Revenge of the Helots


When the sun came out red through the clouds of my last valley afternoon, Terry led me to Farmer Heffelfinger’s barn. [. . .] We put crates together, she brought blankets from the house, and I was all set except for a great hairy tarantula that lurked at the pinpoint top of the barn roof. Terry said it wouldn’t harm me if I didn’t bother it. I lay on my back and stared at it. I went out to the cemetery and climbed a tree. In the tree I sang ‘Blues Skies.’ [. . .] We went back to the barn; I made love to her under the tarantula. What was the tarantula doing?”

-Jack Kerouac, On the Road


Like a fish oblivious to water,

The freedom of slavery is what we prefer

When we prefer a life made through exchange.

The vagrant heart becomes lost in the skies

Once from the earth, humanity becomes estranged

And being is measured through what one buys.

So I took that money for a haircut

And got us all who’re otherwise in a rut

Loaded on that night with a big orange moon,

And made out with a pretty girl in a cornfield

But then in the morning I’d lost my shoes.

Days earlier the gash between my eyes had healed,

Stitched up even after I tried to flee

The hospital, and a flashback swells suddenly

Hobbling away from the grilled cheese sale

To fund the protest, in protest of the protest

Humming ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ in a vale

And wondering why that first love seems always the best.

Lurking beyond the tracks on the east side,

A form of the Baron Samedi needs a ride

Down Liberty Street then left on Douglass.

I think to myself, to eradicate all the weeds

In Sherman Park, there’d never be enough gas

On this earth, no matter how much amphetamine

Got slung, no matter how many hours

Of community service. I plucked a flower

From the grove for my biracial angel,

Near the gravel pits, where crazy motherfucker

Dwight in a drunken rage destroyed his cell,

Set it ablaze to piss it out, on the verdure

Hit by a stream of sun, setting now through

The sylvan gaps in between the woods and our crew.

A distance or difference that exists

Only at the level of individual

Minds, whereas interconnection persists

Throughout the empty space within each particle;

Lurching down Water Street to a crash pad

As it were, and yet this way of life of nomads

In tune with transience is a disgrace?

It’s the social contract itself that imposes

A bellum omnium contra omnes

On free associating people; so

If allegiance to the State’s not voluntary

Then I guess it’s a pirate’s life for me.

Ideologies of Freedom are good

At dominating people’s minds covertly.

Make a person worship money, you could

Convince them: Freedom to Consume is Liberty.