from New Americans

Ryan Collins

[No one survives the wilderness w/out friends,]

No one survives the wilderness w/out friends,
New American, so make as many as you can.
You need all the help you can get & then some,
More friends than you will ever have. I'll be
Your huckleberry, your hype man, pusher man,

Your sane man, confidence man, steel-driving
Man. Your right hand man, your sandman,
The man in black, your man the battle stations!
Your straw man, Berryman, back door man,
The man behind the curtain, your sticking it to
The man, man in the iron mask, sugar man,
The boatman ferrying you across black water
To the shore of the underworld, wing man &
Rhythm section & security detail. I'll be what-
Ever you need & every friend you will ever have.

[The only breaks you catch are with your face,]

The only breaks you catch are with your face,
But a broken face is the least of your troubles.
Bob & weave, rope-a-dope—the next punch
Is coming as this one is landing. How to fight
A fire when you can't see the smoke? How to

Own nothing but love & a shirt on your back?
It's the thought that counts & is counted most
When there's nothing else to give, when every-
Thing you own is slow burning to the ground.
You first & only thought is who you can save,
New American—the what best left to memory,
Left to the ashes. Under the aftermath comes
A music, a whimper, a pulse. Tomorrow we
Will canvass fresh terrain, pace in columns w/
Dousing rods. Our currents find a new source.

[You name storms, because why should you not?]

You name storms, because why should you not?
Why not name catastrophes, to hate them
More personally? to vendetta? Keep telling
Yourself "prior preparation prevents piss-poor
Performance"—what does it matter if life makes

Its own choices? We make nothing perfectly
Or permanent, even the ink on our foundational
Vellum, airtight & bulletproof behind six-inch
Plexiglas. Why boil water when no amount of
Washing cleans the hands? Gather yourself,
New American. Name only what make & trust
The proper name of a tornado or a pandemic or
A pyramid scheme is worth too little to be worth
Knowing. We're all alone, nerve-shaken, lean
As crows, but a thunderstorm belongs to no one.

[Throw back a shot of tiger's blood, snort a line]

Throw back a shot of tiger's blood, snort a line
Of powdered cobra hearts. What portion of
Animal guts cannot be used as an aphrodisiac?
How do you hold the one you love close w/out
Bearhugging them to the point of asphyxiation?

How will you find the time for healthy, natural
Sleep, New American? There is so little time to
Procreate, much less to eat three squares a day.
Whatever god you make offerings to or petition
W/ prayer is hard-pressed to ease your passage
To your want or aid your attempts to escape any
Self-improvement you've been prescribed. Take
All the intelligence you can collect, learn whatever
Language is preferred on whatever shore you may
Wash up on, even if your feet never make landfall.