January 20th—Day of Patriotic Devotion

The fingers that smell of cooking oil, of shit, of industrial cleaners / The fingers stained by the clichés of daily life

There’s not so much space from here to there

Photograph by Stephen Melkisethian

There’s not so much space from here to there
[x] men dressed as “Indians” tossing tea into the harbor
[x] refugees drowned and floating, face down, alongside the cargo
a limousine’s in flames . . . the men on the screen say “there goes somebody’s livelihood”
Maybe that’s where it all washes up
Maybe that’s what’s stuck in my throat:
Two centuries and we’re still talking about
the price of tea

Today a man was shot—by mummies, by a tired myth, by men
Nobody calls him anything, so we call him Marcos—why not?
And now Marcos has a leak, a .45 inch hole
We look ourselves over
not a single bruise—no taste of sweat when we lick our lips
and we congratulate ourselves
unharmed
and we’re ashamed, ourselves,
unharmed
And so we read his skin instead
happy to have a biography in faded blacks & blues
and try it on ourselves—
Is it wrong to steal a hole?
After all we can see ourselves now, mirrored in the headlines
in a piece of newsprint—greasy on the sidewalk of L street
Besides it’s not so far from he to we
just that number .45

.45 inches to accommodate the searching fingers
of immigrants, paperless fingers from Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Mexico
The fingers of women who’ve learned to hover,
to never touch the ground
The arthritic fingers of our grandparents who still remember,
who’ve seen it all before
& know it’s not so much like the cinema
although they did watch What Did You Do in the War—Thanasis? and liked it
The fingers that smell of cooking oil, of shit, of industrial cleaners
The fingers stained by the clichés of daily life
of those with no banners—who I cannot name, but who
have kitchens and children and homes and
who also drink tea
who also feel the shape and space of their own lives in that hole

.45 inches to accommodate my own colonizing tongue
which licks the wound clean

In fact, I’m asking you now, through that .45 inch mouth:

Why count the bodies marching in the streets?
There’s not so much space between them
We only need to follow one

The day ends for her as you’d expect—the jailer asks for his thirty pieces of silver
and she pays him, laughs and looks down at her watch:
After Death—Before Christ—Common Era
Fructidor—Thermidor—Brumaire
Space Age—Information Age—Iron & Bronze
Years of the Tiger and the Rabbit
“I’m so happy to see you”—she says to the second, the minute and the hour
which conspire to turn silver into lead.1

  1. Fundraiser for medical costs associated with the IWW and General Defense Committee member shot on the University of Washington campus while demonstrating against Milo Yiannopoulos and the white supremacist “alt-right”: https://www.crowdrise.com/medical-fundraiser-for-iww-and-gdc-member-shot-in-seattle

    Fundraiser for legal fees, transport costs, emotional, physical and material supports for those mass arrested in D.C., all facing felony riot charges and possible 10 year sentences, including journalists and legal professionals: http://macc.nyc/donate. The full text explaining the uses for the money and those that will benefit from the donations is on the website. 

If you like this article, please subscribe to n+1.

Related Articles

Issue 17 The Evil Issue
Kelly Lake Store
Issue 27 Deep End
The Last Last Summer
Issue 24 New Age

Maybe it’s best to be good at many things but great only at convincing people you’re great at everything.

Issue 13 Machine Politics

Lvovsky is a good poet. But how do I know he’s an original poet, a new poet?