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Jon Davis


It seemed within reach.  It seemed to be just over the next rise, a mist or fog that would settle
among the trees and ragged bushes that lined the footpath that ran between the milkweed and
black raspberry canes and sumac and tall golden grasses.  Because that’s how we imagined it—
like a mist that settled down over us, no guns, no fighting, no shouting, just a mist settling down
and softening the edges of things so that nothing, it would seem, needed to be done.  Of course,
we had been smoking weed in a tent erected for that purpose and of course a local rock band was
churning away on the makeshift stage and of course there were frisbees flying everywhere and
circles of shirtless young men flipping a bean-filled sack into the air with their feet or catching it
on the backs of their necks briefly.  And of course the three day concert had entered its third day
and someone’s cousin was ripping along the trails on a Yamaha 175 that sounded like a drunken
chainsaw spinning in the dirt.  And the revolution was right there in front of us.  The revolution
that would make work and strife vanish.  The revolution that would free us to sit crosslegged in a
tent and smoke weed all day in a tent erected for that purpose in a park that was always open and
waiting.  And when we got hungry a large converted mobile home would pull up and people with
hairnets would serve us food that the government provided.  Something exotic, perhaps mangos
and black beans wrapped in a tortilla.  A bottle of guava juice.  We would line up and receive our
revolutionary food, then go back to singing about the joys of the revolution, how everything was
okay now.  The song would be called “Okay Revolution” and it would have a loping reggae beat
and our voices would have been much improved by the revolution.  There would not be much to
say about the particular character of this particular revolution, but the song would assert over and
over that the revolution was, indeed, okay.  Some of us would clap along, others would strum
.  All of us would sing a little in our new improved voices.  Mornings, we would stand and
salute the sun, each in our own way.  We would open beers or light up more joints and smoke. 
We would await the white mobile home style kitchen on wheels, the women in their white
hairnets and cheerful post-revolutionary voices.  Afternoons, we would talk about Dylan and
Marley and someone might venture a thought or two about Nietzsche.  Inevitably, someone
would say, “God is dead,” and we would nod our assent.  Then a band would begin playing a
song we’d heard a million times, a song that expressed the freedoms we were feeling now that
the revolution had settled over us and made things mellow.  Though the words might be different
each time, the message was the same: everything’s mellow now that the revolution’s here.  It’s
true that squabbles would erupt occasionally.  Someone might complain that someone ripped him
off.  A dreadlocked man might stand suddenly and barrel off into the bushes off-kilter and leaned
out ahead of his legs like a wounded duck.  Or a woman might pull off her shirt suddenly and
cause much chest-thumping and howling among the otherwise mellow young men.  But most of
the time the revolution would deliver on its promise.  So that when it was time to dig a new
latrine, all of the occupants of the tent would shake themselves out of their post-revolutionary
stupor and help dig.  Or, when the food wagon came, we would be polite and patient and
courteous in our lines.  Marx had, it seemed most days, been mostly right.  We were better
people without property.  Instead of twenty private stashes, each zealously guarded, now there 
was a pile of community weed that everyone dug into whenever the whim struck, and it struck
often after the revolution.  At first we could think of nothing else to do except smoke weed and
sing “Okay Revolution” all day.  Then, one day, one of the young men discovered a worn
football on the bike path that ran alongside the river.  At first it sat beside the tent untouched.
  Then gradually a few of the men started tossing it playfully around the circle while we sang our
445th chorus of “Okay Revolution.”  Then a few men tried a scrimmage.  Two on two, with one
man throwing and the other catching and the other two trying to prevent the catch.
  Soon all of
the men from our tent and other men from other tents began to join them.  They moved the
games to a field beside the river, away from the tents and the prying eyes of the women.  The
games became rougher, with men flinging each other in the dirt, then leaping and slapping each
other in celebration.  Soon they were growling and shouting so loudly that the women couldn’t
focus on their own thin voices singing “Okay Revolution” beside the tent mouth.  Eventually, the
women were drawn to see what was happening.  They gathered on the ridge above the field and
watched the men, some of them shirtless, others wearing thin T-shirts drenched with sweat, as
they slammed into each other and galloped down the field carrying the football tucked into their
elbows, or squared off to contest a play, shoving each other and screaming just inches from each
other’s face.  The women watched a while, then returned to the tent to sing and smoke and sleep.
The men returned ravenous, filled with energy.  They carried the women off into the bushes and
lifted their peasant dresses and took them from behind.  Some of the women were appalled,
others secretly thrilled, but they all understood that things had changed.  The men no longer sang
“Okay Revolution.”  They stopped smoking weed.  When the food wagon came, the men fought
to be first in line.  They gobbled their food and wiped their mouths with their sleeves, then
hurried off to practice handing the football to their teammates, tossing and catching.  They
thought of new ways to hit each other—lower and harder.  They made plans for who would hit
whom, figured out who would throw, who would catch, how they would trick the other teams by
pretending to do one thing while doing another.  They named captains, set up positions and
strategies and assignments.  And the women, the beautiful women, the beautiful peaceful
women, gradually, two by two or in small groups, carrying sacks filled with their clothing and
jewelry, their long skirts billowing, disappeared from the tent and the park until one day the park
was filled with men, men standing in the dusk on the field, men scratching plays into the dirt
with sticks, men hurtling through the near-dark, slamming their bodies into each other, hitting
and driving and leaping and rolling, shouting and pointing, men together with other men, happy
and wild and sweat-drenched and lost.