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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.

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