Oyster Boy Review 05  
  September 1996
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» Levee 67


Filling in the Barrow Pit

Jon Powell

Near an overpass, one
of those ugly, monochromatic gray
concrete structures that pass
(hence their name)
over the needless array
of oncoming Interstate Highways
in the little berg where I work,
one of those little suburban bedroom
community types Camille Paglia deconstructed
on G. Gordon Liddy's radio show as
shopping mall culture: all churches,
low cost strip malls, bars, new & used car lots,
all leche leagues, little leagues,
plus the major malls & the McMarts
(killing off the small family owned
drug, hardware & shoe stores),
& happy fathers mowing their
lawns on the weekends dressed
in kahki or plaid shorts, polo
shirts, and white, painfully white,
knee socks with blue stripes
if they are in petrochemicals,
or red if they are in computers,
telecommunications, or the law,
a pond is being filled in.

The pond being filled in, one truck load
of crap soil, broken up concrete &
Isis only knows what else, at a time, over a period
of years, was originally dug, of course,
to provide dirt mounds for either side
of the overpass; to provide ramps,
as it were, which left: a big hole,
or if you are of a scientific bent,
a retention pond, a holding pond,
but if you are a low life like me
that wads paper money in pants pocket,
you would say barrow pit.
This was decades ago. The hole, an acre or so,
filled, in due course, with water. Ground water.
Rain. It became a pond. I used to
visit the pond. Watch its algae,
planty fronds, frogs, toads, creepy
crawlers frolic. In a few short years
it went from big-hole-of-water
to watery ecosystem. I.E., pond.
& then some enterprising party
bought the pond for a song. To him,
& I'm sure it was a him,
it was just a hole-of-water.
So, over the last ten years, he has been,
truck load by truck load,
filling in the pond. Now just think
about it. You are a water-critter
safe, you suppose, in your pond
happily breeding little clones
of yourself fully expecting your
progeny to carry on the family way,
munching on pond goop as you always had, your parental
units had, & so on, & wham (!), one day
you notice your home is measurably
becoming smaller. You don't understand
that a filled-in-pond is worth
much more than a hole-of-water. & really,
you don't give a damn if it is. You
just want things left alone. The way
they were. Unmolested. You can protest,
write letters, vote to out the encumbants,
but it wouldn't do any good. You are,
afterall, a disenfranchised bug.
You can only sit (swim, whatever)
in horror as powers greater than you,
richer than you, more—even—advanced
than you, &, dare it to be mentioned, even
prettier than you, use the connections,
the pay-backs, the Swiss bank accounts
so necessary in this modern, global-banking,
internetted, increasingly monomedia-istic, anti-union,
anti-worker, anti-democratic, anti-environmental,
anti-feminist, anti-education, slave-labor-using
neo-facist politically corrected world. Oh my,
did I get my tenses, adverbs, adjectives
& transitives screwed up again?