1988—A Footnote: Poetry by Brian Farrey-Latz

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1988—A Footnote

The kingdom of calculated silence has fallen, my children, my lovelies
The unholy ramparts sundered under the strain of the Great Experiment
An eight-year reign denying reins to quell the rain of burning blood
Cursed with a king and queen who wore hatred on their satin sleeves
Until democracy’s design disgorged new battlements for a shrub
Second curse, same as the first

Hail to the keepers of secondhand grace! Ye sacred! Ye profane!
Ye alchemists between two worlds who parlay faith into indifference
The scorn and bile of 5,155 pilgrims won’t be wasted on you
Their fevered dreams are precious, reserved for the survivors
Who tend their bedsides like beloved gardens, plucking weeds
Waiting for a spring that won’t come

We all watched the brightest souls of our generation destroyed by apathy, a madness unto itself
Sacrificed to a new Moloch for an era of singed ascendancy and power
And the Congress of Sorrows who bleed allegiance to the flag in the name of Nobody’s God
These blessed souls upon whose broken backs was erected a cenotaph
Monument of War! Tower of Discontent! Honoring reluctant soldiers
Losing the fight for their own bodies

Until we stop dreaming in color and only dream in blistered shades of rage
The detritus of wicked angels demands our attention
It is we who are the new kings and queens and rulers
Usurpers bargaining for another year, another day, another minute
Six years in and the worst is yet to come
But we don’t know it now and we’ll be too stricken to know it then

My children, my lovelies, take it back. Take it all back.
Rise! Demand! Howl! Love! Love! Love!

—Brian Farrey-Latz


Brian Farrey-Latz received his MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University in 2008. His debut novel, With or Without You, was named a Stonewall Honor book by the American Library Association. He has twice won the Minnesota Book Award and received a McKnight Artist Fellowship in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @brianfarrey and at his website: brianfarreybooks.com. “1988—A Footnote” was awarded runner-up in the Chris Hewitt Awards by poetry judge Noah Stetzer.