defines it, like a breaker
built on a foundation of salt.
The annual cicadas
advance with their buzz saws,
nematodes unwire all the outlets
& hummingbird pendulums
drive its clock toward silence.
Blue flags fly in every ditch.
It hoists a clipped toenail
in place of the moon.
Homeless from birth,
the failed state’s citizens dance like cranes,
ungainly, flapping their greedy arms
as if wherever they happen to land
is where they belong.
Their bellies swell
with wholly impossible crops
while we in our developed nation
gather twice a day on linear altars
& offer our beached bodies up
Prompted by a column in Newsweek magazine by Fareed Zakaria, “The Real Failed State Risk,” which argues that the real threat to American security is from weak states rather than failed states. (I don’t accept his premise that the projection of military power has anything to do with security, but aside from that the argument makes sense.) The term “failed state” has amused me for some time; Zakaria’s column just happened to be the right mention at the right time.