I. The Old Kingdom In which a nation at peace fails to see the challenges confronting it.
We were happy in our hypocrisy, buildingtops rose to mouthingtops praising the gifted ones who sat so high inside.
There were things the kingdom accepted. So many black people
imprisoned. Fatherless neighborhoods torn apart by crime.
Illegal immigrants could stay if tomatoes were picked and bed sheets changed by that last light of dusk that fades into a neutral odor.DRedacted: Ongoing Investigation
A Christian nation, so
many cars and garages and homeless on the streets.
The drugs came on like supermodels moving unexpectedly close at office parties. Music stretched faces into podiums. Prophets issued warnings, but who could listen to so many?
We were so happy when we were not happy. The coastline ended our dreams on a golf course somewhere in California.
DklfRedacted: Personal Privacy jdsfjds Ldifjdlkfjdslkfjsdlkfjaklfjdlkfj Lfjdlkfjdfkldjfkldjf dfdlkfjdlfkjafkldjflkfjdlkfjalkfjdlfjdflkfja
IX. Movement In which a new movement continues to grow, declaring war on any groups or ideologies not flocking to its banner.
Tom’s hangover felt as if his consciousness was on hands and knees slowly squeezing through a narrow neuron passing pink synapses in the dark.
He’d been drinking for days, and when he woke up that morning he fried some bacon and opened a can of Rainier.
His phone buzzed on the counter and anxiety fluttered purple leaves across his hangover. It was a text from Steve. You coming down today?
To what? The rally, buddy. This is gonna be incredible. Rally? The one I told you about last night. Oh, I don’t know.
Come on, I’m already down here waiting in line. I’ll save a spot for you.
Two hours later, they are inside the auditorium. Signs are being waved, screams ring out as if it is the signs screaming, out of control and dancing in the air; the audience pulling them down, attempting to calm them.
Tom says, “I don’t know, man. I don’t really like this guy. He doesn’t seem like a Christian.” Tom had been a deacon
before the affair with his dentist. “Calm down, it’s gonna be great,” Steve says.
Moments later the candidate walks out, “lots of people coming here. And they’re not good people, I can tell you that. If they were good people, why would they want to come here. Not that this isn’t a nice place, but…”
He enunciates waves that pour through the audience. He pulls the waves back into himself, makes fun of an opponent, flapping his arms wildly about. All movements
are absorbed into his movement, as if his arms are antennas and he is just the box that can play whatever you want.
Djf Redacted: Personal Privacyjdlkfjsl Lkdfjdlkjfldkfjdlfjdlkfjdlkfjdlfjlfjdslk Ldkfjdklfjdklfjdlkfjdslkfjdlkfjsdfjd Dlkfdlkfjdlkfjdlkfjdlkfjdlkfjdlkfjlkfjdlkfjdklfjd Lkfjdklfjdlkfjdlkfjdlkfjdlkfjdlkfjldkfjlds Lkfjdlkfjdlfjdlkajfdaklfjdlakfjlkfjdl lkfdlfjdlkfjdlkfjdlkfjdlkfjaklfjlkfjlkfjalfjal
Tom sits mesmerized, his hangover has been lost somewhere under the seats of this auditorium. A ragged scream crawls up the mountain slope of his loneliness. Tom can’t see anything.
XII. Single Authoritarian Emerges In which a new dynasty reveals itself to be authoritarian in nature, with a government created in the image of one woman or man.
It started with a kindness.
DjfRedacted: Personal Privacywas lying down on the concrete entrance to the school,
red and black flag waving above him, unashamed to show its pain.
The sky seemed so much closer from the ground,
the view like looking into his mother’s eyes and watching evaporated thoughts drift in from New Guinea.
Pushed down, he didn’t want to get back up.
jRedacted: Personal Privacyfjdlk kdfjdklfjdsfdfdfddlfjdlkfjdsklfjdlkfj kdfjdklfjadfdlfjdlkfjdsklfjdlkfj kdfjdklfjddlkfjdsklfjdlkfj kdfjdklfjdlbfjdlkfjdsklfjdlkfj
The ground accepted him, to his right trees conversed with dirt and shoes interrupted stones about to make a point.
After he had lain there for a long time another boy stood over him, face covered in burn scars.
“You okay?” “Fine.” “Need help getting up?” “No.”
“Okay, well…dude, you pissed your pants.”
“What?! Oh shit!” “You can borrow my gym shorts if you need to.”
They went to the locker room DjRedacted: Personal Privacyjjdslfkjd kdfjdklfjdlfjdlkfjdsklfdfdsfjdlkfj and when they emerged the bullies were waiting.
“What is wrong with you, kid? Your dad wipe his ass with your face?” “Hey Squeabs, is this your new pal?” “Are you faggots in love or what?”
DRedacted: Personal Privacy looked at all of them, but instead saw myths burning aluminum faces. He said,
“hey Myers, I guess your mom didn’t pack your lunch today. What kind of a loser slits her wrists?”
The bully who had pushed him down began to cry, then punched him.
It was this memory the emperor contemplated before walking onstage to shake his fist and address the crowd.
XIV. Shifting Control of Government Powers In which all political power is seized by an authoritarian and any independent agency is either subsumed or dismantled.
April had wanted to visit the capitol ever since she was a kid
reading the history books in which names caught fire, releasing extravagant plumes of dates and courage.
Finally, she’d made it but now there was nothing to see.
The capitol building was mostly abandoned except for a few vagrants who slept there in the afternoons. There were cracks forming on the steps
that looked like the edges of an old parchment. Many of the windows
were broken, shards oddly cheering the place with light. The front lawn was a drunken father chastised by the sun.
You could still walk around inside (there was no one
to stop you) but the smell of the vagrants was rancid and the marble pillars looked like heads of state bleeding on newspapers in the corners.
The Supreme Court was still functioning, but surrounded
by a black fence. Tanks and soldiers on the perimeter; dogs with gravestone faces erupting earth if one got too close.
And then there was the emperor’s mansion, newly renovated
and completely gold. A freakishly tall statue of the emperor smirked from the front gate. You could take a tour if you wanted to,
they might even put you on TV. But April wanted to visit
the museums that had been shuttered, see the art and artifacts sold to the Russians. After a day, she decided to fly back home.
1This is a redacted version. Some redactions were made due to an ongoing investigation of the events described; we believe a disclosure of certain details could impede these investigations. Other redactions were made to protect the personal privacy of certain parties mentioned in the original poem. Finally, we made redactions when the disclosure of an investigative technique could impact our ability to gain data in the future. The Imperial Justice Administration is releasing this document internally as both an educational tool and an attempt to gain information about its author. It is not to be shared.