Just Like The Jones’

“You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, who is that man?
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say
When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?”

-Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man, 1965

Thirteen years later, no Village loft chatterer,
charismatic Big Daddy Jones knows ‘xactly who he is,
father and savior, power broker and preacher, molester and killer,
Jim’s communal now dystopian Peoples Temple relocated south,
snuggled in a self-referential Guyanan jungle town.

Where no one but the bosses lived well.
Where kids’ stomachs went empty.
Where misbehavers got stuffed in plywood box torture holes.
Where cult members attempting to flee were drugged.
Where paranoid armed thugs patrolled the compound 24/7.
Where Red Brigades ensured all orders were obeyed.

When Congressman Ryan and troubled parents
flew in to see for themselves, they were gunned down
by loyalists who exhorted a thousand followers
to drink the Kool-Aid which passed as mass suicide…

In the eighties I ran clinics in Oakland and San Francisco
which offered health services to traumatized families
plus a few survivors of that Jonestown Massacre.
Cared for a comatose genius copycat teen-chemist
whose breath reeked that same telltale Guyanan almond stench.
Despite drilling burr holes to let out the pressure,
the stressed boy also died of cyanide
after his cortex splattered the ER ceiling.

Decades past, I still can’t get rid of
that sick Rommel Goering Hitler stink.

(Gerard Sarnat lives in the Bay Area. He is widely published; his book Homeless Chronicles is available here. He may be reached at gsarnat@aol.com.)