Three Poems by Jerome Sala


“The populist slogan ‘Save Main Street not Wall Street’ is…totally
misleading…it overlooks the fact that what keeps Main Street
going under Capitalism is Wall Street.”
– Slavoj Zizek

when people refer to The Street
they only mean one street
the one with the wall at the end

it’s the only street left in the universe
that’s real

the others
almost as famous
one made of crocodiles
another of broken dreams
another of lucky children

no longer have names
they were once facts
but facts
don’t make a world

towers made of money
dissolving into mourning
ash on crying people’s faces

markets crash
the bricks of their pyramids
tossed far into quantum space
but The Street remains the street
where we live –

it’s like one of those movies
where you’re caught in a scary town
and when you ride the road out
to its very end
you’re back where you started

gliding down a snowy Mobius strip
of indecipherable equations




legend has it
beneath the surface
of the money self
there’s something richer

once it gets out
it turns you funky

you wear
the colors
of the parrots

and amuse
the beasts
with your talk

statisticians declare
there’s more to you
than they thought

in their studies
they imagine
the ancient emerge

a lost civilization
from under
the streets

one now dressed
in the slang
of the future

a surprise
provoked by
the forgotten

exciting like
an uncounted
roll of bills

a locked suitcase
with diamonds

the flag
of an unknown
country –

whose emblem
has not yet
been deciphered





When History began running low on its natural resource of Newness
And its events grew tired of squandering the little novelty they possessed in the
  long line toward infinity
To cut costs and take advantage of recycling opportunities
Time decided to start driving in a circle again

Before long, History’s most famous people began leaving the highway of no
And appeared in the neighborhood of the finite once again,
Sauntering around the chronological block
Lost beings
Who longed to find the city dump of the past
Where the no longer relevant could bask in the noble silence of the ashes

No rest for the re-usable!

I saw Julius Caesar the other day
Strolling down the sidewalk,
Past the broken down chicken coop in our decaying backyard
Knife still in his back, muttering…
“Oww! Somebody get this out of me, and me out of here.
It hurts, it really, really hurts
To be one of the undead…”

But he was too holy for us déclassé types to touch
He still wore a little of that old Caesarian glow on his noble frame
Like a warm toga…

Poor wounded World Historical Figure
Around and around he would go, transforming with each revolution
Into a cheaper version of himself:
Napoleon the class interloper, then the redneck Hitler, followed by cut-rate
  populists like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot,
A polyglot of Perons, Pinochets, the Manson family, the Chaney gang, the Bin
  Laden crew

But with all their connections
The books they wrote and were written about them
With all their high living, and all the glory and power of their momentary swagger
Not one of these fading copies of the tyrannical ideal
Had anything of use to tell any of us plebeians
Newly minted in our own bargain basement version of immortality
We, who would soon begin our own circular journeys through slums of eternity

Except that, as Caesar said:
“It hurts, it really, really hurts,
To be one of the undead”



Jerome Sala’s latest books are Look Slimmer Instantly, from Soft Skull Press and Prom Night, a collaborative chapbook, with artist Tamara Gonzales, of goth/horror poems. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Nation, Pleiades and The Brooklyn Rail. His blog – on poetry, pop culture and everyday life, is espresso bongo:

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