Das Kapital by Amiri Baraka

 

Strangling women in the suburban bush
they bodies laid around rotting while martinis are drunk
the commuters looking for their new yorkers feel a draft
& can get even drunker watching the teevee later on the Ford
replay. There will be streams of
them coming, getting off
near where the girls got killed. Two of them strangled by
the maniac.
There are maniacs hidden everywhere cant you see? By the dozens
and double dozens, maniacs by the carload (tho they are
a minority). But they terrorize us uniformly, all over the place
we look at the walls of our
houses, the garbage cans parked full
strewn around our defaulting cities, and we cd get scared. A rat
eases past us on his way to a banquet, can you hear the cheers raised
through the walls, full of rat humor. Blasts of fire, some woman’s son will stumble
and dies with a pool of blood around his head. But it wont be
the maniac. These old houses
crumble, the unemployed stumble by us straining, ashy fingered, harassed. The air is cold
winter heaps above us consolidating itself in degrees. We need a aspirin or something, and
pull our jackets close. The baldhead man on the television set goes on in a wooden way
his unappetizing ignorance can not be stood, or understood. The people turn the channel
looking for Good Times and get a negro with a pulldown hat. Flashes of maniac shadows before
bed, before you pull down the shade you can see the leaves being blown down the street
too dark now to see the writing on them, the dates, and amounts
we owe. The streets too
will soon be empty, after the church goers go on home having been saved again from the
Maniac . . . except a closeup of the chief mystic’s face rolling down to his hands will send
shivers through you, looking for traces of the maniacs life. Even there among the mythophrenics.
What can you do? It’s time finally to go to bed. The shadows close around and the room is still.
Most of us know there’s a maniac loose. Our lives a jumble of frustrations and unfilled
capacities. The dead girls, the rats noise, the flashing somber lights, the dead voice on
television, was that blood and hair beneath the preacher’s fingernails? A few other clues
we mull them over as we go to
sleep, the skeletons of dollarbills, traces of dead used up
labor, lead away from the death scene until we remember a quiet fit that everywhere
is the death scene. Tomorrow you got to hit it sighs through us like the wind, we got to
hit it, like an old song at radio city, working for the yanqui dollarrrr, when we were
children, and then we used to think it was not the wind, but the maniac scratching against
our windows. Who is the maniac, and why everywhere at the same time . .

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