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  • Karen Sandness
    Dear Everybody, Someone posted this on a local transit-oriented mailing list, and I thought you might enjoy it. *************** Message: 1 Date: Mon, 11 Sep
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2000
      Dear Everybody,
      Someone posted this on a local transit-oriented mailing list, and I
      thought you might enjoy it.
      Message: 1
      Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 08:59:59 -0700
      From: "Chris Hagerbaumer" <chris@...>
      Subject: Jeep Cherokee (poem)

      Poetry Daily: Poetry Archive


      Jeep Cherokee
      You've never known
      a single Indian
      who wasn't painted
      onto a football helmet
      or branded in chrome
      on a tailgate,
      but there you go,
      off mashing the landscape
      like some edge-city explorer,
      flinging yourself toward
      new worlds beyond the driveway,
      Lewis and Clark
      with a seat belt.
      Go ahead, you trampling trooper,
      you goose-stepping little
      Godzilla, you shining beast
      of raging fashion,
      riding the big teeth
      of your tires as if you
      would ever follow a dirt road
      anywhere but to a car wash.
      This is America,
      and you're free to drive
      anything you can buy
      but I will tell you:
      Hitler would love this car —
      a machine in which
      even the middle class
      can master the world,
      purchase their way through peril
      safely as senators.
      This is a car for
      a uniformed strongman,
      a one-car motorcade
      through a thatched village
      of strangers.
      This is the car that will
      replace Prozac.
      This is the car that Barbie buys
      with mad money
      after the date with Angry White Ken.
      This is the car every KKK member
      wants to drive after dark.
      This is the car that makes it safe
      to be hateful in public.
      Go ahead. Climb in. Look
      at yourself, way up there
      on the bridge of this
      thick-windowed ship of enterprise.
      Everybody knows
      the only way today is to
      buy your way through,
      be bigger, be better,
      be a bully, be a barger,
      be sure you're safe from the poor,
      bustle your way through
      each day's bombardment
      with the muscle of royalty.
      You've got the power
      to bring back the monarchy
      four fat tires at a time.
      Go anywhere. You're entitled.
      You have squasher's rights.
      Onward! Accelerate,
      you brawny bruising winner,
      you self-saluting junta on wheels.
      you reclaimer of gold-bricked streets.
      Democracy is for people
      stuck in small cars
      and God has never ruled
      through traffic laws.
      Get used to the feeling
      of having your way.
      Each broad cut of the steering wheel
      is your turn at conquest,
      the power-assisted triumph
      of the me
      in heavy traffic.
      You are rolling proof
      that voting is stupid,
      that the whole damn machine is fixed
      before it leaves the factory,
      that fairness is a showroom,
      that togetherness is for bus riders,
      that TV has the right idea:
      there is just you in a small room
      on the safe side of glass,
      with desire spread out before you
      like a ballroom without walls,
      and you will not be denied,
      you've got the moves and the view,
      you don't need government, unions,
      bank regulation, mercy,
      the soft hands of strangers.
      You've got 4-wheel drive
      and a phone, you've got
      the friendship of a reinforced chassis,
      you've got empathy for dictators
      without knowing it,
      you've got freedom from rear-view mirrors,
      you've got wide-bodied citizenship,
      you've gained Custer's Revenge:
      caissons packed with children and soccer balls
      coasting across the plowed prairie,
      history remodeled with one great
      blaring of jingles and horns:

      Hail Citizen King!
      Hail the unswerving settler!
      Hail the rule of logo!
      Hail Jeep Cherokee!

      Bruce A. Jacobs
      The Beloit Poetry Journal
      Volume 50, Number 4
      Summer 2000
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