Zigzagging Forward

So forward looking, we see nothing
But a dystopian future, as in record
Breaking tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes,
Nuclear melt downs and a smiling Jesus.

All cops, firemen, teachers and garbagemen
Are permanently furloughed. Toting uzis,
National Guardsmen and mercenary goons,
Native and foreign, patrol shopping malls,
Airports and stadia, which are reserved
For the beef, cake and chocolate eaters.

To hell with neighborhoods not behind walls
And guarded by a platoon. After dark,
Embittered lumpens lob shells into select
Zip codes, hoping to snuff a CEO,
Congressman or general. Though these sad
Rebels seldom hit anything, scores of them
Are routinely zapped by one of the millions
Unseen, hovering drones that don’t just spit
Missiles and bullets, but also beam cheerful
Advertisements onto the sky nonstop: OPEN
HAPPINESS. I’M LOVING IT. There are also
Bug-sized drones for personalized attention.

What appears as a mosquito may actually be
A Pentagon drone, equipped with a single dose
Of FUCK YOU. Its tiny eyes can espy if you’re
Disobeying one of the trillion no-nos, as posted
On government websites, though most people
No longer have internet access, or even
A flushable toilet. The insect’s software
Allows for various acts of summary justice,
From electric shock as a warning to prolonged,
Bedridden illness, to wimpering or screaming pain,
To an instant tete-a-tete with the long dead Bush.

The Pentagon has allowed that mistakes
Sometimes do occur, wiping out, in a flash,
Three generations or so, including vets
Of the Afghan, Iraq or China campaign,
But well, better be safe than terrorized
By shadowy terrorists. We’re in a state
Of endless war, after all. Has been since 9/11,
Of what year, most Americans can’t remember.

Education ain’t what it used to be.
On every screen, boobs, pricks and puppies.
Remember when a high school senior could
Spell “corruption” or “surveillance”?
Remember when a college graduate
Could stab at the meaning of “torture”?
Remember when an intellectual wasn’t
A tireless muffler for serial outrages?

Remember when Manning was executed,
Assange died an old man in that embassy,
And so many more cadavers displayed
With pop music, speeches and fireworks?

My babe’s first words are “9/11,” then “mama.”
Draped in scavenged pillow cases, and armed
With bits of decaying wisdom, we zigzag.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating social scape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America. Read other articles by Linh.