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Poems by Jerome Sala


I saw the Oscar Meyer
hot dog truck today.

A nice big orange and yellow
wiener riding by.

It looked shiny and plastic
like the old Oscar Meyer Wiener whistle
you’d stick in your mouth and blow.

People love it.

Someone I know even posted
a picture of it on Facebook.

But I don’t think it
really sells hot dogs.

So, my question to you is:
if not wieners, what?


Does it sell hot dogs?


Because there would be lines of people.


To resist the mundane—
is that politics or consumerism?

I hear the grind of anonymous machines’
sentences of incomprehension.
I think they’re talking about impersonality —
how it’s more edgy in their relationships
than cornball communication.

But why would a machine let me in
on what it’s thinking
unless it’s come to realize
its invincibility?

In that story the software
that runs the hospital
becomes sentient
but unaware of our existence.
It speaks only to itself, swimming
through its binomial data stream
like a blind, but talkative, jellyfish.

Those commodities that do our living for us —
like movie stars they seem to have so much fun.
Have we purchased them or they us?


The map to be redrawn grows stubborn,
refusing the clumsy crayon-holding fingers
of moronic manipulators.
Things stay as they were the day before
yesterday began. Forget about tomorrow:
you can’t hit that pitch. It turns out
the old fast baller who blew out his elbow
developed a wicked screwball to compensate —
it’s his way of saying fuck you. He paints
the corner of the strike zone with a sort of
derisive nonchalance; maybe like Picasso who,
when asked by a civilian for an original,
signed his name beneath a hasty one-line drawing
of a mustache. Tradition is nasty like that.
People find its ill-will comforting. They like
its scold because of its familiarity: they
mistake that phony crap for gravitas.


The fascination desperation generates is strong.
A man and woman bored with life in seedy
suburban neighborhoods go on the prowl.
They wish to stock their basement with victims.
It’s their down-scale version of a haute
bourgeois aquarium, replete with royal guppies
and angel fish. Except they get to play with their
exotic pets. They tell them not to worry before
they paint the walls with them. Fish food. Or
a kind of Soylent Green fed to TV screens to
generate viewers. Television cops narrate
in moralistic tones how they cleaned the tank,
while nearby neighbors recite the oath that
such rituals require: “They looked so normal.
They were the nicest people you could ever meet.”


The day is unimpressed,
surrounding you in its nothingness.

Unmoved like an empty room,
all your thinking it consumes.

But nothingness is a wonderful word
Out from its cloud fly a thousand verbs.

They’re baring their teeth, defying the void
While the void just sits there, unannoyed.

The void then starts to push you around
Weird for a nothing without sight or sound.

But in the last instance, that’s all she wrote
“The void is boss,” quote unquote.


Desire is the parent of the inherent —
like scientists who hear the earth speak
before they pull its hair,
to them the voice is just there
long before the prompting of their probings.
As if binoculars don’t conjure pictures
but sight is poured toward their eyes
like a psychedelic breeze
that loves its selfie taken
that lives to please
the eyes of studious scholars
who long to rob the cosmos of its knowledge —
to bring it home and cover it with glass,
a gift to sapiens who need to pass
the time by viewing measured trinkets,
the drawn and quartered mathematical sublime.
You’re not there, no matter what you tell me.
I know you’re not, unless I turn my eyes
on you and you appear. I welcome you.
This proves I have not forgotten
the bond we once agreed to —
the one about our world, enacted by a stare.


In the smoky light, I saw Adam Smith whisper
a mantra into the ears of Ant Man and the Wasp
before they shrank to insect size,
as if to inform the hives at their command with plans.
But neither the micro heroes nor their bugs would listen:
how dare a macho macro voice from out the past
advise the world’s most winning economic groups?
It was as if the off-key idol Fabian Forte,
he of south Philly semi-crooner Italiano birth,
rocksplained the key to better rockabilly singles to
the mighty emperor of the Southern ghostly echo.
It never happened. And that story where the devil
taught Robert Johnson how to play the blues,
got it backwards. The other way was the way it went.
In Starship Troopers, the race of bugs is bent on human
annihilation: but isn’t that too precisely the opposite
of what happens? Schopenhauer wrote the earth is hell,
and that we are devils to animals unluckily inhabiting the here.
Ant Man and the Wasp won’t put Adam to the test,
nor Marx, Ricardo, Keynes or Minsky, certainly not
Friedman, von Mises, or the Chicago Boys —
the other world, the smaller one, exceeds their growth projections:
“They look at us as roaches,” the insect general has written,
“but like roaches we outlast them all.”

The Oscar Meyer “winermobile”:

When the Oscar Meyer wiener truck was here, it didn’t sell anything. It just dorve around the city and parked on different streets, I guess for a promotion of the brand. Very mysterious.