Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Overread at the Counter: Suite for America
Suite for America
I am the Mississippi Gulf and the Arizona Highway, Portland
Maine and the Nebraska Plain, I am Tabasco sauce and the Black-Eyed-
Peas in a pod, I am the path not taken and the trail well-trod,I am
the far horizon and the lost weekend.
I am the mercury in your blood, roiling poison through your lungs,
the patchwork Tertullian nightmare seeping into your skin.
I am the handlebars on your daughter’s backside,
vroomvroom sugar daddy, lup-lup-liciousnutricious
there’s nothing more delicious than
But sin has been reclassified as a lifestyle choice,
and choices are never good or bad, they merely have
unexpected outcomes, but it’s
I am good, I am the good to the last drop
killer of serial killers, cooking meth in the basement
to provide for my family once cancer kicks my bucket.
I am the bucket list and you are on it.
I am the tail end of Haley’s comet, I am the
shale boom and the mountaintop removal
all to bring you the finest in shit-filled streams and cell phone chargers
and air conditioning but damn your electric cars,
I am the congested highways and the clogged veins
syrup and strains and whips and chains
let your Rhianna do the talking,
your fingers through her hair become your fist in the air,
I am the residential nightmare, the gunshots at night,
I am the seventeen year old black boy walking home with
some Skittles and my hoodie is the bulls-eye that the
I am the neighborhood watch that blames the black
president for racial tensions.
I am the falling apart at the seams.
I am the weeds, the skunk crank that settles in the backseat of your
brain, filtering the intensity of the world down to a soft slush,
I am the ping pong ball sized tumor in your spine
that will send you out into the streets of Galveston
if you are paperless, if you are
not supposed to be here, if you
are less than deserving
of my hospitals and my laser surgical tools,
I am the great inhospitable tower of Coke
parading over the justly deserving and the languidly
I am the arcane madness of my invisible enemies.
I am Monsanto, the seed that your farmers no longer own.
I am the grease under your fingernails, the sweat on your skin, I am
the rains and pours which adores the whores you are so fond of coming
in out of the rain,
I am the summer rain and the winter storm, I am Tornado Alley and
I am the Gulf Coast Hurricanes, I am the storms that butcher your
GullaGulla Islands down to your Florida Keys, the winds that brought
Coney Island to its knees, I am the
snowfall that crushes the roofs of your upstate New York homes,
I am the mangled trees standing in Central Park.
I am the scorched earth of your Texas desert, I am the rolling Ozark hills,
hiding the secrets that no one will ever know, I am the rainbow warriors that
took over Eureka Springs, I am the San Francisco valley and the Bay Area
and the last gasp of the Death Valley Joshua Trees.
I am the last drop of water from your disappearing snowpack, watching
Los Angeles county dry to wicker straw, becoming tinder for the last great
fire that will sweep all of Southern California into the briny sea.
I am Las Vegas and Compton, Beverly Hills and Tuscaloosa County,
I am Whitehead Bay and Puget Sound, I am Clear Lake and Beulah Falls,
I am the Everglades and Cleveland, I am Ferguson Missouri and I am
I am the crumbling bridge that kills a trucker as well as a mother of three.
I am the pothole that tears up the undercarriage of the rusty Honda Civic
I am the miles of smooth highways and the forgotten back roads
I am the small towns withering in the sun like weeds killed by a healthy dose of Round-Up.
I am the diner where the drug traffickers eat a meal, pay off the sheriff and drive on toward the
nextmetropolis lacking anything resembling a super
I am acquittal. I am rebirth.
I am the silver bullet, the golden spoon, the paper plate.
I am the never early and the always late.
I am the heavy metal hip-hop Rap bastard squeal and I
am the subsidized school lunch meal ticket
I am the last bell and the dying cry of the “all aboard”
I am the Civil War reenactment and I am the Stars and Bars suspended on
the inside of the garage, whose floor is littered with Castrol and empty half-crushed Papst Blue Ribbon.
I am that which will send you out crying into the Oregonian snowpack,
one lonely car trapped in winter, leaving behind your wife and newborn baby,
they will survive on breast milk while you will disappear into the snow
that will bury you high in the Willamette Forest.
I am the Grand Canyon and the Cadillac Ranch.
I am the angry white man, the devil in the closet,
the dirty girl trying to stay clean, I am the homeless woman
cast out of the back of a moving Toyota Corolla onto the curb
in front of the free clinics of L.A.
I am the queer spook at the back of the fifth grade class, I am the she-male
in gym, threatening to stab that little bitch white Latina who my friends
said called me a dyke during passing period. I am the finger bitten off during
a town hall debate over universal health care. I am the six year old girl shot while
crossing the street, I am the three-month-old baby and the coffee mug death blow,
and I am the eleven-year-old who looks at the shattered skull and splintered mug, then
goes downstairs to
make myself a peanut butter sandwich.
I am the late night start-up and the morning dinner conversation, the megapixillated
teen drunk on death and car crash at $49.95 per game, wandering though terraformed landscapes
with the voices of strange boy-men in my head, I am the gun and the laser, destroying the aliens who have come to drain the world of water.
I am the vanishing snow pack, the dying glacier, the last icicle on the roofbeam.
I am sunshine though the leaves, the last breath of summer on a new day. I am the lilt of autumn and the quiet hope of winter, I am the purple-nurple mountains and the fruited majesty, the cream in your coffee and the chocolate in your peanut butter.
