Poetry for Strangers: Transient

Last Stand at Rothko Chapel

A ship of murderous loony scallywags
Swooped down from the asphalt clouds above two days ago,
Firing materiel: Bullets, exploding cannonballs, and banana peels
Captain Sharon Keller, waving her scimitar at the helm, cackled
Ted snickered and guffawed and tugged his ears

The crumbling ramparts of our peace-mongering fortress won’t last
We are transient
We’re doomed
We have nothing to eat but nettles
So it doesn’t matter that William B. Travis and Tommy Lee Jones
Have turned their muskets on each other
You stole my chicken, Travis bellows, mad-eyed,
his purplish tongue dangling from his lips,
but Jones responds with a war cry–Awwwooooooooo!—and charges. Mercy.

I’ve had a vision of the future, Barbara Jordan says to me,
tapping the handle of her machete against the stone restlessly
As we hunker behind the turrets. True North is no more,
It’s packed it up and gone home, she says and begins inking
a proclamation to honor our dead

Kris Kristofferson hands me a mandolin and tells
Me to put down my bazooka.
Let’s go out singing, he says. That’ll show ‘em.
Molly Ivins bangs on the bongos, Dobie takes up the pan flute
And into the wasted, raging lavender sunset lifts our melodic clamor
As the drones drop grapefruit bombs around us


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