The War Poet, or, Language As Citizenship

This community, communities,
    we fight to find
    fight to define
        to defend
Smoldering under that bright modern sky

Language,
    this virus that has got in us
    perfect epidemic,
        germ of an idea
Metastasizing into currencies of identity

That bright white line
    driving down into the heart
    the dead undead
        stumbling down the centuries
Smack into the nation.

Gathered up in constellations
    that number the stars
    deployed in beastly bouquets
        conversation tourniquets
Pinching off native tongues from swallowing

Thunder is building in those
    Ellis Island litanies —
    just jump the turnstile —
        tracks lining Empire's belly
Mining borders with combustible flags

Damming Styx into our oil-slicked
    hand-rings of fire
    circling the wagons
        with in and with out
Swirling huddled masses in their unknown tomb

Whistling past Dixie's grave
Yards bristling, new growth:
Taught hearts speak new diction.