Caught between Kerouac and Marilyn spawned in me the language, fearless pain as my mother, wrapped in mink, walked the edge then past as I watched then ducked smashed shards and men wanting to be sucked, degenerating the innocence of life and saints and promises made;
and where is Christ, the Buddha, ohm mani padme ohm when thousands of children die each year in America alone at the hands of their parents caretakers life-takers, when fathers teach their daughters the art of Kama Sutra, how in all this to distinguish any act as wrong, when killing millions in moments preserves the American way and what of generations born in winds of mushroom clouds,born without limbs or eyes to napalm women,what harm in being sucked by unlined skin—
the brain numb too short a time, too soon the blackout ends, too soon Marilyn raises her skirt, her breasts, her legendary grin, too soon barbiturates and lithium and caffeine caffeine—can’t sleep, won’t sleep, bring in the kid—she won’t remember anyway the feel of heels and calloused palms, slip between her unfledged lips like snow, like angel wings, then retreat to the oblivion of drink. What’s sex in this rhythm of hate and fear, in the mutual acceptability of mutual destruction? The Buddha uncrucified cannot exist.
And I know these people, this violence spawned of invisibility, sexuality hiding fungal lingams of death, sublimating the need to think of consequence when consequences surround us not of our own making—why control ourselves when we ourselves have no control in this atomic-Ku Klux Klan-raping world of sawed-off shotguns in the hands of eight-year-olds who need a fix, a blow, enough to know they are alive, enough to dull the tense despair of being alive
but this is my world too and the bombs of mutual annihilation have not yet dropped and I do remember the jazz-nuanced hipster world that spawned me behind Marilyn’s angel grin concealing desperate dreams turned nightmare horrible, and I
we carry these in symbols of anorexic models and crucifixions to bars and steaming baths and schoolyards filled with meth and smack, bliss only in the mind, the body sharp-edged and clutching.
Yet under these streets flow fresh-water streams—chip away with hammer and nail, dig through phlegm-stained concrete with fingers till whitened bone shows through, dig for water to wash us clean, past wanting more cars, more clothes, more love than we feel, dig for truth beyond lies that tell us drugs and sex, shaved heads and tattoos, fast tech will save us for only we can save ourselves yet if each self is saved we will save the world.
Thank you to the editors of Squaw Valley Review Poetry Anthology 2012 for first publishing this poem and to the community and poets who make Community of Writers such a rich and fulfilling experience.