“You think I just see ‘one side’ of
them?  They have a ‘good side’—but
as I said, only when there is a knife
at their throats.  They obey violence.
They obey it in their hearts, as do all

–Jack Henry Abbot
In the Belly of the Beast

I address you, O America,
with my left hand on the typewriter keys
My right on an imaginary trigger
against my temple
that spills an imaginary clot of blood
on this coarse sheet of newsprint—
O America,
I address you
as I have always dreamed you—
MGM, milk & honey
shot of six-shooters & Thorazine in between
Bestiary of
Studio 54, Bellevue & San Quentin
alchemy of Fiats & condoms:

[Burnt-out bitches slobbering to themselves
Preening in the mirror for lovers by half-shut door
O the syringe
into a tattoo of arms & thighs
O America,
Gaffers & pineapple pickers swarm all over
your iron belly
Acrid as La Brea’s tarpits
As though you’re a whore on an easy ride
Sucking the White Dude’s balls, & hollering:
We love you, Reagan! We love the Bomb!
Drunken idiots to the bone
they crawl back to their suburban homes
at the table
between talk of old country
& tea,
the Caucasian crones they laid
then turning
to dream the dreams of exiles & the cool, native sleep
of the night that never sleeps:
(Open 24 Hours)
Bodies electric at Goodbar, Daisy Chain
Diet of whisky & potato chips
Down freeway of TransAms & Cadillacs
For blowjobs at Palos Verdes & Beverly Hills
O Vegas circuit is jargon-thick:
“Be Cool.  Observe the Platinum Rule.”
O Modern Moloch ravages the Two-Penny Argonaut:
O City of Black Angels
On Sunset Boulevard where neon flares
Groove porno stars & hookers
baring their thighs & clits

O New York! New York!
O Cabaret, Bergman & The Serpent Egg!
O Black Herbalists, Fakirs & African  Jive!

& I address you, O America
w/ a dirty finger at Times Square
Inside the Pornohouse, secretly swigging beer:
A black stud & a whore
w/ a Jewish face
interpret the Kama Sutra of 69 positions
Jamming in studied frenzy
Van Halen’s concert of loins
Old men, struggling to jack off, stare, stoned—
Manhattan, in fancy suits & jeans,
thrills to a black dude
who clowns up & down the walk:
Blowing his sidehorns, ribbing Rockefeller’s funnybone
O Chicago
Rococo joints & circular apartment stairs
Soot, Smog & Sears
Pollacks salvaging old furniture
from a backalley heap
Hugh Hefner has bombed out
Playboy Club sports a smaller turf:
Silicone boobs & bunny tails stick out
in billiardtable, calculated bounce:
O This trussed-up centerfold:
Screw Me or Fuck Me
The bubbly bubbles on—
At the bar, ex-boxers & boozers pimp on
Flunkies in tuxedo hype in numbers-crazy drone:
cheap shots,
& to boot, hard rock & popcorn
O Chirons listing their secret phones!
O Washington,
Clean as the inside of a gun barrel:
Kissinger in gray flannel suits
shaven & perfumed
fatal & impersonal as their hidden magnums
Sign the papers that telex assassins in
Samar & El Salvador
O Transnational memorandum,
Pinochets & plantation pawns!
(Declassify, O America, your code from Taipei to Tel Aviv)
Your teeth, O America, are immaculate
(Uncle Sam grins his toothpaste grin)
Like the backside of a fingernail
ripped off a boy’s hand
in an interrogation room:
The current
that pumps fluoridated water
Into your Hilton bath to prepare the penis that must impale
The Ladies at West Point
is the convulsion of eyeballs, sockets & all,
Of this lightning trek of pain
from the genitals to the cerebrum!
O I address you, O America,
& your VOA megacycles of despair:
ITT of Chilean set-to
Halfway across the globe whirrs
your Harvard calculus:
Eyes plucked in Johannesburg are diamonds
on fingers of Wall Street
A belly cut open in Java is microchip
in circuitry of California
A mouth gagged in Guatemala is F-16
for the Rabbinical Junta of Judah
O America
& Long Beach is the chalk-white beak
of the Eagle
That pecks at the pubic hair
of nubile Mae Wests, $50 virgins
(Suddenly the heart swims)
their bearded escorts like African gonfalons
Sipping orange juice, moon-bronze in the rub
of Coppertone
(O at 14, unmarried & screwed out
Emmanuelle of the Ghetto
too old & fat, at 20, to fuck
Stumbling like some forgotten floozie
at the bottom of the stairs
Babies battered in their cribs screech
Stereos blare Orleans jazz, Black Power beat
Janis Joplin keeling over on an acid trip
Belushi’s dope spurting rocket-like through the veins)
Off Golden Gate,
Kerouac’s angels drop
headlong into San Francisco Bay
Alcatraz waits,
an icy silence of stones
O Black Smoke & Fog Lights!
Prodigal clerks & night fishers draw up the line:
Throw back the fingerlings, cut off the headS
(Hungry urchins cry somewhere in Asia)
Michigan Lake billows, the wind whips
& stirs the river of poison down canals & creeks
(It rains yellow somewhere in Asia)
& Fat ghetto women sleep their troubled sleep:
Inside their television minds—
Dallas swoons
in the lock of recycled virgins & tycoons
Saigon flares
in the blast of napalm & Viet Cong
Beirut buries
its dead among guns & ruins
& Warren Beatty
is the Celebrity hero
Counting his dollars in projection rooms
O America
I address you
As I hear the rheumy sobs of orphans
flashing their switchblades at the Bronx
The gibberish of drunken pensioners in subways
& 14th Street
The crack of revolver in a Newark dawn
the torn spleen in the turnpike
The scream that stays silent inside motel rooms
The shattered jewel box, the pawnshops
to keep all blowing, high & dry—
O Who then hears the UCLA flutist
who plays a repertoire of mournful songs?
O Who claps at the solitary jogger at noon
in a Gardena marathon?
O Who raps with this Vietnam vet
who strolls in circles, bays at the moon?

