Iowa author Mike Palecek has recently released his newest book, "The American Dream."
Review of "The American Dream" by Marie Jones
"Palecek is fearless, skewering religious extremism, political right wing fundamentalism, gung-ho patriotism and the use of fear to play upon the innocent ... and ignorant. And it works. I finished the book in one night ... but it's been in my brain ever since, like a song that won't go away ... haunting."
"In the arms of the angels, fly away from here.
From this dark, cold [prison cell]
And the endlessness that you fear.
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie.
You're in the arms of an angel.
May you find some comfort here."
- Sarah McLachlin
Is This Heaven?
by Mike Palecek
Just got back from looking outside.
This is Iowa.
How you doing?
Is this a great country?
That is the question.
Looking for the truth about America. It's become a cottage industry these days.
Most of us are in the habit of believing things - especially when they come from mainstream sources. We believe things mostly because we see them on TV, or because a "respected" expert or leader assures us they are true.
Geezuz, don't do that.
The JFK airport terror plot? Fugheddabout it.
Well, sure, I'm an idiot if it turns out to be true.
But that's where we are, where we're heading, to the place where nobody believes anything coming out of Washington, D.C., printed in our major newspapers, seen on TV, heard on the radio, because we know it's all lies - the way the folks leaning on the bar in the Rusty Sickle in downtown Moscow must have felt about each pronouncement that came from the Kremlin, Tass, Pravda.
Just shaking their heads, saying, what a lying bunch of sons of midgets and musk ox.
Show me the difference.
The only difference is that it is us, and it's now, and it's here - and we can't believe this is happening to us. And we will deny it is happening to us for the rest of our lives.
Remember those press conferences on TV where the director of Homeland Security stands up there with the director of the FBI?
They are sporting spanking new "Look The f*ck Out" terror-orange hardhats and T-shirts and padded vests, with hip waders, and camo, waterproof hunting boots cut to the calf.
Duck calls sticking out of their back pockets.
That was leading up to the last presidential election.
They don't have those anymore. I wonder why.
We're getting ready to blow the f*ck out of the Iranians - who are each and everyone born terrorists of course - and so now we have to have terrorists in a New York City airport.
Well ... to show that it makes perfect sense to kill the Iranians.
Time to re-Duct Tape your windows, dude.
We forget too easily.
Remember how George W. Bush came to power.
A coup d'etat.
He stole The Presidential Election.
Abetted by The Supreme Court and The Free Press.
We, some of us - I, suspect he and his junta engineered 911, murdered Paul Wellstone, lied about WMD.
The f*ckers have secret prisons in Poland and Romania and Disneyland and they torture people.
All this for power.
Is there anything they are not capable of?
They ignore global warming and are likely contemplating the use of first-strike nuclear weapons.
George W. Bush and his group threaten the very existence of civilization.
G. W. Hitler. Genghis Khan. Idi Amin. Pol Pot. Mussolini. Marquis de Sade.
Who else ya got?
They will all some day be documented in the same "Villainous f*ckers Of History" Ken Burns special if the human race survives the Bush family era.
George W. Bush.
During the period of the scandal that brought George W. Bush to power - the stealing of the election, we all waited and waited and waited, and when it was over I considered tossing a concrete block through the military recruiter's office over by the Sioux City mall.
I thought how can we let our children see that the way we deal with such profound corruption is to do nothing.
I thought we should resist.
I drove past the recruiters' offices, considered how I might make my escape, etc. I asked friends if they would like to join me. None did.
They said, are you crazy?
It just might be a lunatic you're looking for.
I stood outside on our patio, my arms outstretched, in the rain, wearing only waterproof boots cut to the calf, considering the relative weight of a sheet of paper and a concrete block.
I decided to keep writing.
I published a book in 2001 called KGB - Killing George Bush - about prisoners in the Woodbury County jail in Sioux City, Iowa.
It's not about George W., but George Sr.
In the one newspaper passed around to all the cell blocks, the prisoners read about the arrest of General Pinochet for war crimes.
And they figure that there are also war criminals up here that need to be arrested. They decide we need a Truth Commission in the United States. We need to get some sh*t worked out.
Before we go any further, let's figure out this History thing.
Find out where we've been, what we've done, who we are.
