back toJacket2

Norman MacAfee

The Coming of Fascism to America

(February 2005)

The information we are receiving is all false.
Our country has betrayed us!

The Last Days of Mankind, 2:
Fascism, which
the greatest generation
fought to defeat over there,
is taking over here.

FDR fought fascism off
though Reagan thought he brought it here,
fascism: protection of
corporations by the state against
the interests of most people, etc.

In 1933, Yeats to Spender:
“We are entering the age of politics,
and then there will be the age
of psychology, where everyone’s
motives will be understood (alas), and
then, worst of all, will dawn
the age of spirituality” —
and that is us.

Don Sanders’ father said,
Once the American right defeats the Soviets
it will take on the left
in this country and try
to destroy it too, then he died.

I wake up each morning
thinking how to get past this
how to defeat these bastards.
I will fight with the
weapons of poetry.

Let’s see, where was I?
US never declared war on SU,
so Cold War was a fraud,
anticommunism a fraud.
US did declare war on fascist
Germany, Italy, Japan, and won.
That was real. Fascism lost, and
should never return. US lost war
against communists in Vietnam.

60s amazing because
a poet could make films
then in the 70s be assassinated.

Did Borges invent the world
wide web with the Aleph
in Buenos Aires in 1942?

(The Opening of The Gates, 2/ 17/ 5)

My love and I meet Don
at Christo’s Gates as they open.
Each thinks our own thoughts
the frames of individuals
in a mass moving, the Great Gates
of America, though America
is not great today,
walking through the Gates
to perhaps fascism
if that is the only choice.

But as Saint Theresa
says in our kitchen
“Let nothing disturb thee
nothing affright thee
all things are passing”
she says facing Ground
Zero a mile away.

Don says, Amazing news:
the American Actuarial
Association has raised life expectancy
to guess what? 80? More!
I give up! Tell me!
120!! We gasp as we listen to Met
Figaro: I premiered the Countess!
Don says. I say, But I have trouble
listening to it: too theater; and
too true to class system, to my
one-class detriment.

(Italy 2005 — March 2, 2005)

“A fascist victory.
Let them (them!) know
that I know!”
— Pasolini, “A Desperate Vitality,” 1963

Born a Republican, but
Vietnam, life,
made me a leftist.
I saw the gap increasing,
I saw Rockefeller at The Cherry Orchard.
And Rockefeller was the last
not-too-horrible Republican.
After him, the deluge,
Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Bush.
The gloves kept coming off
down to the iron fist
pounding on our mental doors.

Emperor: How beautiful you are, little Nightingale!
You may have anything you want!
Nightingale: ( flies away)

Saint-King Louis weeping,
fainting, because he knew
the stories in the statues.
68 forgotten city mirage.
Machine gun armies can reface it all.
The yellow emperor
hides behind a giant army.
The black angel swoops
over red and blue alike.
Pete Seeger lives still, sings,
“Ain’t gonna study war no more.”
There is America, and the other America.

Rockefeller’s at The Cherry Orchard,
chuckling at soon-to-be-poor Ranevskayas.
Astro Place clock stops,
it seems, forever and a day.
Screaming in horror,
I will borrow your breath,
tortured to death,
I will borrow your body.

A rich socialite neglects her
young son, who kills himself.
She becomes a socialist,
starts giving her money away.
Her family commits her.
Ingrid, Rossellini, Europa ’51.

“But for Rossellini and
Godard only: I
take down the screen
and project on the wall.”
(Henri Langlois, Cinémathèque française)

Then he began a History of the World
for TV: Socrates, Il Messia,
Descartes, The Rise of
Louis XIV, Augustine, Acts
of the Apostles, Age of Medicis,
Age of Iron.

On the way to The Best of Youth:
in the restaurant the ceiling
fan is taking me to the past
of the two paradises.

In the invisible city of 68,
the people on the streets, in the frescoes
on the screens kept changing places.
One poet screamed through
his fire for years
till his immolation
the year Gwyneth sang
her first Immolation Scene.
To see Arabian Nights
a fable of the fall of capitalism.

Kraus must have felt such prescience
composing The Last Days of Mankind
for nine-hour performances on the moon.
We’ve been adding to it ever since.
We are now in the age of
the new new new fascism.

(Vernal Equinox 2005, 4 a.m.)

That I keep vigil for the good of the world
I write it a million times
Dante’s words
surrounded by books, awaiting
the knock on the door
It is not 1984 anymore
awaiting the room where
one’s greatest fear is
Damn Orwell
fascism is coming to America
it is here.

