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Lake Michigan, Scene 0

ISSUE:  Fall 2017


There are seven of us in front of the mayor’s house asking questions about the boy they shot twenty-two times 

There are seven of us in front of the mayor’s house screaming about how the videotape of the shooting was covered up so that the mayor could get reelected

And a police officer says down there where they live there was a shooting      you should be protesting that shooting     a nine-year-old boy was shot by a gangbanger     why aren’t you protesting that shooting     why are you only protesting this shooting

Another police officer wants to know why we are protesting this shooting when just yesterday there was a drive-by shooting in Rogers Park and two innocent bystanders were shot and one of them died

We don’t answer     instead we do a die-in in front of the mayor’s house and the camera crews from the nightly news stand above us as we lay stiff and motionless on the cold wet pavement   

They shot the boy twenty-two times 

They kept the video secret for a year and a few days after the video was released we took to the streets and didn’t let anyone into the Disney Store

We blocked the doors to Brooks Brothers

We blocked the doors to Topman

The Disney Store was empty but for a few sales folk standing around some Stormtroopers

A guy who drove up from Indiana tried to get into the Disney Store and when we told him that nobody would be buying Stormtroopers today he spat on us and called us stupid assholes 

This place is for kids     Y’all are fucked up 

We didn’t let anyone into the Apple Store

No one got into Banana Republic 

A police officer pulled one of us out from in front of Banana Republic and asked us why we weren’t protesting the other bodies that were shot by bodies that were not police officers

It was a strange line of questioning    

But it kept happening 

The cops kept asking why the body they shot was more important to us than the bodies shot by others

Because you took an oath to protect people    we said     not to kill them

Because you are paid to protect people     not to shoot them

Then they filmed us and we were on the nightly news dying-in on the cold wet pavement 

And the politicians called us anticapitalist terrorists who wanted to close down the city’s access to commerce

Then the public forgot about the boy they shot twenty-two times and the mayor closed fifty public schools and replaced them with privately run charters

And the mayor said we must make our school system more robust     we must make our schools more efficient     we can no longer have empty schools     we can no longer have failing schools     we can no longer have public schools     we can no longer have public bodies 

And he proposed a plan for privatizing all of the bodies of all the residents of Chicago 

And the City Council passed the proposal and we were given physical examinations   injected with vaccines and told we had quite a bit to learn from those who devoted their lives to prayer     meditation     and nonviolent disobedience

We had no choice 

This was the dream they subjected us to 

They took us to Lake Michigan      to the prisons on the beach on the northern end of the city     on the border with Evanston       on the sand they imported from Indiana 

The police build bonfires to remind us of the bodies they throw into them 

They tell us cautionary tales about the secret prison on the west side where once they killed a man by chaining him to a radiator that fell on his head

They tell us this and they expect us to hate them but when you are a decrepit privatized body who has not been fed for several days it’s not always possible to feel something as violent as hatred 

And they say     why do you think you are here

And we say      we exist in a historical continuum     our comrades in the sixteenth century were also not told why they were imprisoned or tarred or killed

And they say   we have video recordings of you torching your neighbors’ garages 

And they say   we have video recordings of you hiding guns and money under the floorboards of your houses 

And they say   where in your heart is love

And we say     it is everywhere     it is all that we have      there is nothing else to hang on to when you are in the back of a pickup truck handcuffed to other decrepit privatized bodies rolling around and your heads keep smashing other heads and your shoes keep kicking other faces and other shoes keep kicking your face and you are bleeding and you are terrified and you are blindfolded and you are in the back of a pickup truck and no one has given you enough time to call your father your friend your mother your brother your lover your x your y you are nothing but a rotten piece of meat     they tell us     as our broken bodies roll around the back of the truck 

This is an attempt to provide context for the insignificant reality of our lives 

This is an attempt to provide context for the dreams we have in which we swallow the bodies of the police officers     the prison guards     the mayor     the migra 

These are our dreams     we digest the bodies that destroy us

They throw us in the back of a wagon     take us to a holding cell     and when we are released we gather in front of the mayor’s house who is vacationing in Cuba with his family 

And the police officers say we have better things to do than stand here and make sure you don’t burn down the mayor’s house or shoot a journalist or go crazy and shoot yourselves

Then one of us puts a shoe on the mayor’s lawn and they throw her to the ground     put a knee to the back of her neck      handcuff her      tell her she is under arrest for trespassing 

And we all step onto the mayor’s lawn and the police officers throw us to the ground     hold their sticks to our necks     put their knees to our backs     pull our hair     handcuff us     take us to a holding cell where we are separated one from the other and we cannot call our lawyers     our friends     our families     and we scream from our cells until they tape our mouths shut 

But who will document our deaths and disappearances       we wonder 

Who will inscribe our bodies into history

Who will know that at one point in this life we were something other than what the bureaucrats knew us to be 

And we are alone for several hours until they bring us trays of stale food and dirty water 

A few days pass     we lose track of time     we have no watches    no phones     no way of knowing where we are or what time it is     then an authoritative voice says     take these putrid bodies out to get some sunshine

And we go out into the grass and there is a lawyer and a psychologist and a bureaucrat waiting to interview us     to ask us what it is that we want 

We are silent

So they beat us

And when we say please don’t beat us they say     finally you are getting the hang of it         finally you are learning how to articulate your deepest dreams and desires 

And they like this 

So they beat us 

And when they finish beating us they feed us 

And when they finish feeding us they throw dollar bills on the floor and force us to play a game where we must beat each other in order to get the dollar bills and if we don’t beat each other they beat us   

Sing      they say      or we will beat you 

And so we sing what they tell us to sing

We love you     we sing    

We love your money     we sing

We love your food    we sing    

We love your guns      boots and nightsticks 

And they like this song     so they beat us  

They pay us and they love us and they beat us 


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