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Dead in DC
Andrew B. Watt

The dead march on Washington tonight:
flooding Capitol Hill streets, filling up
Lafayette Square and closing around nuclear protesters,
engulfing the White House.

The dead are marching on Washington tonight:
there's an old woman from the 1906 San Francisco quake;
She's left calcite stars on every road from
Nevada to Maryland. She's been planning this for years.

Here's a couple of bone-suits crawling from Harlem ghettos
buried in mismatched kerchiefs and matching bullet holes,
waltzing a danse macabre with an Irish cop;
I dare you to tell me which skeleton is which.

The drowned and the Natives are here—
victims of foreign wars crowd their embassies
up Massachusetts Ave. — every street to National Cathedral,
and down past the Lincoln Memorial
across Memorial Bridge through National Cemetery.
They fill Pentagon parking lots,
Laughing, chanting and seeking justice.

— or vengeance.
They've got their placards out,
they're screaming in the streets.

No space for all on the National Mall,
packed so tightly, so down escalators into the Metro,
and up Smithsonian stairs, jostling tourists and bureaucrats,
haranguing senators and congressmen.

Some reclaim their shoes from the exhibit
over on Wallenberg Plaza…

In the middle, in top hat and fancy black shirt
Bawon Samedi is grinning skeleton teeth
at school groups and old ladies, raising his machete high;
And he's waltzing with the only man who lived, died and lived again,
but who spent Saturday in the grave.
They march in lockstep tonight,
With the Founding Fathers behind them.
Who better to march together
when the dead bring their complaints to Washington?

They've got their local issues:
floating coffins still in New Orleans,
forgotten graveyards in Montana….
Manhattan dead cannot see the sky.

Where all their fingers pointed to this one city once,
now they point a dozen different ways,
at every thing and every one.

And we the living, surrounded by
their turmoil and their anger,
do not notice their protest
at all.