Back to Asphalt Strawberry: Poetry

Andy Caffrey

I had my first rubbery eggs this morning.
...slippery's more like it
$1.69 breakfast in Las Vegas

$200 FUBAR yesterday
    ripped off by an activist doctor
    homeless now two years!
Frantically trying to
    get to Tennessee
    for court at 9am today

Late night trailer park
    ticket purchase
    frequent flyer coupon secured
    at midnight
    got 2 hours sleep
My ride got lost
    missed my flight
    by 4 minutes

So I spent the night sleeping
    on the floor of the new
    Las Vegas airport  oldtime friend doesn't call
Casino register ringing
Slow moving cart
    for slow moving people
    garbage truck back up ring
    every 2 minutes

Bomb prevention warning every 3
    "Do not accept any packages
    if asked to 
    by someone you don't know.
Immediately report instances
    to airport personnel."

Voice sounds like...
...Martin Sheen
Apocalypse now
No one bugs me
    not even once
    "Don't leave any bags on the table
    (what table?)
or leave your bags unattended...
    for even a NANOSECOND."
I wonder if Martin Sheen does these 

It wouldn't take any time at all
    they'd just say
    "Do your Martin Sheen"
I know it sounds commercial, but...
I mean...the anti-nuke
    sells cars...afterall!
...during the greenhouse invasion
    the Antarctic ice shelves
    break up
There's a 4 mile wide volcano
    under the western ice sheet
    under 12% of all the ice
    on the planet
    (he'll lose his westside ranch house
    first thing)

Drip, Drip, Drip
    The North Atlantic current
    increasingly dilutes
    with fresh glacial melt
It slows down
    the engine creaks
    into stillness
    Salt water not so salty anymore
    the fish hold their breath...

The Ice Age Stormbringer Roars
    down on Europe
    for another 1,000 years
700 million refugees who hate
    every other race
    who colonized the entire planet
Now looking for a place to live
    a friendly handshake
    a welcome mat
    the statue of liberty

9:00 court case for me
    across the country
    in 15 hours
Missing the flight to Nashville
    I call my attorney
    at home
If I take the last flight to Chicago
    in 30 minutes
    I can make it to court
    in the afternoon

Will the judge see me
    or will he issue a warrant
    and forfeit the $1,000 bail
    a newfound friend put up for me
Put up for our side
    an ally warrior in the war
    against the stupid greedy powerful's
    I got dosed already.
Watts Bar America's last nuke
    24 years in the making
    most likely to melt down
TVA even has their own
    Karen Silkwood
    Where's Al Gore?
Trucks yank cable
    Through unseasoned concrete
    stripping deadly wires bare
Most whistleblowers of any nuke ever
    Set to load fuel next month
    while I homelessly struggle

He'll call the DA
    and call me back
    in 20 minutes
20 minutes later
    I call his wife says
he went back to the office
    to get the DA's number
    didn't have it at home
I have to decide
    in less than 10 minutes
    to use my only ticket
    if I don't hear from him
Prevent the warrant
    or blow it off
    presume I'm fucked

Stop pushing reality
    like a speedfreak banshee
    and zendo
Accept and deal with
    what tomorrow brings
    no call
I take the first leg to Las Vegas
    can't give up now

The winters are warmer
    More insects & rodents & viruses
    and invade
New Northern Territories
    that pioneering spirit
I look down at the desert
    and watch the mice
    with the hantavirus urine
    stroll toward the cities
    bandana hanging out of back pockets

The atmosphere is really only
    8 or 10 miles thick
    you know
Up to the ozone layer
    and the stratosphere
    no weather up here
Just distant spaced molecules
    styrofoam reactions
    with car exhaust aerosol
    droplets sufates & CFCs
Blow & Slice electrons
    off trillions of rarefied
    ozone molecules

But for us
    the humans and all
    the other earthly creatures
The troposphere is where it's at
    the weather layer
    I'm 6 miles up
Flying over the puny ripple
    called the Sierra Nevada Mountains!
    They stick up 2 miles
One third of the way up
    to me
    in the airplane
But I look across
    for thousands of miles laterally
    across the onion peel section
    called Turtle Island
And if the airplane piolet
    gets infected with madness
    and points the plane to the stars
Just that 2 mile more height
    of the Sierras would send us
    into outer space flight

