It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

Our national anthem is a dollars and senseless carnage,
a race around the track of a work week with pit stops amid the roar
of others who are getting ahead while we refuel and relieve.

A desperate dream that ends where it began, a history of
ignorant recklessness set out for harm. 

“What are you rebelling against?” asks the voice of someone, like Mildred
in the Wild Ones. And Marlon Brando’s Johnny answers, “Whadda ya got?” 
What am I saying? We’re the bartered and sold in America, a noisy majority
who won’t fall from history. The world is on a respirator, and you’re lighting the night 

of testosterone-pumped sky-god phalluses with a billion, billion lumens. To imagine
the land of the free as happily-ever-after is to get it all wrong. America, you’re that man, 
seductive, soft-spoken on a first date. By the second, you’re wanting commitment. 
By the third you’re giving her a black eye and a trip to the ER, saying, you’ll never do it again.

America, it’s all about Ecce Femina, Ecce Homo. Homophobia. Homo erectus. Homonyms: 
steel and steal. Freedom trademarked to cloud the eyes of your victims with the promise
of glitz and glitter, a big-bash wedding, a honeymoon, forever. The true-blue of your jeans
unzip, your genes invade our bodies black, white, brown. You insist we keep the results 

you won’t pay paternity for. You’re the man with the nasty temper who wants it all and
someone else to do the dirty work, “with a perfect reason for every awful thing he does.”




About the Author: Kathleen S. Burgess is a retired pink-, white-, and blue-collar worker. Her chapbook Shaping What Was Left and the anthology she edited Reeds and Rushes—Pitch, Buzz, and Hum, are Pudding House publications. A new chapbook Gardening with Wallace Stevens is part of a series of protest poetry for the first hundred days of the new presidential administration available on Lulu. She’s been published in North American Review, Main Street Rag, Sou’wester, Atticus Review, JMWW, Evening Street Review, others. Read more at