Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris
by Jake Kingsley
America, you’re in retrograde—
your boys on the block speaking verdigris
between coughs and fits of lunacy, eclipsing
of jaundiced plumage.
America, your bold brow and vacant stare no longer
give salvation, the husk of your breath
no sanctuary, just corpse root and ditch weed;
dead things cannot affect the living.
America, you cheap nickelodeon,
unspooling your flagrancy,
your passion pits pithed, your night skies blotted
with carrion and their feeders, flash theaters
screaming yawners ‘til dawn, or—
America, you Simonized phoenix, rose
from the briar of your ash, humdrum
tubthumpery all tin and thuggish trumpery
—a holdover in your own whodunit, solve
this whammo mystery.
America, you bent spine, your dextrorse vertebra
stair-stepping neon scarecrow vertigo
America, wound me, rend me like the night
sky; let me feel that velvet thunder climb
down my spine. Thresh me, America. Tie me
to a fence post. Let me see dawn unbroken.