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Original Poem: "Rust Belt Robot" with Commentary

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, & Mr. Malcolm Sedam's creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my interest.

The Rusty Robots

Introduction and Text of "Rust Belt Robot"

The postmodern mind waits for no man, that it, no human. And the Rustbot is no exception. This poem features images that compel the reader to re-order thoughts and at times just jumble together whole phrases that when broken apart would mean something else entirely. Just do it! Don't be intimidated by thinking! The post mods never bother with much thinking, it's feeling all the way, baby!

The Rustbot, while being a lovable character, does often cause a stir and a riff of both noise and controversy. Yet the controversy, even when it is decidedly political, runs mainly to threads of laughter. T. S. Eliot provoked belly-laughs with characters such as J. Alfred Prufrock, but the Rustbot, while completely synchronized with the shabby dryness of a Prufrock, stands up tall and brave. The Rustbot would never ask, "Do I dare to eat a peach?" Nor would he ever suggest that he would "wear the bottoms of [his] trousers rolled." He's think that too she-she.

The Rustbot knows himself so well that he could drown in his own verbiage and still live to breathe another day. People who meet him are taken with his courage, but they still manage to smile as he quotes Shakespearean lore when he meant to dabble in Miltonic logic. His literary acumen aside, he knows how he votes, and he would scream up to the blue of night, if he ever had to face the fact that politicians are all crooks; Hillary is just the best example.

Rust Belt Robot

owed to Auden’s "Unknown Citizen"

Superman did not wear his boots
Like a rust belt robot.
Rustbot strikes a blow for the humdrum:
The "thou-shalt-nots" and the "thou-shalts"
Skreech no poetry. The carnivore shall
Devour before being devoured & chase
Each cent down the rodent hole: jump—
Jump through the looking-glass.

Believe in only what you see,
For beyond the rust belt, there
Are shiny things, but they are not
For us, they are for them
People. We keep to ourselves
Streetscape, river-bank, or pine-wood
Where limbs scrape the clouds,
And we all stay where we belong.

You don’t have to sell your soul
To buy this advice.
You have to rent
It out on main street, where
The clack of stilettos fuses
With crack-heads, where gas-bag
Gutter-crackers all sooner
Hack as spit at you.

Commentary

Without a further word against which postmodern critics could argue, this poem will continue to collect the same dust that all Rustbots do; only it will wear it longer and more steadily. Never mind the boldness of brass. the Rustbot clings to whatever floats.

First Movement: Clanging in Tune

Superman did not wear his boots
Like a rust belt robot.
Rustbot strikes a blow for the humdrum:
The "thou-shalt-nots" and the "thou-shalts"
Skreech no poetry. The carnivore shall
Devour before being devoured & chase
Each cent down the rodent hole: jump—
Jump through the looking-glass.

If Superman is the savior of the people, then Rustbot clangs against them. Shedding flakes of worn out shards of words like a tin-man on fire without hope of tracing his ancestry to a living source, Rustbots tend to dangle along the avenues of small-towns where no country would claim to be a nation if it could provide enough education to overcome the continued wondering and wandering through streets where pizza parlors and grease are more prominent than skyscrapers.

However, the poetry of sky-scrapers does not render null and void the need for order. Meat-gobbling insects, whether human or arachnid, will always fill the trees with necessary anguish every time a young man goes to war and does not return. By keeping everything as boring as the smallest little girl will reckon, the mayors and aldermen of any town will run for every dollar until the last vote is cast (or stolen).

If jumping down rat-holes is on the menu at the local drive-in, the crazy ladies at the auxiliary will flaunt their girdles as they wag their bony fingers and spring into action against the very nature of compromise. Then all will be settled as soon as the sun sets on the tables where no one can believe in soup and liquid gold. Liquid gold! What a concept!

Second Movement: Turning Clouds to Dust

Believe in only what you see,
For beyond the rust belt, there
Are shiny things, but they are not
For us, they are for them
People. We keep to ourselves
Streetscape, river-bank, or pine-wood
Where limbs scrape the clouds,
And we all stay where we belong.

Seeing is never believing in some quarters. Take the difference between political parties: tell a liberal the truth, and a big lie will spread from sea to shinking sea. Some barackobamesque grotesqueness will blanket the middle lands with blather, bilge, and poppycock, more pernicious than poetaster Robert Bly was ever able to concoct. Dreaming of citizen Cane's sled would be better than walking on an iceberg—especially those melting icebergs that will be gone in a decade because the globe is warming faster than an oven getting ready to get a turkey cooked on Thanksgiving Day in Phoenix.

But despite all the hullabalooistic shiny things, people will not "keep to ourselves / Streetscape." They cannot ever do that for blinking eyes never cry, but sometimes they blink out tears of compassion, whether on a "river-bank" or in the piny-woods. If so many folks are offended that "limbs scrape the clouds," they will always "stay where [they belong]." If giving pennies for thoughts were put on inflated rafts, they would send messages to the ocean which would turn the clouds to dust. The kind of dust that screeches.

Third Movement: Gutter Justice

You don’t have to sell your soul
To buy this advice.
You have to rent
It out on main street, where
The clack of stilettos fuses
With crack-heads, where gas-bag
Gutter-crackers all sooner
Hack as spit at you

Selling one's soul has never been an easy task; just ask Faust. Goethe would never have concocted such a tale if he had not seen the future damage that could be done by "stilettos" fusing "[w]ith crack-heads." No one doubts that violence often spreads by "gas-bag[s]," who take up their hacking "gutter-crackers" faster than Hillary Clinton can write her next book about election-losing.

If renting space in the heads of Democrats is the real reason Donald Trump became president, then Republicans need to make sure they "buy this advice" and at any cost. No "main street" should ever go without folks who "spit at you," and then run for cover under their swastika signs. Shiny things, more shiny things, please!

White supremacists and black narcissists as well as brown vegetarians all have to eat crow after learning that the mule-tar they have been spreading sticks to no one but themselves. Hearing and seeing the signs of the times never extinguishes the guilt of prevaricatory displays of crime. And until the punishment catches up to the guilty, the innocent will wait and justice will be delayed and altogether denied, as the saying goes.

At SRF Lake Shrine

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes