[My ancestors are empty words], The concussed foreign agent
[My ancestors are empty words]
The Concussed Foreign Agent wakes up in Wakanda and asks is this Wakanda? and the Technocrat replies deadpan: no it's Kansas.
no punchline chewing
a spear of ryegrass,
what is the joke? Well Kansas is thought to be far from Wakanda as a person can get. It is diametrical overrun with colonizers and said to be empty. A course like Wakanda, outside its borders its existence is mostly imaginary, and furthermore about thirty mile from where my people are laid down there is a tremendous reservoir constructed in the 60s to dam those ditch trickles that would rise and bloom into endless prairies of water, and whole towns would have to drown for that lake we call Waconda and sometimes Glen Elder.
Now catfish drift in those farmhouses under skies of algae the same hue as the carpet we sat on while on the divan a great uncle remembered the mineral spring drowned by the lake. Come to find out that spring was sacred to many nations; the Kansa people call it Ne-Wohkon Daga, Great Spirit Water. I read it was a perfect circular pool atop a high mound, two hundred feet in diameter, and it was salty and had its own tides. Ne-Wohkon Daga at night, dark mirror brimming with stars.
The spring was sealed when the valley was flooded, the flood sealed with the name Waconda. And a historical marker that reads "considered neutral territory, the springs drew Kaws, Pawnees, Comanches, and Osages to the site."
Bruce Springsteen squints out of a Super Bowl commercial a twenty minute drive from Ne-Wohkon Daga and declares all are more than welcome to come meet here in the middle.
When I read last week about Ne-Wohkon Daga, the sacred spring flooded so Topeka and Lawrence downstream would not drown, I was ashamed by a senator named Pomeroy, who in 1870 said the hills around it "are as sacred to the Indians as those about Jerusalem."
From the back step I was watching the stars come out as light fell from the sky. Coyotes were singing and were joined by wolves, who it was said were not seen in Kansas since 1905 but I heard them in 1980 or so, I was four, and I sat there held in a gaze, everything before me was a face of some kind and you could see the milk line trickling to earth. Got older and wondered if it was my foolishness until I learned my mother when she was small saw it too, though she uses differnt words.
What is shameful is that even as I am of this, I am constituted by the dark smoke of a genocide that unmakes it. You could build a house out of this shame. But such a house would be unlivable, the floor will rot out from inside.
The Messiah ingests the red pill that transports you from The Matrix to the Desert of the Real, and The Traitor says buckle your seatbelt Dorothy because Kansas is going bye-bye.
In the first movie of that trilogy The Human Condition, Kaji cries: it's not my fault that I'm Japanese yet it's my worst crime that I am. Now I think Kaji is mistaken. Him being Japanese in occupied Manchuria might be his shame, but his worst crime is to enforce the cruel fiction of the barbed wire that encloses the prison work camp. He adjusts to it. Wind and rain get into his ideals, and he adjusts like a roof does once the damp gets in.
In Beloved, Toni Morrison called it the sludge of ill will; dashed hopes and difficulties beyond repair, and when I read that I recognized a kitchen floor collapsed into a cool basement lined with shelves holding thirty seasons' worth of watermelon rind pickles bathed in red 40.
How did I walk across that floor? I know I studied myself one last time in the washroom mirror.
no Messiah by
name of Dorothy,
she is the recitation of a dream rotting in color. And I am the delay flicker of ancient fluorescents on mint tile trapped inside a subroutine called Kansas. My body is out there somewhere, and I must find it. And if I cannot I must learn to walk in peace without a body.
[My ancestors are empty words], The concussed foreign agent wakes" draws upon Holy Ground, Healing Water: Cultural Landscapes at Waconda Lake, Kansas by Donald J. Blakeslee, and references the first film, No Greater Love, of the 1959-1961 Japanese film trilogy The Human Condition, directed by Masaki Kobayashi and based on Junpei Gomikawa's epic novel. In this poem "cruel fiction" references Wendy Trevino's book of that name and her poem "Brazilian is Not a Race:" "A border, like race, is a cruel fiction/ Maintained by constant policing, violence.”