Hymn to Be Sung as We Settle for Lesser Tools by Rodney Wilder

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


Richard Spencer, the Hitler-groomed
mouthpiece beneath a sea of red brims, spent
Inauguration Day icing the right side of his face.
Where a fist lobbed more prayer than bone
had chosen to land its amen. And we
indeed amen. We amen the amen that caused that
candle at the edge of our collective breath
to flicker, if only for a moment.

I won't pretend he didn't have it coming.
I won't act like the sneer of
"heil"-choir lips
doesn't drub knuckle into the only
whitened view in their future, mine
into a series of sand dunes I try not to manifest
across the destiny of their teeth.

Because, somewhere between forethought and fist,
I am coal glowing carnelian.
An Adam's apple of thermite
begging the hateful their flame.

Give me an opening.

You want to revise America some once-white utopia by
untermensching and cucking the people of color
thieved into its impotence, hailing a country whose
greatness only came from the songs we
refused to stop singing once brought here? That
is an application to catch hands
that should have been made good on when you were still
young enough to have the flaw knocked out of you.
There's an itch in my skin like ancestors commanding me
to scratch it with the fragile enamel you
metastasize your bullshit through.

But, too, a radio-crackle aubade, a voice
more red-lettered thunder than anything not
sifted into a Gospel, more psithurism-convincing-bloodthirsty-stones-
out-from-loveless-hands
than any person I have ever heard:

       In struggling for human dignity the oppressed     
       people of the world must not allow themselves     
       to become bitter or indulge in hate campaigns.     
       To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing     
       but intensify the hate in the world.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the progress
away from my knucklebones when he told those
shouldering us closer to sunup:     
       Along the way of life, someone must have
       sense enough and morality enough     
       to cut off the chain of hate.

His was not the kind of progress embodied by a neo-nazi's
reconstructed jawline, or a nasal bridge fixed
to match the disfigured learning
it cracks and skews in lieu of. If I let the hands
of that hate-brambled god reduce my outrage
to the same tools it spools nooses with and
gives brick to invisible walls with,
what is my contribution?
This knot of obliteration and clench
is something learned
from the plantation house my
fingertips wish engulfed in smoke.
Our inventory of undoing —
girder...reinforced foundation ... hate
by hate made nothing less
if I hold violence synonymous with progress.

But yes,
of course Richard Spencer had the punch coming.
We haven't voted ourselves empty of injustice's
due indignance just yet. So we amen.
And we amen the amen, but more, may we amen
the fist unflung, the racist unentrenched. The hand
waging war without the fortification's own armaments,
the hate put to unabideable shame by having
no place to pin its prejudice.
May we amen the refusal to be reduced to that
which we would supplant with compassion,
and the defiance uncompromised
by our enemy's loathing and violence, and this

retrieval of philandering amens.
The deathblow can be struck from here.


Photo of Rodney Wilder

Photo of Rodney Wilder

Rodney Wilder is a biracial nerd who bellows death-metal verse in Throne of Awful Splendor and writes poetry, with previous work appearing in Words Dance, FreezeRay, ALTARWORK, Tales of the Talisman, and his first collection of poetry, 2012's Ars Golgothica. Currently writing his fandom-fueled followup, he likes nachos, analogizing things to Pokémon, and getting lost in Oregonian forests.