Poem: How the Revolution Started (First in a Series)
Excerpted from “How the Revolution Started: Essays and Impertinent Thoughts.”
He’s outfitted for combat:
Ankle boots; black dungarees; Sam Jones belt with cuffs and mace and other tools of the craft; bulletproof vest; sunglasses; implacable stare.
And a gun, holstered at the moment.
The nametag says “Ortiz” or it could be “Gomez” or “Gonzalez”
Or whatever you want it to be.
He’s standing in the parking lot
Guarding the bank where inside there must be more money than Mr. Ramirez will earn
In his lifetime.
The origin of all that he protects: Where did it come from? And then this is the part Mr. Garcia always returns to, like a reliable reading spot: What did all those people streaming through the doors
That he oversees and protects, how did they get it?
What did they do? What was their trick?
Besides being born here?
He is paid very much more than what he would have been
In the place where he came from.
He is paid somewhat more than the governmentally decreed mandatory minimum
Which is only right.
Guarding other people’s money is dangerous work.
Putting your life on the line every day for a Bank, a biggie, an important one that, from what he hears, was somehow responsible for the recession,
could get you killed. Literally. LOL.
So $15.75 per hour (or whatever amount you wish to represent a fair and decent wage)
On most days seems about right. But today a thought occurred to the Bank Guard:
What would happen?
When he has to go, to pee, like any man has to eventually,
What would happen?
Usually he positions himself behind the hatchback of his car, parked butt side against a low wall
Demarcating the Bank’s property over which he is the lone
Armed protector – he wedges himself between the car and wall and opens the trunk and retrieves
A worn paper cup, grande size a Bank customer once mentioned, and looking,
Scanning his dominion
Still doing his job, the one that pays him the amount that you think is correct
Given the known circumstances
He relieves himself into the cup, his hands and gun belt demurely obscured,
Swivelhead and badge still visible. Still protecting all the money.
When bladder’s empty, he dumps the warm piss, Mountain Dew color this day,
Over the wall
Onto the grass.
Then he returns the cup to its waiting place. He cannot return to work because
He never left, and there’s pride to be taken or found in that somewhere
We can all agree.
Aimed down like an udder,
What would happen if something happened?
What would happen if trouble arrived while he was in mid-stream?
An incident. Protesters. Robbers. Intruders upon the turf he is paid to defend.
What would happen if he failed to shoot them with his gun?
What if he watched serenely, the foam rising and his cup hand warming,
Awake and seeing with thoughts now swarming,
And instead of harming
He surveyed the property, zipped himself properly,
Withstood the dark comedy, behaved unheroically,
Maybe undemocratically and certainly disreputably —
What if he walked long and slow and unhurriedly serene
to his wife’s pillowy embrace
to make love with her
all afternoon and into the evening?