GREAT AWAKENING by Rodrigo Toscano

Great Awakening

a minimally staged dialogue for two players

{B being pulled over by cop, nervous, skittish; A “cop” walks up from behind wearing shades, aggressive, zealous, knocks on the “window”}

A: The lord can—give you a will, for the right search.

B: I twitch, jerk, and quake—as a prime example—of that search.

A: The lord looks for prime examples.

B: The lord is hereby offered one.

A: Self-recognition, the cognate in common?

B: We’ve got an understanding—me, you, the lord.

A: Weep not says the lord, for—

B: —a well-lent will, can more easily skim, him?

A: The lord’s cognition has spoken.

B: The lord seeks exactness?

{A pulls B from car and puts B’s hands on the hood}

A: Awake—from yourself. Shark teaser in a cage—have exactitude!

B: The lord twitches, jerks, and quakes—I didn’t think so, until now.

A: I offer myself, as proof.

B: People from cities all over, unable to analyze it—guilt-free, come to—

A: —fight? Amen!

B: Amen.

A: The lord, the pimp, the people, the product, the pump of this culture readied (a stainless steel ring to pull in an emergency)

B: Amen.

A: A platinum collar, cold on contact, sometimes bliss, around the neck.

B: Pull, then twist, so that the hidden holiday is revealed: Katrina Day.

A: The food pantry of X the Lord’s Sanctuary—is inviting.

B: Chew on this, profit.

A: Nylon straps, snug as the lord’s words tethering the lord’s—

B: Independent Contracting Schemes (a toddler seat at the table)

{A muscles B to the ground into spread eagle position}

A: Amen. Let’s be exact! There’s art for profits, art for non-profits (to profit by), and altogether unprofitable arts.

B: Quantum. Sociology. My fifty golden calves—at granny hipster’s.

A: A small slab of anthracite for the nephew, an ornate cape—just for the hell of it, a hockey mask for a stroll through the mall, a 500 mega watt pulsed rhodamine laser in hand—etc.

B: You. Proud product of some kind of network. I think the lord’s self-pimping abilities—are on the increase.

A: Average poetry readings reveal much.

B: I improve…when the content is based on some other kind of—contract.

A: Respect for The Lord! Respect for Cable Coppersmooth, Cinnamon Face, and all verifiable accomplishments, in tow.

B: The local is pushed out. Amen?

A: Amen! This re-flavoring of certain…distinctions. Other bitterness’ applied lightly to the rippled surface. Property mud bars for the whole family!

B: Audit the flow—incoming. Admit the lord. You were about to This Very Moaning In Private Seems Necessary. What’s the immediate effect?

A: Piety, double-digit snide, “bilk bilk”.

B: What’s the immediate goal?

A: Light up the mall.

B: And the lonely shark around the cage?

A: Amen. The people are—poking back—at it.

-Rodrigo Toscano


The vital link between degraded workers’ health & safety environments and industrial environmental disasters too often goes unnoticed. It ends up as a footnote in catastrophic incident investigations. This blind spot in reporting – stemming from an ideological blind spot in thinking about worker empowerment in general – is what in the most immediate sense got us into this newest oil spill.

In the larger global framework, a transition from a carbon fuel burning economy to a diversified energy source economy (a “green economy”), organized workers (alongside their unorganized peers – in their hundreds of millions) can and must lead the way. The move from a consumerist perspective to a productivist perspective-plus-practice, is what Capital fears and resists most. Frankly, BP can itself promote “green” “ethical” shopping practices at any point, and even this fine website they might consider bankrolling outright, if approached. We can’t as poets just throw scented flowers into the boiling vat. We must migrate from “ethical” social civic prayer mode to a material-cultural definition mode coupled with volitional-subjective unpredictability.

In the long transition from a Capital-based economy to a Human-need economy – there’s tons of work for poets to do in all sorts of ways. But as for now, we’re largely out of a job because we can’t let go of our hallowed (relegated) roles as dispensers of “wisdom.” This gathering of poets for Living Waters is self-organization of poets into action, and thus has the potential of shifting into a productivist mode. Dear Reader, don’t shop us—meet us at the place of cultural meaning-making!


Rodrigo Toscano’s newest book, Collapsible Poetics Theater was a National Poetry Series 2007 winner. His poetry has appeared Best American Poetry 2004, War and Peace (2004 & 2007), and in the Criminal’s Cabinet: An anthology of poetry and fiction (2004), and in McSweeney’s “Poets Picking Poets”. He was a 2005 recipient of a New York State Fellowship in Poetry. Toscano is also the artistic director and writer for the Collapsible Poetics Theater (CPT). His polyvocalic pieces, poetics plays, and body-movement poems, have been performed at the Disney Redcat Theater in Los Angeles, Ontological-Hysteric Poet’s Theater Festival, Poet’s Theater Jamboree 2007, Links Hall Chicago, and the Yockadot Poetics Theater Festival. His radio pieces have appeared on WPIX FM (New York), KAOS Public Radio Olympia, WFMU, WNYU, and PS.1 Radio. His work has been translated into French, German, Italian, Dutch, and Catalonian. Toscano is originally from Southern California. He works in Manhattan at the Labor Institute, and lives in Brooklyn.

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