Scoundrel Time

If You See Something, Say Something (a trademark of the U. S. Department of Homeland Security)

Across the nation, we’re all part of communities.
In cities, on farms, and in the suburbs.

We share everyday moments— the face that sneers
even when it’s saying ‘fantastic,’ the crowds whose joy
sounds exactly like rage

with our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends.

It’s easy

To pretend it was
a dream
the kind that seems to go on
for centuries
but on waking turns out to have lasted
only minutes. How long is the average dream?

And how do you know
when it’s over?

To take for granted the routine moments in our every day—
Waiting for the food pantry to open Waiting
to be patted down
by the guards at ‘school,’
Waiting for the ‘doctor’
at the ‘clinic’
to peer down your throat
and squeeze the glands
in your neck and
pronounce you
good to go, so go
Waiting for them to check your I.D.
so you can take your hands off
the hood of the car.

going to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. I
look at the landmarks of this dear life and wonder
which of them will be here
a year from now people
will still need to eat
And, God knows
there’ll probably be gas, all we can burn,
at fantastic prices.

But your every day is different than your neighbor’s—

Which is what makes it suspect,
the difference alone sufficient cause

filled with the moments that make it uniquely yours.

So if you see something you know shouldn’t be there—or someone’s behavior
that doesn’t seem quite right—

Why is that woman wearing a
A heeby-jabby
a thing on her head? Why
are those kids speaking Spanish?
with this guy’s arms? You got to see
this guy. Why are those bitches
holding hands? What made that ‘dude’
think he could look me in the eye?

say something.

I see open season
I see open carry
with carve-outs for the Capitol and the
Trump Tower atrium

I see a slow-motion suicide bombing that makes the ones in Iraq look more or
less rational, you
having a better chance of being greeted by seventy-two virgins in Paradise than
of getting your old job back, the one that was shipped to China or Mexico
or Vietnam
or wherever it was the jobs got shipped. You want a clue, take a look at the
label of your shirt
though if your job wasn’t given to other humans but to a machine in a plant
in Kansas,
it’ll still say Made in America.

I see right to life I see right to work I see right-sizing I see all lives matter
except maybe yours, which is what is meant by American exceptionalism.
I see
I see
I see them
the people’s treasure and smashing
what they can’t steal and setting
The wreckage on fire

I see
a boot
stamping on a human face

Because only you know what’s supposed to be in your everyday.


(All sections in italics are from the website of the Department of Homeland Security: