Sum of its Parts

The oil-men wanted an opera house--
it was required for men of their class.

They kicked the bums off the lot with dogs,
then changed their faces and gave them rivet guns
and smiled for self-owned papers. Headline: creating jobs.

They ordered German architects
to ensure perfect acoustics.
They imported Finnish craftsmen
to hand-carve every banister.
They drained Swiss quarries
of marble and granite.
They stripped South American coasts
of trees and golds.
They commissioned French artists
to paint frescos of industrial gods.

And they "built" a magnificent building,
bowled and scooped from the earth,
like the scraps and bowels
of so many different histories
and when they sat down to listen
to the Italians they stole with six-figures,
they asked "what the hell is this?"
and never came back.


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