Perhaps the blame lies in the breasts
of their mothers, who did not reject them
though they were born
reeking of death.
Heads shorn, an infant pate.
Eyes suckling the sights
of cheap arms.
They crawl in the dry heat,
in the wet heat,
and say there is no God there—
How could there be,
so long as they strangle the air
and turn it to lead?
They sodomized men with broomsticks,
and pissed on their sleeping faces,
and walked them as dogs,
and kicked them in the testicles,
and yet no miracle found them,
their breaking on the wheel
so numerous that we cannot grant
them all a Saint’s day.
When you try to speak that place’s name,
the tongue refuses—
to label it is to alienate it,
to isolate it,
to make it exceptional as “an event”
rather than a minor movement of
“the event,” the event that
blooms like the corpse flower,
reminding us of its stench each decade
with a renewed glee.
To name it is to place it on a shelf of failures—
I’ve been reading the things you read
when you are a stylish American, tell me,
in Feng Shui is it
Abu Ghraib in the west corner,
My Lai in the east,
syphilis experiments and
sterilizations facing the door,
or have I confused one atrocity for another?
Forgive me, there are so many,
and the neighbors will soon be arriving for apéritifs.