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Trotsky's Bodyguard.

A craftsman bungalow at the corner of Morton and Echo Park.
The power to grant your old neighborhood
After your death
The exclamation
"Echo Park! That's where all the communists lived!"
This is your reward for a lifetime of service to
The worker's struggle.
Because after you were an Iowa farmboy
And before you agitated from a craftsman bungalow in Echo Park
You were Trotsky's Bodyguard

Reading books on the farm as a boy
Then learning that Trotsky is coming to America
And you decide to put down the book and meet the Old Man
Out of the corn
The Santa Fe Special to Chicago
It's trains and agriculture from there on out
Trans-Siberian Express and collectivized wheat
A Makarov pistol secreted behind a sliding panel
As a tonic against secret police in soft fabric hats
The Iron Rooster across Chinese rice paddies
Running rifles and Marx to Mao's cadres

Exile
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México
Thru montañés y cerros
Corn out the windows on the way to Mexico City
To settle in with Diego Garcia
A house
The sun
A quiet garden
Quiet enough to relax your revolutionary vigilance
Until Ramon the gardener
Kills the Old Man
With a pickaxe

"Go Forward"
Trotsky's last words
And you find yourself in Echo Park
In a craftsman bungalow
As a retired revolutionary


This is what Victory looks like?
This is the end of History?
Like a engine charging up an icy grade, boiler howling
The coefficient of friction broken
Engine sliding backwards down the track
Or a rocket with the propellant spent,
No upward force
Turning down towards the now
Commanding vector of gravity
The apex of a parabola or the high point of a run, all momentum spent
Every movement up and back, more and then less
Retrograde
Not Forward Forward Forward!
Time somehow moving backwards now
Away from the inevitable class war
And the death of religion and the triumph of the worker
Moving backwards, or sideways, anything but forwards
Along the wrong path, the wrong teleology
History not as a story or a rail line but just a
Fucking mess

Because all of it
The books
The pistol behind the wooden panel
The shoulder holster and dashing
Woolen jacket, dungarees, engineer's boots
The heavy shirt of a factory worker lending you a proletarian chic
The Mexican girl against the sunset with a bottle of tequila
The Chinese girls with their fur lined helmets against the cold on the Great Wall
The long train ride across Siberia in a locked car, looking out at snow on pines
It was all bullshit.
A good effort, Comrade, but bullshit.

That now
To wind up here
The rails ripped from the streets to make way for the buses
The pachucos pressed under by a line of steel helmets
Under palm trees
In darkness at noon from factory smoke
To find that God is not dead
That the whole theistic franchise is in an aggressive growth cycle
That you are sandwiched in a craftsman bungalow between
A Buddhist temple
A Russian Orthodox Church
And a gas station run by Armenians
That their answer to genocide was not the Party
But opening a gas station!
That now
If you had the chance
You'd swing the axe
Yourself.

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