Lake Michigan, Scene 6

We were dancing too fast and the music was playing too slow

The music the lights it was all too slow and we couldn’t stop moving

We were going so fast and the authoritative white bodies were commanding us to dance faster

We were dancing in front of the mannequins in the window of the store the authoritative white bodies made us burn down

The city was not the same after they made us burn down the department store

They made us burn down the department store and then they told us to leave the state but I could not get my papers

They told me to leave the state but they would not let me go to my house to get my papers

My passport, my certificate of national authenticity

The same people who told me to leave the country did not allow me to get my papers in order to leave the state and to cross into the rotten carcass heartlands of Indiana or Michigan or Iowa

The border gets smaller as the state gets bigger

We burned down the department store and now there are no more sweaters shoes underwear

I remember the mothers making the boys try their sweaters on

I remember one day how a beige soldier jammed a pistol in my mouth as I was looking for sweaters

He took me to the fitting room and made me suck on the pistol and he threatened to blow my brains out if I didn’t suck harder

Mother why did you send me to this school mother

Why did you send me to this school

Don’t you know mother the white bodies they beat me at this school

I am beaten mother by the beige bodies and also the brown bodies the white the brown the beige they all beat me mother

They came to take my blood mother

The white boys stabbed my leg mother

I was wearing the trousers you bought for me in the department store they made me burn down mother

They were khaki trousers mother

I did not have any other trousers mother

I had to wear them with my blue blazer mother but now I don’t have any pants to wear but it doesn’t matter because I am stuck here in my cage on the beach at the northern end of Chicago

There is a word mother for when a boy kills his mother

It is called matricide

And there is a word mother for when a mother kills her boy

It is called filicide

But there is not a word for when a mother oversees a gang of white boys stabbing into the leg of her own son

Stabbing her son’s leg

Shredding her son’s pants

Blade flesh piercing blood puddling the white boys collecting the blood in jelly jars mother they sealed up the blood they cut off bits of my hair they even plucked my nose hair mother they scraped residue off my tongue mother they put the Q-tip they used to scrape my tongue in a plastic bag and they sealed the bag and took it to an undisclosed location

They sealed the plastic bag with my mucus mother and my hair and my membranes and my dried skin and my nose hair and the parasites in the parasites in my body

Mother why did you let them take my blood

Why did you let them make me into a specimen

Mother I know you know that I know the answer to this question

It has to do with data, mother

It has to do with the collection of large amounts of data, mother

They want the blood of South American bodies of Jewish bodies olive bodies trashy bodies

They want my blood mother but they do not want your blood

They do not want to punish you in the same way they punish me

They came to the house last week mother and I protected you

I protected you when they came to interview me

Porque piensas en mi sangre madre porque vives en mi sangre mother

I don’t write to save anyone’s life I write because the authoritative bodies make me write

In the beginning there was a knock on our door and they asked me my name and I said call me Daniel and they asked me to name names mother

They asked me for your name mother

They asked me where they could find you mother because they wanted to do a side-by-side comparison of my skin against your skin mother

I told them: I have a relationship with my mother but it is voluntary

She did not force me to be her child

They did not care about the nuclear structure

All they wanted to know was what my body looked like in relationship to your body mother

How did I get such a dark body when you mother have such a light body

I chose to have a dark body, I told them

It was voluntary

I wanted to be darker

I told them this to save you mother

I never wanted to look like you mother, I told them

I was trying to protect you mother

I did not want them to know what they already knew mother

Which is that you sleep with bodies that are much darker than you

But why didn’t you tell me mother that I would grow up to have my blood drained by the bodies who wanted to know what lives in South American blood

They won’t let me cross the border into Michigan or Indiana or Iowa even though they know I have papers

Mother mother why won’t you let them verify my authenticity

It’s like this when I stick it in my arm in my leg in my neck I often feel like I cannot verify my own authenticity

We need proof of the boy’s authenticity, say the authoritative bodies, we need proof that his blood is our blood and not their blood

We need proof that the blood on his pants is not the blood of a dead man or woman or boy or girl or even a domesticated mammal

You collected my blood for them mother

My little face is breaking into pieces mother

I’m heading for the foamy hole mother

Porque piensas en mi piel no hay nada aqui para comer mother

We don’t eat anymore I don’t even eat alone I eat foam or rocks they took my blood to the laboratory to see who I was when I was not being myself mother

The grass the weeds the things I eat mother

I dance too fast mother

I dance too fast and the other broken bodies dance too slow mother

The beach is rotten mother

The obscenity of the rotten beach

There will be everything and we will break the wind and melt into the variegated data mother

The aggregated data the segregated data the flagellated data

I am a slender series of attached cells mother

My data-mother is thrashing in spume and fungi at the bottom of the lake mother

At the bottom of a rotten carcass lake mother where my face my skin my bones my data my will disappear

First my face will disappear

Then my neck my chest my hips my thighs my knees my feet my toes my hybrid blood my faceless face this lust mother this emptiness this hollow cave in my ribs sporangia ventricles my death rattle the disappearance of my rotten carcass flesh mother


Daniel Borzutzky’s books and chapbooks include, among others, In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (2015), Bedtime Stories For The End of the World! (2015), Data Bodies (2013), The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011), and The Ecstasy of Capitulation (2007). He has translated Raúl Zurita’s The Country of Planks (2015) and Song for his Disappeared Love (2010), and Jaime Luis Huenún’s Port Trakl (2008). His work has been supported by the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pen/Heim Translation Fund. He lives in Chicago.


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  1. Pingback: Issue Eleven, 2015 | Matter

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