National Anthem Entries

by Brantly Martin

illustrator Michael Salu

Issue V

National Anthem Entries 1

Seat Belt Laws

Should all goods be so readily delivered? Hold that thought. I was just in the elevator with Him. That guy who says nothing but compels the other guy to say Have a good night or Take care or See you later when He gets off the elevator. Of course He didn’t reply because it wasn’t said but it was spoken. Regarding your hold, I agree, what’s good for the Goose is good for the Fiend. However, why does the Emperor’s paternalism not extend to moi? I have rights beyond second hand smoke & bike lanes & high lines & trans fat & snow plows & afterlife. If only I would have gone into that church on Twenty-Third Street. I stood there & thought about it. Though that I was inside, on my knees, thinking of what to wish for. To be deliverable. 


When to leave a union & how to lie to yourself about it: When under cover of friendly fire. When to take up arms against your provider: In the glow of sexual ennui. When to take the high road: When your only strength is an oversight. When to act with overt racism &/or sexism: Straight faced. When to bash the country allowing you sexual utopia, hallucinations of self, ideological loopholes & malignant mirages: Upon the turn of the tide. When to turn philosophical: When the cookie jar’s empty. When to hide behind your disease: Before the cure. When to blame it on your lot in life: Mid-flight. When to press your bets: When knighted at the round table. 

Rationalization, Our Sweet Nation

It’s not true she does it to kill the pain. She creates the pain & kills the wait. She doesn’t do it to makes things better. She makes things stop. She doesn’t do it for you. She does it because she’s good at it. She does it like you answer the phone & visit your parents & get dressed & show up. While doing it she hasn’t wits or wit. She’s forced Alzheimer’s hand: past lives down to the nth but last night’s life in frozen gusts, impending impendings, deluding delusions of possibilities that never were or might have been but without doing it she never would have imagined those no longer possible delusions. If she stops doing it the shadow awaits. She’s residing inside that knowledge: that knowledge of tonight’s tomorrow. She does it for suppression. She does it to forestall self destruction, for she is a seer. 


Maybe Pol Pot’s ideal was misplaced, mistimed, mistakenly painted on the wrong canvas. Satan picked those too resilient, too forgiving, too futuristic, too forgetting. Just maybe it was meant for my head: Out with the thinkers & ponderers, scientists & rationalists, the travelled & assumed literate—go agrarian young man. Dear Year Zero, I would like to trade my brain encasement to bring back the piled & punctured, the desecrated & bludgeoned, the cut short & never known, those sacrificed well below the Mediaed & Martyred. Comrade Zero, I offer the following: A single self-inflicted hammer to the head. One shot. Save the bullets. What I’m saying is, I’m happy to be a selfish self-serving nihilistic life ender who thinks nothing of family & friends’ repercussions if I can only attain the title of Altruist. If cracking my skull only ensures the rebirth of one Phnom Penh Pyramidal K-Field Scheme age group, let’s make it the one 33 falls into. Kind regards, Anno Ora.

Chastising Belt

Let’s be honest here: It’s metaphysically, molecularly, theoretically, allegorically, hypothetically impossible & beyond the pale. I mean, really. Come one. Let’s be honest here. And being honest, you gotta admit that over there free speech doesn’t exist, not even in the abstract, not even on paper, not even in drunken, stoned wiffs of self-annihilating death squad deliveries. But what can you say Miss Manners? The N? The C? The B? Of course let’s not get carried away: H—? Call in the dogs. But back to R—. We’ve established its impossibility. Let’s take that as our given lads. Now, how to justify, rationalize & nationalize. Please tell me Pa, I be lost. Is it the undeniable gravity of the revolutionary, wrinkled, nude & lending? Is it penile paternalism? Now, I’m not saying you’ve cornered the market, just the infallible bit. Please explain our masquerade & backward thinking in the condescending way you do while pillaging the cherry picker.

The Bad Host Theory

Was first proposed by a Swamy in the late Neolithic Era. Its philosophy being that to rid one of certain death—or just a fever—the best remedy is the introduction of an ailment far worse, one so bad it leads to pleasure. In modern times this is simply the ingestion of two or four or sixteen pharmaceuticals or eight balls while one has the flu. Or, if domestic tranquility eludes you, inviting over the most malicious & transparently tic-like, bitter-fanged sexless Verminess for a weekend of revelry. All this of course begs an answer to “Who’s hosting who?” For increased patriotism—stirred up or otherwise—this theory leads to the increasing porousness of borders & liberalism until the national organism must rightly constrict upon itself for regained influence seasoned with vitriol & cyclical commandeering. 

