MONEY IS HORRIBLE, a bandage where
there should be a hand, and heart’s engine
runs beat to daybreak. Money
and hands call to each other like
children at a pool; like this money
gathering noon into meadow.
It rains and rains. What is sleeping,
the mayor asks and asks.
What is a structure? The mayor
is named Mayor Mike McGinn
and he has made mistakes, asking
the people in the street the wrong
questions about their umbrellas:
is that your house? Where is your house?
What does it mean “to camp?”
Is sleeping political speech?
If money is political speech,
what isn’t political speech?
Currencies: the arrival of their shadows
is the movement of obsession
navigating the aerial and the snag
persistent as grief or brief as crush
they hop forward or gleam rat-sleek
through territory they only sort and take.
What is and isn’t money?
Many have been sleeping in money.
The money is congregating in the street.
Mayor Mike McGinn asks the money
what it wants and it says more money
and for the street to fall
back into its sleep. When police
shoot woodcarvers, sleep gets harder.
When protesters smash storefronts,
money wakes up more mayors.
Debate is the heart of this body
we make. But there is also the pleasure
getting in a cop’s face gives you, or
conversely, just arresting everybody
self-destructive and nobody’s better.
But also the pleasure of mere expression:
the sign, the theater, the symbols, the singing,
the paint that drips down from the letter.
If money is speech and a corporation is
a person, what is a person who is speaking?
Westlake Park is a cobblestone triangle
with a few blocky fountains, and a pool,
and planters that function as bollards
abridged by the Bank of America.
You can catch the Monorail nearby.
You can catch heroin nearby, catch
Bill and Mary Gates Foundation,
catch Mariners and Sounders, catch
a salmon at the Pike Place Market.
You can drive by and not know anything.
Money is a bandage where, above the oak,
blue absences arrive with gun-orange range.
It soars tightly near the real subject;
money is erotica that keeps its promises,
where it is always wings, like inheritance
teaching survival along the bark’s fissures.
On Sunday I hunkered down too
beside the cardboard box of clean socks
someone dropped by, and was among
strange friends whose eyes I recognized
as more or less mine, their signs the same
black and white as the See’s Candy sign.
To locate the point of friction between
the large forces of capital, speech, justice
etc on a coffee cup, or whether an umbrella
is a structure is why Portland is the new
Seattle. What are we looking for at Westlake
Center all night, after the park closes?
The injustice that proves corruption
pleasure of confirmation and the fantasy
that justice will follow, but this has not
been our lesson. I’ve halfway died
if it all falls apart in some abandoned gesture
of infinite alphabet. Dollars step into the yard
fat as gas cans. America crumples into a new form
and badgers sleep beneath their throats
and whales fall disused into their trench.
What is a human, then, the human mic
in the shadow of Washington Mutual
asks the mayor while it becomes the mayor.