:: Article

American Means

By D.E. Oprava.

This land is a lonesome town whose hopes are hung on a clothes-pin wind, chafing, binding, ideals tied to the forsaken roots of what’s been.

Come up dirt, a farmer’s dreams, a rusting bloom in the back yard, Blossom can’t bring herself to rise above the morn, wide awake in the listless heart of pre-dawn.

Her ankles awash in dust, devils skittering across a mortgaged floor, a drought of inspiration, broke expectations, breakfast of lassitude squatting, swatting flies inside a living-room of coffined smoke.

Twisting on a sofa, stale, remiss and lacking the will to seize a rising sun she leaves rot at the back door, clunking on the moldering frame, gently rising, the padding feet of apathy through the screen.

Her man Greed skipped town with pockets thick, options stacked atop the Cadillac, a good run honey he spat stealing the last can of confidence from the pantry.

I’ll be back when you’re off the drag, recession is so sad in a pursuit-of-happiness doll such as you.

Her skin went ultra-violet, a cathode complexion with pixilated pores, just a reflection of things gone daytime-television wrong.

She’d weep but can’t afford the deposit on an emotional lien, the issues are plain, the skewed news drones with a lack of control, a frozen wheel before every American jammed on a collision course with dustbowl again.

Sell the tube and swap it for a transistor so the fall-out family can shelter cross-legged and swoon to the plastic-electric fireside chat.

It can’t be gruesome as that, right, hope, say it once more with Dorothy clicking her cherry heels, clickety-clack, there’s no place to roam, the frontiers blown, can’t afford a home, doo-dah, doo-dah.

Blossom dons a deflowered dress, presses her lips to sheers trying to sharpen blunted blades, maybe she can fix this shame into an outfit fit for the second-coming, a centennial, or vaunted welfare check.

She dreads leaving the house, fox and the hounds have her cocking and locking lest the socialists land; a nation skulking with fear ever since the libertines got in.

She drags her heels to a waste of place in what used to be a market-sparked meadow, then a parking lot, now a shattered concrete moat around the derelict shopping mall, not even flea stalls set up shop, for rent, for sale, surprised there’s even a sign given the cost of ten-penny nails.

She slumps on broken soles to the neon blink of a soft-serve joint but no one’s buying, just empty trucks clanging to liquidation sales, languishing, she recalls a freckled kid with the softball team screaming, laughing, pigtails and braids, training bras and braces on milk-fed teeth, must have been a different century, even though she’s only twenty-three.

In the faded plastic of the weather stained bench, a snippet of verse lies carved by an odist’s hands,

the country’s waste,
deep in Blossom and Gloom

Blossom ponders then folds a dog-eared memory, a portrait shot with rotten stains of off-shore gain.

Greed wrote from paradise keeping his dimes in a private bank, not wanting to invest in humanity due to its obvious poverty.

When things look sound he might loosen the chokehold over cocks and hens after every last bullion egg’s been shed, necks wrung and collateral cleaned, he’ll start again.

But where will Blossom be then after the summer boils fat from her bank and autumn forecloses on the double-wide, maybe in blue winter when Christmas gifts are burned to keep children from the begging cold, maybe then he’ll come back and take her from the crippling malaise coursing through her salvation army veins.

She gets one step closer to the edge of regret, to be poor and to want, it makes fatal sense to be hallelujah-born-again under eighteen wheels of a middling recession and fear, grasping for her place in the zeitgeist begging, what’s it mean to be American?


D.E. Oprava writes, because he has to. He is terrified of what will happen otherwise. It makes him prolific. He has been in over eighty journals online and in print and his first full-length book of poems VS. was released in October 2008 by Erbacce Press. He is also the founding editor and publisher of the small poetry and prose press, Grievous Jones. When he isn’t writing he is battling against his raging sobriety and trying to live up to the high moral expectations of husbandhood, fatherhood, and humanhood. Not necessarily in that order and not necessarily succeeding. You can find him here.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009.