I You expected more when I had nothing left for trips to the mall to buy trinkets; an hour’s pay, a moment’s thought and gone, gone throughout the city. These wailing, dead languages. White people aren’t willing to tell the truth and mend those unplanned debts.
II The virgin mother We disappoint her when we ignore stigmata as if it is offhand We convict criminals hang their black asses for the sake of not admitting that you cannot reach God by dealing death at random from spectral blips in the sky. We cheer the lynchings but we are the slaves the servile house niggers tapdancing in jackboots and sometimes we feel each other up and sometimes we sit and get high cheering our oppressors smart men, smart as bombs.
III The setup, the scam always the same thing: they catch you unaware of who they are. Do not assume your owners are good people. They have priced your life, appraised it at fair market value and offered you half, though you took a third in the end.
IV Alone in a rusted Volvo with swamp wafting from the vents. You were trying to tell me my future, to tell me it was just the past reconfigured. I would always fail, you said, and I took you at your word. But what’s failure now? Collapse and ruin, and the thousand dollar couch melts in the rain, made of cardboard after all. Money on loan from God, but spent as if by thugs so safe and free in the home of the brave where we cower when we smell those awkward smells. Where we’re all tricked out for slips of paper a war on terror a beatdown of a raghead. Where we all expect our letters to be read by safety first or Mother May I Where we are all bastards and colonists, we live in fear as if thieves.
V We like the cars that go boom and the bombs that chute through airducts sportscar sleek. We have made our beds of the corpses of Laotians, Somalians, Nicaraguans, Nigerians; still the hordes storm the pipelines with stones. There will always be more. We are thieves and bullies just as our so-called heroes these holograms of the hegemon who have somehow become respectable in this empire’s dotage. We are to cheer and act impressed, supplicants yet safe and free. Ready to kick terror’s ass when our scripts get filled.
VI Sluggers never cry, ain’t that right? Even when they have lust in their hearts they would never think to proclaim who they love and why as maybe it’s too late. Bulls running from the stench of death, bullshit artists misreading texts finding power and glory in the force of a fist upside a head. Visions shed and shucked like husks of a quainter time. Eviscerated specters in longing’s dusk. Morality and love and all the rest. The beautiful girls, never held, never told they’re special until the stocks collapse and they’re kidnapped and slashed. In death, we all are saints. But we aren’t to live for ourselves but for a flag or paper money. All guilty or unproven, left to the tenderness of the master’s jurisprudence, knowing no one loves a slave. VII A weekend, a party: some motel in Kalispell or a hovel in Missoula. We drink until it’s gone and we smoke until it’s gone and somehow fail to notice it’s been the same routine for far too long. As long as the bowl makes its way around, it will be fine. Sometimes the wave breaks and I am alone in my thoughts, taken by a familiar scent to a time gone by when I was young and turned somersaults on the lawn, never thinking so much could be lost.
VIII Men without honor toll the bells. Bland men, sad men, men who always smile on camera. Men without honor take from us and call it charity. We have been taken in for too long by the stylish suits and the synthesized accents. We have sexualized clones and thieves, making peace with the specter to stave off death itself. Disasters from stock footage — Amtrak wrecks, child rapes Deceptions with body count potential: a few thousand or a few million bodies with their last breath drawn in sacrifice to freedom to drill or to kill. Mothers, shed your sons.
Anthony Gancarski is the author of Unfortunate Incidents, a collection of poems and stories published in 2001. A student at Gonzaga Law School, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .