Poem: certain inalienable rights

Against the Current, No. 95, November/December 2001

Kim D. Hunter


your creator is invisible
your flag is omnipresent


the bodies were strewn at random
the flying machines were chosen with care
thousands of miles of jet fuel
burns for days
some fires never die
they smelled it in brooklyn
the bronx
they saw the explosion in jersey
miles from where skin
burned and fell
beyond recognition
from the innocent
perverting the perversion
of the ancient
mayan ritual sacrifice


heart crushing
posters with missing faces
echo the longing
the newsprint search
for members lost at auction
by african families
centuries broken

we’ve learned how to put hope on paper

hope in other eyes
even as soul numbing loss
stretches our arms
and desire beyond reason
beyond knowing
into the emptiness
of unseen days

who could have predicted

that stars and stripes on cloth
would point to a hole
an unmarkable grave
with a four story headstone
with the plane rewound on air
to shred flesh before our eyes
over and again
trying to know the unknowable
through mechanical repetition
because machines run the people
who have lost their minds
and fallen to paint by number images
because reality is too jagged to hold
there is a new space in america
hot and voluminous as the air
over nagasaki hiroshima
blue and immeasurable
as the toll of a single bell


i prefer to clean my flag with fire
to celebrate the possible
to review what the womb has given me
acknowledged in the hopeful
unrealized printed promises
that channeled and thrust the border and empire
of these various states
all their glory and crime
from days of wilderness
into this oblique and over lit maze


the things that break us
and make us whole
cannot bear a flag

Kim D. Hunter is a poet and cultural activist in Detroit and an editor of Against the Current.

from ATC 95 (November/December 2001)