Twelve pieces from
America or Glow
The Nevada prophet emerged
from a bunkered holocaust, a nihilist
with a cape, denomination — even religion —
indecipherable, though clearly
hell-bent like the general in therapy —
fine combat soldier —
who pointing out,
for pointing to the fun,
how much fun
it is for fun-lovers
like him and others,
to shoot someone,
a geo-theosophy of the body,
a self-fulfilling eschatology
that’s the man as warrior in his house.
There’s a well-kept stone house at the non-town end
of High Street that never has lights on — powerlines go
into the structure, but there’s also an Amish buggy
parked around the side, most often.
Wood is freshly cut and stacked
in aesthetic architectural cords
along the sunny side.
A draft: ghouls, zombies,
blobs, vampires perfecting
day-walking, atomic power feeders,
chemical Lazaruses, Jasons, Halloweens, Pumpkin Heads,
deliverances, meteorites, chainsaws,
natural born killers,
all homing in;
to catch a draft
beneath the lens,
to crusade through fences,
old world leftovers,
old world fears.
Rockies secure what within
the flyover, capped against mesas and plateaus
happiness hugging vistas, patrol car horrors
out where trailers move slowly;
rarely do they make films
or network or even cable TV series;
reshaping Kidman’s Antipodean nose,
free trade retrograde,
Mount St Helens, the Appalachians,
re-introduced, the wolf in shot out;
Montana, Washington; Tabasco
campaigning for eroding
in small packages
food of synthesis,
to build a stake,
trek all the way up to Kroger,
where tyres hone to a perfect pitch
on roads to Barrow,
the short leap across
to Russia, Nazi rocket
In the way others find a hook: casinos.
It gets astonishingly cold at night.
As if the warm air seeps into the fault line,
and pushes the continent further apart.
One rule for them one rule for us: syndrome.
All laws prior dissolved, rescinded, ignored.
Heroin and prostitution fuelled inner city
with penchant for West Coast dragons,
movies about China Town, flowering
tattoos, a warmth to process gangs
as trends: eucalypts thriving;
choppers, teamsters, chants,
Whitman never got there,
never beat the rush,
choppers, teamsters, chants,
redwoods down around the ankles,
Baudrillard says: “Decidedly,
decision decide decimate deciduous
joggers jiggers jugglers juggernauts
are the true truist truisms truthfully
later Latter Day night moon gibbous
Saints saints over salty saline salinity
of underbelly and missionary peace corpse
core cored copse spreading über Christianity
or Christian-derived fealty to “negritude”
and “Asiatics”, to sub-continental
and Arab and the Arab protagonists
antagonists agonies of an easy-does-it
apocrypha prayer-topia Apocalypse.
It’s something to do with being French.
Before and after the famine
my Irish family of mountain woodmen,
went south to the curios of southern lands,
to hack their bit of bravado
out of the forests and wetlands.
A foreigner here, it strikes me,
a hundred and sixty years ago
my great great great grandfather
might have found it cheaper
to cross the sea sideways.
That would make me an anarchist
with American citizenship,
and if they stripped it from me,
it’d still be my country as birthplace.
The tubed magazine of my father’s
rifle would make pepperpots
of road signs that warn rockfall
or flooding, and Johnny Cash
would still play on the portable stereo
out by the vegetable garden
he won’t put in this year but does.
My father has never been to America
but when I think America I think of him —
a life in Kenworth trucks, admiration
for the company reps flown down
to show them how to do it for Australia.
My father sticks with the government
because they’re keeping things pretty much the same;
he thinks gridiron’s a dickhead’s game
and Bud is like drinking urine,
but otherwise it’s America all the way.
My mother has been to America
and likes to speak other languages.
She recognises English is not the only way.
She constantly tries to vote out right-wing
governments, and though fearing the police,
thinks it’s good the protestors
peacefully stand up to the evil empire.
She admires the politeness, not the policing.
My mother and father divorced
when I was seven — my mother
worshipped Elvis, my father didn’t.
Steinbeck’s text to photo America
is a three-year-old’s Perth memory,
when the heat warped the driveway,
and black hail fell hard against
the picket fence outside my window.
I learnt being Thomas Pynchon
was never going to be easy.
The Unabomber’s violence
would be unacceptable. J. D. Salinger
wasn’t so easygoing, so lucky.
In the moody black and white
of dust bowl and bare legs,
feet turned inwards,
Boeing and Minuteman
are harvests where weather balloons
dare to go, shedding their instruments.
Hitching from the West Coast
to Cape Cod, the ghoul collects
the souls of abstinent
teenagers. He homes in
on a Brooke Shields
lookalike, her mother
He holds up 7-11s
with a vacant stare,
and lunches on customers
at Walmart. Inside,
his emptiness inveigles
statistics and thinktanks,
a melting pot of choice
where it all comes out
in the wash: out there,
Cemetery for the American war dead just outside Cambridge, England.
American hospital in Paris. Interned by the pressure of the Atlantic.
Compacted hot below the thinning ice of Pole.
Scrimshaw and artefacts from Babylon
smuggled into backrooms in Nantucket.
Camouflage in the swamps. Bow-hunters
out in the woods. A car-jacking at a gas station,
junction of an interstate highway.
Obsessive whiteness and Ahab fixation not really latched onto until
the aching symbolisms of the twentieth century laid in.
Civil War dead and fields of trophies still upturned
by metal detectors, scavengers of dead ordnance.
Sea-wraiths of midway, washed glass of sand,
confused with the bones of the enemy.
The dead with boots on in Texas.
“Characteristic heritage.” Hoa Nguyen
I have a distant uncle by marriage who lived in Chicago.
Or was it a distant auntie and/or cousin by marriage who lived in Chicago?
Narratively, it matters. Nationalistically, not at all.
Though I’m doubt that they’d have seen it this way.
She might, or might now. He’s dead.
They met in Perth: an American marine — I recall now,
and it’s vital to the story — he was bivouacked
at the University of Western Australia
during World War Two. The seeker finds...
She found him, they married,
“didn’t go back” to an Italian district of Chicago.
My partner remembers him sending them — in-law’s children —
models of Saturn rockets, pictures of the moon-landing,
evidence of American finesse, ingenuity, know-how, power,
the sign of blood and the cross and the chariot of Apocalypse.
In the photo of the rocket assembly line— sidestepping security —
he’s the one on the scaffolding fifth from the left, doing something
to the skin that will burn up, falling back in second stage re-entry...
he’s the one whose wife will fret for home and grow increasingly
larger, larger than the Bible which becomes her home:
her sensitive son a photographer of the sunny side of the moon,
her sensitive son she’s so fond of though wonders about
as she is weighed down by the God that’s seen earth
from a great distance and been catapulted back,
taking to California and a climate like her childhood’s.