Just Put that Down Anywhere by Frank Rogaczewski

I’m at the cash machine thinking
in the privacy of my own
brain I like to move
the furniture around – see if the walnut
armoire looks better in the front
-al lobe or the cerebellum. Don’t
worry though. I’m a good citizen,
a productive member of society and an
avid consumer – regular denizen of
Whole Foods, Crate and Barrel. It’s
almost as if somebody’s
in the next room complaining,
“The service industry’s taking over.
Ised to be a production-oriented economy;
not no more though,” but you can’t hear them for
the scientists who’re asking whether
Tyrannosaurus Rex was a
predator or a scavenger, and me,
I can’t even remember what
I had for dinner last night
and besides, it’s hard to hear over
the racket the movers are making
with the mahogany table in the
occipital lobe. In the privacy of the
cash station I’m thinking I’m liberal in
spending, classical in dilemmas, and
catholic in taste. To paraphrase Phil Ochs,
ten degrees to the left of
the corpus callosum in good times; ten
degrees to the right if it affects
me personally. And we’re all
unique and all but there’s an awful
lot of Crate and Barrel furniture being
moved in upstairs just about everywhere,
if you get my meaning. Guys! Guys! Just
set the damn futon down anywhere,
willya? Jeez, the help you get these days.
If you think of the furniture
as a metaphor, you haven’t yet moved
beyond the nation’s industrial era – in fact you
haven’t moved much of anything now,
have you? – and you’ve lost that sense
of a sort of mental
   &nsbp; feng shui.
Now the movers are lounging
all over the sofas and chairs and the new
love seat. They’re guzzling down
Pabst Blue Ribbon and belching,
complaining there’s no good jobs today for the
working stiff – the pay’s lousy and the
hours too long. You gotta wonder about
T. Rex, not just was he predator
or scavenger, but also was he in any sense
an avid consumer? And, okay,
it was pretentious for me to call
that bulky wardrobe an “armoire” but
at least it’s not Crate and Barrel and, c’mon,
Pabst Blue Ribbon? That ain’t an in-
-ternational proletarian beverage. Why
not go to Whole Foods for some
Heineken? Really, it’s a no-brainer.

Always on the Job

The state is never too busy to be your friend.
Only think of the mail carrier, strolling
briskly by, waving hello to the kids, and calling out
in a pleasant tenor voice, “Fifty Four Forty or Fight!”
All revolutions perfected this machine instead of

smashing it. The children smile and wave back, take
us back to the time when black and white
cotton mill workers were forbidden by law to look
out the same window. And the lawn may need mowing,
but it’s Saturday morning and you feel that we’ve

reached a state of rest in the direct primary,
where the people themselves nominate the party
candidates. Meanwhile, our friends in the
IRS are always willing to lend a hand. Why here’s
one now, sitting on your living room couch, and his

button reads, “Remember the Maine!” As he sets
your youngest on his lap, a picture forms in
your mind: Andrew Carnegie walks with Woodrow Wilson.
Feels like it was only yesterday that women
couldn’t vote. Now your youngest giggles and tells him,

“A recall allows voters to unseat corrupt officials.”
He smiles with all the confidence of one through whom
the economically dominant class becomes politically
dominant as well, and he says, “Now then, let’s
settle this little discrepancy, shall we?” Only think

of the FBI, of the postal inspectors who visited
the neighbors last week and – think of the mail, man –
arrested them for sending marijuana parcel post. We
might’ve heard some grumbles about the status
quo, and certain mumbled explanations about, you

know, referendums, which allow voters to repeal unwanted
legislation. But you couldn’t tell for sure. The noise
your kids made saluting those feds, calling out “Halt
the Hun!” and your own confusion – which state
used to require that black children’s schoolbooks

be stored in warehouses separate from whites’?
These things left you unsure, left you staring at
the lawn, until two agents, looking a lot like
Carnegie and Wilson, walked over from next door,
clapped you on the shoulder and answered, “Florida.”

Issue Six

Editorial: Out of Africa


Harriet Zinnes

Reesom Haile

Michael Smith

Michael Leddy

Frank Rogaczewski

Devin Johnston

Steven Teref

Samuel Hazo

Mechanics of the Mirage

And: The Word from Asmara

And: The Word from India

Samizdat Magazine, samizdatmagazine.com © 2000-2001 R. Archambeau

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