Posts Tagged ‘capitalism’

Working as a security guard in a small cigarette warehouse, I was treated one morning, to the graceful dance of the forklift operators as they unloaded a semi trailer full of pallets.
Each pallet has about thirty boxes.
Each box has 50 cartons of eight packs of cigarettes.
If cigarettes average $15 a pack, this means that if these forklift operators even slightly damage a box, they are risking up to a $6000 dollar value of product.
Yet these seasoned operators swing their electric forklifts about, three of them, beeping and yelling at each other as they unload with the utmost efficiency and speed.
The years of training that has resulted in this electric, mechanical line dance.
Into the semi, lift the pallet up, just high enough to clear the doorway, zip out into the warehouse, lift the pallet on top of another pallet and carefully lower the forklift to release the pallet but not to crush any of the boxes of the pallet underneath.
And I think about all the other seasoned workers who made the whole operation possible.
Where were the cigarettes produced, the materials?
All the chemicals refined and products constructed, cardboard boxes, labels, etc.
I’m sure in facilities that would also fill me with awe at the might of the capitalist machine.
This beast that works men and women till their backs ache and their eyes sting with sweat.
And then I think of the millions of inhalations of poisonous smoke these seasoned operators are helping bring into the world.
All the panhandlers who will beg for it, teenagers making deals to get older peers to buy it for them, poverty stricken lost souls desperately scanning the concrete for all the butts, the discarded, foul smelling end life of this product, so gracefully zipping past me.
The mindboggling effort that is put into killing people and making them pay you for it, and I am reminded of a quote- “The world as it is is the sum result of every human beings utility, of all time. Which implies- the highest morality consists in being useless.”
Is this why I stand idle, in my blue security uniform, as these men and women work so hard to poison themselves?
Do I seek the ultimate uselessness?
And yet I serve my own purpose, or more accurately, I serve their purpose, the purveyors of this deadly drug.
My very presence deters criminals, I keep vigil over sixteen camera images, five controlled access points, a spiked gate that truck drivers need a code to allow me the authority to open.
This place has no signs advertising what it does or holds within its walls.
It is in fact a block away from the cities largest high-school.
Its concentration of poison and addiction so powerful, so desirable, it requires 12 fully directional closed circuit cameras and 26 other cameras locked into position, all those lens, those eyes, all that scrutiny.
Five temperature sensitive alarms line the ceilings.
There are 14 card access required control points.
Three long, unmarked white vans, with tinted windows, are used to relay smaller deliveries.
All this secrecy, all this paranoia, all this insurance, and I am just another piece of the capitalist protection game.
I am a clause in an insurance policy.
I am a footnote at a boardroom meeting.
My lively-hood, as meager as it is, is a number on a ledger.
I do not enjoy my job, in fact I despise my employment here, and this may be my final shift.
All the details of this facility included in this poem is indeed enough sensitive information to insure my termination and could very well insure I never work for a security company again.
And that’s fine.
I’m done with the business of scarecrows.
The dollar-cop protection of property racket.
The manager of the warehouse is only a few meters away from me in his office as I write this, I’m sure if he saw me counting cameras and alarms on the security map and then writing in my little notebook, his paranoid capitalist mind would assume I was planning out how to rob the place.
And indeed if I possessed a slightly more devious mindset I would plan to rob this den of poison and addiction.
Perhaps this poem, which is really degrading into a rant, perhaps this rant is a plan to rob this place!
Perhaps the sum of all my poetry, all my musings, all my rants and rages- could they all be an elaborate plot to take down the whole system?
The system that produced this- men and women spending their whole lives in synchronicity with a forklift so they can optimize the sorting and delivering of what is arguably the worlds worst drug.
These merchants of cancer and death!
How can I stand being under their employment for even another second?
For even I know first hand the struggles of nicotine addiction.
And yet I sit here, writing, pretending this job is justifiable based on the amount of poems it has inspired in me.
And all the idle time it allows me to create these works.
My true calling.
Or perhaps the irony keeps me here.
The irony that, being a substitute teacher as well, I could very well be given a call to sub at the high-school a block from here and be told to teach the kids not to use the product I am being paid to protect today.
Capitalism, you have truly driven me to schizophrenic madness.

Forking rice into my mouth

with the other animals at the zoo food court.

A native guy was being hassled by two white

female cops when I came into the mall.

“It does happen you know,” one cop was telling this guy,

“Lots of drugs do come through here.”

As if the guy could do anything

but deny whatever they were accusing him of.

Tried to buy a hat today

that was a failure.

At least I got these four

retro themed eighty page notepads.

Praise capitalism!

For malls and cheap poetry!

And ink stained fingers.


This city would be so depressing

without our happy Asian families.

I love them.

I mean I love the old native women’s

cracked voice barely audible over traffic

asking for a cigarette.

I love her too.

And I love the baby screaming at the food court.

Refusing to eat

whatever grease bomb poison

his parents are trying to shovel into its face.

If I closed my eyes right now

I wouldn’t even be able to tell

I am eating broccoli.


My legs ache from teaching kindergarten

and dodging the slushy mid-March sidewalks.

Bought new Chinese labor shoes from Payless Shoes.

The same forty-four dollar bill

every four months or so.

A kid recognized me in the mall earlier

“Mr. B! Mr.B!” I ignored him as his mom turned him away.

I realize I’m on a last name basis

with a disproportionate number of kids

aged four to twelve in this city.

Ah, the synchronicities of being

a free-lance early childhood educator.

I ended my day with five five year olds

giving me their a capella version of Gungdam Style

“Hey- sexy lady!”

The world is so fucking viral.

Its people and their god-damn phones.

Like a world wide insane asylum zoo.

Tethered by L.E.D. screens and ringtones.


When the drip has dropped,

Run dry and stopped.

Its time for the fetal position,

The annual futile submission.

There are times when the slaves,

Are worked to their graves.

But there is another type of empire,

Where the sun isn’t the only fire.

And screens glow and blind,

While dreams grow and die.

Where to many toys are made,

Too many games are played,

Too many head shots to count,

The achievements they mount!

And everybody buys new clothes,

Like zombies moaning in droves.

They hunger for anything new,

Discarding everything used.

The land of milk and honey,

Imaginary money.

Swipe your card and press your code,

My microchip, our old diode!


Die Ode!

If the immortal man was born,

In this land the truth is torn,

All the lies we hide,

Would fester like pesticide!

All the cover-ups are propped,

Atop a stack of poppycock!

If the cock loses its stride,

The worms revolt to regicide!

And eat the rich and hang the lords,

We’ll throw the captain overboard.

The mother ship will bear us all,

After eagle feathers fall.

The land of milk and honey,

Imaginary money.

Swipe your card and press your code,

My microchip, my old diode!


Die Ode!


So bored I’m drawing a Coca-Cola add-

[through security camera east 3 at angle 53/-19 degrees]

the add is on the side of a Coca-Cola machine,

which stands alone in the loading bay,

refreshment-capital’s monolith.

“Ice Cold” reads the side-

[in large ice chunk blue and white font]

above a painting of a can,

which is standing in large cartoon ice cubes,

the Coca-Cola cursive running along the side,

and Coca-Cola bottle painted on the side of the can,

product layered on product,

nostalgia layered on modernization,

a history of “Ice Cold”.

I sit at the security console-

[in control of 39 fully movable Aartech Canada PTZ cameras]

a voyeur of sleeping technology and empty mall advertisement.

Its late January,

pink and white bears line the Hallmark windows,

A vagrant walks by with a cane,

in dirty flannel and ragged pants,

and a giant pink pig tells him to “Make Hearts Dance”.

Another vagrant,

staggers passed the ultra clean windows of Shoppers Drugmart,

and a life sized Justin Bieber cut-out,

stands guard over the pantheon of perfume bottles.

An Asian girl eats take-out,

[out of a white disposable cardboard container]

all by herself in the foodcourt.

A metal horse stands near the Mayberry Art cubby,

inside the small cubby,

for the public to view,

sketches of strange cityscapes,

abstract paintings of squares,

and a pencil sketch of a naked Native woman.

My security supervisor takes a few minutes,

during his patrol,

gazing at the art.

I sit at the desk,

and stare out the floor to ceiling windows,

out at Winnipeg,

locked in winter.

Five large yellow snowplows roar along,

slowing down bus traffic,

two hours to go in my shift,

these slow Saturday evening are always the longest,

the pointless busy work maintenance assigns us,

already done.

Now the guards just sit or walk,

skeletons of scarecrows,

pacing an underground abandoned ghost ship.

I wish I could turn off my conscious,

and simply become the coke machine,

or the parking pass vending machine,

or the Automated Teller Machine,

or the other ATM.

These service machines that do their jobs,

twenty-four seven,

in the same concrete rat-maze as me,

but without the boredom,

the embers of a coffee buzz,

or the hunger.

If I could,

I would just take my eyes out,

and place them on random corners of the mall,

they would become cameras forty and forty-one.

I’d close my fists into door knobs,

two more knobs for the guards master key,

to open on his rounds.

I stretch out my legs,

and layer them over a staircase,

to become another track,

of endless ridged metal escalator,

forever eating myself and spewing myself out,

eating and spewing,

into eternity with no complaint.

I would also, of course,

reform my intestines to become the fire-hose,

behind glass,

my digestive system to be used,

only in cases of emergency.

And you may by now guess,

that I would split my urethra,

a hundred times to become,

the flower spigots of the sprinkler system,

and my brain the wires of the alarm system,

my nervous system the fire control panel,

my anus widened out into an elevator shaft,

my lungs air vents that never cease making sound,

no not ever,

they just make that mechanical blowing,

recycling nothing sound,

my stomach fashioned into the boiler,

with gauges that the security guard checks,

every four hours,

and puts his hand on it to check if its hot,

though of course he knows its hot,

because even in the twenty seconds it takes,

to make the rounds of the boiler room,

he is sweating through his monkey-suit.

And if I did all this,

if I became this great and complicated machine of vacancy,

that eats my Saturday nights,

then I’d be getting paid to check on myself.

To fill in Microsoft Excell spreadsheets,

and lists and checklists,

of my own inner workings.

My hand on the Pelco Intelligent keyboard,

the KBO96O camera control stick,

would be manipulating my own eyes,

to scour the empty corridors,

of my own hollowed out bones,

which have become the stale grey tile bones,

of consumerism, capital, law and profit,

security and insurance.

The sleeping but awake,

always awake beast,

the human machines find themselves cogs,

turning, mechanically clicking,

until we are replaced.

My relief guard arrives,

and wonders what I’m doing mumbling poetry,

while drinking cold coffee at eleven thirty PM,

he might think I’ve become one of the mumblings vagrants,

we continually remove from the site,

because they yell at the ATM,

accusing it of eating all their money.

His radio check revives me from my machine revery,

and I smile and ask how the weather is,

a human question,

to reassure the nature he left does indeed exist,

and I will indeed leave this place,

and continue an existence,

however brief,

away from the mindless machine safari.