Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Auction

As I walked down the highway
From my latest success
I met an old gentleman
Trudging down the crossroads west
His fine clothes were worn
Shiny at the sleeves
Dark holes torn
At his soles and his knees
Two short horns drooped
Desolate at the gravel
His sickly red pallor
Said Scratch had long to travel.

What ho, old man
Asked I of the devil
Are the damnable as short of funds
As the rest of the debtor-rabble?

Yes, rasped he
In a voice like perdition
To-day I am, myself, the debtor
And my last soul’s done defaulted
You know god is dead
But the mortals live longer
And the bridge-loans I’ve negotiated
Are coming due next Friday.

I haven’t the interest
And I’ve spent the principal
On a lot of ill principles
And damnable invincibles
But every race-horse I back
Loses office like a hack
Or around mine own back
Finds the decency he lacked
And here come again
I’ve turned to my friend
The rutted and worn
Crossroads plain.
But all I encounter
Are tricksters and fraud
Pious bastards
They come to impress
Their congregation or mass
By beating the Devil
Those cheating white-trash!

As my debtings did mount
and receipts declined
My payables have ballooned
And receivables in arrears,
I went to the banks
Thrice-mortgaged is Hell
From every freezing cellar
To the gate-dog's stud-collar.
I’ve tried to cheat
As a good devil ought
Corrupt the officers
Buy any that might be bought
But from the tellers to the directors
Not one stays the same
And three faceless corporations
Have bought my debts in turn
The chaos is complete
Except for my account
That each board kept clear
Their best-hope arrears.

My money’s no good
My creditors no souls
My debt’s run its course
Next week I'm due in court.

So, I mused
Fingering my gavel
There on the verge
In commerce’s dark gravel

Lucifer, my man
I’m an auctioneer don’t you know
And I make my living
From ruination and woe
Poor family’s plantations
and foolish rich estates
All man’s misery
Passeth over my plate.
Destitute widowed tears
Buy my baby’s formula-milk
And the wreckage of hopes
Keeps my fat wife in silk.

Then stood him surprised
And hopeful as he
Who in hell’s heart
Ladder-hope has found
We went about and around
But I knew it was firm ground
I came to a bargain
With that broken-down devil
We negotiated a deal
To finance his retire
We bankrupted damnation
To reorganize Hell.

Oh, he couldn’t face
The liquidation of evil
The breaking-up of his Hades
His life-work in the wreckers
Old Scratch took a pension
And early retirement
Clipping in Boca
His coupons each month
Satan plays shuffle-board
In Florida’s heat;
Left me and the court
To auction off Hell.

Folks before you today,
I’ve come to break up
The Devil’s possessions
The greatest assets
Of mankind’s long misery
The tyrant’s estate
And the bond-servants contracted
Are put up for sale
For Hell’s creditors to pay.

Now I’ve sold off the brimstone
To the factories for sulfur
Ripped up the irons
For metal-hungry China
The flames are banked,
Diverted to heat
The cities of the West
And cold Winnipeg.
The frozen wastes
Hippy-gray capitalists
Have purchased an option
And are examining the finances
Of ice-cream plant expansions.
You arms-dealing devils
Long free from your bonds
I offer your fellows
Cannon-fodder for hire
For service on those
Half-acres on earth
Which the previous management
In their desperation
Alienated from the main
Left strewn about the world
Damned-spots of fire
Pain and fury
War-magnet miseries -
But demons work cheap,
In this tight-capital market
And with industry
And agribusiness
You needs must compete;
All Hell’s land is for let
And the furies are yours to rent.

Come now ye speculators
In misery and woe!
I’ve the Devil’s dreams up for auction
And Damnation on the block
From the underground Styx
To the last jailhouse lock!


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