The Art of Wealth Creation

I close the book
eight years for this…
I’ve studied the formulas
the recipes, the maps
they just don’t survive the outside


raw materials,
access to capital,
markets and,
no mention of soil or precipitation
no value assigned to caregiving or societal cohesion

NY 400
from Maple I round the on-ramp
I see alchemy in action
on the petroleum tarmac of the centre–periphery expressway

to the shoulder dragged from the path of oncoming traffic
mammalian beasts struck down by passers-by
flesh, fur, blood
into the road
to brown
to gold

here on the municipal,
the micro — level
the immutable laws of economics are reversed

capital-flows and resources spread outward to outlying communities
where wealth can be properly cared-for and nurtured

roads always make me remember
paralleling the Inga-Shaba transmission route
always the passenger never the driver
here, the natural laws of commerce were observed

sealed high-voltage lines protected
barbed wire and cameras from the Inga dams to the Kulwezi mines
the entire 11 hundred mile stretch
three days if we’re lucky, but we always planned for five

from the headwaters carried along roads fresh cut from wilderness
the soil cap bleeds out in the first rains after tree fall
the rest is plundered more methodically:
tv, and,

Zairians, now Congolese
attempt to steal the electricity they will finance for decades to come
leaving the occasional charred or shot body scattered along the road side

a temporary biological testament
to desperation, lawlessness, and economic barbarism

whether pushed in front of traffic by the spread of unregulated sprawl
or fried or executed by the chicanery of global trade and crony capitalism
victims are seen as perpetrators or pests

I feed into the I-90 with other commuters
merging traffic, sipping coffee
and too many fuckers playing with phones
the commerce of it all

books always tell the tale
although often not the one we were hoping for

those expert in the secrets of the Emerald Tablet
believe their practice to be a clear path to riches and economic development

whether transforming lead into gold
or trusting in extraction and export-oriented production

whether their faith lies in Hermeticism or competitive advantage
makes no difference

the poor will be poorer
the rich will get richer

with the polite-society cover of formulas, policies and structural adjustments
from Congo to the U.S. from the Kisangani-Buta Road to the 400
the centre-periphery model performs as desired
although it seems more gas-lighting than science

the lifeblood of peoples, the lifeblood of nations, drained
the destitute to the prosperous
we know who writes history
so there’s no book for that

flowing over asphalt
ground into the pavement
from red
to brown
to gold

© 2003-2022 Brian Brown-Cashdollar


Scajaquada (Final)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I felt good about where this was going, but I realized I wasn’t really sure what it was about. I told one of my kids, I finally figured it out, and she asked how I could be writing something for 4 years and not know what it’s about. I told her, I write like that all the time if I see/feel/think something worth capturing I write it down. If there’s something there, I usually end up going back to it, often again and again, without having any idea what I’m really looking at. This went through 40+ drafts, and last week it dawned on me. I’m not going to lay it out, because that’s the poem’s job, but after that I was better able to focus on some of the details. For those who read the earlier versions, it still retains a lot, but this time with an actual direction. And I’m officially going to call this done.



deyohgwa’, deyohgwa’, deyohgwa’
topping expansion joints
rubber over steel – freeway’s heartbeat

looking out the window – Scajaquada
a word I heard since I could ride in back
more than a Buffalo word that sets us apart – deyohgwa’
more than an expressway that segregates and divides – deyohgwa’
more than a stream that drains and dumps – deyohgwa’
more than a street that doubles as a headstone – deyohgwa’

nearing the bank the smell of sewage and industrial waste is thick
after four miles underground under a broken boom
dangling across the 20 foot culvert
entering the cemetery — somehow
it still flows like water
still flowing over 400 million year old dolomite
still carving Serenity Falls — undisturbed only here
not channeled
not tunneled
not until middle age did I visit Forest Lawn

sitting creek side the call of water and wildlife drown out the city
below in Moffett’s Grove, the last parcel to receive the dead
two young sunbathers in appropriately black bikinis
recline safely away from the leer of living men
with only male finches and cicadas within earshot
wrapping ‘round the girls, the creek quietly descends

Only surfaced for a mile, life still manages
two foot carp, watgá’steowe:s
covers in mud sounds so much better than bottom feeder
sparrows, black birds and so many geese
then again diverted under the old Gala Waters
because it’s too polluted for park goers

I pick up the trail beyond the park
past the remaining glory of the Expo
and the decades of reclamation attempts
until I’m under concrete mangroves
and I’m carried back by the call of migrating cars overhead

past piers, girders and deck – deyohgwa’
past the smelting flame of the iron works – deyohgwa’
past the whir, grind, dust of sawmills – deyohgwa’
past the putrid mountain of refuse – deyohgwa’
past those foraging for pickings

we always seem to find the resources to create MORE
past the shipyards and the mighty masts rising like trees – deyohgwa’

I watch the forest settle back into the earth
swaying with the wind, grasses buffer the creek’s edge
it seems calm as it forgets its future
at the mouth in the distance
smoke rises from longhouses
girls schucking and shelling corn
old women weaving baskets in the shade
tanned skins drying by air
Philip Conjockety lives here
creekside with his family

entertaining settlers
pioneers believe him
the oldest living man
retelling tales of nations and explorers
stories of his father, the last of the Kah Kwa
a chief among the Seneca — felled by fire water

the maiden of the mist who warned her people
of the poisonous glacial serpent that drove them from their ancestral lands
that created the Horseshoe Falls and forced the gods to the sky
now they would abandoned their land
abandoning cornfields to brownfields
M2 – General Industrial District
benzene, toluene, xylene, lead, cyanide, and PCB’s
as history leaches back into the creek bed
and settles in the flesh of wildlife

I turn back at the sign that warns
“be safe walk with a friend”
a small bronze plaque reads
Commodore Perry named the creek after the noble elder
by his Seneca name ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
“beyond the multitude”

why am I surprised?
a name, a word can make so much unseen
a people, a waterway, a language, a history — disappeared

above the mangrove piers, rubber and steel echo
timed right it’s a quick route out of the city
fast enough to ignore the creek that languishes below – deyohgwa’
fast enough to forget the appropriation of Seneca land – deyohgwa’
fast enough to excuse the legacy of industrialization – deyohgwa’
fast enough to hide the homeless – deyohgwa’
fast enough to beat the rush


Scajaquada (skuh-JA-qua-duh)
deyohgwa’ (day-yoh-gwah!)
watgá’steowe:s (waw-tgawh!-stay-oh-ways)

© 2017-2021 Brian Brown-Cashdollar