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By Dave Shulman
First published in L.A. Weekly, July 29, 2005.
Morlock Willowseed sold his nuts
to his favorite talk show for 15 bucks
and a pass to see the next show’s taping
for which, a-bleeding and a-gaping
He stood in line.
See, the blood ran thick
down Willowseed’s ear
from that afternoon’s trip
to the market for beer.
For a throwdown he’d had
with a beige young lad,
Part-Time Joe, a churl who’d
cut in, ever so rude.
And a fracas ensued
leaving Morlock and another dude
scratched and stabbed,
For the lad’s patience had
in that long-ass line.
The traffic outside
flowed slow, dull and wide
as the citizens adjacent
gabbed cudlike, complacent
and clogged the sidewalks
for almost six blocks.
There, everyone and Morlock stood,
waiting for something,
“You look tired,” she said. She was a television star in a convertible with the top down. We were in gridlock on Sunset. I’d had a poster of her on my wall in junior high. Generic American fantasy product, tacked or taped above a million blossoming beds. Now I was 2,000 miles away, on my way home from work. Sitting with the windows open in my ’72 Celica. Was she hitting on me? Not impossible. I was handsome back then, and so much less empty. Tired, but what made her think I looked that way, if she’d never seen me before? Why talk to me? She looked just like her poster. No one could mistake the smile. But here with big white-framed sunglasses. “Thank you,” I said — for saying so, for saying something, saying anything. And I smiled back, and she laughed, and we both looked forward to another 20 years in this
Line, line, line, line, line, line, line
To another 20 years in the line.
Not everyone got 15 bucks
in trade for her ova,
in trade for his nuts.
Some got 10 and some got 20.
Some weren’t offered any money.
Not all were glad as Willowseed,
so grandly recompensed 15.
Some in the queue
liked to endure —
yelling at phones,
Jesus-Anne Mayflower, even she —
the high executive entity
whose company owned Earth and Venus
and everything carbon in between us —
even ancient Jesus-Anne
living on from others’ glands
liked to stand among the donors,
to give the produce a squeeze,
checking for disease
in the line.
When Congresswoman Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, who died on New Year’s Day this year, got 152 delegates in her 1972 run for president, the notion of religious extremists taking over the country seemed as likely as a takeover by the KKK.
With shudders, some dropped out,
that 10 bucks wasn’t worth obtaining
for glands so few to them remaining —
dignity, to be retaining,
required abrupt Auf Wiedersehening.
But these were few and far between:
The majority vast,
a mesmerized mass,
gladly sold ass,
hawked hopes and dreams
to be ogled flat
upon a screen.
Noble it was to wait bovine
for 20 or 200 years
if destined for a fate so fine.
Snotty-nosed and bloody-eared
without regret they passed the time
in this long-ass, motherfucking line.