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
Now is the time to tell the truth
There is a conspiracy of silence
That must be broken
An elaborate system of manners
In referring to you
Must be violated
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
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
No secret shall stay hidden,
Nothing is concealed
That shall not soon be revealed
I shall tell the truth
That you live in a bullet-proof
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
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
And pukes in the same toilet bowls
You puke in,
Washes their hands with the same water
You drink from,
Reads the same newspapers
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
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
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
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
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
Everything, to You,
Must be contaminated
Everything must be filled with poison
Everything must be made ugly
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
And every soul possessed by your
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,
Down to the last man
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
You should know best what a terrorist looks like
Since You wrote the definitive edition
Stop screaming about the Arabs,
They are just doing your dirty work
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
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
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?
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
Were Sacco and Vanzetti
Just a couple of terrorists,
Or was Marcus Garvey just a big-time crook?
Is Leonard Pelletier just another wild,
Like Crazy Horse,
Or Geronimo, or Sitting Bull,
Or Tecumseh, or Montezuma,
Was Gabriel Prosser just another bad nigger?
Was Che Guevara just a loud, cigar-chomping
Was Sojourner Truth just another Negress
with a funny accent?
Or was H. Rap Brown merely guilty
Of trying to break inside your glass
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?
Leon Roppolo’s last days in the
Or Buddy Bolden’s last days in the
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
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
And still have room for more
One need not go on
No need to explain why David Walker
Ended his days on a
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
Or singing songs
Or reciting poetry
Or serenading a loved one
No one hears the screams of
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,
bugger them in
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
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