By David Baker
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
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.
Posting now because I don't know if I'll get online in the morning before we go out. Wow, that's a downer but it's appropriate to the date and relevant to the times.
Here I am in Pennsylvania, where we arrived after driving through a torrential rainstorm that preceded our departure for half an hour and lasted all the way through Frederick, where the Catoctin Mountains finally seemed to divert some of the clouds. We spent a quiet afternoon after that drive, playing with the kids in the park and reading (note on Treason's Harbour: Jack and Stephen really need to stop falling for the same women, heh). I saw Maximus (the groundhog) and either Luke, Han or Leia (the rabbits) but none of them deigned to stay still long enough to pose for pictures.
We watched from the baseball field behind the YMCA, because none of us like the noise up close.
We could hear the live band from where we were, and there were a number of other people from the neighborhood around -- very friendly.