23.1.12

Sidewalk Poem #18

Benediction for the Savior of Orlando

Signs and wonders: Jesus Is Lord Over Greater Orlando
snake-tagged in cadmium on a vine-grown cyclone
fence along I-4 southbound north of downtown
is a credo that subverts the conventional wisdom
that Walt Disney is the messiah and his minions the christened
stewards of this place, that the Kingdom to Come shall be Mickey's,
that the bread of our communion will be proffered by A.T.M.
and the wine quaffed without taint of sulfites
or trademark infringement, all of which is certainly true
and yet too pat, too much like shooting mice in a barrel
when there are nastier vermin to contest
and purgatories far worse than Disney's realm of immortal
simulacra suckled at the breast of Lake Buena Vista.
There is, for one, Orlando itself,
Orlando rightly considered, Orlando qua Orlando.
Nobody, anywhere, could honestly propose Orlando
as a fit model for human habitation,
city with the character of a turnpike restroom,
city with the soul of a fast-food establishment,
sanitized and corporatized, homogenous and formulaic.
Orlando is the holy land of the branded and franchised,
Orlando is the Jerusalem of commodified delight,
Orlando, Orlando, so many Orlandos
I commence to feel downright Shakespearean,
but here is no Rosalind to dignify our tale,
no Touchstone to transform its tragedy to farce,
because Orlando is the Florida I fear to conceive,
Florida ordained like the ante-chamber to that afterworld
where jackal-headed Anubis prepares his embalmer's instruments
to pump our veins with tincture of liquid sunshine
until we are reduced to somnambulant acquiescence,
a citizenry mummified within the cambric of material satiety,
within the gated stucco walls of economic segregation
and the hairy stucco arms of Armed Response security,
a people determined to rev our outboards and troll for bass
in the shadow of the form-glass temples to corporate profit
while the fill ponds grow heavy with duckweed and algae
and the golf courses burn with viridian fire
through seasons of rain and seasons of drought
and the metropolis spreads ever outward the bland picnic blankets
of its asphalt dominion, landscape drained of spontaneity and glee,
bones boiled free of communal gristle—is it any wonder
the children of this America rise up with guns
to wreak a senseless vengeance,
the very children that might have saved us,
the ones we had relied on to assemble in fellowship
and attend to councils of greater wisdom
than those to which we have given credence?
Perhaps the children were absent from school
the day these lessons were offered or perhaps
the lessons have been censored from the curriculum
or there was no curriculum or the schools
had been demolished to make room for the future,
a serial cataclysm of vinyl and asphalt,
a republic of bananas and Banana Republics,
where cars are the chosen and credit cards the elect,
where Judge Judy balances the Scales of Justice
and the anthem of our freedom is sung by Chuck E. Cheese.
Here I may testify with absolute conviction:
Chuck E. Cheese is the monstrous embodiment of a nightmare,
the bewhiskered Mephistopheles of ring toss,
the diabolical vampire of our transcendent ideals.
Every Chuck E. Cheese's erected across the mall-lands of America
is another nail in the coffin of human aspiration
and every hour spent in one takes six months off your life.
No, no, no, it's not a theme restaurant or family amusement center
but a vision of infernal despair enjoined in plastic flames,
the clownish horror of the place is unspeakable,
yet I feel that I must speak of it, for I have been
to the birthday party of Emily, turning five,
the birthday party of Max, turning eight or nine,
of Max again, of David and Doris, of Myrna and Roberto,
I can bear witness to its odors of chocolate milk and floor cleanser,
the Formica falsity of its processed cheesefood pseudo-pizza,
its banquet tables arrayed with pitchers of lurid orange soda
and the kids in the arcade room playing air hockey
and whack-a-mole and teaching one another to cheat at skiball
to win a screel of coupons to redeem for tiny, chintzy prizes,
the worst sorts of craftily packaged trash—
stringless army parachute guys, malformed monster finger puppets,
Chinese yo-yos that self-destruct at the flip of a wrist—
a rainbow-colored peepshow designed to entice the youngest among us
to invest their lives in a cycle of competitive consumption
and then the animatronic hoedown commences its banjo jangle,
the hairy rodent orchestra chirring their cymbals on stage
as the gray rat-man emerges from his curtain redolent of mildew,
the incubus, the secret sharer, Chuck E. Cheese himself,
and the baby children scream in dismay and the larger children
gag with disinterest and the parents pay no attention at all
while employees with the fear- and candy-glazed eyeballs
of medium-security inmates stutter their pre-scripted remarks
over a public address system in whose interstitial silences
one may discern the voices of the lost upraised in prayer.

We're having a great day at Chuck E. Cheese—
            Hear us, help us, grant us benison,

Pick up your food at the counter PJ—

            Comfort and guide us, lead us to salvation,

Everyone loves family fun at Chuck E.—
            Bestow the mercies of your blessing

Cheese for your safety wear shoes at all times—
            Upon our souls, we beseech Thee,

Last call for pickup PJ last call—
            Lord of our fathers, almighty God.


[Epcot Center looking like heaven.]

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

funnily enough I was in Orlando on the day of this post, Bill. I looked up into the sky and saw a sky-writer scrolling out "U+God.." I didn't get the see the completed equation.

Bill Lindeke said...

i can hardly believe it!

shorifmiss said...



I've seen two home purchasers up close this past month.


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