by Paul Kotheimer
In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will stretch a canvas bigger than Guernica and depict the bleeding human viscera in the American streets. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will hide in a foxhole writing string quartets, or wander the aisles of big box superstores, idly comparing kitchen appliances, or both. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will post an instructional video on how to make the fascist art of the Fourth Reich, exposing the brutality of that very idea, dressed in impeccable jackboots on the bridge of the Death Star. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will bathe the sweet-smelling heads of babies and grip the knotty hands of great-grandmothers in exchange for minimum wage, knowing all are fragile and yearn to keep breathing. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will not let smiling Mickey Mouses or superbowl halftime shows with giant flags and dancers and fireworks and lip-synching superstars and fighter jets in formation and other amazing spectacles fill my screen time. I'll remember what it was like when your uncle's funeral procession was in the crosshairs of the killer drones during the administration of the charming constitutional scholar who won the Nobel Peace Prize. And I'll remember what it was like to be the only-half-willing killer--the video game soldier, driven to suicide after piloting those drones. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I'll watch my 15-year-old make black-eyed pea chili and worry he'll be drafted into the fighting forces of World War Three. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I will stockpile hormone pills or contraceptives in fear they won't be available once it all starts. In the age of the Coup of 2017, I'll rehearse the escape route. I'll keep the backpack in the corner, ready to grab at a moment's notice. I'll keep my passport up to date, if I have one. I'll glance at the parking lot of the mosque, anticipating the blast or the spray-painted slur. I'll hope that my bike helmet probably works for shrapnel. I'll keep trucking away at my day job, not counting on the pension which by the 2030s may or may not have been looted out of existence by hedge fund managers and the legislators beholden to them, and I'll joke about it stiffly to people a mere twenty years younger than me. I'll watch the swirling satellite photos of the atmosphere transmogrifying and the glaciers fragmenting and the tropical habitats receding and the deserts encroaching and the disruptive feedback propagating from system to system and region to region and species to species. If the planet goes barren, the human mind starves first, maybe--Mercifully, maybe. In the age of the Coup of 2017, we'll hold close whatever scrap of evidence we still have with us--the profiles of leopards drawn in charcoal in the deep caves of the protohumans of Ice Age Europe, one shellac disc of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, a scrap of dots from the corner of Seurat's La Grande Jatte, a half-dollar with Ben Franklin on it, a balalaika, a plastic replica of an Esso filling station for a set of O Scale model trains, an ornate archway with a chiseled inscripition, a drawer full of VHS tapes, randomly assembled from five or six different donors, but still somehow all the same, a rusted beer can with a label and brand name literally nobody you can find can remember. In short, a lot of trash that will end up buried for the anthropologists of the next millennium to dig up. I don't pity them the task of piecing together the evidence of the cause of our current catastrophe.