Tuesday, July 15, 2014

American Pickers (A Poem)

Editor's Note: This might be satire. 
Any resemblance to any people, 
living or dead,
should probably be taken 
as a sign 
of intentional disrespect.

I.

“American Picker”
you call me
when you dial
in to
digest
the remnants
of your own sense
of your last
half century,
trusting
your nostalgia
to a network
that calls work-based
reality T.V.
History.

II.

Still, you have to know those bastards
are nothing but actors.
Their sales might be real
but the patter is a matter
of performance
and hours of practice.
They run a brick and mortar store
without knowing brick or mortar,
roofing,
factory temp gigs,
timber contracts
or desperate acts,
so they don't know what it is
to live off a story and a worry.
They call this thing a game,
and making them overpay
is the only way we feed
everyone who shares our names.

I.

I got past that
and bought
forty acres
accessible only
by two tracks.
We got our
own lake and
no neighbors,
just hectares
of oaks packed
against any
prying eyes
that might want
to shrink my
business
by getting
themselves
a free supply.

No cellphone
reception though.
We gotta get
around that.

I got a
satellite
dish for the
internet,
so I can
check out
information
on the
reptilians,
and the
NSA's
fanfics
about its own
abilities.

II.

I hope you feel a shiver
when we're at the same function
and I walk up on you wearing
my twenty-year-old Rustlers.
You don't know what to make of 'em,
you assume they're couture
because
you never heard
of 'em, and you wonder
where they came from,
me being just an old fart.
I forget you weren't even sixteen
when the last K-mart
went bankrupt in these parts.

I go get emotional at estate sales,
looking real pale and
staggering, hand-over-my-heart
to buy things to remember
my dear friends who aren't
there to argue about the veracity
of my performance
or my choice of part.

I'm selling my picks to you later,
and at a markup,
after the sale ends and I realize
“my dining room won't fit a table
with these dimensions!”

And you fall for it over and over again,
because the television
has you looking for store owners.
You haven't caught on
that they say home, have you?

I.

This is a game
where if you
outbid me,
I might follow
you home
to know your
community,
then come back
at night
with two friends
and steal the
aluminum
bleachers
off every
outdoor
facility.

You want to
take my
inventory?
I'll take the seat
out from under
everyone
in your whole
town,
then drive 'round
with my new haul
for a week
and sell
a little piece
to every
metal dealer
in the
vicinity.

II.

You're kidding me.
You think they don't already
have a security camera pointed
at every piece of public metal
that can be approached by
a pickup truck at night?
You made sure to come to
my community, right?
The tactics that you practice
are my daily fight for life
and I don't have a family savings
or marriage money from my wife.

This ain't an operation, it's my existence, right?
You can't just fight
as if anything you do is something I can come through.
Don't you have any idea about people who
didn't grow up with the resources you are accustomed to?

You want to pick a fight for sport, fuck you.
Everything I do is a fight for survival.
You want to wax philosophical about
taking turns winning,
turn our business into a work,
and lock down auctions,
only to cut me in for a fraction
of the action
I could have on my own?
You might have the bucks to succeed,
but I'll take a shit on your throne.

I.

In the middle
of my forest
is my
production
floor—four
acres of hearty
Afghani,
bred for
the outdoors.

It came back
with me
after my
last tour.

These days, I
feel bad for
the bastards
who can't catch on
or whose
personal chances
put them in
unfortunate
circumstances.

I'm branching out,
employing
as many as
I can now,
but there's always
gonna be more
hungry mouths,
and hungry mouths
seem only to have me
to jaw around.

It's gotten
so I have
to support
open carry,
but only
because
my business
would be
impossible
without a
shotgun,
and I need
them deregulated
so no
searches
turn up my weed
just because
cops see me
packing.

But guns bring
gun things, and
gun things bring
lucky chances
and freak
happenings,
changing games
and making me
ever more
aggressive.

I might need
to pull out,
go back to
picking
estate sales,
and let
the market
cool down.

II.

People, we need to pass open carry
to protect all this inventory,
because at this point,
antiques are just a front
for selling Kush at cash-only
venues across the county.

I spend every day
taking tourists for their wallets
on living room pieces
while handing out
eighty dollar quarters
to everyone who can spot
what my hustle is.

Can you give me a break, please?
Legalize my subsistence
just a little bit?
And it wouldn't hurt if the law came
with no grandfather clauses,
secret license bids,
or any other bullshit in it.

Oh, and please throw in some
antitrust protections
so that I can grow this
in my backyard
and put this bastard
out of business.

After all, I'm not the only one who benefits;
I couldn't be selling this shit
if all of you weren't buying it,
and if I could I'd work a living wage
doing nothing but this.

It's a win-win.

I.

I don't need
your attitude
fucking up my
business.
And what the
fuck is this?
You want to
“legalize it?”
Are you
trying to
fuck with my
entire life?

Wait. This is
about the
bleachers, right?

So you're going
to regulate
me right into
a corner
by undoing
the criminal
law and
turning my
grift
corporate?

And you can't see
how that affects
your ability
to achieve
what I've done?

Hello?
I'm still
talking...

Way to go,

wait...

leave the
lights on...