TIC Reading June 2, 2007
"Embedded With Mangoes in the Garden of Duelling Delights"

"Palaces and Fountains:" prose poem
Carla Hagen

I warned them. They all think I’m just a low-life private eye, doing surveillance for scorned spouses, hacking into crooked computers that house corporate secrets, doing all the boring work cops don’t want to do. But that’s not all. I hear things in my line of work. Secrets. Some of them so volatile I’d be crazy to tell them. These were rumors, but well-founded ones that told me the truth: it wasn’t just some wild-eyed entrepreneur who really liked pink, who just had to install those vulgar imitations of the palaces of Kubla Khan—as if he even knew what that meant—the vibrating slot machines, the truly ugly fountain that looked like a robot bearing overdeveloped trumpets or mutant morning glories, the oh-so-carefully crafted lakes people couldn’t help but walk into. After all, it was hotter than the bejesus those days and getting hotter all the time. The little pink paradise was just a distraction. And it came from Her, the first female president, the one people thought would be Commander-in-Chief and mommy all rolled up into one. The pink was a nice touch. Bread and circuses. Bread and roses. Of course everyone flocked there--the grass lime-green as in the springs we hadn’t seen for decades, the carefully tended flowers. And in the background the city lit up a Hollywood opening with klieg lights. To me it looked more like Dresden during that long-ago War. Or giant streams of water trying in vain to put out fires already burning out of control. Which they were. It’s just that no one wanted to see it. How could they, with all the green, the cool water, the blinding fuchsia?

Carla Hagen is a writer and criminal attorney who grew up on Lake of the Woods and has a thing for Latin America. She is marketing her first novel, White Lilies in Dark Water, set on the Canadian border in 1936. In her spare time she writes poetry, co-hosts a Latin music show on KFAI and takes notes for her next novel, which will be all about crime and court, thus drawing material from her day job.

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