O This is pure shit
Poetry that draws the parameter & ellipsis
Of the Beast
This guitar string that violently snaps
the neck backward
The throat opens like the ancestral question
The jet of gas at nose-level
& I dare stick my head in the oven
strike a match
& Hear in this colonial dream the wind explode:
O Do I see Tonton Macoutes prance about
the exterior
Trapped in an air-conditioned space humming
the nightmare
O winos & television
O The Sound of Silence & Simon
And We, Hell’s Angels,
the Blues—
O But
The blues, O America, are the perfumed blacks
who ride those black stolen limousines
& screw your hot, white women
(Give love a chance!)
The blues, O America, are the Ku Klux Klan
Who burn crosses on your architectured lawns
& plant bullets between your eyes
(Give Equality a chance!)
The blues, O America, are the Chicanos & the Flips
who, in tribal passion, slit each other’s throats—
Texwood Aztecs of the Streets
(Give Brotherhood a chance!)
The blues, O America, is Costa-Gavras asking:
”Who is sadder:  one widow crying, or 3,000 widows
crying?” remembering Panagoulis & Greece
(Give Justice a chance!)
The blues, O America, is Charles Horman—O Nofuente’s
a sheath of knives—his body dumped
by the bloodied wall of an ideological zone
(Give Truth a chance!)
The blues, O America, are the technicians of pain:
Mitrione in Uruguay, Ryan & Davis in Santiago
hiding the 50,000 missing corpses at the Stadium
(Give the People a chance!)
The blues, O America, are Redford going anti-nuke
& Stevie Wonder, in his blindered darkness, seeing
the Mushroom flower in Collective Head
(Give Peace a chance!)
The blues, O America, are the southern immigrants
rounded up in factories & sweatshops, herded
into waiting vans for rat-infested towns
(Give Opportunity a chance!)
The blues, O America, is the Disney grotesquerie of fawns & mice,
aging cavaliers who root for the latest bum,
freckled waitresses w/ syphilitic clowns
(Give Laughter a chance!)
The blues, O America, are the Abbotts & Gilmores
stuck like chewed bubblegum on state prison’s guts,
vised in the Hole that marries men and rats
(Give the Individual a chance!)
The blues, O America, are the waterfront artists
who have shifted out of the canvas onto the gilded frame
the fatal parallax of their Zen
(Give Art a chance!)
The blues, O America, are these white sheets of dry hacks
who sing Friedman & Marx, inventing semaphore of pain
that signifies deadends & IBM stocks
(Give Idea a chance!)
The blues, O America, are the letters
we keep writing in the dead of night
hoping somebody is out there
keeping vigil at the listening post
on cotton fields,
parks & orchards,
Greyhound bus stops
across the Atlantic & Pacific
who will understand that
Time is running out:
Madmen are loose upon the earth
Hitmen are riding withered girls & taxicabs
Thieves are picking locks, mugging laid-off tenants
Generals are polishing brass knuckles & stars
Technocrats are computing kill-ratio & the human mind
Dictators are issuing IMF decrees & drugs
Seers are burning incense, shuffling Tarot cards
Poets are raving mad in cheap cafes & state pads
Writers are wrestling w/ the Bull of Pound & Wehrmacht
Ex-activists are deep into god, playing market stocks
The Third World is up in arms, dripping ichor & blood

& I address you, O America,
in an aging, five-centavo voice:
Life is short; time is running out
This generation of fools must self-destruct
As in some old, forgotten tune
whistled in the dark—
Save the Children
& Invent new marauders’ songs!
June 1982

From Collection, 1982

This entry was posted in POETRY OF EDEL GARCELLANO, selected by G.Y. Guillermo. Bookmark the permalink.

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