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POEM: 'We'

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

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.

All buried

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,

trees sway,

constellations birthed.

Touch of the face

that reminds of itself through thick concrete walls

                                                                        and makes you long 

                                                                                …for something   

                                                                                                …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

and histories.

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…

…and another…

…one more…



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

into a


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

Somewhere between


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

to have

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

for you:

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.

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