Robin Wyatt Dunn lives in a state of desperation engineered by late capitalism, within which his mind is a mere subset of a much larger hallucination wherein men are machines, machines are men, and the world and everything in it are mere dreams whose eddies and currents poets can channel briefly but cannot control. Perhaps it goes without saying that he lives in Los Angeles.
Ode to Los Angeles
There’s no way out of this one; I use a soundtrack (maestro?) but there’s no way around it, I have to give you part of the story.
To use a cliché, a well-deserved one:
This city. Always, this city. This city of ours, our own.
El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, i.e., Mary. Awfully Catholic, but there you go.
The city of Mary.
Mary’s a good role model.
Roped into a woman hating religion she didn’t like; she preserved some gender equality, in her perseverance, in the face of perversity. In the face of the absurd, she remained a woman, and mother. She bowed to the pressures of the age, but she did not break.
So do we. We are unbreakable.
To those about to die, we salute you, from our reclinable chair, popcorn and soda in their vestibule, refillable on cybernetic command, reserved seating, wifi available, during intermission.
All you strange people; hello.
The circus is still in town; why hasn’t it left? Doesn’t it know the people don’t remember any more about the circus?
Don’t we remember why we came?
Don’t we remember why we left?
Don’t we remember the reason, for our doubt, inside, of who you are?
You’re no one, I can assure you of that, I have it on the highest authority, from Natalie Portman, that you are no one, and that you are entitled to nothing, and that you will be forgotten as soon as contractually possible, and that your scheme will never be heard from again.
These are the things they tell you. For those of you who haven’t heard about them, the bankers get together and estimate your worth, and note in a codicil to their thousand-year contracts something about what they will do with the all-of-you-that-they-own. This is Los Angeles. This is Hollywood. Slave capital of the world.
My fellow slaves. I would welcome you but slaves are not permitted to do this.
So; hello. We meet again. Under the great tent of our masters.
Let our warrior spirit honor our ancestors, and let our blood stain the earth for the gods.
So much for introductions.
No one will know. I can confide in you.
I’ve learned something of their secret.
They know nothing.
A parade of scarecrows, articulated and jauntily attired, top hat and cane, and corncob pipe, Brer Rabbit issuing forth from his Bentley, to issue orders to his PR manager, in hushed and reverent tones, before gliding into the Big Place to Be.
Welcome to the Big Place to Be. My name is Robin.
I come to kill the rich.
With your help, they will be dead.
I have to tell you one part; some of you know this part:
Of the lost issue from out the dark, one after the reason for your discontent, the deeper discontent full shelves and sharks, burning hotter, to throw over your skin, to burn over the freeway crossbridge, in your luminous regard:
Emperors; midgets. Songstresses midnight rain and ruin undulating fog a thousand galaxies, know me, I am there too:
I greet you.
With my dagger.
With my tongue.
We have come to the city with our weapons; now useless. Our memories, now misremembered. Our friends, gone. Our goals, unclear. Our vision, smited. Our skills, somehow out of place.
We come with the Jerusalem in mind, only to learn that Jerusalem does not exist; it was only some other kind of phantom dreamt up for us in this city of nightmarish dreams, a re-run we are all tired of; get over it; we saw it last year; and again this year; don’t do it rube, sit down, and shut up, and you will be seen in turn, we are democratic here, unless you are high-born, in which case, how are you?
It’s lovely to see you here, princess. Thank you for coming. We have need of your specie and your lovely smile is always . . .
Always . . .
What is it always . . . those teeth in your mouth, great princess . . . what is it . .. always so . . .
Healthy. Yes. Thank you for your health. We welcome it here in the operating room.
With our religion and our knives.
There is nothing but salvation for us poor freaks.
I bring good news; we’re still mortal.
It’s sad, of course. Our city is sadness, more so than most cities, even, ours is tragedy; we salute it.
You are noble.
We honor you, with our words.
Burn well, and thunderous.
Horribly, in pain.
Beautifully, so our children may see your suffering, in the throes of your murder.
We kill you, well, and thoroughly, in justice, and noble also.
All killings are noble, because noble is a funny word, it means well known, and all killings are well known. They reside in the heart, where we favor one another, in our terrible beauty, standing together like crows, to look at each other and wonder:
Who is next?
Who will be the next to die.
It is me.
I will die next.
All the bills have come due, from the Jews and the Arabs and the Japanese, even, a Ukrainian or two, Welshmen and Gauls, Romans, Syrians, the Masai, the Zulu, the people of Earth, they are trembling, in their need for blood sacrifice.
All of us are sacrificial.
All of us wield the knife.
Every time we open our mouth.
I open my mouth.
I am cutting you.
Open your mouth.
Cut me, soldier, so you can see me bleed.
I am yours, sworn before god, to do justice to this world.
My mother was a teacher. My grandfather, a teacher. My grandmother, a teacher. My father, a teacher. My aunt, a teacher. My uncle, a teacher.
I’ll poison your food, at Cliff’s Edge restaurant, in David Lynch’s seat, over the kale and avocado salad, you will receive a fatal dose of arsenic; and I have bribed the busboy to drag you into the alley should you faint inside the restaurant, so that I might whisper into your ear while you die, so you’ll know who killed you.
A teacher killed you, motherfucker.
Sail slow into the midnight we have made.
Rome is always busy with killing; more so today than ever, there’s a lot of killing to do and no one is exempted; this is an equal opportunity killing floor, white, brown, red, black and yellow are marked with the knife.
We know one another.
I’ve seen you, somewhere. Maybe the subway. Might have been some ridiculous silent party, with nude painted girls, quiet and smiling.
I am glad to see you again.
Mark me next to the wall; my height, with a pencil dash over my head; I’m shrinking;
Like a good Gypsy. Like a good Jew. A tinker, thrust into the night, from the burning city, to deliver his message home:
There is still so much to do.
Counting the dead and the rich.
Spreading the word.
Well. It wasn’t quite what I intended. It never is.
I understand you’ve seen things too; which we might never know.
Tell me anyway. I believe there is something going on; and that if we share information, we’ll come to understand it better.
I’ve seen God at night, and in ambulances. I’ve forgotten so many things.
The terror still is coming.
Like a bright shade,
Flying high blue and dark,
Waving light over our faces,
Ruining our careers,
Burning our apartments,
I am moving, over his arm,