my cold dead hands. Just a speculative fiction. No cause for alarm.
Here in the land that Abraham was promised to receive we listen to you catechize from your pulpit overseas. You mourn the proofs of our barbarity. Dry your eyes, oh Pharisee. We both speak a settler’s cant. We both read from the same old played out scripts and hum familiar tunes, broadcast on fixed frequencies, stuck in locking grooves. We both profess noble intent as we civilize human impediments. So if your hands are clean then noblesse oblige that you wipe that “who me?” look off of your face and concede our designs separated by nothing more than place and time. Different scenes, same crimes. Pray, let him who’s without sin cast the first statues of the former rogues turned folk heroes that your forefathers hung. Don’t lecture me about plundered soil while you loaf upon your father’s spoils. We want nothing more than what you already have: a comforting set of exculpatory “facts” like, say, the myth of an empty land and a conquest so complete we can pull these tanks from our streets and hand the loose ends over to bureaucrats and become just like you—lounging carefree in your cafes, absolved from sin and human grenades. Entre nous, how did your desert bloom?
As so many practiced diplomats, so too your vaunted laureates, whose access to the higher rungs of the cultural priesthood is hinged upon their flair for sophistry. Well, I vote you the best-equipped to shrink from speech that might suggest any thoughts your key target-market might not have already signed-off on and ratified. And I vote you most likely to clutter your language with so much deadwood that no amount of pruning will reveal your intensive, protracted campaign of saying nothing at all. Your daydreams of black tie affairs at Rideau Hall. Your acceptance speech. Your dramatic pause. Don’t forget to thank those bitter ex-musician cum embedded rock-journalists frantically applauding the latest artist-formerly-known-as iconoclast, giddy from the fumes of a fresh defection, moping to the maudlin beat of a hat rack rhythm section, a tacit understanding of mutual non-aggression enjoyed by every nauseating do-nothing functionary. Really, it’s not so much the incessant ruse of assigning profound meaning to the meaningless curios you decorate your sets with in your extraordinarily mundane fictions. It’s the (colossal) arrogance of the subtext: the province of human affairs is a field best left to dilettantes with an extraordinary gift for the feigning of paralysis. For saying nothing at all. For daydreams of black tie affairs at Rideau Hall. An acceptance speech. Sustained applause.
Cut Into The Earth
Is this life? To stand here and wait. In this city forged of scraps. Is this life? To stand on the dead. On feces and sweat. Is this life? It’s all starting again. Quick, gather your belongings and go. Run while it’s still dark. Out here you’re as good as dead. Leave the shots echoing behind. Don’t look back until you run out of land. When you think there’s a second that you can’t be seen, the current can decide how this night will end. Don’t try to imagine what’s ahead. Let nothing cripple your will. You will cross enormous distance only to arrive with nothing. You will give all you have. If you navigate your way with endurance and success, if you pass the obstacles and still have your life, if you’ve escaped death, if your guts haven’t withered away, if you haven’t broken under the strain. They won’t be welcoming. They forget a time when their land was swelling. A monstrous movement across the sea. When she relieved her bowels all over the world. Don’t try to imagine what’s ahead. Let nothing cripple your will. Just follow the paths that they cut into the earth right back to their door.
Bringer of Greater Things
Look at our collection of hands, heads and feet to see where we’ve been. Embrace this parody: the ending of things you can believe. We’ll drive you ’til you’re skin and bones and when we finally reach the end, you’ll fall into our open arms, accept our tears of sympathy. Make way for our emptiness. A descent that never ends ’til the one last living thing is the next thing to go. You should know by now that we never come in peace. Endure this tragedy, wrap yourselves in our fantasies. When you think of all you’ve lost, weigh it with what you’ve gained in trade. We’ve given the greatest gift: this savior that will never rise. The Bringer of Greater Things. Creator of Brighter Days. The city cops, a sub-zero night. A midnight ride out of town. The passenger was found frozen to the snow. Our enduring legacy. We bring a better way. Our handshake crushing bone. The blankets that keep you warm, we’ve soiled with disease. The Bringer of Greater Things. Creator of Brighter Days. The hollow songs you’ll sing at the ending of your day.
