The Witness-Protection Program

We prefer to call it Le Système D,
the labyrinth of our permanent exile,
the magic houses and identity cards:
this erasable fiction of our new lives.

What the public doesn't realize
is that they put us all together,
just bought up some tract housing
in a blank rectangular state

and invented an invisible town.
We're all here: mob informants,
gangland witnesses, political spies,
the more serious postmodernists.

You can always spot the new arrivals,
in their too-big suits, borrowed smiles
and enormous blue name tags
(Hi! I'm Bob! I'm a farmer!).

We all live peacefully together,
answering to names at random
driving to interchangeable offices
in disguised government cars.

There is no crime and no visitors
except the federal psychologists
and fingerprint officers who tell us
the right and the wrong names for things.

Every year we become more invisible,
our features and memories lapsing
into the anonymous landscape
under a heavy cloud of irony.

We know the system is working.