Yesterday a little girl got slapped to death by her daddy, out of work, alcoholic, and estranged two towns down river. America, it's hard to get your attention politely. America, the beautiful night is about to blow up and the cop who brought the man down with a shot to the chops is shaking hands, dribbling chaw across his sweaty shirt, and pointing cars across the courthouse grass to park. It's the Big One one more time, July the 4th, our country's perfect holiday, so direct a metaphor for war, we shoot off bombs, launch rockets from Drano cans, spray the streets and neighbors' yards with the machine-gun crack of fireworks, with rebel yells and beer. In short, we celebrate. It's hard to believe. But so help the soul of Thomas Paine, the entire county must be here--the acned faces of neglect, the halter-tops and ties, the bellies, badges, beehives, jacked-up cowboy boots, yes, the back-up singers of democracy all gathered to brighten in unambiguous delight when we attack the calm and pointless sky. With terrifying vigor the whistle-stop across the river will lob its smaller arsenal halfway back again. Some may be moved to tears. We'll clean up fast, drive home slow, and tomorrow get back to work, those of us with jobs, convicting the others in the back rooms of our courts and malls--yet what will be left of that one poor child, veteran of no war but her family's own? The comfort of a welfare plot, a stalk of wilting prayers? Our fathers' dreams come true as nightmare. So the first bomb blasts and echoes through the streets and shrubs: red, white, and blue sparks shower down, a plague of patriotic bugs. Our thousand eyeballs burn aglow like punks. America, I'd swear I don't believe in you, but here I am, and here you are, and here we stand again, agape.
David Baker - 1954-
The moon tonight is the cup of a scar. I hate the moon. I hate—more—that scar. My love waited one day, then half the next. One cyst drained of fluid that looked, she said, like icing for a cake. Red- laced, she said, gold, tan, thick, rich. Kind of beautiful. One cyst was not a cyst. One —small one, hard, its edges jagged— like a snow ball. This one scared the house on- cologist into lab work: stat. Once the snow melts the birds will be back. Once many men were masked in front of their families. Were gunned down to shallow graves, together, there. Basra. Kaechon. East St. Louis, Illinois. Nowhere we don’t know about and nothing yet is done. This is what we watch while we wait. Twelve little cysts of snow in the red- bud. I watched each one, having counted, once more, and then one more time, as the news reports reported and the cold early northern wind shook out there the bare, still-budded small bush. Balls of crust shuddered in the bush. Birds will be back as though nothing has happened. I am here to report that nothing happened. Except the oncologist said, then, benign. But now I hate the moon. Hate the scar, though it shines on her breast like the moon at my lips.