Marooned in Dallas

Marooned in Dallas

Marooned in Dallas

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 12 1998 3:30 AM

Marooned in Dallas

Marooned in Dallas


By Joyce Carol Oates

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(posted Wednesday, Feb. 11)

To hear the poet read "Marooned in Dallas," click here.

"Winning is fun and it's the American way and I believe in it."

--Roger Staubach
businessman and ex-Dallas Cowboy

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Waking at dawn marooned in Dallas!
On the twenty-ninth floor of a glittering pyramid!
On all sides canyon-avenues of glittering pyramids!
Monuments to money!
Money and immortality!
Money and immortality and blistering heat!
Twenty-nine floors below diminished figures scuttle!
Descending twenty-nine floors rapid as a fibrillating heart
you can join them!
You are choking in bus exhaust the blackest in the U.S.A.!
You are invisible amid the pedestrians of color!
On Commerce! On Houston! On Ross!
     Arkard! Federal! Field!
ThanksGiving Tower tilting to infinity!
59,803 boots of Boot Town waiting to be filled!
In the Nieman-Marcus "flagship" your footsteps echo!
Escalators soaring upward to oblivion!
Twenty-ounce T-bones juicy as newborn human babies!
Giant gins! Mighty Martinis!
Guts long and hardy as expressways!
Marooned in Dallas after death, waking astonished!
Blown along the pavement like loose pages
     of the Dallas Morning News!
Blown through canyons of sparkling fountains!
Spring water bubbling out of nowhere cascading to nowhere!
In the historic Farmers Market are giant cauliflowers,
     broccoli and beans! Texas-sized tomatoes, sweet
     corn and okra and yams!
The real world exists, it can be eaten!
The real world exists, it can be sold!
Futures, shares, bonds, points!
You've died not knowing why, nor why Dallas
     waking lonely as you'd never known you were!
Why Dallas?--your soul swirling down a grate.
Big D, the City That Loves To Win!
Come buy a ticket only $3 to the Sixth-Floor Museum
     (formerly the Texas Book Depository)
     from which scowling Lee Harvey Oswald shot
     President John F. Kennedy!
Assassination site!
Grassy knoll!
Kennedy Motorcade!
Parkland Hospital!
Love Field/Air Force One!
Officer Tippet Murder!
Oswald Capture!
Ruby/Oswald Murder!
Authentic John Neely Bryan Log Cabin!
Philip Johnson cenotaph honoring JFK!
Replica of Christ's Tomb at Calvary!
Swearing-in of Texas son LBJ!
Fifty-two tons of cast-iron longhorns stampeding
     in Pioneer Park!
OBSESSION**GENTLEMAN'S CLUB**
*** Live Exotic Female Entertainers Continuous ***
O Corporate Cowboy America!
Your love-need misunderstood as greed!
A hunger for sanctity misunderstood as rapacity!
As if great grinding jaws haven't their theologies and laws!
O Dallas America's conscience!
O Dallas our miracle of Pentecost!
O Dallas of refrigerated verticals!
O Dallas of Muzak-tombs!
O Dallas the taste of fresh paper money!
O Dallas these are the days of vengeance, that all things
     written may be fulfilled!
O Dallas.

Joyce Carol Oates' most recent book is We Were the Mulvaneys, a novel. She is on the faculty at Princeton University.