Today I carry three sets of words on my person—
US AIR FORCE PINKLEY
But above my heart, beneath and below the nation-state branding, rests:
A poem snipped from The New Yorker, folded as if its magic might save me
From nationalist mythos, boredom, a bullet, some combination of the three.
I’d like to believe that words matter —
That these name tapes will protect me, confect meanings, project purpose.
I’d like to believe that words change things.
That I’ll never forget to call baptized earth by its proper name: petrichor—
That my “I do” will echo from San Francisco’s courthouse across time and space—
That with three syllables all would be forgiven, that we speak all things New—
That words repeated with right hand raised transform selfishness,
My Transaction—the body and blood of war for bread and wine—into a noble life, more noble death.
I’d like to believe in my words.
But I am priest and parishioner, prophet and profane, shaman and sacrilege—
I spill spells over all, consecrating and desecrating sacrament and excrement the same,
This graffiti eye spelling and misspelling its way through the world—
Sewing name tapes onto every object consumed, claiming each “Mine!”
Pronouncing each holy, or so I’d like to believe.