A Requiem for Uncle Sam

 

Note: I completed this poem back in August of 2012. At the time I actually felt it was too strong to post online(!). Thankfully, in the following years, I decided to grow a pair of balls and put excerpts of it up for free. The rest will be featured in a poetry booklet due out later this year or early next year, regardless of the political situation in America.

 

A REQUIEM FOR UNCLE SAM

For Henry Dumas and Trayvon Martin

I

Now

Now is the time to tell the truth

About you

There is a conspiracy of silence

That must be broken

Concerning you

An elaborate system of manners

In referring to you

Must be violated

The universe

Must be exposed

From the bottom up;

The cover must be broken,

The compromises must cease;

It’s high time someone snatched

The veil from your face;

You’ve been too long

In self-imposed exile

From reality

 

If the time comes for me

To be arrested for saying these things,

To be sent to Guantanamo Bay,

Or imprisoned in a lunatic asylum,

Then let the chips fall where they may

All your Mickey Mouse novelists

And Hollywood shills

Can’t keep the truth sealed

Forever

No secret shall stay hidden,

Nothing is concealed

That shall not soon be revealed

I shall tell the truth

About You,

That you live in a bullet-proof

Glass house

With no mirrors:

Only flattering portraits

Hung on every wall, even

In your bathroom

No need to see what

You really look like, right?

No need to check if

All your hundreds of millions

Of flatterers and flunkies

Are actually bullshitting

After all, You think, the world

Loves you

Everyone wears your clothes,

Everyone listens to your music,

Everyone dines at your tables,

Eats your food,

Wipes their ass on toilet paper

Made in China

(for you)

And pukes in the same toilet bowls

You puke in,

Washes their hands with the same water

You drink from,

Reads the same newspapers

And books

You not only read, but wrote

Dreams the same silly fantasies

You not only dream, but conjured

Screams the same racist insults

You not only scream, but invented

Everyone is walking in lock step

Behind You, believing all

Your dreams, all your little

Fairy tales

Everyone believes in Santa Claus

And the Almighty Ringtone,

In Justin Bieber, Kanye West

And the War on Terror,

saline injections, Brazilian waxes

And the funny little notion

That Elvis is still alive

The whole world wants to live on your block,

Walking your dog,

Playing your video games,

Fucking your old lady,

Or sticking their face in your favorite

Glory hole,

Eating chocolate

And cream

before bedtime

No one is allowed to step inside your house,

Because no one is allowed to see your face

In fact, You never leave your house

Although you think the world

Loves You,

You don’t love the world.

 

Sir, your flunkies and flatters

Have deceived you

And as Nizar Qabbani writes,

It’s time to break the cover,

And let the people pass

Through the armed guards

To peep inside your house

And if the guards hold them

Back, I shall tell them what’s inside

Worse yet, I shall tell them what’s inside

You

The world hasn’t a clue,

they don’t know

How flowers and trees

Make you cringe,

How a simple act of making love

Arouses your indignation,

How the sight of a woman’s nipple

Drives you to homicidal fury…

How even the sunshine

And sea breeze

And fresh vegetables

And fruits

Nauseate You…

Everything, to You,

Must be contaminated

Everything must be filled with poison

Everything must be made ugly

And useless

Everything good and true must be rendered obsolete,

Every candlelight must be snuffed out,

Every breath of air must be stilled,

Every laugh must be choked

Or shoved in a barrel…

Every scent of jasmine

Must be fumigated…

Every old house in the world

Must be destroyed…

Beauty and Joy must be criminalized,

And Love made an alibi

For the death penalty…

Every conscience must be erased,

Every mind stuffed with your conceits,

Every bone filled with your cynicism,

Every heart weighed down with your

Hatreds,

And every soul possessed by your

Foul spirit

 

No

The world has no idea

Of what you have accomplished

In the name of Beelzebub

They have no idea

How you have silenced the world,

Silenced all your musicians,

Snuffed out all your poets,

Starved all your artists,

Bought out all your visionaries,

And assassinated,

Down to the last man

And woman,

Every single one of your leaders

It wasn’t (so much) their bodies that you killed,

But their memory

You shoved them under the rug of

What you think is your “history”

Turned them into cheap ad copy

For Burger King

Or stuck them on the shelves of libraries

Or the storage rooms of museums

(where Americans never go, anyway)

Or in the lurid bios

Of lying historians,

Eager to reveal all their flaws

To a perverted public

You call them heroes now,

But You called them terrorists

When they walked the earth

You still do, anyway, behind

Closed doors

You should know best what a terrorist looks like

Since You wrote the definitive edition

On terror

Stop screaming about the Arabs,

They are just doing your dirty work

(like Israel)

They have learned a lot from You, by the way

Was Osama Bin Laden not on your payroll?

