I Protest
By Marc Olmsted

The cop bar was there before the new lofts –
Oakland warehouse district,
I’m in an old converted plumbing showroom –
the cop bar put up an awning with a big police badge
so the locals won’t wander in –
(who are now mostly artists,
some fierce lesbian singles,
all tattooed on the wrong side of the law – )

The cop bar is white & hetero –
motorcycles loud –
driving home drunk Aryan fraulein groupies
the occasional heavy metal cover band
(I once even heard cover of homo-synth “Tainted Love”!)
They’re the top gang,
the alpha gang the übergang in the Oakland race war –
but on the TV news there was a riot at the police station blocks from our house.
Ghettoboyz dance-stomped police car rooves,
& our warrior caste?
Nowhere to be seen…

Twice the cops have taken over the streets unannounced for drunken Irish wake
cowboy barbecues in remembrances of fallen comrades in the giving of inflated
traffic citations – heroes all –
& once a month Saturdays the heavy metal gets VERY LOUD but stops abruptly
at midnight –
my wife said “what can we do – call the cops?”
our brown shirts rallied with impunity –
but one night they went quite PAST midnight & a nova white blaze seized me
electrical, not quite rage,
I went out the back door to the shared courtyard gate hidden,
waited for a noise gap & yelled “Fuck you!”
then “Cops eat shit”
and finally “Sieg hiel motherfuckers” –
“Turn it off” echoed a neighbor –
again, “Turn it off!”
I’d ignited some female voice –
maybe two –
within the bar fell silence –
which to this day remains

Marc Olmsted’s book, What Use Am I a Hungry Ghost: Poems From 3-Year Retreat (Valley Contemporary Press, 2001), has an introduction by Allen Ginsberg, who said that Olmsted has “Burroughs’ scientific nerve & Kerouac’s movie-minded line nailed down with gold eyebeam in San Francisco.”