January 29, 2023

Money corrupts.
It’s a false return of trading something for nothing.
It’s incorporeal.
I gave up being a bum
with all the time in the world
to think,
and write
and travel
and meet people
and figure out how to make a few bucks
to pay for a few simple needs
like food and medicine
for my dog and if I get sick hope someone takes care of me
the world has always done,
every stranger becoming a family member.
Trading friendship for weed
found in dumpsters
and grown in closets.
Having to give up the joy of many finely made things and suffer
the judgments of people and know
that the judgments exist because
you probably smell.
You learn real quick who your friends
Are, yet you– can retain a paranoia
for their sanity
and your own.
But you find moments of peace in the solitude
which you are forced to find by
your own need –to be away from people –who see only the superficial.
You borrow a little money
here and there
and figure out how to pay it back,
never borrow too much.
Just enough to get a good drunk or buy some coffee or a bag of cheap tobacco.
A bummed smoke is worth a sincere thank you
but almost never begrudged,
the code of return for return.
Bums take care of each other
and when their friends disappear,
they wonder if their friends can return
or will.
I got tired of being a bum
and tried to create work on my own– a few times.
There’s time to write, but the need to survive
saps the energy and inspiration,
but the creativity is allowed to come out in other ways.
Stones stacked on a beach,
the stoners stacked on the beach,
a fire and a dozen people and no one feels the need to speak except to ask
for another can of PBR or Schmidts beer.
A horrible headach,
the rising sun,
a hike up a hill or mountain to rid yourself of it and find some herbs to either fool
or heal
your body into
feeling better.
A camp hidden in trees where the dog wants to bark as hikers walk by
have to tell her not to or risk
hooch being discovered by a bunch of kids on bicycles and having to scout
and find
a new spot in the woods behind the park which go much deeper than most people suspect and house a number of full time residents
and twice as many in summer.
Inspiration to pull yourself up begins the downward look and soon you want to be able to afford more manuscripts at Kinkos
or more postage
or a computer so you can surf the internet
or a place for the computer
and you might find yourself working a little more,
maybe starting a magazine and opening an office and getting into politics
cause you always had a way with words
and words turn into issues
and issues turn into arguments
and groups are formed around arguments
between people
and people
and corporations
and people
and pipelines
and children
and people
and whales
and trees
and other people who aren’t here yet
and people over there –
who are killing each other as we speak in ways we hopefully cannot imagine
but most of us can
or have
seen it
or don’t believe It
or just don’t think about it
. The world is about to end if you’re looking at it from the bottom
and there’s probably no stopping it–
until you start to climb up
and the money hunger grabs you
and then you get a nice private place by a lake and take a job
writing radio commercials because you just got back from England and Alaska where you
spent all the money
you got from working in the movies
and now you’re ready to spend some more
But the job turns sour because
have to deal with a few unpalatable people who make your life miserable critiquing your writing and
making you
make changes
for clients
because clients
mean money
and money is what the salespeople want .
so the art becomes prostituted and that’s okay
the salespeople are not subdued,
they become more demanding and intrusive until they begin to
your column in a weekly magazine
knowing how valuable they are to your writing
they just love the uncreative flat copy which comes out of your computer now,
so they
want to offer the same advise
to your outside work as well.
. what they are telling you “works” and sells to the people their clients have been catering to for 30 years who are
the same people
who are selling out Stan the Grocer
to go to super chain grocery boxstores
because the
new marketing
is converting the entire population of the planet to exponential consumers who
“need” the latest technology
and “deserve”
a little fun even if it is
“just a little bad for the environment”
and the unborn generations ahead of us all.
But bums don’t have to think about things like that.
So I began to play politics again and got raises and promotions and put above
or at least equal to the status of the salespeople
and got fancy titles like
Copy Chief
and staff writers,
and introduced as a marketing assistant
and “cutting edge”
“creative genius”
and my ego was soothed
and I started writing for clients
with giant grocery boxstores
and thought of buying a nicer car,
and rarely saw my bum friends
and began to dread it because
what if someone saw me,
what would they think and
I’ve got those gold coins stashed and
what if they knew,
do I trust them now that I’m not poor
some people…..
maybe….and you see true greed unfold
in your own nature and begin to recognize it
in others
–and gradually –you see the horrible things some people will do for money
or power
or a feeling of dominance
and you begin to question
is seeking
what and who
you can trust
and as you take –defensive actions
to protect your future or your moneys future
suddenly you realize
this isn’t me?
I’m not like this.
So you decide to quit
and ask some friends to help you
make a magazine and you take on
burdens bigger than you can handle
using faith and naively believe
if you do right,
that people want to help bring what
you perceive as goodness
and brotherhood
and sisterhood
and enough food for everyone to eat
and all of a sudden your in politics again.
And you have to scramble for credibility
and you become a distinguished speaker,
noted environmentalist,
and a good bet for advertisers and you’ve got more money,
but eventually you let the truth
piss off the advertisers by being to radical,
so you continue and barely make it
but become enough of a success that you can
satisfy all of your desires,
but find it empty,
but continue on like a drunk who’s already
had a few too many but has to continue on
creating further and further
emptiness because you’ve always had
that a woman was out there somewhere for you
and its beginning to seem like maybe
somebody else got her
or maybe
she got hit by a train.
because I’d always liked space
and computers
and they offered creativity
and even though I had named corporations my mortal enemy
I borrowed money
to buy a car
and moved away
from everything I had always wanted
and can never go back to
And now no car, no money, owing money to the people I didn’t
and don’t want to let down
and a salesperson myself
and gone are my friends
gone all gone
and a semi empty house,
no groceries,
no money,
no woman,
no car,
Just a guy and his drinking like a bum
and thinking like a bum
and not even enough money to buy a can of PBR
and not a friend to give me one.
I just don’t want to be a bum
and it seems like if you stay a bum
for certain time limits
you pass the point of no return
and I don’t want to lose my teeth
or scrounge for change

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