White rioters looming over their black victims
White rioters looming over their black victims
White rioters menacingly loom over their black victims in Detroit, 1943

We’re fooling ourselves if we believe
things will ever go back to normal
Did your grandpas or great-grandpas
ever get over the bitter disappointment of
club-wielding, Okie-hating sadists
in the third or fourth ramshackle migrant camp
or the scent of rotting, blood-soaked detritus
blending with their own rotting flesh in Guadalcanal?

Standing angrily in bread lines
searching for bottlecaps, a-penny-a-piece
as they trudge through filthy cities
in soles worn-through, heels too low to recover
or beating the shit out of the Blacks whose
time in the trenches made ideas of place less clear
stomping the Pachucos with spit-shined oxfords
the day before deployment
Putting Sansei children
behind rusted barbed wire until they
become a lot more American than
just born to parents born here

Teaching our children that America is so great that
it’s a sin to worry about
the elderly, frozen dead of exposure in front of the White House
or Silent Sentinels, wrapped in purple and yellow and white
held down in Occoquan, force-fed until blacking out
or the sausages flecked with the fingernails
and fleshy tips of the children who couldn’t count with them anyhow
ice-picks in the eyes of the girls
who want only to be with the girls
As long as we have bad guys
to define ourselves against

Now we get ours from stately lords
who crown thy good with brotherhood
We rush to express proper gratitude
Appropriate fealty for ensuring
my job, my children, my meals are safe
my loneliness in isolation is not for naught
I survive in self-congratulations
until the medical bills come due

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