Travels in American Hyperreality by Jeffrey Salamone-Callahan

separation between dream and wake
dissolves across the cinemascape
of my real while nightmare smogs over
fantasy-fried surrealities and
plenties sleep with bureaucratic terror

don’t get me wrong
the water from the tap has never been crisper
the produce at the supermarket has never been fresher
the local government has passed a ban on
solicitors for high school sports teams
and in the mornings
there is dew on my front lawn

upon first scent life appears
to have taken a turn
but there have been some events
as yet unmentioned that i fear
should concern me

for example

blank letters received thru the mail
in envelopes without return addresses
or with return addresses in places
like ellsworth, nebraska and
andalusia, alabama

my weekly packages to the coptic church
have been routinely intercepted and returned
post officials have informed me that
to continue such deliveries would require
changes to federal parcel delivery laws

answers to unasked questions sprout
from landscape of daily drudge
dervishes whirl in holy cup of instant ramen
rise mystics in steam from styrofoam
make salt of the blood
slurping my way thru chinatown
the sense of being followed
accompanies ginger ingestion
have sensed they suspect my notes
so the other day feigned forgetfulness
inconspicuously left inconspicuous notebook
atop table to be “found” full of scratches such as:
– noodles at cafe bangkok particularly tender; and
– must remember to grow cilantro next season

ignorant as to what they seek
i’ve begun deleting my cookies
lock and unlock the car manually
and check the house lock three times

the television has begun to pick up
siberian broadcasting channels

recently a man walked up to me and asked
could you use some change
am in danger of losing membership
with the local chapter of guerilla weed whackers
and the massachusetts commission for the deaf
and hard of hearing won’t stop calling

the highways all down to one lane
navigation futile
the radio remains static
as i make the journey
thru my daily horrorscope

a restricted number has rung cellular
at exactly 2:17 in the afternoon
every day for the lasts two months
to accept is to summon dial tone
o lord, give us this day our daily dread

a wednesday subscription to
the custer county observer (south dakota)
delivered doorstep for six weeks
a baker’s dozen of glazed crullers
waits counter side and paid for
and a few days ago i received
a receipt typed in sanskrit

passport suddenly stamped
by the republic of uzbekistan
to which never traveled

my showerhead produces acid rain

lately the conversation around the water
cooler has been centered on “the valuation
of lives of people in the abstract”
and the agendas at local pta meetings
have been consumed with discussion
of a coming revolution

the alcoholic beverages control commission
continues to forward me chain e-mails
the last of which included top secret
intelligence on fbi wars
in the jungles of eastern borneo

just this past weekend alerted to
requests for facebook friendship from
three different profiles all operated
under the name anna mccmitchell

the gas company now bills in “thoughts and prayers”

ice cream truck jingle stuck on loop
all nite long leaves me sweaty with insomnia
an hour or two spent under the porch lite
proves unprofitable as demon sugar chariot
only circles but never passes
a torture which has birthed fantasies
in which i kill the driver with his own recipes
follow-ups to filed noise complaints
thwarted by insistence upon “ongoing investigation”

ghost texts from area code 572
claim i continue to leave my lights on
neighbor asked “how am i doing?”
traces of unknown fingerprints found by
blacklight on the keys of my laptop
$25,000 deposited into checkings account
the bank teller bleeds the fifth
sent to mass general with a case of
chronic nosebleed
the management is on indefinite
time-share in maui

the city leaves me
schizophrenic by proxy

tangled in the red tape of an american nightmare
hyperreality invades slumber and dalís my dreams
must sleep with a poem under my gun

now it’s true i owe a few people money
in addition to the banks the universities, and
the government but in life i aspire
beyond the limits of my debt
although now fallen into mental vertigo
a reality out of focus abandons me
vulnerable and so must keep on the run
across the continental forty-eight
perhaps beyond

must soon dispose of this manuscript
will float it on the ocean cork-sealed
and continue to evade the authorities
until death spirits me away
many years before these words
a civilization identifiable only by its teeth
are found anonymous and washed up
on the distant shores of micronesia




Jeffrey lives in Los Angeles and works for a political campaign in the San Gabriel Valley. He’s originally from Boston.