Which Washington, no doubt, dreamt for us

that winter at Valley Forge. & for which,

before this, Revere hung his one lantern

then a second in the Boston belfry, his men

close with their stallions, town shuttered, so when

in the course of human events—or when,

next Sunday, the Kiwanis Club (Upper

Susquehanna Valley branch) bend to their gins

& sodas, or to their rum, umbrella-

festooned cocktails, they will, we know, do so

sipping our finest of freedoms. For us

in America there is little pleasure better

now than this—to feast of our cattle’s back-

parts, fried for us, & to let ourselves sink

deep in the combed acre of sand shipped in

to the Gettysburg city park, the pops

frosting in their coolers, couples, for just

ten dollars, drifting against each other

to Joe Vance & the Last Straws, all of which

& more, America, the flier in Sheetz—BEACH

PARTY STEAK FRY—promises. Potato

salad. Ice sculptures. Mojitos. It was

madeira, sixty bottles, Washington

ordered for his friends their final evening

in Philadelphia. From the bar tab—

tumblers (damaged). Claret. Relishes. Men

who it is right, these days, to point out owned

other men & who slaughtered the natives

here but who also, of course, allowed us

to forget this sometimes, & to forget,

for once, the Wing Stripz Sheetz’s night shift

is frying for me—& which I will relish

now amid the fumes of fueling pickups

with Fanta & Boom-Boom Sauce—are so good,

we know, precisely because they will kill us.

Photo Credit: Didier Moïse via Creative Commons

About the author

Christopher Kempf is the author of Late in the Empire of Men, which won the 2015 Levis Prize in Poetry from Four Way Books. Recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, he is currently a doctoral student in English Literature at the University of Chicago.

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