Wilson saw it in the celluloid—
a nation purified in stark white sheets.
The newsreel ends; the storyline repeats:
There’s always something left to be destroyed
with ropes or bags of cash or with Marines
who charge up hillsides. Flags are planted. Scene.
My Grandpa was a Kraut, just like his Dad.
Rednecks used to beat his ass while prating
that these here parts don’t take no hyphenating.
‘Don’t like it, Fritz? Well, that’s too goddamn bad.
You’re one of us!’ By God, it’s still amazing
what you can do with vigilante hazing.
He had no choice but make a choice—and did.
Never learning his parents’ speech, he merged
into the English-speaking world as urged
by the local thugs. But even as he hid
behind a surname that he mispronounced,
war ended, yet his lineage stayed renounced.
A proxy WASP, a diplomatic move
worthy of von Clausewitz, the stench
of total war progressing inch by inch
flowing through our veins. What does it prove?
Well, not a goddamn thing, but all you need
to know. Shut up and find a girl and breed.
And as I stood by Great-Great Grandma’s grave
—‘geboren’ and ‘gestorben’ etched in stone—
I could feel the marrow in each bone
hum with a hymn I didn’t know, each wave
of unheard sound a dirge of dispossession.
Close the KJV. Here ends the lesson.
originally published in The Raintown Review