Sympathy for the travel companion

T here.
In response to Cori’s post a couple of days ago, it’s not that I have no opinion, I’ve got plenty of those. It’s that I have learned to reign them in to better control my rage. I’d call myself an opinionated non control freak. I respect people way more for not listening to me, except when I am right, which is about politics, social issues, and Netflix. I have exactly zero opinions about where to sit in the movie theater, where to eat (as long as it is always tacos and frozen yogurt), or whether we should stay in a place or leave it. This is because I am saving all of my feelings for election season when I will probably care way too much and could murder a basket of kittens in cold blood. And it is also because Cori is doing all of the driving and I automatically make anyone who will drive me places my pack leader. My lack of caring about incidental stuff probably makes people around me pretty uncomfortable, but I mean I kind of just don’t care. At least I am consistent.

Cori is worried that she’s bumming all y’all out and being a food downer and my thoughts on food are kind of a downer right now too. I love hearing all of her stories about farms and such and about the amazing people running them. And that gives me quite a bit of hope. But it does seem like generally the more you find out about farming and produce, the less you can eat. I’ve been fighting this for years. I’ve been advised over the years to eat or not eat everything under the sun by experts with varying degrees of actual expertise. Add to that the pesticides, the mistreatment of animals and farm workers, GMOs, and the other concerns surrounding sustainable agriculture, and the fact that the guy sitting next to you (me) at Starbucks is a total douche monster and it is overwhelming to say the least. This has been the general consensus in the traveling twosome’s discussions of the day.

I do have some pictures and some happy stuff to share about this trip, but in the interest of being consistent and in order to avoid getting accused of writing another fluff piece, I will leave you with this poem. A poem I did not write and one that is probably a downer (not to me, I just love it).

Evil Corn

My first few months in Minnesota, I listen to a Public Radio performer pimping a perfidious, nasal patter of prairie companionship, and I can’t help but wonder what hairless planet he’s nattering from. Okay, on the surface, it’s safe here. Life is ordered. No stone-heart urban thugs a’dancing. No fearsome city noise to start the ears a’bleeding. But something about the place gives my bones the heebie-jeebies. Left to the sun and rain, this land of quaint squares of dark soil sprouts a bright uniform green from road to road that murders anything natural. Gone are the tall grass prairies, vanished are the native trees, and corralled are the once-feathered Indians. Evil corn and its masters have murdered this land.

I wake to my first harvest in southwest Minnesota and see that corn, the basic grain, the light of dark Indian stomachs for millennia, has transformed from a life sustainer to a life destroyer. When I tell a friend the corn is now evil, she titters and whispers, “Oxymoron.” Transplanted city folk at the college say how glad they are to be away from cities and in “the country,” but this place is not “the country” even though a green blanket shrouds the four sacred directions. This is subjugated land, strangely industrial and rural at the same time. Corn and soy fields rotate on alternating years. The corn here is tall and imposing, but it is not the same creature Squanto planted and spoon-fed the loony pilgrims with. This is not the corn of the Zuni shalako, and it’s not the Diné holy giver of pollen.

This is not the corn I scratched into the dry dirt of my childhood. This is mutant flora, a green American Frankenstein born of chemicals and greed. It is lucre bound for the sweet tooth of America in the form of corn syrup, for our car gas tanks as ethanol, and as fodder for the stomachs of cattle. These cobs, genetically altered and pesticide soaked, cornhole all that is sacred.

In dreams, I recognize the sacred, have always tried in my profane way to bow to the sacred, but waking decades of hand-to-mouth survival have nearly blanched all holiness from my soul. Despite my occasional frothing, a typically generic American consumer lives in my mirror. Yet I reside in an ancient farmhouse surrounded by evil corn. Green death rises from this bad-heart land where I’ve brought my cats and dogs. We’re exiled to a toxic hell where the laughing devils of necessity have chased us, five hundred miles form the dying woman we love. Do not pit my animal friends or me. Pity the sallow and linear pimps who greedily grow green the destruction of our ancestors and their natural world.
– Adrian C. Louis

I have about a week and a half left on this trip and then I’m out, so I’ll try to guest post with substance soon. I work well under pressure. I’m gonna say some super deep, meaningful stuff soon and it will change your life.

1 comment
  1. A, Louis said:

    Thanks for running my poem!

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