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'I Lost My Job & Wrote This Poem'

No longer will I swallow hard boiled
instructions. No longer smile at
people I’d like to bite.
Today I am free.
Today I am Mick Jagger’s lips.
Today I am Kerouac’s touchdown in Lowell ’39.
Today I’m Jack Kennedy—ich bin ein unemployed!

There will be time later for assassins.
Today I am Lenin arriving at Finland Station
Napoleon back from Egypt.
Today I am Neville Chamberlain’s peace
Timothy Leary’s PhD
Joplin’s vocal chords
I am used up—but new
and yesterday was my last day of work.

Now come the women who say no.
Now come New York Amsterdam Leningrad Rangoon.
Now come books I’m too undisciplined to write
poems written on white bread and toilet paper.
Now comes literature rubbing at my leg like a dog.
Now comes Christmas with its childish lies.
And I will believe all of them.
I’ll make up new ones.

I’ll buy Jesus a pink shirt & leather chaps
and wear them to parties of the damned.
I’m the vagrant with a purpose
the comrade in a Mercedes.
The King is dead. Long live dead capitalism!
Long live the bridge loan made of Rolaids.
Long live Hemingway’s shotgun,
Milken’s salary.
Long live the hand of God as it
fingers its way to your rectum
pushing you to do what you must.
You must tell the boss to treat you with respect.

You must stand up for free speech.
You must stand up in a crowd
of an overpriced New York restaurant
and shout—0 Waste Nuclear Waste!

Tell the emperor when the people have no clothes.
Homeless & health farms, convenience stores & medicare,
tummy tucks for pets, advertising titty hope hologram.
I am the blister on the burn
I am the golden boy turning bronze.
I am Kerouac’s belly,
Howard Hughes’ germs,
I am Van Gogh’s knife
looking back at you in the mirror.

I wrote poems for a nation of tv stars.
I became the floating eyeball
that looks over your shoulder as if
peering off the edge of the earth.
I have strip mined love for poetry.
I cracked bones like Jesus cracked bread.
That’s how poems visit me.
Like the ghost of a lover done wrong.
Like a party for a world done wrong.
Imagine Abe Lincoln and Karl Marx
in the party masks of Nixon & Stalin.
The Popes collect gold, now the Russians prefer Pepsi.
I would rather take dictation from the planets.
From the strangest bottomfish scrubbing the sea.
From the worst delusion
        of the best psychotic
                waving poetry like a flag
                           in a wind that burns as it blows.

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Bruce Isaacson not only is a poet but the founder of Zeitgeist Press and the publisher of many poets across the country. Zeitgeist has published eighty books and features mostly poetry from the San Francisco Spoken Word Revival of the 1980s, though the volume Bone Needles features Las Vegan poets Gary Ashman, Jan Ashman, Thomas J. Fitzpatrick, Sheila Paris Klein, and Ken Wanamaker. Isaacson earned degrees in theatre and economics from Claremont McKenna and Dartmouth colleges, and was a student of the late, great "Beat" poet Allen Ginsberg, who with Jack Kerouac defined the "Beat Generation."

Isaacson's many books include Caf Death (Opus 11 Press, 1986) and Ghosts Among the Neon (Zeitgeist Press, 2005). He is Poet Laureate of Clark County Nevada.

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