The Oracle of Liar, Liar
“Just because reporters say something over and over and over again doesn't start to make it true.”
—Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Firstly and for the record,
everything I say is both true
and alternatively true. Yes,
it's in the bible, which is why
we do what we do, even
If proven otherwise. No, I
will not point to the places,
the scriptures, the verses,
to exonerate our actions—just
take my word for it. I baked
all the pies, hours upon hours,
pushing dough into the pan,
I made the filling from scratch—
an old huckleberry recipe. Now
listen, my momma said, I could have
a menfolk job, so long as could bake
and birth….anyway, my boss always says
what he means, at least, allegorically, at least,
in love. I run through the cities in my firepants,
I say, there's nothing to see here, I say, this is all
because of something someone else did.
Look we round up strays fleeing the wreckage—
kids, not our own, but outliers, losers, from another
national anthem—you should be thanking us,
I should be depicted as a saintly heart and halo,
just for standing here every day, answering
the planted questions, beating the weeds
of a fake press—you people, you
never give it a rest, all the little hungry
mouths, opening and closing, chirping,
discontent, I would smother each of you
In my loving arms, hold you
like a borrowed child, and spank
the insolence right off your bottoms.
Did I mention how our love is like a refugee
camp? I would pour hot pie filling
right now, down your open mouths—
daring to ask a question, as you do,
I want to mother you all, get me a switch,
girl, we'll settle everything right now!.
I am not your Aunt Lydia, no wait,
I am your Aunt Lydia, only because I
didn't read the book, but I guess I would
be your aunt, if it meant I could discipline you.
I know you'll do your best
to misquote everything I've said, even
if I said it, it'll be out of context.
So here it is:
I looked into all your futures,
cattle cars, camps, some of you are
hobos riding the rails, living near
dumpster fires, dodging detection
and detention, but we will find you all,
my little nieces and nephews,
you can quote me on that!
On Sundays the idea was to sit down
at the table with our offerings
but it was always a mess—
one of us falling into a trance, staring
into an opening only they saw, all-
the-while letting plates slip, pouring milk
past the thirsty lip of a glass—
this is where I see you, yes,
you, of the thousand eyes, an Argus Arbus
taking pictures, capturing the wild
we will haunt you
our prairie ghosts of moments
our half-eaten dinners
our Sundee bests.
There is always fire hiding in the sea
of grass, the miles and hours of potential
violence—we daughters of hail,
of howling tornadoes.
We never judge your future
as you judge our present and past.
Yes, we knew carpetbaggers would
come, all big city rich, gold-plated
promises of better crop yields,
the men no longer needing to take their own
lives to pay the bank.
Even when we could not see
this future, we wanted it
more than most.
So we forgot ourselves, our histories,
and voted to ignore
even our own visions—the foreclosures,
the trade war, our crops rotting in the fields,
the rust and dust of campaign promises.
Instead we went on
Out back our mother's spirit
Is white sheet torn
from its dry line
galloping the plains
and some of us are sad for it,
some of us envy her—no longer
worried about decreasing
market value of the land.
That freedom to sway
like a golden stalk, just
before the first sizzle of change
in our weather.
J. P. Dancing Bear is co-editor for the Verse Daily and Dream Horse Press. He is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, most recently, Cephalopodic (Glass Lyre Press, 2015. His next book, Fishing Singing Foxes will be released in early 2019 by Salmon Poetry. These two poems are part of a collection, Of Oracles and Monsters, which will be released by Glass Lyre Press later in 2019. His work has appeared or will shortly in American Literary Review, Crazyhorse, the DIAGRAM and elsewhere.