Of all the authors I curated for Curate This (from which this piece is republished), Sean Lynch is my most recent acquaintance. He appeared on a short-run podcast I co-hosted to promote his poetry collection Broad Street Line. I was struck by the way his verse was informed and infused by political awareness, while remaining grounded in the concrete details of the everyday people affected by elite political decisions. This focus on accessible, independent, politically informed work can also be seen in Whirlwind Magazine, which he edits. I asked Sean to submit a piece on the real issues that art can address, and he did, using his art.
—Christopher Munden, editor
because the sky seemed too blank
a canvas, bodies of gold light live
out their finite lives like fish that float
above the beach and boardwalk stuffed
with herds of tourists, sparks spread
in predicted paths toward the abstracted
as ash rains on wood and eyes aimed
in arcs traced thousands of miles east
through the ocean that separates minds.
A holy land erupts again.
hover above cages
where smoke pours in like blood brewed
in boiled over data. The artist is asked,
“what’s wrong?” There’s no easy answer
except that fireworks disturb too few
Americans without ptsd, everything out of context,
everyone commoditized. The artist glances
at young men in blue who holster death machines,
sport childish faces, pimples, and crew cuts
or even Mohawks in mockery of the extinguished natives.
These officers of the peace laugh at girls
wearing booty shorts stamped with male names.
This is the Wildwood boardwalk
where toys made by the enslaved a half a world away
sell as bounty won by local boys for lust,
where the feasting Gerasene swine arrest
a dreaded kid who stole some paltry item
and will be branded criminal for life.
They’ll shoot him if chance begets
the moment, but Jesus will not drive
this legion into the sea. No one
bears witness on the boardwalk.
And yet something doesn’t feel right
to the man commissioned to draw a child.
And the parents cajole the artist
as to why he can’t do his job
any faster; it’s just a caricature.
The artist is no longer immune to violence.
Close by in a makeshift
storefront aquarium more consumers
gather. A hooded boy dumps the contents
of a plastic cup
down a PVC pipe
as two young girls film
the scene with smart phones
waiting, gazing at the tank now
clouding under a sign that states:
“Feed the Piranhas
a live goldfish!!!
$3.00 each or 2 for $5.00.″
As sharp teeth turn yellow bodies into red clouds
and deafening explosions are cheered
by the crowd, the artist places final touches
on the piece – then turns the easel to show
a swarm of jets dropping bombs
over the naked child’s decapitated head
as the kid’s corpse is covered
in luxury goods: jewels, designer clothes,
electronic gadgets and the like.
The parents gasp and grab
passing authorities to nab the perverted
artist who sits in catatonic disassociation.
Then a smile appears as the officers
place handcuffs onto his wrists,
since the fireworks have finally subsided.