H e a r t   S o n s   &   H e a r t   D a u g h t e r s   of   A l l e n   G i n s b e r g

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n






Ode to Slippers in Times of Homeland Security


Mo-ca-zee-nin to the Ojibway,

mukluks to the Eskimo,

handmade fleece lined sheepskin slippers

to the shopkeeper—cheap at sixty dollars.

Cradles of comfort to my feet

after thorns

collected in an ordinary day.

Grandmother hands

so soothing

I never travel without them.


The Feds, after elections,

pumped extra money

to the red states

for "Homeland Security,"

twenty to thirty extra people employed

in every small town airport

are eager to keep their jobs at

the metal detectors and

i.d. checkpoints.

The Walla Walla airport guard

informs us we’ve been chosen,

perhaps she said selected,

for the deep search

into the shoes, the pat down

over the body, a scrutiny of driver’s license,

and her partner, who also

does not know us,

looks around with such fury:

I have a post office box on my license.



I explain New York does not require

physical addresses, that if he tried to find

fire number P-18 on the apple tree

on Grove Road,

in Willow, he would

probably fail.

Fed Ex can’t do it, UPS can’t do it.

He scribbles it into his black book,

hands back the license with such

disdain, I wonder if it’s us

or the life-style he imagines

we have that he despises.


At the luggage wheel, upon arriving,

we find the book bag

completely torn apart, the zipper

a mass of spaghetti, beyond repair.

In the smaller bag the slippers,

benign cozy artifacts,

have been carefully


slit along the entire sole.

Searching for what—a car bomb?

A diamond mine, a kilo

of hashish?

When the x-ray machine had

shown him nothing

what had he been looking for

with his precise vivisection,

his dismemberment of an object

whose sole attraction

was its evident value to the owner?


Come here, little girl.

Let me smash your dolly’s head

against the wall.

See how the eyes pop out?

That’s how things are done.

Now follow along quietly

next time

you stand in line.


The third bag, not on the wheel at all,

showed up the following


at the improbable fire number P 18

on the apple tree, on Grove Road

in Willow,

only the lining

had been destroyed.



Eastern C.F., New York, April 2005



[Originally published in NHS 2005, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs05/janine_pommy_vega.html.]