Ever since it was announced that old Praha would be allowing, would be installing, would be promoting poetry machines throughout the city, dark elements of the Republic, controllers and others all souped up on Prosaic (sic, real sic), have been fomenting to take back the narrative line from the mad semiotics of lyricists and closet bards out pimpin’ the night with scheming rhymes, pent-up meters, and broken lines. O with their broken lines.
“It’s one more indictment of the hard drinkin’ Zeman,” some citizens say. “She walks in beauty like the night, but not on my watch, not in my firmament. Sto ho stay away.”
Me, I’m excited; upbeat, you might say. Reminds me of the good ol’ busker days in Boston; the Harvard Square mimes with their memes; that spooky dark clad femme fatale playing The Doors’ “20th Century Fox” on her portable whorlitzer, reverb echoing off the rounded walls of the State Street Underground train station, maybe thirty feet beneath the spot where Crispus Attucks looked down, like an early Eddie Murphy, at the fresh musketball hole in his chest and muttered, all raw with rage, “What the %$&@!” – the victim of the Red Coat hunt for asymmetrical colonial terrorists, who would not keep to allotted lines but emjambed and broke rhyme, like motley jungle guerillas. Of love.
Joining the ranks of the one-armed poets (spin a triplet, win a prize), the pianists on wheels, and graffiti sages pointing to the Milky Way, and saying, “Look up there what I did. See?” And the electric violinist from Desolation Row all high strung like Scarlett on Dylan’s Desire. And collagists colliding, wailing encrypted paens to Julian Assange you need a damn Red Skelton key to open up. Drive-by poets are racing through Wencelas Square, with the windows rolled down on their little imported Skodas, answering each other’s one-liners, like Crips and Bloods in a circle twerk.
“The center cannot hold. The falcon cannot hear the falconer, y’all” cries the Crip.
“Ramp up the amp, then mutterbutterer,” returns the Blood.
“Two roads converged, and I, I took the one less travelled by,” asserts another hoodster.
“Not that that’ll make one bit of diff-France,” the other dopplers back.
In a new local poetry bar called The Pit Stop, a brief debate titled “Do I Dare To Eat A Peach?” spontaneously combusted between a snoopy Johnny Anapesto and a narcissistic I. M. Iambolini, who would not stop shouting, falsetto, “I am, I am, I am, I am, I am” stamping his feet, of course, all sham and glam. And it all streamed live on a YouTube channel, inspiring a sub-culture to wear in-your-face T-shirts emblazoned with Do I Dare? Eyeballs averting everywhere.
Old Vaclav Klaus has called for Zeman’s resignation. There’s talk Prague’s new defecation cameras will be re-programmed to include sudden public explosions of free verse and dire critical remarks. “Bohemia,” a passerby said, shaking his wig, but not elaborating. As if.
Out back of the statue (you know the one) a Fight Club has developed. Verlaine and Rimbaud in a stand-off, eying each other off with baudy leers. T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound fighting the captain’s tower Dylan locked them in just to call up wagers among the calypso-singing fishermen shaking dead mal de fleur. Jan and Pablo Neruda beat the living snot out of each other, in languages other than English, while the crowd cried for Thomas More. And in the background all Praha’s highrises went a-tumblin, a-tumblin, a-tumblin down, and that was deeply meaningful, like the black cat crossing in Zero Dark Thirty.
President Obama has vowed to stay away until the terror rima wave stops, but things will likely go from bah-ah-ah to verse, sheepish grins for wolfish smiles. You won’t see it coming.
And passing each other on the Je Suis Charles Bridge, two damsels of the stress/un-stress exchange last words. “Does the road wind up hill all the way?” quoth the Roma lass. “Well,” returneth the Plzen queen, “does the Pope sleep like a grizzly bear all through the endless night?” And two Castle crows cackle; they know the score. Winter always springs a rhyme, but some are too smart to fall for it.
Poetry is the answer to the ubiquitous surveillance question posed by Edward Snowden. Poetry and puns and gibberish and random philosophical feints. Privacy as an encrypted state not even the selfie can fully fathom. Sighting them up at the business end of a blast of rap, riffing against the algorithms, as they pick off ‘all of those who are left’; the American Sniper fitted with a brand new-world-order Kissinger scope. Ring them bells.
Because at heart of the War on Terror is a war on language, and when the poetry at the heart of being stops, and all that’s left in a smoky world is vigilantes and voyeurs facing off, turning on themselves, speechless, hollow men, and meaningless, then in that last syllable of recorded time will sing the angels of our collective might-have-been. And the ghosts of old Praha will rejoice, and everywhere the sound of broken fragile glass as consciousness collapses in on itself, all colorful and pretty, like a Christmas tree.
In my end is my beginning. Clangs the bell.