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Late Show at the Americana


Oh, you know America—there was a decision:

sell off the small house to the big house;

add metal detectors; shake every purse;

reverse every pocket—what’s that in your pants;

take off your coat, your shoes; nope, you can’t

wear those—get them socks off; better yet, take off

your shirt—that one too; step out of your pants; drop

the underwear; keep your eyes on me—

I need you to pay attention; part your hair

then your cheeks, your ass; lift your balls,

lift your tongue; tell me where you parked

—I need to search your car for something;

I need to drive your car to your house;

give me the keys to your house or I will have no choice

but to knock your door down; where is the thing—

under the sink; under the floorboards; you don’t

need to know what I’m looking for;

I’ve got my reasons; you can come in

over my dead body; once you exit

who’s to say I will let you back in?


If you wanted to return, a ticket

is not enough, my friend—it’s just

a slip of paper that can be torn.

Look here, give me it—

see? Now try to get past me—

I dare you. I’m a fucking wall, dude.

Respect the badge—this star

with my name written across it.


Flicks are my thing—ask me anything. Like,

I bet you didn’t know this: the horror house

in this movie, that’s set in Birmingham, Michigan,

was actually a plantation-style house in Birmingham,

Alabama. Isn’t that wild; the way one part of America

can stand in for another part of America?

That’s like if I called you nigger

in Birmingham it sounds the same as if I called you

nigger in Birmingham. Of course, I would never

say that word, you understand. I like you people.


Just bury me in this blazer,

these starched pants, licorice dark shoes.

Or better yet burn me up, then

pour my ashes in a film reel’s canister.

Bury that in a block of cement; pour me

into the sidewalk the way they do in Hollywood

with the stars on the Walk of Fame. It’s American,

the dream to leave a piece of you behind

for tourists to walk all over. Look down

at the ground—you are standing in

my home. You know what I say? Shut the door behind you

when you leave my country of screens;

of so many white stars.


So these fucking dudes, that don’t even speak

English, keep carrying away my theater brick by brick,

right past me as if I am so white

that I’ve disappeared—no one sees me.

I refuse to move; I can’t leave—

my counter always ready at zero, zero, zero.

Have you heard of those multiplexes now?

They want you to believe those

tiny shit boxes are just like home: La-Z-Boys

that recline to a fuck-me friendly angle; shitty food like

fried mozzarella sticks and potato skins; more showtimes:

all to get more bottoms for their bottom lines.

Oh, I know America. Oh say can you see

my wide white ass—it ain’t going

anywhere. This is the house of dreams I built.


Where the balcony was, a sign went up

for a Starbucks; the ticket booth, a Korean-owned

nail shop. You should have seen

how they carried away the screen—

a bridal train without a bride. And me here,

a groom jilted at the altar, all dressed up

funeral-nice. Remember when a movie

was one big screen: one image shared by many:

black and white? The movie house

was a country of star gazers—all in the dark

looking up into all of that light.

And everyone knowing their places.

from Fantasia for the Man in BlueFind more by Tommye Blount at the library

Copyright © 2020 Tommye Blount
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Poems Tommye Blount

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.