This is a draft of a slam I’m working on. It definitely needs tweaking, but so far so good.
Papa loaned out his life for choice.
The draft loomed over heads, burning
papers, scratchy voices from screaming
down at police, swallowing cotton,
leaving the only home you knew
for the border which had
the only life you could’ve willed.
November third. Who knew your birth could
predict your death? He still had his head.
Went out there prepared to be led
straight to jail. You were handcuffed
either way as long as you couldn’t pay.
The lottery spun heads over tails,
a gamble entered without
putting anything down, without feeling the rush of a
chance at luck besides a longer wait.
The radio sang out the dates with a low tank
of gas, monotonous machine voices calling out
death row, speakers straight from Auschwitz,
government straight from big businesses and
their need to spread a regime that would increase
profits tenfold, gather laborers as shepherds gold,
killing the spares… the future… with a heavy hand
that rolled the lists into cigarette paper for the burning.
They, yearning, a drug infested cargo, dirty with
hopelessness and humanity, fired on
their imaginations, their futures, their trust in themselves—
the surety of justice and evil, those bad people.
Papa loaned out his body and soul to the makers,
the puppeteers, the land takers, the directors, whoring out
his only worth to the only option dear America,
in all of their dreams and mirages of a perfect
consumer happiness, left for the son of a
seamstress and a grocery store owner.
Dear lord, not present anymore to his shadowed
hoard of sons, let explosions be sunlight
and shells his seeds of democracy,
planted in the soiled skin of unknown enemies.
November third. The radio relayed a number
less than it should be, anticipated by
each long legged, weedy young male to be seen—
a sapling of a man grown solely
to be sown,
November Third. At that point he heard
the fates cry out their judgment through
the long finger Uncle Sam pointed straight
through his body and into the wild,
leaving the pre-destination as a half-concealed decision
whether to wait for the inevitable boots
and burl to strip him into raw materials for shipment
or willingly walk forward, unfazed, holding together
duty and pride, saving face, sacrificing plans
all in the good faith that life could be worse
so that at least within the destined course
he’d find suitable work
and one day return to home and family.
November third. Shucked from a husk,
life in the hours of dusk, Vietnam, Viet Cong,
Viet Minh, words from the television’s lust
to present to the public the tragedies their
ill-fortuned offspring faced because of
a government’s wasteless foreign policies,
sunken in shit up to their elbows, guns raised high
above heads, the seeds planted and grown
in bloody corpses of children and childrens’ parents.
Men. Thrashing in their sleep. Gathering everything they
could keep, in order to later throw it away with their
Men. Drowning in the deep waters of a country
they’d never seen, an enemy they never uncovered,
a reason never explained.
Papa loaned out his life for choice,
enlisted that day,
walked into the fray,
and never received any gathered interest.