Did Saddam Hussein not dine with You

At the Waldorf-Astoria?

Was it not true that the lunacy

Of Sayyid Quttub

Crystalized

When he came to your shores?

And was it not true that Hifter,

The Nathan Bedford Forrest of Africa,

Spent twenty years sucking at your

Sagging teat?

 

Shall I remind you of your crimes

With yet another roll call?

Shall I bore the reader (yet again)

With another long list

Of your fuck-ups?

Does Martin King

Ring a bell

Or is he just another holiday,

Another excuse to stay home

And get drunk while watching

the Super Bowl?

Is Malcolm

Only fit for the prurient speculations

Of yellow journalists

Or just a face

To be slapped on a t-shirt,

Or a meaningless name emblazoned

On a ten-dollar baseball cap?

Is John Brown still just a madman

With a funny-looking beard?

Was Huey Newton just a

Cocaine addict?

Were Sacco and Vanzetti

Just a couple of terrorists,

Or was Marcus Garvey just a big-time crook?

 

Is Leonard Pelletier just another wild,

Drunken Indian

Like Crazy Horse,

Or Geronimo, or Sitting Bull,

Or Tecumseh, or Montezuma,

Or Atahualpa?

Was Gabriel Prosser just another bad nigger?

Was Che Guevara just a loud, cigar-chomping

Spic?

Was Sojourner Truth just another Negress

with a funny accent?

Or was H. Rap Brown merely guilty

Of trying to break inside your glass

House?

__

 

How do you silence a musician?

Did Jack Purvis really kill himself?

Was Bix the jazz god You insist he was

Or are You ashamed that he dropped

Dead at 28, screaming of “Mexicans” under his bed?

Or Fats Navarro, dead at 25

Or little Hersal Thomas, dead at 16?

What was the real reason Yardbird flew away?

Or why The Prez started drinking

Or why The Hawk stopped eating?

Or why Lady Day

Was arrested on her death bed

With several hundred dollars

Between her thighs?

Remember Bessie Smith’s end

On the Mississippi backroads?

Remember Lee Morgan?

Louis Chauvin?

Scott Joplin?

Leon Roppolo’s last days in the

Nut house?

Or Buddy Bolden’s last days in the

Nut house?

Or Eric Dolphy, dying on the Ku’damm in Berlin,

Or Bud Powell’s last days in a Parisian stupor?

Remember Pinetop Smith catching a bullet

In the gut?

Remember Jelly’s last jam

Under a hoodoo curse?

Did the Melrose Brothers

Ever pay his royalties?

What became of poor Herbie Nichols

And his music?

Or Sam Cooke?

Or Chano Pozo?

Or Chu Berry?

Or Clifford Brown?

Or Billy Banks?

Or La Lupe?

Or Little Walter?

Or Little Willie John?

Remember when Gerry Mulligan died

And You chose to write an obituary of

Minnesota Fats instead?

Remember Fletcher Henderson, ending his days

as a pathetic charity case?

Remember when they found Wardell Gray

In the desert with a broken neck?

Remember King Curtis, stabbed by junkies on a

Harlem stoop?

Remember King Oliver, fat, blind, toothless, dying in a

Run-down pool hall in Savannah?

Or Tommy Ladnier, dying in a Harlem rooming house

With only a walking stick and a pair of underwear

To his name?

 

One could wrap a list of your fuck-ups

Around the world

Several times

And still have room for more

One need not go on

No need to explain why David Walker

Ended his days on a

Boston doorstep

Too many people have perished

On those same doorsteps

They are still perishing,

Their voices drowned out by billions

Of ringtones and screeching cop sirens

Nobody’s left to hang around

these stoops

Playing music

Or singing songs

Or reciting poetry

Or serenading a loved one

No one hears the screams of

Children playing

You’ve killed the children

with gangsta rap,

poisoned school lunches,

play stations, iPods or

Neo-Nazi message boards

Single parents beat them

Within an inch of their lives,

Murderous pedophiles

bugger them in

Every street,

Killer cops and gangstas

Use them for target practice,

And jail-like junior high schools

Teach them the law of the jungle

You’ve raised a new generation

Of faceless, soulless robots

Not one of them will rock the boat

Not one of them will lift a finger in resistance

Not one of them will give the lie

To all your crackpot sophistry

Everybody knows their place

Everybody knows when to keep

Their windows closed

One might as well, because outside,

There’s nothing but silence

Not even the howling of the wind

Not even the braying of a dog,

The chirp of birds

Or the yowling of cats

Not even the buzz of bees, flies or

Mosquitoes

We can’t even hear the rustling of leaves in the trees

Mother Nature has gone into exile

The sun is afraid to show its face

And roses are too ashamed to open their petals

In this hell

 

 

 

 

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