A Pinch of Salt

Ed calls it being stuck in a washing machine
of misery. The blue sky
and the gold corn are legitimately beautiful,
even if they are painfully local. Quiet
they knew something was
not right. Fields of corn stretch up the hill, endless food
that is not yours to be consumed,
grass that is not yours but that you must
mow forever,
and jealousy is unpatriotic as the red barn waits
emblematic by the road. When we’re close to weaning
ourselves history gives us its reasons
to return, circling the hole, filling and emptying it
with detergent, hearts, data,
the comic overflowing suds an emblem of incompetence
that displace tragedy’s curtains of blood.  
The stream gives us pleasure, though no one
claims they’re sleeping anymore, and poor Tom’s
a-cold, he saw the future said fuck it.  
I can’t resist the urge to strap up
with my own bit of Americana, my passport
not compatible with illegal personhood,
I have to confess
I have never spoken freely
about my family. I don’t know
if he also dreams
of being consumed by fire with his children,
or if it that’s my dream of our connection: to destroy
this future would be to destroy
either them or their pain, turning backs
against the plenty of which I am a fiction
deporting the little that made these shores
like my chosen country’s bluest sky unliveable.  
In an earlier disaster it was reported
that hikers turned back
uneasy at losing the sound of planes
that made their arduous journeys
a miniscule, little blue nodes
circling itchy pixels. Now the zone of exception
a few feet of arrivals, congress
men languishing with papers,
the luckless driven back by a piper
who weaponises some archaic folk tune
and plays it and plays it to death. The drones are flown from blue
split compartments vibrate
now as in earlier disasters
by liberal guilt and container traffic,
the dead child out there is her brother’s
image, I remember mourning him also. You can bite, can scratch
everything you see out here
heads full of emptiness and fritters,
skies striped for shock in Yemen
unlikely ever to be quiet.  
Photograph   © Rafael Parr The screen
door, the broken porch, the red SUV
with its bumper sticker, Church collection
and rented buildings after foreclosure
and the weight gets put on
month by month, like debt, concretion of time.  
Now I’ve apparently also discovered
languishing in me this ability
to make     a great
division in what has happened my enemy,
I name it and its image, act distracted,
look at Beyoncé floating, steadily extruding
my view on whether he is sick or injured,
demonic, possessed,
a creature of chaos or of order,
because the DSM is easier to throw than Capital and we like
to believe that we are seeing something we never saw before. My father and I can’t speak
about the quiet we make in the middle
of his hatred of my hatred of the country
that he loves, and loves the police, that makes
this hatred bearable. To breathe free,
not the asphyxiating bubble
of the liberal traveller or the water
boarder is to not be where blue jellyfish cluster,
their deaths a distributed pain
in the jaws of pets and seabirds
who find them toxically free
to eat and plentiful,
but to occupy the middle ground
in its extremity and stop its harvesting. It is a way of valuing your life,
blanketed by work from shore to shore. Trial balloons mass by every shore,
blocking the golden door,
spiking the gold share and making the great
plains so far from equalising
bodies of water roll
their eyes over empty air which they read at
last as free. Once I tried asking them
if they wanted socialised medicine, housing, education,
they said ‘unicorns and fairies’ but are quiet now,
this future not quite what they intended
but nothing they would fight to prohibit;
destroyed by capital, anger
and patriotism are the compensations for the lost
wish to stand up in the middle of disaster
and live free
of shame rolling out
the wage-earner’s broken promises, laying his claim
on the shining city already under water. Their quote heroic individuals,
sentiments for the unborn and the anger
whose pain can’t find its container.  
Our enemies reply that nothing here is new, is news,
makes nothing happen, makes it new
post-factum and poems are lies; the bold
face already agrees, circling the pixels, driven
back by screens.