I refuse suicide.
I refuse the suicide
of the establishment.
My hero is
Joan of Arc
burned at the stake,
Ingrid burned for love, Seberg
burned for truth.
Sontag burned for
self-love, self-truth

At stake is the way we began:
Lascaux painting walls with the hunt:
Ashurbanipal carving stone of lion kill —
Griffith fall of Babylon, celestial apotheosis:
I showed Intolerance at Webster Library,
with Ives First, Bruckner’s Fourth,
Mahler’s Eighth: Gwyneth and chorus
of kids cavorting in the heavens.

I do not stand for civilization or against it.
I weep and faint, knowing what I know.
There is joy in knowing and loving so intensely.

Charlemagne discovers rubies, gold
and emeralds of the mind —
opes the blinding book
how it contains
diverse languages of stories!

The flag still flies
on 8th Avenue tonight
next to Pound House
New Directions
but it is soiled and shamed.
Our country has betrayed us.
Everything we are told is a lie.
The masks are on so tight
they are the skulls
of the shills and the skels.

But Jefferson said that the time
of the witches would pass,
Alien and Sedition would fade,
Patriot Act will die.

The little soldiers seeing torture
seeing bourgeois teens’ eyes
plucked out, tongues cut off,
buggered and hung by the neck
until dead dead dead,
bourgeoisie never hesitating
to kill their own children,
on fascist radio the angel of poetry:
the whole tribe is from
the insane strong leader
fascist bourgeois (How’s the family?)
jerking off to tortured teens
and then one little soldier
turns the station to a foxtrot
begins dancing with another soldier boy
“What your girlfriend’s name?”
“Daisy.” And we enter the new age
where we can buy buy buy blues.
Thus endeth Pasolini Salò.

Rulfo saw the vision of the
massacre in the square
in Mexico City a year before it happened
and screamed then went on with his life.
We see it coming, it is here,
it is happening.
We weave across a field
amid the millions of war dead
who breed millions of poems.

I remember the hero buried in the lake
the black lake of the new world
the lake that never forgets.
Tonight the beautiful guard is asleep or dead
who kept vigil over black
lake, Guards Unlimited Inc.
n’ Io:
I have a new notebook, beginning
on my 62nd vernal equinox
feeling spring air fresh
on my infant face again
Ah joy!
This is the world!
I do not fear anymore!
I will live another 62!
I will understand what
seed bred Charlemagne,
why Mother’s Warlords
of Mars are in Texas.
I will look at the cave walls
with care, peer into them,
see the Aleph, whose “diameter
was probably little more than
an inch, but all space was there,
actual and undiminished.”

“We had everything and
didn’t share it,”
my oldest friend wrote
40 years ago, he’s
now Bush propagandist, now
alas ex-friend.

Che on T-shirts of my fellows.

Hondros kept shooting
American soldiers
as they shot
Iraqi couple dead in their car
their children
screaming, the littlest girl
in her red dress
screams forever.
We had dinner a week before.
He looked “so intense,”
said restaurateur.
We keeping vigil.

The spirit moves, avoiding those
who keep the flames
but are not consumed
I want to live to 300
in a world less horrible.

David is in jail tonight
2nd anniversary of another war.

We must have life-long attention spans
rout the rich from their roosts
send them to inane asylums,
give them only what the starving eat,
till they sing, with swing band backup:
“We’re givin’ our money away!
We’re givin’ it to the poor,
Who never had it before!
Hey po’ man, gimme five!”
Poor man: “Gimme ten!”

The dyslected dictator
has written all the headlines.

God hates humanity.
His select sing oblivious
as our flesh
burns, we poor Joans
shouting through the flames
let me borrow your breath
let me borrow your body.

After immolation scenes
after long silence
the evil ones
I hated who
hated me and thought
me evil are destroyed
but so am I:
our spirits hover
we war in the air with
words before words
like swords before words
It is not a dance, not
with bodies
of dancers — legs
and buttocks
and arms and necks
and eyes that have
conquered fear.

This vernal equinox
as universe kisses us in our
airy sleep and waking life
it won’t go away
that moment of hurt
that makes us.

Norman macafee

Norman MacAfee, photo copyright © 2001 by Miguel Cervantes-Cervantes

Norman MacAfee’s books include The Death of the Forest (opera to music of Charles Ives), The Gospel According to RFK, A New Requiem, translations of poetry by Pier Paolo Pasolini, letters of Sartre, and Les Misérables. ‘The Coming of Fascism to America’ is part of a new poetry manuscript, ‘One Class’.

April 2006  |  Jacket 29  Contents  |  Homepage  |  Catalog  |  Search  |
about Jacket | style guide | bookstores | literary links | 400+ book reviews |