BathHouse Journal

Jerome Sala & Kevin Riordan

Poem by Jerome Sala & Artwork by Kevin Riordan




Maybe I’ve been Harley-Quinned

by the Joker world of entrepreneurial,

precarious latest edition Capitalism,

but for a moment I thought of John D. Rockefeller

on the way to founding the University of Chicago,

forming Standard Oil, owning 2%

of the entire U.S. economy,

setting the table for what’s to come —

and then the what’s to come went blank,

like the minds of people who put down their snacks

and turn their innocent country picnic into an orgy.

It all happened so fast,

before you could even think

what’s gotten into us,

here we are, shamed,

trying to de-orgify the 21st century

so it won’t end up like the last,

that violent epic,

which keeps getting remade

like the movie, Godzilla.

This time, as a sign of repentance,

the monster is no longer even a monster —

it’s we who are monstrous, tearing up the world.

She’s trying to save it by fighting off

the horrors we’ve called from the depths

by torturing the earth:

that’s the thing about remakes

and period pieces: they’re reassuring:

they earn their keep by conning us

into believing we know better now!

The angels of our brighter future

are not here to announce the apocalypse

but the evolving enlightenment of our species being!

The Rockefeller Foundation is a remake

of the classic oil company: it’s giving

money to the arts! To health! “Global resilience!”

“Digital jobs in Africa!” “Smart Power

for Rural Development!” Fargo, the TV show,

is a spinoff of the original movie — it tells

us and the generations which will perhaps follow,

that we have abandoned our faith in the One,

and its totalitarian rule of meaning, which seems mysterious

to us now, a large suitcase abandoned in a blizzard,

and embraced the many, the episodic, a process,

like the economy itself, which tells us products

are no longer about products, but rather that each

is a way station for desire, as we consume the Gobi desert

of the unreal, even, or especially, its mirages, seem delicious:

water is cool honey, the sky, a blueberry Kool-aid blue,

just breathing seems to quench a wild thirst

you never knew you had, till one moment, like a ghostly

shadow out of the vapor, you are possessed, parched,

and desperately searching for relief.


–Jerome Sala

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Jerome Sala’s books include Corporations Are People, Too! (NYQ Books), The Cheapskates (Lunar Chandelier) and Look Slimmer Instantly (Soft Skull Press). His poems and essays have appeared in The NationPleiades, PloughsharesThe Brooklyn Rail and The Best American Poetry (2005).  His blog – on poetry, pop culture and everyday life, is espressobongo

Kevin Riordan – I remake the world in my images, as I think most artists do. I tend to remake it through facsimiles. My artistic practice over the last 40 years has taken a variety of forms, nearly all of them centered on coming to terms with my conflicted feelings towards Chicago and its unique characters and setting. I published Stare magazine beginning in 1976, featuring the work of over 100 artists and writers,  and have created about a dozen other artists’ books, as well as exhibiting visual art and writing fiction and book reviews.