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Syndic Literary Journal

A Dialect of Hammers


Matthew Hohner 

It’s the great insulters we remember
the ones with a vocabulary
of cancer and barbed wire

—Tony Hoagland, “The Confessional Mode”

Carnival barker. Side-show proclaimer. Prime-time proselytizer. Chameleon
conjurer of factories belching smoke-and-mirrors, sleight-of-hand, bait-and-switch
economics paraded in the media by a clown car bursting with vampires.

Proclamations bellowed in a dialect of hammers to the forgotten hordes stranded
on the banks of the River Lethe, clamoring desperately for a voice since they first
passed the hat at Farm Aid; gun-doped thugs pining for a shark-mouthed monosyllabic
huckster in Brioni lapels to gaze upon them with ICBMs and jobs, dog-whistling
good ol’ boys and alt-Reich M.B.A. terrorists with four-letter winks and nods.

Brown-shirted suits and ties goose-stepping to financial algorithms, finger-
pointers sinking in a morass of their own lies, running the ship of state
aground on the shoals of history. Bubble-building Ponzi-scheme raiders,
berserkers in Benzes mowing down freedoms like the last bison herds
munching the vast prairie, fenced-off and fracked until chemical fires ignite
from the kitchen faucets of the dispossessed. The damaged and the damned.

America, you look so great again in your sky-blue eye shadow and blood-
red trucker hats, belting your lusty anthems as you careen headstrong and blind
across the fast-shrinking distance between your forsaken dream, that oversold
snake-oil cure-all elixir of hope, and the inevitable precipice of self-annihilation.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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