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Heading West, a poem by David Garyan

“Heading West” was first published in Volume 9 of The American Journal of Poetry (July 1st, 2020).

Heading West

In a free world, surgeons of words could cut suicide from ropes like a tumor; and still, climbers wouldn’t lose faith— tying them around their bodies on the wildest mountain. The age of emergencies has arrived like electricians getting shock therapy for schizophrenia. Now our economy needs the elderly’s bones; living off buried animals is nothing new— call it fossil fuel. Speed up the rate of extinction; save free enterprise. Already, we’ve turned the uterus of women into coal mines, all for carbon-intensive babies— there’s no resource we can’t touch, no land we must conquer with consent. The US belongs to us, Marx; we own the means of reproduction; commercially transmitted diseases are cured; hospitals are factories where assembly lines for life end. You have poor vision? Receive books but no glasses. You have poor judgment? Build libraries where no one returns what they borrow. Hold a camera that forgets everything. Speak to a world whose eyes never stop taking pictures— our ears are the windows of skyscrapers in which people believe they can fly. Our minds are lightbulbs away from spotting reason in the darkness. Our hands are paintbrushes coloring millions of homes white. The scars on society are visible like mistakes corrected on a typewriter. Still, our loneliness collects stamps— only because there’s no one left to address. We became treasure hunters only after losing our wealth— asking gravediggers for shovels and thieves for maps. Presidents and PMs of the free world sit behind their desks, bodies stiff like exclamation marks, egos bulging like dotted eyes never lowercased, but still staring like journalists working in safe countries. Liberty is now too popular, hiding behind bodyguards with guns; democracy has nothing left to conceal— like submarines that are never in danger, yet still refuse to surface. Freedom is more than just freedom— the ability to go anywhere, but also without the danger of landmines.


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