Michael Rothenberg

Michael Rothenberg
is co-founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. His most recent books of poetry include The Pillars (Contagion Press, 2020), Drawing The Shade (Dos Madres Press, 2016), Wake Up and Dream (MadHat Press, 2017), and a bi-lingual edition of Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story (Varasek Ediciones Madrid, Spain, 2017)He lives in Tallahassee, Florida where he is Florida State University Libraries Poet in Residence.



If standing on a pile of corpses
waving a flag makes you feel less ashamed
of being a murderer, go for it, Warhawks,
wave those flags! A new shipment of bodies
will arrive in the morning just for you

If it will make you feel better about the death
of your sons and daughters, husbands, uncles,
aunts, cousins, and friends, who over the years
have fought in the army, marines, air force
and navy, wave that flag, and remember them.
Wave that flag and rejoice in the celebration
of enemies vanquished and wars won.

Come to the tarmac, Warhawks,
wave your flags as black body bags
issue from the bellies of shiny jets,
the second birth of the fallen innocent.
Come to the tarmac, Warhawks,
where boxes of bloody limbs roll down
the conveyor belt, for transfer
to a sorting center where surgeons
will match up twitching hands and feet,
dismembered arms and legs,
pulsing stumps aching for a complete
and perfect life in the name of freedom
and justice. And when that quilt
of torn flesh is rebuilt and ready,
you can go down to the place where
death is stored to identify your
very own Frankenstein monster.

Wave on, Warhawks!
Here comes a tub of disembodied bowels
Buckets of brains, veins and kidneys
Organs of memory, and silent nerves
Come sing your patriotic songs!
Rejoice with verve and wave your flags
for the greater good. Commemorate
the killing, for if you don’t have
your killing, you won’t have your heroes
and without your heroes you won’t have
a reason to justify your sorrow. 

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