"Summer of '09"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 16 2010 7:10 AM

"Summer of '09"


Click the arrow on the audio player to hear  Andrew Hudgins read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

For five miles, chanting Stop the war
and laughing with other laughers about
a government we almost trusted,
I did not wear black glasses
and a mask. No automatic rifle
swung up, muzzle firming from ellipse 
to circle, assessing me, and I never,
black boots hammering my spine, 
humped asphalt helplessly. At home,
sunburned, I cracked a beer,
not imagining the latch
shattering, rifle stock
clubbing the skull, military
heel planted on my back—fascism's
implacable penitentiary memes
of sadism and certitude. Last month,
in a prison uniform and Thorazinic
monotone, I did not drone
my gratitude to the Brothers,
since purged, at the Intelligence Ministry
for awakening me to my errors.
My father was not summoned to receive,    
in bloody, hardening sheets, my body—
each death and forced confession a scorched
tooth the dragon, in its madness, ripped
from its hotnecrotic jaw.


Andrew Hudgins' most recent book is Shut Up, You're Fine: Poems for Very, Very Bad Children. His new book American Rendering: New and Selected Poems is due out in April.  He teaches at the Ohio State University.


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