by Alexander Billet
"I write you this letter to let you know this letter will never arrive"
Tried to grab what I can
through scars on top of scars.
Old stories. Lost deliveries. Bits of paper.
Crumbs of plaster.
under the empty air.
Gray skies snatch my bones,
hope they’re ground up quickly…
Mourning doesn’t do the trick anymore…
in cacophonous voices,
Touch of the face
that reminds of itself through thick concrete walls
and makes you long
…to long for…
You who told me that all wars
were now warm enough for me to heat my home,
You who told me
that there was life in a future of ghosts,
You who made me a believer
in talking corpses,
Drove me to the edge
of the ravine dared me to fly;
I will never forgive your rotten conscience.
You with your barbed wire pens of shrieking lonely,
starving for the end.
A re-inflicted past is an atom bomb.
Barricades torn down
partisans sent home…
new walls go up between lived lives
Warsaw – Hebron
Soweto – Minneapolis
Wounded Knee – Khartoum
Someone auctioned the gun
that killed Huey today.
Same one that killed Carlo / Marielle / Shaimaa / Breonna / Elijah
When asked by reporters
about plans for the item
the purchaser declared
he will be invading every child’s dreams.
Now / future / am / become / Forbidden.
Our blue mountains dirtied by a gray daisy cutter…
They blot out the sun.
Stop looking up. Better to blind ourselves.
Freedom is a horoscope that never came true.
But words choke on linoleum and sand…
…there is no audience…
nor anyone willing
to make you
Dust-covered men and women leather skin…
only feel wind as it is sucked from their lungs…
Those wrapping themselves in dark
unable to call themselves what they are…
Eyeing the edges of razorblades,
unsure where to point them.
Children who watch the world
through bullet holes
touching their fingers
to dust and pavement
sensing each other’s
Hope travels like a stowaway
…gripping the underside of a train
Not because it believes,
but because it has no choice.
I write you this letter
to let you know that this letter
will never arrive
And the grudges that keep your heart pumping
It will fall into dark canyons
make its home in the place we lose hopes
we never realized we were supposed
You told me stories of police sirens and improvised bayonets
that made me weak with raw anxiety
We who would wish to feel life in our marrow
if we hadn’t sold it to pay our debts
We who deserve more than the burden of nothing.
We whose urge to burn
can also build,
feel the names of the dead
twist like ivy
round our spines
whose beauty can only be an act of violence.
We have a proposition
the revenge of hunger
or the hunger of revenge.
Alexander Billet is a writer, artist, cultural critic and activist based in Los Angeles, whose work focuses on
time, radical geography, and dissident left movements. A member of the Locust Arts & Letters Collective, he
is an editor of its quarterly publication Locust Review and is cohost of its podcast, Locust Radio. He
writes regularly for Jacobin on the topic of music, reviews books for Common Reader, and has appeared in Chicago Review, In These Times, and elsewhere. He blogs at To Whom It May Concern, and can be reached through Instagram or Twitter.