Slaughterhouse Streets America

“No more skittles, no more tea, shot down by a cowardly vigilante; its open season on hooded nigga’s like me” – For Travon Benjamin Martin

Last night in Oakland stilled winds that nightly rape City Center from the Bay caused the breeze to stop breathing like the calm before a hurricane. The beast forming just up 14th street was hungry, gathering steam inside night-hawks over-boiled with angst-ridden venom begging to be unleashed; tattooed women were screeching with righteous anger in overwrought hearts afire; mourning our broken-hearted son of America, dead; his blood on our shoes; his cries rising from our sidewalks like a bullet off the pavement.

Barack, ACLU Ben Jealous, the Revered Al and all the preachers from their sanctified pulpits  across American plead for yet another large dollop of cool out stoicism; a nostalgic creed serving to turn-off, shallow-out and calm-down the explosive reaction. Having lived through the aftermath of Martin King’s assassination, Watts and other insurrections I am not altogether dismissive of this idea. Yet every time I’ve found myself hanging by my fingernails from a cliff I’ve resorted to screaming bloody murder; there is a time and this is one of them, to call out the instigators. So hear this; can you hear me in the back?  – FUCK-THAT-SHIT!  – Burn it!

Yea, I said it, wrote it; meant it. Respect the verdict they beseech while the grief-stricken on Oakland’s angry streets who just can’t take it anymore pick up a stick or a rock and smash it all asunder; burning a cop car in memorial for our slain child as benediction funeral pyre. This level of violence is sensationalized for effect; but for Oakland this is not a riot; it’s a dance party.

And so it goes is a panoptic and ubiquitous phrase, coined by Kurt Vonnegut, in his seminal tome Slaughterhouse Five. He repeats it every time someone or something dies. He repeats it many, many times. The work is Kurt’s remembrance of his experiences as a prisoner of war being held in Dresden, Germany when firebombed by U.S. and British forces at the close of WWII, some say simply for revenge; incinerating, some say, over 300,000 people; more than died in Hiroshima.

It’s my whimsy to believe that Kurt’s protagonist Billy Pilgrim, who has become unstuck in time and cursed to involuntarily experience events in his life in random order, is really Kurt. Cursed since the events he has to recall are sometimes horribly violent and obscene at other times achingly beautiful. To escape; Billy Pilgrim conjures alien abduction to the planet Tralfamador where Tralfamadorians mate Billy with Montana Wildhack, a film star from Hollywood abducted for Billy so the natives may observe them, through eyes in their hands.

It is an anti-war novel; speaking in it way for abolition of war and to follow, an end to guns. For how are we a civilized society if every fear filled coward, ala George Zimmerman, allowed to puff himself up from his decrepit state, start a fight by stalking his prey, only to rely on deadly force and then contend he was simply standing his ground?

We almost made it out of our decades old homesick pioneer six-gun obsessive fantasy, our might is right credo, nearly about to outlaw guns in cities to live like civilized men from the future, and then Harry dropped the big one on Hiroshima; we picked up all the marbles after that and having secured in its aftermath the best lives economically of any humans who’ve ever lived, shit-canned the pacifist idea.

We are not all as passive as Billy Pilgrim nor should we be; some acts of injustice are so obscene, so incomprehensible, that the heart screams out for vengeance, for retribution, for justice; for the release of pent-up frustrations so profound that its results are left to smolder on our unforgiving streets alongside the body of another senselessly wasted young scholar. I’ll accept the verdict; won’t throw the baby out with the bath water. But respect it? Like I said:

FUCK-THAT-SHIT – burn it.

And so it goes. 


About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

4 Responses to Slaughterhouse Streets America

  1. Paulie O says:

    right on time.   I’m bored in Iowa. Eating all the wrong foods. Suffering from the heat. Threw my back out and I’m chewing Vicodins like Chicklets. Going back to the Oakland action on the 30th.


  2. James Mcfarland says:

    8.9 rating, every author deserves expression and the right to vent heat. Last night,9:00 pm: I drove off temporary work assignment on Lakeshore Ave. in Oakland, straight into an un-cordoned demonstration with army police in tow. On the side of justice, stuck in traffic, but not of favorable skin tone, angry youth shouted at me in my work van: “you can wait mother fucker!” I replied: “I can wait as long as you need.”

  3. Wise choice.

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