Then I look down
    this puny little ripple
    merely a planetary scar
    is all that it takes
To stop all the rain
    and make nevada and utah
    a vast desert
    for hundreds of miles
Thousands of bleached white bones
    of our brave ancestors
    who should have stayed home

The stupid incessant
    mindless blaring
    of a deadened female voice
Sprays my ears obliterating
    my attorney's sweet voice
    20 seconds at a time
    flight time not mine
    over the telephone boothes
    30 second respite:
His soft calm voice
    "The judge says
    'Don't come in tomorrow.'"
I gulp and begin
    "You mean I'm Screwed--"
The BLARE again
    mind numbing barrage
    Excedrin headache flight #717
    without the headache it stops:
"You mean it's over?"
    "No. We can reschedule it later--"

I TRY to think through it
    this voice of death
    is getting me down
"How soon will I see the judge?
    Should I fly on?
    Next week?"

"In 12 days or later
    if you want
    court dates have freed up."
(Freed up court dates
    is that the only freedom left
    in this withered nuclear America?)

So I have to eat my ticket
    or hang out penniless in Tennessee
    alone losing 2 weeks of the battle
All my Tennessee friends are in Mobile
    taking over a logging ship... whoppee!
I have no money
    my storage locker is 3 months behind
    $100 phone bill due Tuesday

$1.69 breakfast
    The U.S. pumped out last year
    more CO2 than ever before
    and no one notices anything
I wince at the sound
    of a 40 mile long crack
    in the ice
The Antarctic Penninsula has warmed
    5 degrees in the last 40 years
The UV pouring through the ozone hole
    has destroyed the plankton
    in the richest plankton Riviera
    in the world
    no food for the krill
    no krill for the penguins
    who now swim 100 miles out to sea
    to find some food for their babies
    returning 9 days later
    trying to force feed the dead
    80 survive 2,000 die
New percentages we'll have to get used to
    a new level of deadening
    more soul death
    Senator Gordan, an ex-astronaut asks
    "Why do we need salmon in Oregon?
    if we got some in Alaska?"
I think about the guy
    spending his whole life
    making rubbery eggs
Underage Asian busboys
    old lady waitresses
    desperate and afraid
To face their social security season
    without a cushion
    chasing tips
    on dollar 69 breakfasts
Doing their best to smile and be nice
    to hold on to love & community & friendship
    and all the things that really make us human

Cheap gas
    We never pay the full costs
    at the pump
In a greenhouse world how much
    will our children have to pay
    to rebuild an entire planet?
Where will they go
    When half the land is under sea
    or when they wait out the 100,000 year Ice Age glaciation?
And why will our children's children's children
    for over 100,000 years
    10 times longer than humans have been talking
    have to tax themselves forever
    to be safe from our nuclear waste?
Produced for our century of living the life
    of the murderous, bull-headed Rush Limbaugh
    American Dream consumption infected
In Las Vegas
    for years before my airport floor night
    flight bomb flutter reflections

And for a few more years after
    I get up disgusted & hurting
    for these sweet lonely trailer park ladies
    and the fatherless vietnam lad
    pouring my coffee
    leaving my tip
    twice the price
of my rubbery eggs

I'm going back to Berkeley
    back to the trenches
    via Nevada hwy running alongside
    the east side my Sierra scar ripple thinking
I've got 10 minutes to carry my 3 bags back to Greyhound
    where this 15 year old kid is waiting
    to finish his 3,000 mile ride
To see for the first time in 10 years
    his father who now runs a brothel
    100 miles out in Lathrup Springs

I can go back
    and write a fundraising letter
    to my oh so aware
    and concerned liberal friends
Then 10 days from now once again
    figure out where I'm going to store my stuff
    and how the hell
    I'm getting back to Tennessee

written Oct. 20, 1995
revised Nov. 4, 1995 3:30 am

Copyright (c) 1995 Andy Caffrey

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