Uncle Sam Sets a Sack of Shit on Fire Upon the Threshold of the 20th Century
and runs until his lungs could collapse,
until he no longer knows why he is running,
no longer attached to his body, existing
only as the long step, the upward punch of
transitory earth—and falls laughing at the show,
cracks a tall Blue Ribbon, and feels a momentary
sorrow for the owner of that single-family home
and perhaps their pair of newly ruined shoes.
But what was in the bag—buffalo?
Barbed wire? The reaper which would sow
the American line, coast to coast until all
the grass was lucid, green, shimmering
its sameness across the collective imaginary,
the goals we were brought up on, nuked
in the microwave, boiled in their own steadily increasing
And the light’s littoral zones? All that it proves
of the notched between?
Graffiti makes the forest ugly but the city beautiful.
Yet what then of the suburbs, that odd transitional zone
where the treeline shatters and great battles are fought,
died for over unlocked dumpsters or unused attic space?
I’ve eaten bread from a can, regularly, and loved it,
its cylindrical buttered brown, the tin’s impressions
like plowed fields, the devotion it came served with,
caramelized beans and various iterations of beef.
It’s been this way always since my mother’s years
on the family’s dairy farm, salting their ability to taste
right off their tongues. It followed us all the way here, Sam.
Sam, I know my name. I’m your legacy. I have your initials, your
parents, even if only one of us now has a body not burned to ash.
I’ve sat for hours in your branches, baby brother,
watched, watered, mowed the green poaceae
which your spirit feeds.
And way out here on the great American candy mountain,
there are no lemonade or whiskey creeks,
no fabled cigarette or fritter trees, and
the cops and the incoming cars are real, no matter what
you struggle to believe.
Seth García is an MFA candidate at the University of New Mexico, where he served as poetry editor for Blue Mesa Review. His work is either forthcoming or found in Alaska Quarterly Review, Zone 3, Slipstream, Boston Accent, and Reckoning, among other venues. He is the recipient of a North Street Collective Artist Residency.