Dedicated to Rodney Naistus, Neil Stonechild and Lawrence Wegner, murdered by members of the Saskatoon Police Department.
America’s Army™ (Die Jugend Marschiert)
Welcome to the offices of Economic and Manpower Analyses here at our historic and sprawling West Point Academy campus! My name is Mindy! It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to a loving father of three (and a champion of the sanctioned use of armed force in pursuit of policy objectives). Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the project director of our newest recruitment strategy; our mission to staff future combat systems through current technologies. Without any further ado, I give to you Colonel Casey Wardynski!
Thank you! Let me begin with some sentimental appeals to our national myths; assorted clichés coined by the state; the ideological shorthand meant to sweep your private doubts [away] of this virtual training course. This portal; this Trojan Horse that you living idiots paid for and actually rolled into your own kids’ rooms.
Oops, did I just say that out loud? Oh, well, it’s not like it’s something new. It’s just the logical extension of the decades of bilge water that you’ve let us pump into your homes. The pink noise that hums away in the background while you run the gauntlet we force on you everyday. The billowing candy floss that helps to soften the blow. Deep down you’ve always known that your children already belong to us, so why don’t you cut the outraged parent routine, shut your mouth and get back in your seat. Your children already belong to us. What are you? You will pass on. And they won’t know a fucking thing but this ‘community,’ this real life Ender’s Game. Forget what you think you know.
Rock For Sustainable Capitalism
I fuckin’ love that one rock video where that fucking jack-ass mohawked millionaire prances around by far the worst sausage party on earth, where by mere chance he’s caught on film shaking hands with an incredibly diverse collection of patriotic skins. I like the message it sends: With a Rebel™ yell, Just Do Exactly What You’re Told. One million douche bags can’t be wrong? “When did punk rock become so safe?” You’ll excuse me if I laugh in your face as I itemize your receipts and PowerPoint your balance sheets. I hear this year’s Vans Warped Tour is “going green!” I guess they heard that money grows on trees. Hope they ship all those shitty bands overseas like they did the factories. Music’s power to describe, compel, renew … It’s all a distant second to the offers you can’t refuse. Anyone remember when we used to believe that music was a sacred place and not some fucking bank machine? Not something you just bought and sold? How could we have been so naïve? Well, I think when all is said and done, just cuz we were young doesn’t mean we were wrong. And I’ll rock back and forth on this two-bit hobbyhorse ’til she splinters and gives way. I’ll tend the flowers by her grave. And whisper her name. If anyone out there understands can I please see a show of hands just so I know I’m not insane? Ever get the feeling you been played? Well, that’s rock for sustainable capitalism and you know, we may face a scorched and lifeless earth, but they’re accountable to their shareholders first. That’s how the world works.
He had a stack of dimes for a dink that he kept hidden from his young tormentors. She crapped her pants and when it started to stink they laughed her up a railing high above the river. A goddamn beige curse. She couldn’t imagine worse. She once was known for her art. Not anymore. His mom caught him jerking when she got home from work and it drove him to stick needles in his arm. She gave one blow job in the back of a van and the clap quickly spread across her lips. Oh fuck! There’s a fucking curse! She couldn’t imagine worse. They thought she was such a nice kid. Not anymore. A bumpy road for thimbledicks and pube-less dweebs. You with the natural perm! The brown-toothed the bald-spotted bottle-glassed puds (Fucking Halfhead). Boneracked spazzes with limp handshakes, zit cream ordered by mail. No-boobed girls, man-boobed boys. His mom picks his clothes and SHE smells like pee. These are the mean streets. Don’t kill yourself yet. Adulthood’s worse. Don’t kill yourself at all. Yet.
