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
JANINE POMMY VEGA
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
collected in an ordinary day.
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
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.
“WHAT IS YOUR PHYSICAL ADDRESS?!”
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
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
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
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
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.]