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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

My least favorite year comes to a close.

It's dark night for America.

photo by harutmovsisyan/pixabay

It’s 4 a.m. in America. The coffee stand at the corner isn’t open yet. His coffee is kind of rough, but still, it’s the community of his place, an aluminum stand on 72nd, the sleepless lined up, maybe throw in a breakfast sandwich too, none of it what we need to start a day but it’s the connection, the familiarity. It all pushes back on the dark night.

It’s 4 a.m. in America. We drag suspicion and conspiracy to trial. We impeach. We condemn. Our servants raise their hands and swear. We live a quid pro quo new year and in our outrage, a killer slips ashore.

It’s 4 a.m. in America. We die. They sacrifice us to a rising DOW, our lives a calculation, a spreadsheet value, an Electoral College tuition paid by denial. America becomes a tri-fold brochure, stock photography of happy khaki people in a sheetrock coffin.

It’s 4 a.m. in America. The cop kneels in prayer on our neck. Our last meal is asphalt. Our mother shares our cry in a cellophane cathedral. We stagger through the streets raging and broken and paint yellow pleas in the gutter.

It’s 4 a.m. in America. We march through tear gas, our suited army behind us, carrying a hotel room Bible, annotated to our pleasure, in a photo op revival, grab the high-voltage media feed in bloated defiance.

It’s 4 a.m. in America. We choke on our entitlement. Our madness goes viral. We mount our Harleys and go full Thelma toward an abyss. We plow our fields with SUVs. We plant giant flags in a shifting dune. We rip the mask off our face. We reveal our secret identity. We gather on the airfield in a blaze of stolen taxes, baptized in a shower of arrogant piss. Then we surge forth to spread the poisoned gospel.

It’s 4 a.m. in America. There’s not much left. We paint the air in lies. We lockdown our hopes. We walk down empty avenues. Our landlord takes our keys. A blizzard covers our disgrace. We weep and huddle outside an empty bank shuttered in plywood. Our hands shiver as we struggle to strike a match to light a single candle on our darkest night.

It’s 4 a.m. in America. We tie our destiny to a calendar. We gesture numbers in the air and use them to rekindle hope. We countdown to a time when our memories are better than our histories, where our story becomes a chalk dust tale to a room full of glazed eyes.

It’s 4 a.m. in America. I watch for the Eastern light. A song comes to me in a dream and I think I should get up and write it down before it evaporates. I lift my pencil above a sheet of yellow paper and wait.


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