“You see, I was once like you,” I tell the joyfully exuberant crowd,
who has been hanging onto my every word. “A wife. A car. A son.
A house. A parakeet. But then one day I just decided–no, it had
hit me, like a bag of dirty lemons–that I was wasting my life! Yes,
The crowd–teachers, construction workers and earthly
poets–say nothing, but I know I have their undivided
attention; I continue.
“And that one day–a day like today, in fact–I saw them
all–my wife my car my son my parakeet and my house
for what they truly were!”
“WHAT?”  the crowd pleads in unison.
“Possessions. And possessions,” I say, “As I
have figured it, are the bain of society!”
The entire audience sits there, entranced. They have
all become naked and therefore posession-less be-
fore me.
“What starts wars? Possessions. In the
beginning it was swords, crossbows and
canons. Now it’s guns, sharpnel and Napalm.
All possessions. All that should be done
away with. What else is the catalyst for
wars? Oil, a possession. What else?
Imperialism: the act of taking other
people’s/country’s land/possessions!
Money: possessions!”
The crowd stuffs all their clothes into one whole
giant collective pile. I light a Havana Gold
cigar–not “my” “a”–and then toss it into
the entire gas-soaked mess of stylistic
conformity; the crowd–teachers, con-
struction workers and poets–go mad,
chanting my name: “Norman Rothedale.
Norman Rothedale.”
I give a gentle rebuke, reminding them
that names are possessions and therefore
useless. Then I rage on:
“Do you all want to be just as me?” I don’t
wait for the collective reply; I already know
it. “Then I will show you how to, it is that
simple.” I skip merrily onstage. “Burn all
your records. Burn all your money. Burn
all your memories which are, in the event
you haven’t already put it together, vain
possessions… Burn all your goddamn
cereals…your goddamn happymeals
and poptarts!
They listen–they cheer! I prance around onstage
wearing, you guessed it, nothing. Rupert, my
invisible parakeet friend towers nobly above
my bare-skinned shoulders, his claws digging
in deeper and drawing out of me another
useless possession: BLOOD. It runs down
my arms warm and thick.
My crowd–my people, you understand–are
burning and destroying everything in human
sight: Cars, streetposts as well as each other…
And for a brief moment–a millisecond, mind you–
it was all happening. It was all worthwhile.
We were possessionless and we are free.