December 6, 2015

Lynne Knight

AMERICA LISTEN ALLEN GINSBERG IS CALLING YOU AGAIN

Including the worst mass shooting of the year, which unfolded horrifically on Wednesday in San Bernadino, Calif., a total of 462 people have died and 1,314 have been wounded in such attacks this year, many of which occurred on streets or in public settings, the databases indicate.
—New York Times, December 3, 2015

America you are sick. The worm of corruption
eats at your heart & slaughters your children
in schoolrooms, in churches, in community centers.
America you have lost your way. America there are more
mass killings than there have been days in this year.
America your sons & daughters live in fear ginned up
by corrupt greedy media & shameless politicians.
Fear of the other, the other. America we are all other,
& we are sick, & the no longer invisible worm
eats at our hearts. Our malls have become killing fields
America. Our colleges our cities and their buildings.
America where are you? America listen the fall
is here & we are plummeting headlong down.
America why can’t you hear. Are you deafened
by the roar of assault rifles America? America
no one wants to take your small guns only the big guns
the magazines that keep firing firing firing. America
give them up. Throw them in a pile & burn them America
so you can pull your soul back from ruin & wreckage.
America people with assault guns kill people. They kill
more & more people America. Yes they might try to kill
with small guns with knives with ropes but there would be
no mass killings with ropes or knives or small guns because
the killers would have to keep reloading & reloading
giving their hostages time to escape. America
you are sick & the worm at your heart is spinning
across continents & over oceans. America do something
before it’s too late. Do something while we can still say
your name America. We know who you were supposed
to be. So stand up America. Throw down your assault guns
your automatics & walk into the beauty of the sunset the heart
of the rose. America listen to me let the worms wither & die.
America stop cowering in the shadow of the NRA & listen.
This is your heart America. Beating & beating. Your heart
that can bear only so much reality especially if it comes
in the form of rapid bullets only you can stop. America
put your queer transgender gay straight no-gender shoulder
to the wheel & listen America listen before it’s too late.

Poets Respond
December 6, 2015

[download audio]

__________

Lynne Knight: “On the one hand, imitating Ginsberg even a little seems an act of appalling hubris. On the other, while I watched the terrible news from San Bernadino, I really could hear his iconic ‘America’ calling out to us to stop the madness that allows these mass killings to continue.” (website)

Note: This poem has been published exclusively online as part of a project in which poets respond to current events. A poem written within the last week about an event that occurred within the last week will appear every Sunday at Rattle.com. Our only criterion for selection is the quality of the poem, not its editorial position; any opinions expressed are solely those of the poet and do not necessarily reflect those of Rattle’s editors. To read poems from past weeks, visit the Poets Respond page. Interact on our Facebook group. To have a poem considered for next week’s posting, submit it here before midnight Friday PST.