Star Sign Language

What’s your sign? Yeah, I can see that. Ya’know, I don’t think I’m, like, better than you. It’s, I don’t know, just a different thing to draw on ya’know. I mean, we haven’t, like, all lived the same thing really. The truth is my parents, my, ya’know, friends, were, are, different than yours. Like, you had it so normal. I mean, like, all I wanted was that normal thing, ya’know. But, I mean, I was like destined for something else really. It’s not really normal to meet all these, like, famous artists & super powerful, ya’know, rich people, when you’re just starting to like, like boys… Ya’know? I mean, do you know who was, like, at my, well, it doesn’t matter, you wouldn’t really get it. The point I’m trying to get at is, there’s, like, a reason my, like, art is, like, so popular & selling for so much money. I’m sorrrrry, but there is. There is, like, a reason that the shows I’m putting on of my, like, friends, or whatever you wanna call them…Uhmm, yeah, like my friend’s art, are like, pre, like, whatever, sold. Ya’know? I mean, people relate to what we’re doing. And it’s not even people I really know. Ya’know? Some of them are like from, like, Greece or Italy or London, or like, especially Paris, like family friends or whatever, I mean…whatever ya’know? And I never even met them or their family… It’s just, like, they get it, ya’know? They understand, like, that some bloodlines are different & that, ya’know, we have to like, stick together or whatever. Ya’know, they just keep showing up & wanting to, like, introduce me to some person from, like, art magazines or blogs or…like some gallery or whatever…in their, like, country. Well, uhmm, let me cut to the chase…after I run to the bathroom, one sec… You wouldn’t get it. And I, wouldn’t get you. It’s like I was meant to do this. It’s like you were meant to hear about me doing this & get mad about it. Do you understand? Sorry? Right. And you, like, judge me? Did I mention my, our, work, escapes the provincial mind? Did I mention provincial? What? You’re from where? Like I said... Ya’know, I don’t know if you’re going to the thing after, well, whatever.

Night Tremors

To give in or to give in? Yes. Manner of surrender? Completely. From which rationalization? To be determined. So while we’re here let’s carry on with the hereness of it all. The chirps from the third, the creaks from the fourth, the real ghosts assuming fantastical phantoms, the calm of the kid, the silence of Satan, the putting off of more with more. That comfort food: Sweet Paranoia Pie. So tasty, reminds her of escape. That escape she built with her bare hands. Portable, that. Escape is where the snipers are after all. Taste that cringe? Eat some more. 

National Anthem Entries 2

Native Blood & Savage Cells

Steak knife across the inner thigh, thrice lacerated, then scabbed. Butter knife to the forearm, for the highly motivated. Sewing needle placating the left kneecap, fifteen to twenty punctures, then dress. Luang Prabang switchblade, for Ya Ba paranoid sit-ins in Phnom Penh all by yourself in Khmer Rouge guesthouses until the kept at bay are summoned by the silent & desperate & begging for company: marauding guests of honor encouraging punches to the temple & slices along the scalp & stabs to the sternum: more Ya Ba Tex Mex banter for the displaced & Angloed from the next life that appear from those tiny green saucers more transporting than Gleisican Hovercraft, more levitating than Sand Castles Made of Plans, more haunting than Beatrice moaning from the Ninth aside the ghoulish midwives you’ve unleashed in your successful search for a very private hell that has added impending death to your four dollar room.

K. Walker silhouettes interpreted by the Synesthete
happening upon a Perp Walk

ventromedial prefrontal cortex :::: another complaint alleging :::: stunning reversals :::: counter-complaint :::: “imaginary” :::: housekeeper :::: novelist :::: limbic system :::: credibility :::: allegations :::: deciding whether to prosecute :::: the revelations ::::  alleged conduct :::: offered a graphic account :::: American Folly :::: “I know that half will believe me, the others not” :::: orbital frontal cortex :::: denied accusations :::: recuse :::: mud hut :::: unschooled :::: illiterate :::: elite :::: contender for the presidency :::: “substantial information” that could “gravely undermine her credibility” :::: private detectives :::: unassuming & hard-working single mother :::: a village girl :::: deeply religious household :::: the family home, a spartan, concrete structure :::: amygdala :::: “everybody wants to go to the U.S.” :::: it is not clear how the woman gained entrance to the United States :::: she settled in the Bronx :::: was probably better known in Guinea, at least among the educated, than in the United States :::: she received asylum :::: dorsolateral prefrontal cortex :::: suggested that any sexual encounter was consensual :::: has obtained large civil settlements for his clients :::: “it wakes up the trauma that we have” :::: “she has faith” :::: automatism :::: reputational usury :::: dormant anti-Americanism :::: undermined justice & fair play :::: displayed in handcuffs :::: bitter jubilation :::: determinism :::: concerns of elected prosecutors :::: political future :::: unease over the American handling of the case :::: compromised by credibility questions surrounding his accuser :::: somnambulism :::: “he’s lied a lot in his life” :::: team of rivals :::: who for years had urged her daughter not to speak out :::: a counselor at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center :::: they still believed that there was evidence :::: thalamus :::: deep undercurrents of international power, sex, race & political ambition :::: to many New Yorkers :::: “the New York psyche of liking to support the underdog” :::: a city with close to three million immigrants :::: officials say she embellished her asylum claims :::: “it’s all about the money” ::::  exculpation :::: “everybody is in it for themselves” :::: “I feel like there should have been a little bit more tact involved” :::: photoreceptor :::: at a coffee shop in Brooklyn 6 out of 10 customers said they had never heard of :::: with no eyewitness :::: high-priced legal team :::: strategies, realities & personalities :::: another complaint :::: a meeting scheduled for the next day :::: voluntary disclosure form :::: TriBeCa town house listed at $50,000 a month :::: a high-stakes version of another New York pastime: the hustle :::: Newman :::: Kara Walker silhouettes interpreted by the Synesthete happening upon a perp walk

Tu Sabes Unajua

You know what your problem is? You know what you should do? I got a guy for you to speak with. There’s this thing, trust me, you’ll love it. Honestly, I’m not going Uptown or to The Financial or to Chelsea or to Brooklyn or SOHO or the West Vil or the Lower East, I mean, come by dude, I’ll be here. You got a number man? Think he’ll pass by? The thing is, I just don’t want them in my house. But I know you, you’re a social guy. You would hate it there. Believe me. That’s great, but what do you really talk about?

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