Poetry

A somewhat uplifting letter to America

labor riots

1.

This country is huge, full of skeletons,
full of deep fried butter on sticks
with the hot fat dripping onto our hands,
with our children tugging our pant legs
so we look down and acknowledge them,
despite the pain, buying them glittery sunglasses
3 for $10, here at the Park N Swap.

It’s the weekend,
finally the weekend
so we can mow the lawn,
so our exes can send the kids over
in clothes we could never afford
and they scrape their knees trying to fly, or
they hunt imaginary creatures, yelling and pouncing,
it’s always some emergent game
and we don’t know the rules. Later

we plan to show them the movie Jaws
because it’s amazing, because they are too young, and
that’s when it’s best for them to see it,
because we will be able to remind them
it’s all make-believe, because
show me your hands Mr Hooper, because
here’s to swimmin’ with bowlegged women,
Mr Hooper, because it’s the fourth of July.

2.

I brought you here into low orbit
so from this height you could see the outline of
the shallow inland sea that once covered Colorado, Idaho, Montana–
where dinosaurs duked it out with aliens or maybe gods–
how even now you dig into the rocks and find bones.

I brought you here
to show you the jewels of cities lit up at night
and the very dark stretches in-between where
animals we don’t believe in anymore survive,
and conspire against us.

I brought you here to show you the size of it, the wreckage
of the midwest where the factories left like prodigal sons,
the gorgeous apartments of California staring out to sea
like the strong wives of vikings.

We’re here to see Saguaro cactus in bloom, corn fields
covering whole states like armies, the roads, the skyscrapers,
the billboards reminding us where and how to spend our dollars.

We’re here to test freedom,
maybe to wake it up.

We’re here to invent rockets to the moon,
Steve Martin, Prince–we’re here to invent
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Pee Wee Herman,
Jazz, Kurt Vonnegut, Maria Bamford–
We’re here to invent the Muppets, comic books,
Stevie Wonder, the best bourbon in the world.

We’re here to not worry about the economy.
We’re here to trust the lights to stay on.
We’re here to drink too much and pursue art
because we still need songs and storytellers
and the fellowship of believers. We’re here

because the dead allow it, because
this was once the edge of the world,
the rivers were thick with fish, the hills full of gold,
we believed all of it (and kind of still do). We’re here
to fix the world, surf in the mornings and
fuck all afternoon like superheroes, until the days
go slack as protesters in the arms of riot police.

It’s never that we’re too ambitious. It’s never that it’s
not enough room for the both of us. There is plenty of room,
especially for the weirdoes. Together we can do this.
Who’s with me? Who wants to dream entirely in cartoons
drive cars through mountains with oscillation over-thrusters,
stare in amazement at quadcopter ballets, and taste
the drugs and soft drinks of tomorrow? It will take all of us.

It will take a life of caring too much and
feeling each failure like your bad knees in the morning
It will take striving, and loss, and knowing the walls
are made of the bones of the conquered
and the foolish,
and that living on purpose means
trying to make their sacrifice worthwhile.