And these prisoners, who are considered bottom of the barrel human beings - the folks who come to mind when you see a dirty diaper in the gutter, the ones who the rest of us stand on in order to reach the fruit at the top of the tree - decide they will try to bring about some justice in these United States.
In the only way they know how. Because the free press and the elected and all the good people have done nothing.
This passage is from KGB, published by Publish America.
Publish America is definitely not a prestigious publisher, but it's something. At least KGB is out there, available. That's how I see it.
I have gone the whole route of submitting to big publishers, agents, all that, over years.
With Publish America I was at least able to get one of my books in print, my first one.
My thanks to them.
In this passage below we go inside the very private world of D Block at nighttime lockdown, the end of another day in prison.
This is Iowa.
Where all the prisons are paid for, the police ubiquitous, they want to ticket us.
The woman guard walked down. The static talk on the walkie-talkie meant bedtime.
"Lockdown!" she shouted and spoke into her hand machine. The cell doors closed. The sally port doors charged open. The guard cackled into her machine and walked in, down the row, stopping at each cell to say a word.
She walked out, spoke into the machine and the two sally port doors shut behind her.
The lights in the day room snuffed off and the cell lights dimmed, making the hall lights bright.
Baltimore stuck his head out the side of his bottom bunk to read a two-year-old Sports Illustrated from the library cart.
Pontiac lay in his underwear on top of his covers on the top bunk. He finished off a cigarette with a wince and fired it down into the toilet. He bed creaked as he sat up to roll another.
Gerald and Arthur visited in baritones.
Mourning Dove lay on his back with his hands over his stomach.
Mendez lay on his stomach under the cover, snoring.
Bobby Ford crept around to the corner of his cell in his underwear. He stuck his nose out the last opening.
"Niiight, Martin," he sang in a high voice.
"Shut the f*ck up Ford," said Pontiac. Ford shot back to his bed and pulled the covers up.
At one a.m. the night guard clicked down the hall. His flashlight moved with his right leg. He talked into his walkie-talkie, not bothering to be quiet for the sleeping prisoners. The doors of the sally port clanged open.
The guard stalked in, click, click, down the row, shining a light into each cell, counting to himself.
"Morning, Gary," said Pontiac.
"Mornin'," said the guard, walking past.
He strode back without speaking. Pontiac sat on the top bunk, his big bare feet hanging over the side. He rolled another cigarette. Gary glanced at Mumford doing pushups.
The doors clanged shut. Gary and Pontiac repeated the scene at two and three o'clock. At the four o'clock count Pontiac was asleep.
As the night guard checked the blocks each hour and talked to the street cops who brought in prisoners and the woman who worked the front desk, while the lights at the corner clicked from green to yellow to red and the kids drove past - the men of D Block dreamed like summer campers.
They dreamed of being twenty feet to the north.
What could that be like? They had never been there. They had each been born in jail. They had never seen their mothers or held their children. They had always known Burton, always known his name. He had always been there in the morning, telling them when to eat, to read, to watch television.
They dreamed of clouds, flying up through the clouds, falling down into clouds and bouncing lightly.
They dreamed of playing softball and baseball. Their dogs licked their faces as they slept. They made love to fairy princesses. They told their fathers they loved them and helped their mothers peel apples for pie.
And they smiled, wide, a wonder their faces did not crack and fall to the floor like old pottery during a change in the weather.
They cried as it came near the time they had to leave their loved ones. They reached out arms and could not reach out because of the bunk or the ceiling.
They moaned and they jerked and they sobbed.
They grabbed themselves, not wanting to walk down the cold upstairs hall to pee.
On the precipice of their dreams they heard the school custodian's whistle down the hall.
They heard the jingling of a little brother's toys in the living room.
They heard someone reaching for keys to start a truck.
They heard the click of hard shoes on smooth, shiny concrete.
They heard the metallic-tasting language of a machine.
They opened their eyes and saw their mothers had flipped on their bedroom light.
They felt the coarse blanket on their shoulders, heard the growl of Burton: "Brrrr-ekkfst."
And the mechanical opening of their cages.
They opened their eyes, squinting, then rolled to their backs and shut their eyes, trying to retrieve their dreams, remembering they were in prison.
KGB, The Truth, Joe Coffee's Revolution, Terror Nation, The Last Liberal Outlaw, Looking For Bigfoot, Twins, The American Dream, Prophets Without Honor.