I am the needle and the spoon,
the stove-top meth boil while the pre-schoolers nap in the next room,
I am the yowling Baptist mother screaming about those lazy blacks on welfare
and getting abortions while my daughter sleeps with her forensics teacher and my
husband bangs AA in the bathroom stall at midday, while I pile on the pills and the pounds
and take my son to the soccer game and spend the time texting my sister about
how we’re gonna have to put dad in a home.
I am the fat black man selling cigarettes on a New York streetcorner and dammit man, I can not breathe.
I am hands up, don’t shoot, give a hoot, don’t pollute.
I am the number of licks it takes to get to the bottom of a Tootsie Pop.
I am Jonathan Winters and Robin Williamsnanu-nanu hatch me from an egg and watch me
grow backwards, I am the imagined Normal Rockwell never-was Jesusland where
men were memes and women were Venus and children were always happy and beaming,
I am the delight at the sight of the open eyes of a newborn baby,
I am the kitten that you rescued from a cardboard box in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
I am the accountant writing bad poetry when he needs to get those cost reports done.
I am Soylant Green and the Stepford Wives, I am your Snoop Dog and your Limp Biscuit and the
smarter-than-Ezra fifth grader asking the civics teacher, “Who are we mad at and why?”
I am the thousand miles of pristine Alaskan wilderness, awaiting
your oil rigs to rape me like a drunken frat boy.
I am your lingering doubt, the traces of your racist
thoughts which you have sublimated into
xeno-hatred and sends you hiding inside
you’ve never read.
I am your arrested development, your colorless night, your plastic bag bans and your urban blight.
I am the memory of the click-clack paddywhack steam trains along the trestle bridges that
bend under the weight of the rust of time,
I am tomatoes grown in Florida,
where tomatoes are not supposed to grow,
I am the cannabis plant under the lamplight in eastern Colorado
waiting to be taken across the line into Kansas
smoked by some fourteen-year-old in the basement of his ranch house.
I am the Muslim with the prayer mat in his cubicle,
the Christian on her knees in the bathroom, praying no one will see,
I am the back seat of your mother’s car,
the memory of last summer’s shooting star,
I am the tweet under the sheets and the meat on the grill
at every backyard barbeque and every wagging flag
I am railroad ties and lag nuts, I am streaming streams of text
and snapchats that disappear in seconds,
I am the screenshot that captures the dead body of my high school
classmate that I just killed with a screwdriver through the brain,
I am the seeping madness like the water on your basement walls.
I am the final call, the empty mall, I am the depth of doubt and the nagging pain
the sinus headache, just behind the eye, I am Asperger’s and Lou Gehrig , I am
wheelchair ramps and the reinforced suspensions on the ambulance, I am the emergency clinic
dotting every street corner, the drug stores side by side in the strip malls, I am
your delicious sickness that is your bragging right in the office, I am your blood that turns to
water and the sugar that turns your veins black I am the amputation of your foot because you
won’t stop eating those fucking Twinkies and greasing your guttywots daily with a Big Mac followed by a Quarter Pound chaser,
I am the embolism that strikes you down at the age of 47, leaving behind the fractured wife and the ambivalent children, I am the alcoholic grandmother and the coke-addled Judge I am the pedophiliac high school teacher and the necrotic social worker, I am desolation and the abyss.
I am the lost budget and the booty call, the be-all-end-all down at the local mall, I am the downloadable app that everybody has but that no one ever uses, I am a carbonated soda and iced-fruit juices.
I am the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the San Francisco Gay Pride, the Boston Marathon (bombing and beyond), the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Galveston, Mobile Alabama. I am the fortunate Sons of Confederate Soldiers and the Daughters of the American Revolution, I am come rain and come shine I am a $7 bottle of wine, I am the mist of the Twin Towers the fine dust settled in the lungs slowly digging and coughing up blood in Central Park.
I am the injection well, the baby
sealed up inside the wall, with the house set on fire.
I am the Ludlow Massacre, the Shirtwaist Factory Fire, I am sex and gasoline.
I am the hydroelectric plant that lights your cities and kills the river,
I am the neon oasis in the desert, the queer shoulder to the grindstone,
I am fast and furious, bi-curious, and somewhat spurious.
I am the Millennial, the Gen-X,
the Lost Generation, the Baby Boomer, the last gasping wheezing breath of the so-called Greatest Generation, I am
this point in time,
the depreciation of the past and the care naught for the future, I am whatever new color crosses my eye, I want what I want and I want what you have, my friends are my friends only so long as they make me happy, tickle my sleeve, cuddle my knees, and make me feel all goggly-wattly underneath the sheets,
I am the myth of the welfare mom buying steaks and smokes with her WIC card, I am the fable of the street-corner beggar who pulls down 80k a year, tax free (now that ain’t right, no SIR! the restuvvusgotta pay Uncle Sam his blood money!)
I am the land of milk and honey, the land of Cher & Sonny, the easy smile and the firm handshake, I am the microwave oven and the shake-n-bake, I am Easy Rider and Rambo, Captain America and Billy the Kid.
I am the uber-connected Millennial stripped of empathy except for the abstract transgender bathroom. I will meet my friends for beers at the beach while the inner cities burn with twisted metal and carbohydrate fumes.
I close my eyes and press my hands to the glass.
Let the statue of liberty walk into the sea with stones in the folds of her robes, I can’t bring myself to care.