with leaving the old flag
in the hands of those
who masturbate with it.
I want a smaller country
with fewer thieves,
a country where we share disgust
over the same predations
and thefts. I want a deeper morality
that holds more water
than just good and evil
sloshing back and forth —
one that rotates like a bowl
of tides and if something
goes over the side,
we know what to do
for whoever gets flooded.
I want a hole to put
all the holy books in
and see what grows
from where they decompose.
If we let one god in
we let all gods in
and let them do
what they can for us,
not the other way around —
I want shackles on any gods
we choose to entertain.
I want to sit on a cliff’s edge
and enjoy the still-clear air.
I want to drink clean water,
sit safely by the side of any stream.
In that country, let love be unrestricted
and hate be reserved. Let joy be a currency
and anger be reserved. Let care
be a duty and neglect
be reserved — in fact
let all that we’ve lived on
be reserved for reference only
after this is done,
after this is over,
after this has finished happening,
or even now.
Our professor worked hard trying to convince us
that our words were all bastards who stunk like animals
as if they’d been alone in wild places for decades
and never bathed, having been given
all the room in the world in which to grow
as feral and stubborn as they could,
resisting our coaxing and coaching,
settling at last into rough roles they’d chosen,
milling about waiting to be consumed.
We knew better,
or more accurately believed we did,
or most accurately of all we did not care.
Instead we simply and deeply loved
the smell of our wild words, the pungency
that dragged behind them in long ribbons
doused in dirt and filth and all the taste and scent
of all the places they’d been and foraged
for health and truth and the teeth of engagement
as they tore at this world’s fabric.
It dawned on us while watching the professor fuss
and give up on us, that we’d begun
to draw away from him and his ilk and their scriptures
long before we’d met him, perhaps as early
as the day were were born;
at least as early as the day we dared
to try and tame the first salty, crazy syllable
that gained us a reprimand;
at least as early as the first time we said,
“let’s hear that again…” to words
with a rock beat in their mating calls
or stinging swarms of jazz notes
lighting up our tongues.
It dawned on us that night in the workshop
that we had learned long ago
how to run with the wildest of words.
We’d learned long before how to turn away
from a professor who was trying to tame us,
who needed so badly
to see us and our words tamed.