It has been suggested – perhaps mistranslated –
time and again it is better to bleed on your knees
than cower on your feet. Let your red love ooze
before you, before you face darkness of country.
Water cannons at your back, glass ceiling in knees.
Discover long after the odious new set of facts
that you were expendable poetry in pyrrhic motion
for the tweets and the insecurities of history. Story-
boards that showed you pulling train cars with your
teeth while very publicly getting them kicked out
by your own elected public servants. They quaffed
the Kool-Aid as though your well being mattered.
They who swore an oath to silence, pledged allegiance
to confusion, and vowed to burn the legs out from
under a republic upon which we still stoically stand
precariously, like an idea of life, of living at all,
mattered. To the meek and sick hanging off clock
arms atop tall buildings, who know that at least
twice a day their sense of form supplicates itself
before gravity and reckless penmanship. To them
for whom symbolism has no meaning beyond what
simply is seen moment to moment, restroom to
restroom. To them children standing before tanks,
waving at the drones. To those watching all of
this unravel before slit shocked and awed damn
eyes: how can you be so sure this is not really
as it is, and how it always has been, at all?
This place deflowered me, bade me bite the apple
all for chalking a simple flower on a people’s wall.
There are those now in hiding, waiting for a sound –
a glorious noise not heard in hundreds of years.
Dying for medicine, clean water, and breast exams.
A fit job worthy of stress, ceremony, and a radical
reimagining of what now remains horribly broken.
I do not see myself surviving convenience nor
the convergence of autocrats and oil. I do not believe
in convergent news page turning and printer’s ink
thumbprints as if water or war are words worthy
of my conceit; but all convenience shall too perish
in the folds like the liquid run of these new lost boys
who will never know quite how close the sword came
before their young throats. I do believe all people
have something to say, but not all of it – every single
syllable, each iota – should issue forth viral, vapid yet
anecdotal, and press ready as if muttered in blood or
drawn from the body. People get hurt. Lies pushed
seek and destroy. If you identify followers behind
your mouth of error then allow them thorns and vinegar.
Past the aged liberal outposts, the chipping brain of
pious evangelical myopia, and out the bar-coded
barrier doors into pugilist America. Blood puddles
on every corner. Teeth in each gutter. Financially
sound hatred has had its cloak revoked, its clothing
removed, and finds itself planted in yards and public
spaces and set aflame before the cameras. And while
the decades of hard trust and brandished lie singe
and cinder off… this creature does not die so willingly.
Listen carefully, very late night or first light, you can
hear irregular breathing as though this creature strives
to remain hidden and just hardly alive.
Across parking lots full of cars and airplanes, dossiers
and irregular fruits, congressional candy, school lunch
programs, and backwards into a dense cloud, night
promises scars and repeated layers of irritant gas,
rubber bullets, and loud music. A hack overlooked.
Brushed aside. An unrelenting cough. What can you
not afford to not say or not do?
So very little gained after it all.
Yes the sun sets again, the moon rises, and few stars
are visible above the metropolitan light spectacles
on the ground. Legacy talking points get darker and
less fair – bruised, scratched, tangled like the dusty
world’s hair – against the white noise of the horizon.
Sean J. Mahoney works in geophysics. Sean helped create to the Disability Literature Consortium (www.dislitconsortium.wordpress.com), which made its physical debut at AWP16 in Los Angeles. He co-edited the 3 existing volumes of the MS benefit anthology Something On Our Minds, and works as an assistant editor for Wordgathering.com. His work has been published in Occupoetry, Barking Sycamores, Nine Mile Magazine, OTV Magazine, Catamaran Literary Reader, Your Impossible Voice, and Right Hand Pointing, among others.
Italics indicate a line from Time Spirals by Kenneth Rexroth.