Guantanamo

Guantanamo

 

I am mailing back my insides to Guantanamo Bay;

I am trying not to scare you, trying to find the words to say.

The basketball messiahs have a conference at third base

to declare the New York Harbor Ferry unfit to race.

 

The inferno over Long Island illuminates our cheeks;

all the firemen and umpires haven't touched a hose in weeks,

and we turn our eyelids inside out; the commandments tell us pray.

I need eleven words to finish;

I won't think of them today.

 

Under the poison-wood tree

My heart's asleep

Under the poison-wood tree

Why don't you wake me

 

I'm a serpent in the desert; I am right here in your home.

My thoughts are hyper-focused; my mind is free to roam,

to drift down to Guantanamo, put a rice bag over my head;

all the soldiers there stop laughing with their rifles close at hand.

 

In the basements of Manhattan, like the ringing of a phone,

they dig to bury cables, they keep churning up fresh bone.

That auction block they buried deep in American soil

seeped blood into the engines, which has mixed up with the oil.

 

Under the poison-wood tree

My heart's asleep

Under the poison-wood tree

Why don't you wake me

Why don't you wake me

 

Now, the patron saint of cancer has left the reservation;

she's grown strong on maize and whiskey, baby; she’s grown a bit impatient.

She carries a suitcase labeled DNA and one labeled TV;

all her tomcats, all her lynch mobs, have climbed up in all our trees.

Everything we’ve ever told you,

every truth onto which we’ve stumbled,

is fuel for her nucleus, its safety belt unbuckled.

I am thinking about Guantanamo and the message they tried to send us;

I am thinking on the rule of twins and what it took to bend, yes.

 

Under the poison-wood tree

My heart's asleep

Under the poison-wood tree

Why don't you wake me

Why don't you wake me

Why don't you wake me

 

(Life Underwater Music, 2003)

James O'Brien