Written over a week travelling across California, Manifest Destiny is a long-form poem exploring life in the United States one year after the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
Part I – Highway
I love this country.
This country loves me.
Your body is disgusting.
The streets stink of caramelised piss
Air conditioned heaven. Air freshened paradise.
Melancholy sits on me with no extra weight.
Fascism is a virus
Ominous arches overhead
From out of the fog
Driving for miles through the desert
I want to love you with very part of myself
You were ugly to me
You still are
These are the
Luther Standing Bear
Life is easy
And never working very hard
Amounting to nothing much at all
To be forgotten in small town dystopias
Part II – Valley
Weighted rain drops
Crack and seep through the windscreen
Filtered mineral water
Rips in reality
Running in parallel
To eternal telegraph poles
Stretching across the desert
Mist and brown cows
Dotting the valley
Black cloud spitting electricity
The trees are uprooted.
They walk across the landscape
In the shape of my shadow
With satnavs growing from their branches
The water carves and cuts the earth.
It is the only God here.
It brings life and eventually death.
The flag billows
Drenched in black water.
I want to set it alight so I feel warmth
That isn’t heat.
Black water beckons the flame.
It will destroy America.
The earth is dead.
We’re crossing its husk.
100,000 connections per second.
I count telegraph poles.
If I fell climbing rocks
Down into the ravine
Would any passerby
Hear the crack of my neck
On the neighbouring freeway?
My bones would join the earth.
I would die cradled in America’s corpse,
My foreign blood would join theirs.
A single cloud hovers 700 feet
At the centre of the valley floor.
Nothing surrounds it.
An unidentified flying object.
The government are experimenting with its camouflage technology.
It’s not very good.
The Rockies have Everest aspirations,
In the distance they seem impressive.
Yet I am a speck in this epic landscape.
I am but a cell incarcerated within the New Colossus.
Part III – Yosemite
They are undeserving of Nature’s fertility,
The beauty in her carcass.
The trees that couldn’t run remain;
Their charred trunks stand as monuments to what they once were.
The soil restlessly strays in their shadow as sand.
White and black tombstones the birds
Don’t dare to rest upon to escape
The scorching sun.
I weep for the mountain face
And it gladly lets my tears
Permeate its rock
And give life to the empty river beds.
The ugliness of the jagged rocks
Towering pines still emigrating between
The twin peaks.
As long as they keep moving they won’t be killed.
That American mentality of conquering Nature.
My sole tear has swollen deep inside the bed rock
Releasing a flood to sweep the plain
And fill the valley.
Cascading from the mountain face itself
Jets of cool aqua explode into the charcoal of dead wood standing solitary.
Trickles become streams becoming rivers.
The sand washes away.
Colour returns to the dead land briefly
And the mountain rises up above me
Momentarily man and rock understand one another.
But then the moment passes,
The water dissipates, evaporates,
The colour drains
And the mountain sinks back into the dead planet.
The monolith was temporary.
An illusion of life that truly is merely a parasite, preying on the emotion
Of those who stop
They do not care for your green fingertips,
Only the slices of green we carry amongst ourselves
As if they would protect you
When all they care for is their greed.
Run trees run.
Flee the flames.
Don’t become tombstones like your unfallen brothers and sisters.
You must live elsewhere.
You must cross the ocean.
We cannot let you burn.
Part IV – 711
My veins are filled with cola,
Vanilla flavoured acid burning through my body.
Flickering fluorescence shapes the room.
Thousands of refrigerators all vending different combinations of syrup and poison.
Rotting sweetener hangs in the air,
Fifty calories consumed per breath.
I want a coke.
Or a pepsi.
Or a lemonade.
Part V – Desert
I caught a group of people at the edge of my vision
And turned to watch them sell their wares to the motor fumes.
I raised a hand to wave and offered a smile
But they glowered back;
They thought I hated their existence on the dirt track at the edge of my vision,
At the edge of the highway
With their cherries.
The sky is sad and I am sad with it,
Bloodshot eyes hazing over the world.
These people are just like me
But I am not one of them.
I believe in the beauty of this country.
Nature’s a parasite.
Part VI – Coast
I’m searching the deepest recess of my mind for some kind of feeling.
The mist creeps atop the ocean
Waves crash into jagged rocks piercing the
Endless expanse of blue
At the edge of the world.
Yet, still, telegraph poles.
The land crumbles to dust,
The sea its Titan
Exerting the greatest power on earth:
I speed along the precipice
So close to complete consumption
Perhaps this is where I’ll die.
At least that would be poetic.
An unmarked underwater mausoleum
Formed out of coral
Where my sunken ribcage
Is home to hosts of sardines.
Feeding on my meat they grow to 16 inches,
Double the worth I once was
But soon they will be caught
And fed to smaller men.
Part VII – Los Angeles
There’s lust in the freeway.
Our love is in atomic decay
He strangles her and his friends laugh
Our relationship is irreparable
I pray for anonymity
From coastal vultures
I pray for anonymity
From older lovers
I pray for anonymity
There’s death in these beaches
I want to suck the barrel of a shotgun
Long deep strokes until the bullet
Bursts through my teeth.
I plant the shattered shards of enamel
In the fertile soils of Southern California
So they may grow as native trees
Promising hope to the faithless
To do as I have done for immortality.
I want to ride motorbikes
Breathing into your neck
You and I are one
The air touches and passes our one body
As It never will onlookers like me
In my four wheeled metal cage
I love my country.
It won’t love a foreigner
A bench would be sweet
So that I could sit
And ponder mortality
You own me America
You control me
What an ugly place to jump
What an ugly place to die
Poverty isn’t permitted to fester here
Among the palms and freshly cut lawns
For the flowers
The flowers have angry faces inside of them
Just as Warhol designed
I look down to see my torso covered in blood
Hooked metal talons have torn open my chest
And my muscles and sinews dribble down my abdomen.
The eagle looks on, esurient
It too suffers here in paradise.
An eternal hurt in sinister rays
I miss the rain
And the chill of late autumn cries
The landscape of my mind is no longer genuine
The landscape of my mind was never genuine
The city cries
I stick my knife into it again
And I stab, and I stab, and I stab
Tragedy, ecstasy, doom:
The Human Experience
Consuming this product may cause joy
The water smells so good
So fresh and
Will androids dream of electric sheep?
Let me rip open my chest
Snapping my ribs
So I may remove my lungs
And connect them to the automobile’s engine
They will absorb the fumes
The smog might clear
America could be beautiful again.
But I can’t perform open heart surgery,
Or pay for it,
For myself or for this country.
I shake with terror
At the fear of ever leaving this
Waste, waste, waste.
I’ll give you my money,
I’ll give you my hand,
I need to be forgiven for stealing your land
Take every single part of myself
American dreams of lacklustre summers
Human beings are ugly creatures
They won’t even look at me now
But at least I made it
I’m flying with angels.