January 24, 2007

In the Company of Them


So Iím sitting here in San Fran

In another used bookstore

On another hipster block

In this fuzzy hipster town

And Iím browsing through the bookstore

And Iím looking through the comics

There are shelves of graphic novels

And I think they must be recent

From the flashy well-done covers

And the hip PoMo technique


So I grab some graphic novels

And Iím setting on the benches

And Iím getting up, and walk around, and find a comfy chair

So I lean back, and Iím comfy, and I open up the comics

Which are trendy, which are clever,

Which have lots of lit-techniques

Thereís this one with the stone giant

Who starts out as a hero

Who might be old King David

or George Washington Carver

and he bests the evil villain

who was belittling his race

but now heís getting bigger

and he just keeps getting bigger

and pretty soon heís enslaved all the creatures all around

the metaphor was obvious

though the subject imprecise

He might have been Israel

Or maybe Nashville, Tennessee

But the book was tortured, troubled

And so exquisitely drawn

The artist mustíve worked

As long as Karen Hughes been ugly

It was twenty-eight dollars

U.S.                                              dollars

with      proceeds            going to                                  charity


And Iím looking at these novels

And Iím looking at the shelves

íCause thereís dozens of these comics

Dozens of these graphic novels

íCause thereís dozens of these artists

Dozens angry tortured artists

Who sort of kind of made it

In the graphic novel world

But if you walk down through the Mission

Past the chickenhawks and junkies

Youíll find hundreds of these artists

Who will never, ever make it

Though itís hard to see the difference

Between the published and the losers

Because every artistís screaming

Every artistís fucking screaming

Every artist wants to warn us

Of all the evil that we do

Theyíre all warning and theyíre screaming

And theyíre bringing up the issues

With their hip PoMo devices

And their so unique techniques


And besides the hundred artists

Thereís a thousand folk musicians

With their lyrics tried and tested

And their chords so true and blue

And besides the thousand singers

Thereís a million sock-drawer poets

Whoíve put down their San Fran paintbrush

To write of what will happen

To warn the world of what will happen

If we let a madman rule us

If we let the wealthy lead us

If we sign away our neighbors for another cup of Starbucks

And the artists are all drawing

And the folkies are all singing

And the poets all recite their angry lines at open mics

But thereís no one really listening

No thereís no one really listening

And the few who clap politely never do a goddamned thing

But the days are getting hotter

And our lives are getting shorter

And the Fertile Crescent wonít be fertile for four billion years

While MSN reports on Fox News

CNN reports on Slate

CBS reports on Sharpton

And Al Sharpton studies Fox

While the talking heads keep talking

And the bloggers keep on blogging

And the artists keep pretending there is something left to say


óJonathan Penton


Posted by dwaber at January 24, 2007 01:03 PM