November 9th, 2010


And a poem for George W. Bush

American Gothic

Fathers take sons down to the hidden lab
and strap them to the table. Start to saw
and file and stitch, and when their son's hands grab
their sleeve and pull for mercy, cut some more.

Mothers help too. It's their job to explain
why scars and bolts go in, why flattened head
prevents wrong kinds of thinking in the brain,
bad thoughts for which, she says, God strikes men dead.

Now look at George. He's what his parents made.
His father's scorn. The love of Barbara.
She came to teenage George one day and said
'This is your brother.' Showed him in a jar

her own dead foetus. Haunted, he'll ignore
all the dead children he'll kill in his war.



When George found Christ, he heard his Jesus say
' Take up your cross.' He never understood -
he was new washed, and drunk, on saviour's blood-
so glad he had found someone else to pay

for all his sins, and ours, the way the rich
buy everything. He carried round his cross
uncertain what to do with it, because
he knew that he was saved. He felt the itch

to use it, then the wars came. And he had
a use for it. Make bad men fight for breath
They'll tell you all they know at brink of death
And it's not torture, torturers are bad

And he was saved. He learned to praise the Lord
by finding sinners he could water-board.