Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ghost Towns

The Old West Union Hall has red flags and manifestos behind glass.
The proletariat roller coaster hangs decrepit in the sky.
The gallery of rogues, once robots with red eyes, is stilled in mid-gesture,
Like the Karl Marx jack-in-the-box at the haunted house
And the Mao Tse Tung doll with ironic smile and bloody frozen chainsaw.

They say this all was real once, but the information booth
Claims that it was built by a Wisconsin entrepreneur
As a way to lure tourists to the county after the railroad track ran dry.

Everybody knows this, secretly, but it's better to pretend
That this was the way it all went down, better that
Than to see the real ghost town down the road
With its skeletons ground into the soil,
Its mine shafts filled with garbage,
Its phantoms of vodka and violence.

The gold inside
Made some rich folks happy, for a spell
But it too was replaceable, by paper—
The pretense of worth no longer was needed
But the wound in the earth lingers on.