John Bennett

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Top Secret
(written in 2009)

He was shorter than Hitler and had no facial hair to speak of, but he could puff out his chest and fly into rages, and so they appointed him Leader. Elections had long since been abolished for reasons of national security, and a Leader and his cabinet members were routinely appointed by a self-perpetrating corporate board.

Before his appointment, everything including the lunch menu was classified Top Secret, but once in power he issued a decree that (because of its highly sensitive nature) only he was privy to, that it was Top Secret that everything was Top Secret. This triggered drastic repercussions.

Soon cabinet members as well as members of the corporate board were being whisked away in the dead of night by death squads from the Leader's Top Secret private-sector army for refusing to show their files to investigating committees of a titular congress, declaring them Top Secret: in so doing, they violated the Leader's Top Secret decree that it was Top Secret that everything was Top Secret.

The Leader, short and hairless though he was, was no fool. With a single decree he'd abolished government, broken the back of corporate power, and become supreme ruler without a shred of evidence available to prove that anything had changed.

He ruled until he died at the age of 89, at which time the country erupted in chaos.

The Well Gone Dry

Long after
the well had
gone dry he
continued to
lower the


There Is Some Shit I Will Not Eat

I wrote a piece about Martians turning everyone green and sent it to OpEd News and they fired it back with the word "shit" highlighted in red. They were considering publishing it but wanted shit out of there. Their reasoning was that readers will be offended, not by the idea of being turned green by Martians, but by the word shit.


"There is some shit I will not eat," said Big Olaf in an e.e. cummings poem.

Once cummings tried to help his friend Joe Gould who was a mad genius and slept in doorways in Greenwich Village. His obsession was writing the Oral History of the Times, which consisted of scribbling down whatever he heard people say as he wandered the streets. His very existence flew in the face of the force that censors shit.

cummings tried to get Joe admitted into an elite literary circle so that Joe's writing might reap a modicum of recognition and Joe might receive enough financial blowback to be able to afford to rent a room.


Joe showed up on time for his evaluation, and the interview was going well until the panel asked him to recite one of his poems. Joe's eyes lit up.

"Gull!" said Joe. Then he began flapping his arms wildly and making gull sounds until eventually they stopped him.

"Thank you Joe," the head of the panel said. "You'll be hearing from us."

He never did.

Real art shits wherever it pleases and never eats it.

The Struggles of the Corporate Person

Hard to come up with an answer to the problem, the question, the dilemma, the postmortem, postpartum salute-this-flag blues.

Another day without work, $360 to the mechanic, $640 to the tax man, an even thousand in the red, not bad for a day with no work. Am I too big to fail, can I write off my loses and ask for ten thousand in bail out?

The local phone company stiffed me for two months window cleaning, even stopped payment on a check they'd already written, something about bankruptcy. But they're still going strong, it's the branches back east that are having a hard time of it. Turns out my local phone company isn't a local phone company after all, and if I continue to bill them for services rendered, I've been given to understand, I'm subject to legal action and my phone will be disconnected.

Just another corporate person with the law stacked in its favor, eking out a living by feeding on the sweat and blood of ordinary people.



John Bennett was for many years the driving force behind Vagabond Press which operated on the run from Munich to DC to New Orleans to San Francisco and beyond.  He’s published four novels, two novellas, five short story collections and numerous books of poetry, essays and shards, a poem/story hybrid of his own invention.

He keeps slamming out the words, if anything with more ferocity than ever. As Henry Miller said so eloquently around half a century ago, “You may as well have your say, they’re going to shit on you anyway.”