We open on a normal American living room.
Family photos lined up on the mantle, a Purple Heart
In its frame. But then we zoom
Closer. Splashed across the wall, like abstract art,
A bloody splatter.
You wonder what’s the matter.
A kill team from an unnamed Mideast state
Has slipped into the U.S.
To search for sleeper cells, who secretly await
Activation. It’s them not us.
What a TV fantasy. You’re asked to imagine
A mushroom cloud
Blooming over New York City, as Cheney did in
Pushing for the war in Iraq. Or that a crowd
Of desperate refugees
From seven, banned Muslim countries
Could pose an existential danger.
They could be in your neighborhood, that stranger
On the bus. They could be anywhere.
They’re the stuff of nightmare.
You let them in, whoever they are,
And see what happens? We carry the scar
Of every awful thing that has ever gone wrong.
Like a film reel, there’s a long
Shot of people running away, another boom
Then puffs of smoke, sirens as
Helicopters hover. Then it’s over. There’s room
For tearful pleas, silences.
Cut to the president, who darkly cites,
“People pouring in. Bad!”
You think, Maybe it’s better for cities
To err on safety’s side. What if only a few turn bad?What if there’s a ticking time bomb
And they’ve just taken
Your child? What then? Should questioning be a balm
While you look on, helpless, forsaken?
Be nice, and be a day too late?
Or should we use force:
Let’s make American mean again, a farce
Of primal fears. Wouldn’t that be great?