First, bare your teeth like a yawning Arctic fox

and zip up your lips the moment she thinks

you care—quickly frown like a doomsday sky

and watch her become a heap of abandoned things;

then open your mouth like a shithole and call

her all the sword-edge names that cut off handshakes

the moment love’s needed most—you can trump up

lies baked in hell and tweet and twist humanity.


Each time my grandfather clock loads his long arm

like a Russian Drok mortar and knocks this side

of Earth on the forehead and says, 12 o’clock,

I call out Frost from his crude sandy bed,

we look America in the eye, clear our throats

like a crashing engine, and ask her how well

‘good fences make good neighbors.’ Has it ever been?


Midnight it is, morning or dark, each time Washington

wakes up with a pharyngitis, yawning like the Atlantic,

and breaks our heads with all the rough-edged words;

midnight it is, as long as we pop champagne,

smile and toast to the pale leaves of climate change

the way the rich clothe the poor with promises;


midnight it is, as long as pistols are pencils

in the palms of boys still learning to spell

hope on the head of a dying bald eagle;

midnight it is, the moment we love in halves

like praying mantises and call each crash country first,


walling them out because hell doesn’t burn from here;

midnight it is, whenever you cut off your tongue

to restrain love and limit hope like a dream

tucked within the chest of an illegal human being,


midnight it is, and will remain, America, if you

only shake hands with those who give more than

they take—aren’t you a library of borrowed books?


Don’t hum into my ears that you, too, feel

what humans feel; you can talk about the exits


of immigrants read as near-misses on CNN and BBC.