Life At Disconnect
Had they been the ones dying under the cooking sun, picking through the dust, scratching at the barren earth, had it been THEIR insides spilling into the sand, they’d see on cracking land their spirit cannot triumph. Take a breath. Sit back and relax. Enjoy your moment of peace. You’ll soon be back in the middle. Prepare for this one to make you flinch in disbelief. When you catch a glimpse of those just following the paths that got us to where we are. Who are these human shadows with still-beating hearts? Scratching at the door to our paradise. Why do corpses litter the road? Who are these humans? So this is paradise. Beyond the distant hands of the world. Here we all think we don’t belong but still bow our heads to our Emperors. Is this all there is? Maybe we really have nothing to say. Maybe we truly are just shallow and lame and we’re all just waiting for the end, the spectacle, or some kind of catastrophe to bring us back to earth to stun our ever nodding heads. To introduce us once again to the one incorruptible as she flushes us from her veins. Kills us to live again. In case you wonder – I’m not trying to be cynical. I know how you feel – If your life’s disconnect. In case you wonder – “What the fuck’s wrong with me?” If it all makes sense you’re the furthest fucking gone. They’ve got badges that they cover with their hands while they’re bashing your fucking head. They’ve got graveyards that they’ll fill with that head if you start getting anywhere. I won’t pretend that we’re on the winning end. But when did that matter before anyway? That never mattered before anyway.
Name and Address Withheld
The following views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the prevailing order, who prostrate to their naked kings, tailor the seams of funeral shrouds on foreign shores, but shed no tears for the dead of the endless list of informal wars – the justification for will be spelled out coming soon to a screen near you. I’m feeling less hopeful and so much less human as my days are reduced to little more than settling for revenge and wondering whatever happened to the kid that pledged “first do no harm”? Chalk it up to an overdeveloped sense of unbridled vengeance. Somebody fed me too much New Hope for breakfast, cuz as the empire preemptively strikes back (again) and the voice of Luke’s father baritones this is CNN I recall Arab kids slaughtered reduced to “sand-niggers” and “rag-heads.” And now I’m expected to mourn dead Americans? The executioner’s willing citizens? I’m so sorry and I’m trying to think it through, but when the chickens came home to roost and hand-delivered matching funeral urns to the bully that never learns I could’ve swore I heard a chorus rise and fall wishing them so many more unhappy returns. But in every war waged, only kings emerged unscathed.
Superbowl Patriot XXXVI (Enter the Mendicant)
Superbowl patriots cheer half-time propaganda, fake titties, tooting trumpets. “FREEDOM” is in lights and is shitting itself out of Post-Hippy “Call me Sir” Paul McCartney’s multi-millionaire fucking mouth. Machine guns raised. Kegs secure. Beers held high! The (Presidential) Liar is in the house. Bono’s in the house! We’re DOOMED! FUCKING DOOMED! FUCKING DOOMED! FUCKING DOOMED! FUCKING DOOMED! FUCKING DOOMED! FUCKING DOOMED!
Donald wept through the proceedings. His tears soaked through the canvas that cloaked his twisted face and they stained his orange jumpsuit where with such rare distinction he once displayed the evidence of his outstanding contributions to the maintenance of a kingdom come. But those days are gone. He’s nothing more than a number on a docket thick with shareholders, engineers, PR firms, politicians: war-profiteers. How the fuck did I end up here? This just isn’t fair. Ain’t no place for a millionaire. He searches for the words to stop this table in mid-turn, like “we are but old men” and “we only did what we were told,” but the laughter from the gallery drowns out these vestiges of a profession’s oldest defense. The court will direct the record to reflect compliments from the bench; you sir, are central casting’s crowning achievement. And for your outstanding performance in a comedic role, I’d like to dedicate the findings of the jury to the dead. But how can one man ever repay a debt so appalling? Can’t gouge 10,000 eyes from a single head so I think we should observe a sentence that will serve to satisfy both a sense of function and poetry: so you will spend the rest of your days drenched in sweat, with your face drawn in a rictus of terror as you remove another buried land mine fuse. Meanwhile, 100 yards back behind the sandbags, a legless foreman pulls the trigger on a red megaphone. Squelching feedback. Drunken laughter. Broken English. His dead daughter’s picture. Time and tide, no one can anticipate the inevitable waves of change.