Rumpus Original Poetry: “PatRIOT” by Xavier Cavazos







________When I am waterboarded to near death—my broken
________________________________________________________limbs ragged with

blood & my crimson gravel leg snaps
________the concrete street

________& the sun bakes my tattered clothes
to a sister, to a mother, to a father—to a friend blown into pieces.



________When you, the passive American tourist, has your child
_______________________________________________lowered onto a Judas

______________________________________chair & your child’s rectum engulfs
a wooden triangle point like a chestnut being pried open

& ghostly white patriots pry false truths from your child’s dry cracked mouth &
_______________________________________________there, in the windowless room

your child’s anus, shiny like a baby’s crowning head, bleeds with olive oil,
________bleeds with lost dreams

________bleeds with chains tied to a ceiling &
a barking dog.



________When the nipple of a breast of a mother is pulled from my mouth & a pear
______________________________________________________________of anguish

is shoved in, right after, breaking all of my teeth & the fragments of pulp
__________________________________________fragments of dentine

___________________________________________________of enamel
___________________________________________________& cementum

are stepped on by patriotic men & tiny teeth fragments
________penetrate a strong


___________________________________________________desert tan boot
& shoot up directly into the nervous system of an operative—

___________________________________________________the innermost portion

of a soul
of a connective tissue

of nerves
___________& blood vessels that nourish patriotism.



___________When all gods are dead & Allah means the same as Christ on the Cross
& Christ on the Cross means the same as detonation—

_______________________________means the same as blood kit
___________blood in a bag, blood in a mosque, blood & a white supremacist terrorist.

_____A child’s dangling ankle & a brown child’s face hooded like Trayvon in a casket &
_______________________________into biohazard bags, into father forgive them—

_______________________________into the rotation of a crime scene compass &
a faintly traced body barely seen in a thousand bits of a brutal explosion—

_______________________________means a consent-to-search form &
guilty by association—means for they know not what they do.

_______________________________Means drawing logs substitute for a whole body
_______________________________that once was—amen I say to thee.

__________________________Then somewhere, there, allover in dried bits in the bend
of a concrete curb a dead body’s soul

praying Allah & a Christian’s quenched throat & we are passive American patriotic
______terrorists you & I. ___________We are, together, the passive American—

_______________________________we are measuring up in numbers
at the national forensic mapping station—this day thou shalt be with me in paradise—

___________________be with me in Alabama, in California, in Georgia, in Mississippi,
______in Portland, Oregon &

______we are gathering,
______we are gathering

______at the Valley View elementary school assembly in Ellensburg, Washington—
______we are gathering, we are gathering at the Sunday Christ on the Cross church

on Chestnut Street & in the Four Square building—
______we are gathering,

______we are gathering
______at the annual Central Washington University Native Pow Wow & salmon feed—

______we are gathering,
______we are gathering at the Lake Bowl bowling alley in Moses Lake, Washington—

______we are gathering,
______we are gathering at the Mission Ridge ski area in Wenatchee, Washington

___________________________________________________where we bomb the mountain
_________________________on snowboards on Sunday mornings.

____________________Behold thy mother. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
______We are good Sunday bombers—

____________________passive American terrorists bombing the ridge in the sun
______& late in the afternoon

______we are patriot terrorists hiding in the aisles of a Trader Joe’s &
______we are healthy Americans, you & I—________I thirst. It is consummated.

______We are the alpha & the omega—___________into thy hands
___________________________________________I commend my spirit &

____________________at night, just after prayer
___________________________________________________we are feeding our hungry

____________________crying-out children
________________________________every last God-damn thing they need.

Xavier Cavazos is the author of Diamond Grove Slave Tree (2015), the inaugural Prairie Seed Poetry Prize from Ice Cube Press, and Barbarian at the Gate (2014), which was published in the Poetry Society of America's New American Poets Chapbook Series. Cavazos was included in the Best American Experimental Writing (2015), and earned an MFA in Creative Writing and the Environment from Iowa State University. He currently teaches in the Africana and Black Studies and the Professional and Creative Writing Programs at Central Washington University and is an editorial assistant for Poetry Northwest. More from this author →