I cough into my hand a palm-full
of maggots, blow my nose
and flying ants fill the room. My white
handkerchief is a nest of trouble.
I’m sweating. I know something
is wrong with me.
my army is putting bullets
into the backs of civilians’
Nicaraguan citizens—their hands bound
behind them. My army is driving
over soupy Iraqi children
in my tanks. Our soldiers
are testing fire, cutting-edge
laser weaponry, on brown skin
because they can, and they need to
prove it will work on flesh (just because
it cuts cars in half doesn’t show
what it will do to a man). Can-do, my army
follows orders, entertains the detained
press corps uptown with Bloody
Marys at the Marriott Hotel.
The barrio makes a better testing ground.
My country ‘tis of thee and the rockets
red glare. Our land of the free,
this home of the brave, houses the greatest
terrorists in the world today.
That’s why we’re winning
the War on Terror. We call it collateral
damage: if you get your ducks in line,
there will be minimal collateral damage.
Don’t worry, my army will
root out all the evil-doers
with bunker busters and cruise
missiles. My army’s smart bombs
know their way. They will get every last
one of the buggers, the vermin;
every brown-skinned socialist, banana-republic-
pest; every rag-headed, twin-
towered, Koran-spoutin’ tempest;
and every reinvigorated Pinko-
Rooskie added to the script. Orwell
would be proud . . . and so ashamed.
Interventions and preemptive strikes
are a matter of national (and global)
security. My army will establish
and insure for generations (this
brand of corporate) democracy
and freedom for the world.
I sneeze and the flying ants
turn into flying monkeys.
I cough and the maggots hatch
into high school boys ready to serve,
ready to follow, ready to win one
for the team, and ready to prove
above all they’re men. Maybe
these maggots weren’t the kids
who staked cats to railroad tracks.
Maybe these maggots didn’t
throw a pig in the river
just to watch it die, watch it
try to swim and cut its own throat.
But before they’re through
taking orders from those fucking
monkeys, they’ll wire Toto’s
testicles to a car battery
and take a pair of dykes to the Tin Man’s
chest—determined to add
his ticking heart to their collection
of shriveled ears. What you don’t want
to hear, what you fear more than
death, is that by the time they finish
with Dorothy, none of us will
ever find our way . . . back home.