“Resilience” © Bonnie Matthews Brock


My Trip To Costco By Mark Twain

Americans are a grim bunch
in large part
Grimmer than Russians
without the cold for an excuse
Americans are tight-lipped
cheap and no goddamn fun
unless they’re drunk
violence in the offing
since they don’t know their own hearts
and must defend that confusion
with their fists
Didn’t used to be that way
Used to be they’d cover that crap over
and be neighborly
No more
Now they skulk and bellyache
behind lawn signs
and arsenals and cars the size of mastodons
Now you can’t kid or even talk to ‘em
because you might disagree
and then what holy hell
they will have to defend their views
which are hardly thought out
just beliefs borrowed from someone else
so they keep getting louder
without getting any closer to the truth
until they feel entitled to wring your neck
Americans don’t know how
to just plain think anymore
and need a priest or a demagogue
or other lunatic
to tell them where it’s at
and what to do
and who to hate

Many Americans started out in Europe
as criminals and religious fanatics
drunks and teetotalers
murderers and water drinkers
who joined forces
to convert you
make a slave out of you
and all your ancestors
Amazing how they’re aflame with righteousness
giving off tremendous heat but never any light
until they’re so riled up
they’re breaking into congress
looking to skin a rep or two alive
You think to yourself it must be a joke
like Hitler was a joke until he wasn’t
Big yuck
You want to laugh
at the things coming out of their mouths
conspiracy this and conspiracy that
crazier than the voice of God
Remember God
who has the honor of being
the very first conspiracy theory
and wild explanation of things
still holding for dear life
It’s just not funny anymore
even if it is ridiculous
a cruel joke
It’s grim and humorless
and has laid a bad case of the blues on me
Even the nice lady on the news hour
who used to make lemonade
out of the lemons they gave her to read
insisting things could be
meaningful and beautiful
is down in the mouth
sleepless and defeated
And going to Costco’s
a trip to hell in a handbasket
so you want to remove your brain
and heart afterwards
and put ‘em out in the cleansing rain
Too late

What Americans have need of
is a good war
like the Russians have now
Come to think of it
I don’t see why the Americans and the Russians
don’t just have at each other for kicks
on a bet the world be damned
and be done with it
They need to fight each other
to satisfy their own blind cravings
and put an end to the whole shebang
in a shopping cart
No I have a better idea
America ought to end the charade
and go over and help Russia
beat up little old Ukraine
for the pure heck of it
After that they can get drunk together
and fall asleep on each other like puppies
little Rushkie puppies and little Yankee puppies
who will never grow up
nuzzling the petroleum teat
and the spectacle teat
the teat of celebrity
and the teat of grievance
and the teat of the void
looking suspiciously
like their dear mama’s teat
of existential despair

So don’t celebrate yourselves
you nice people
like you’re the torch of democracy now
America was never the beacon it pretends to be
America has done things just as bad
beating up little countries
bombing the living bejesus out of ‘em
and turning ‘em into slaves
and wage slaves and dust
Come to terms with that in yourselves
stop the cruelty and the suffering
and stop killing the planet
then you can talk
Until then shut the fuck up
Every single one of you
makes me sick


Steven Schutzman: “I have published a lot, been turned down much more.”

Bonnie Matthews Brock is a Florida-based photographer, as well a school psychologist. She loves hiking the urban and woodland trails of “anywhere” (and pausing often to shoot photos) with her very patient husband (and often collaborator), Ted. Her images have been featured on the covers of magazines such as Ibbetson Street, Wild Roof Journal, Poesy Magazine, Humana Obscura, and Arkansas Review; as well as on the pages of publications such as Oddball Magazine, Ember Chasm Review, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Beaver Magazine, and Lateral. Her works are archived at institutions such as Poets House NYC, Brown University, and Harvard University.