Poetry by Daniel Borzutzky

Image by Michelle Cunningham / michelle-cunningham.com

Lake Michigan, Scene #24014.241a34d2a

how much longer can I stand on this beach
how much longer can I write through the sand on this beach
how much longer can I watch them bury my friends on this beach
they bury the dogs on the beach
they buy the bones on the beach
they bury the bodies the city does not want to absorb and when the bodies are asked to be re-absorbed their prayers fall
they fall and they fall and there is nowhere for them to land so they fall and as the prayers fall there are images projected in the sky
in the silhouette of the horizon
look up the authoritative bodies are projecting the final prayers of the falling bodies from the high rises on the coast of lake michigan
they project the images of the bodies falling out of the high rises the images of the children watching their parents falling out of them the images of the Medicare patients falling out of them
i am going to retire in 5 years says the overseer of the Medicare patients who are falling out of the building
he needs incentives to stab them more thoroughly in the heart (performance-based funding)
he needs state and national policies to facilitate the more efficient stabbing of the Medicare patients in the heart
there is no need to notify the family of the falling bodies
the authoritative bodies and the police have systems in place so that the families of the falling bodies will never be surprised
on lake michigan they watch they the bodies of their brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers falling
there are brown bodies falling
there are white and pink and beige and green and yellow and purple bodies falling
they have no health care, these falling bodies
can you find an affordable price point asks the overseer of Medicare
if you can’t find an affordable price point the problem is you might fall out of a tree you might find yourself dangling from a pole you might find yourself buried in the sand the emperor of privatization might personally come to nibble on your bones he might personally lick up your skin or perhaps he will send an assistant
the prison camp is called Slash and Burn and it is not figurative it is a place where the bodies are slashed and burned
they splash the bodies with acid they turn the bodies over a spit they turn the bodies to whip them in the proper places they turn the bodies to kick them in the ribs they cash in on the prisoners when their body parts appreciate over time
every once in awhile an authoritative body tells the prisoner that he is the camp director
the prison guards make little camp fires
they film the prisoners sitting around the camp fires roasting hot dogs and marshmallows
they force the prisoners to sing songs
the prisoners sing thank you thank you for life thank you for life
they sing about the purple mountains and they sing about things that gleam in the night
the mist is clearing over lake michigan and as the mist clears we see the first boatmen coming in from the horizon
the tug boats are here and they are moving towards the beach
they have messages to give to the prisoners but they will not make it past the prison ships off the coast of lake michigan
there are too many brown bodies crammed into the prison ships
there are too many young bodies who had nowhere to go once their schools were privatized in the rotten carcass economy
the young the brown the imprisoned bodies they are forced to dance on the ship
they are forced to have a good time and from where we stand on the beach we can hear the music on the ship and we can hear the prisoners being forced to dance and be happy
on the ship they sing:
nasty nasty boys don’t mean a thing
nastyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy boys
don’t mean a thing
all you nasty boys don’t mean a thing to me
who’s that thinking nasty thoughts
nasty boys
who’s jamming to your nasty groove

and the bodies on the ship dance
they are forced to dance and be happy and they are filmed dancing so that the international observers will think they are loved
and the authoritative bodies and the police officers say to the dancing bodies on the ship
show the world you love each other
and the prisoners are filmed trying to love each other
and we watch them from our seats on the beach
we watch their love being projected onto the buildings on the coast of lake michigan
and they beat us and they pay us and they love us



Daniel Borzutzky’s books and chapbooks include The Performance of Becoming Human (2016), In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (2015), Memories of my Overdevelopment (2015), Bedtime Stories for the End of the World! (2015), Data Bodies (2013), The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011), and The Ecstasy of Capitulation (2007). He has translated Raúl Zurita’s The Country of Planks (2015) and Song for his Disappeared Love (2010), and Jaime Luis Huenún’s Port Trakl (2008). His work has been supported by the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pen/Heim Translation Fund. He lives in Chicago.