radicalization is reality

Chris Brady cdbrady at attglobal.net
Sun Dec 15 23:53:11 MST 2002

The Christmas lights dazzled the eye everywhere in town, this suburbian
kind of college town in the Pacific Northwest. For some a simple string
of multicolored lights glows under the eaves. Others go all out and deck
their bungalows with great glittering displays of creative brilliance
flashing on and off, luminescent plastic Santas glow white and red in
the dark, trees are strung with twinkling rubies and diamonds and
emeralds and saphires shining and glittering in the black velvety night.
Some places, houses all the way down the street are like this and I feel
like I am tripping like I did so many moons ago,
walking on sunshine
thru the night.

and then something went wrong.
I was going to the corner for
anti-acids, no joke, a little
 heartburn after the meal.
The walk is a matter of three blocks, when about two thirds of the way,
I felt lost. like a part of my brain just shut off. went numb. like a
stroke. or a painless, bloodless bullet passed through my cranium
exiting silently into the gloom taking with it my sense of self. I had
not taken my wallet; I had just enough change in my pocket for a roll of
Tums or Rolaids or whatever. And suddenly I did not know who I was.
I forgot where my family lived.
I was lost. I had no money. no ID. i did not know the name of this town.
or why these houses were all decorated with these wild lights. it was
this was the end.
how long had i been wandering around, like this, alone?

across the frozen fields a man with a beard
clutched his coat closed with ungloved fingers.
hoar from the night before
still whitened the winter weeds whishing
by the side of I-5
as triple trailers roared past loaded with veneers.
4X4s whined by filled with bags from the mall.
Tauruses and Infinities cruised to their plates' states south,
home for the holidays.
the missing midday sun backlit the flourescent grey panel of sky. a hawk
sat on a fence post puffed against the cold.
behind it the valley stretched flat across to the distant Cascades
white in the upper elevations. a crow flew straight. away.
the tramp gazed down the highway for a gap in the stream of traffic. an
opportunity. and he scuttled across the double lanes to the meridian,
looked down the route the other way and made it across and down the
shoulder, over the ditch and into the trees. and he was gone.

"...comfort and joy
ahand tiyidings of come for daan joy."

my heart. it was my heart that broke.
it was my heart that shriveled into a dried hard bag of sawdust.
i watched the lights.
every house on the street had lights. some different. all beautiful in
the cold crisp night air that smelled slightly of smoke from warm
but i was so alone
alone until

i saw
i was

surrounded by a level of faces,
all brown faces, childrens' upturned grubby faces,
cheeks streaked with tears, some dried, a sea of silent faces
three and a half feet off the ground, below their faces
rags were their coverings, like torn shirt dresses, and bare feet, and
big big tummies, and thin thin limbs, and big big eyes.
looking up at me
looking down at them
with nothing
and i hated the lights.
there was a light in the window
but it was not there for me
not a welcome for all us.
streetfulls of lights across the country
fists full of dollars brandished under our eyes
trestles groaning with feasts behind locked doors

she asked if i would have seconds from the steaming cut of flesh,
drippings, gravy, and sauce, dressings and stuffings and
pickled bounty, buttered starchy mashes, and sweets

the conversation was polite
the others were from the class, or members of his family
he sat presiding, affable, two car garage, up on the hill,
we were full of respect, or deference.
she passed things around at the other end and cultivated the
small talk. it came around to the beggars in the mall. they were getting
forward.  (he looked grim in his chair, goblet in hand).
one the other day had blocked my path on the way back to the car.
i was a little scared. not really but, put off. why can't anything be
done. the audacity. he was quite rude. i gave him a quarter but it was
like i had to. something should be done
with these people.
make them go away.

i curse the lights
as i am dazzled by their prettiness
i curse their happy hypocrisy
their resplendent insincerity
[why don't they admit why they celebrate?]
(do they understand they revel in our misery?)
she said, "You *are* a bit of a downer!"
Who is your Christ?
Electric Jesus.

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