American Mourning

Kevin McKenzie


My pen
The one I use for everything
The one that proves I wrote what I write
Because my signature is easily duplicated
Because it‘s just my name written out plain
My pen
Looks like a rocket propelled grenade gun
Looks like the ones that are blowing up Afghans
And Americans
And sometimes not blowing up at all,
They’re unreliable
Unreliable so they’re only used by poor soldiers
Not like ours who have reliable missiles
Not for blowing up Afghans of course
For blowing up tanks using tiny computers
For aiming at tanks but no one has a tank but us
It seems
It seems something’s wrong
To touch the moon and fly like gods but real and
To have CNN report twelve dead to suicide bombing
All on a crawling ticker
All because a celebrity crashed drunk into a telephone pole


I have a pen
I can write with in space
But only soldiers with their rockets
And celebrities with their money and drink
Will ever use a pen in space.


Alright that’s
There’s other problems
There’s food shortages
And poverty
And shit
A guy says
A couple times
There are blacks and
There are niggers
All sorts of angry super fucking mad mad thoughts
All more sensible than that but probably just as violent
Like I didn’t hear
Like my hair blocks sound
He tells anyone darker than eye-talian or a-r-menian
He thinks they’re people’re muggers because they wear their pants low
Because they made nothing from nothing but nothing
Because he denied them the raw material no material but for nothing and
Beautiful music
Beautiful music from nothing but nothing
He I say He now He’s no longer just
He stole that sad blue song and claimed it like New Mexico and
Told black people and niggers that it was his and all
Told He made enough to keep the black people in holes
I ask him if my pen is black
I ask if it’s a nigger
He looks at me funny
Says man it’s a joke it’s funny I
Says fuck your fun
Cross to the other side of the street and
Cross your fingers and bloody bills
Bought on slavery’s back
Bought on the tab of a permanent underclass
No more deserving of poverty than a carpenter on a cross with
No irony save the obvious


Far away super
Farther than my eyes can see on a clean day and
Farther than my dog can smell
And he can smell pretty far because sometimes he’ll bark
And all I see in the lawn are trees and frightened shadows
That far away soldiers in rough cotton
That distracts them because it rides up and looks silly
Kill brown folks in Atlantis like streets in the yard of palaces to
Kill an insurrection
Meaty thick fingers tug real thin metal to send off depleted lead with
Meaty thuds I say meaty but that’s horribly inhuman
Explosive thuds with
Explosive shells that bounce around in the body off bones and shit and explode
Like the rockets my pen looks like but those don’t really bounce
Like bullets but I hear they can get stuck in you if they hit square on
A big stinger from a bigger bee a jet propelled rocket guided atomic
A-bomb fuzzless bumble bee
And for what?


And the innocent starve and drown in dust


At this point this conflux of vicious refutation
At this apex of the improbability of God
Or at least little chance of a God I’d drink with and take home with me
Or talk to at family reunions if I knew he hadn’t seen me
There is a call for faith
There in the same halls so filled with power they mop the floors
With lightening only instead of Hephaestus a younger tan woman
With a dirty soap bucket cleans the floor of a man who would rape and destroy and deport
Her under different circumstances
Her thoughts would fill up notebooks and stenopads and books and books and
Books in the margins and then in the main part with neatly arrayed numerals she’s tidy after all
Books in these circumstances she dusts because she can’t read the language that good
And the man don’t care because bent over she does something his wife can’t
And when he’s penning that call for faith
A few more starch soldiers drown in the desert and
A few more women learn how to get dust out of the corners by hand because boss likes it
That way
That leaves everyone on all fours
Some in prayer
Some to beg
And aren’t they the same thing
And another spaceship cuts across the smoke stained sky


Filled with pens no doubt

Euphemism Campus Box 4240 Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4240