“I Know You”

From “Looking For Bigfoot,” published by Howling Dog Press


Good morning, dear people.

And good morning, Oakland, California, home of the Black Panther Party. The Panthers are a group that this Midwest boy does not know much about, not supposed to. I have heard that they, the Chicago police and FBI, killed Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in a morning raid in Chicago. The Panthers were an actual threat to power and that meant they could not exist.

Is there anything or anybody out there these days that is an actual threat to these criminals today?

I heard Dick Gregory speaking one day in Omaha. He said he did not believe we landed on the moon.

And then he said, “They will roll tanks on your ass.”

That was an epiphany for me.

I did not believe it at first. If you become effective, if you really challenge them, there will be tanks in your zinnias by morning.

I believe we are about to see just how right Mr. Gregory was.


Is this Heaven?

No, it’s Nebraska.

This is Bigfoot Radio, streaming to you on the internet at www.lookingforbigfoot.net



My name is Jack Robert King.

They killed Paul Wellstone.

I can feel it all around me, like ninety-eight percent humidity, like the feeling there is someone in the house who shouldn’t be there.

They attacked the World Trade Center to put out the Patriot Act, to steal the oil, to rule the world, to impress their long-lost junior high sweethearts, who knows why.

I suddenly realize it and reach behind me into the backseat to snatch the bad guy who I know is there, but all I grab is air. I can still hear it breathing, catch a shadow in the rearview.

They killed the Kennedys and Martin and now we’ve got the books and testimony, but before that all I had to do was walk down to the SuperValue for Mom to buy bread and stand on a milk crate to look into the eyes of the checkout lady as she counted my change.

I might have guessed Vietnam was a lie by the glare in Father Tom’s eye and the way Sister Margaret rushed by, like she was always on her way somewhere to cry.


Someone once said that violence is as American as apple pie and now I know why. Just some small kid from a small town, thinking nothing ever happens here, when actually I was right in the middle of the action.

The baker bombed Iraq.

The barber gunned down Bobby.

And the four little grandmothers in blue flower dresses and green metal chairs in that row of white porches on Sarah Street sliced the throats of children in El Salvador in their spare time during the summer in the 1980s.

You can see it in their eyes, dull and dead.

Not from seeing too much of the world, but too little.

The robins are tweet-tweeting on the front lawn, puffing their red chests into the sun.

Their song: Hang the niggers.

On the days we bombed Iraq, the Farmers Coop Elevator dryers hummed a happy tune. The coffee-drinkers smiled across Formica tables and asked for more cream, please.

And for the ten years in between, while children died from the sanctions from no food or light or heat or love or prayers or Hardee’s — Mr. Johnson and Mr. Smith went to work each day, drove on the right side of the road, smiled, kept their desks in order, and were not considered suspects.


They really, truly stole a presidential election in the United States and our response was to wave at the limousines as they passed by on the TV atop the kitchen counter, next to the toaster.

They shot down or lasered-down Wellstone’s plane and they really did attack their own Pentagon.

I see this and I have zero documentation.

I don’t care.

I have all the proof I need from the glazed look in your eye as you struggle to attach the American flag to your car antenna.

I understand America by watching you.

I know it from growing up in the Midwest of America, from playing baseball and football and riding down the middle of the street with no hands eating an ice cream cone.

The strawberry drips on my white T-shirt and I don’t care.

Mom will wash it, clean it up, just as she rinses the blood of a thousand Chileans from her hands.

A lemony spray makes everything smell fresh.

I see more than I want to in the referee’s face as he prepares the jump-ball toss and the smile of the drive-up teller as she helps another customer.

Would evil men and women kill in order to gain absolute power?

Pretty darn near impossible to believe when they look just like us and sound like us, tell the same tired jokes and watch the same TV shows.

I do know, because I saw it myself over the top of my SuperSize Diet Pepsi — that while children are being bombed to gooey bits — the mail still arrives at our house at ten and the garbage is picked up at one, school dismisses at three-thirty, and Raymond comes on at seven.

I see the banality of evil old Mrs. Schwartz using her tongs to set another fish square into a slot on a lunch tray at St. Mark’s elementary as a child in Baghdad has his nose blown away by a small bomb he thought was a toy.

I do not have a leaked file or a tidbit of information or an inside source.

I know all I need to know from seeing your guilty face staring out into the night while you wash dishes, or leaning out the car window to order an A&W root beer, or chasing your children into the school house with one last admonition.


I don’t need to know Barack Obama or George Bush or Karl Rove.

I know you.


– by Mike Palecek

“And I Laugh”

From “The Truth”

And I Laugh

There’s a photo on the Internet that makes me laugh. A little brown boy holding a silent scream forever in four-color.


The horrified little fellow now has no arms or legs, or brothers, sisters or parents, and I laugh out loud.

I laugh at the Marines, being all they could possibly be in God’s creation, at their tough-man commercials.

The Army of One. What a hoot.

The rough-guy coaches and players who let this boy die—what comedy watching them feel strong while letting the real battles be fought by little guys with sticks and bicycles.

The boy has a bandaged head. He looks so scared his hair might turn white, as in a Hitchcock film, and it sort of makes me chuckle.

I laugh at the ministers here in town and here on this TV saying bless our troops as they defend our freedom.

I laugh at the well-schooled and coifed newspaper columnists with their earnest close-cropped photos in four hundred papers read by forty million people in forty million cities.

And I laugh.

The boy is flat on his back on dirty cement, with his stubs hastily wrapped in Ace bandages, surrounded by the world trying to get a look, by photographers and people on their way to work and out to dinner.

We are nothing. Nothing. Nothing!

Because this boy now has no arms. No legs.

Nothing we do today will mean a thing because we have ripped the arms and legs from this boy as if he was a fly and we are us.

This boy who could be my boy, lying there at the feet of the world and the world looking the other way.

Goddamn us.

Give us what we deserve.
If you are a just God, rain down fire and hell upon our heads. Lighting bolts upon our backyard decks and rivers of excrement down our smooth, well-scrubbed streets.

Please, dear God we pray.

When I awoke this morning I thought it essential to the world order and being right, and a good person, that I shave, help out with the dishes, be on time, and drive on the right side of the road.

Do a good job. Be pleasant. Smile.

But now I just can’t stop laughing.

The world thinks it still matters, and that’s kind of funny in a way.

There, the flag flying over the Catholic elementary school and the yellow ribbons tied to the light poles on both sides of Main Street.

Stray cats wearing yellow ribbons around their necks, roaming the night, looking both ways before crossing the street, as if it mattered.

You are never so wrong as when you damage a young boy.

We sit down here like the Who’s in Whoville celebrating the coming of War Season while this boy lies on the cold floor.

Tee. Hee-hee.

—   by Mike Palecek, from The Truth