the museum of americana

a literary review

The American Boy — Poetry by Gahl Liberzon

 
after Jon Sands after Angel Nafis after Terrance Hayes
 

The American boy wants to know why they call him sahib

The American boy looked it up on Wikipedia but nothing doing

The American boy thinks mirrors are too judgmental

The American boy has taken to calling other people sahib, gai-jin, honky

The American boy is convinced his use of irony is both subversive and original

The American boy thinks the hatred of Americans is a peculiar universal,

        an undeserved curse Bush 2 brought on us all

The American boy drowns himself in rum and calls it poetry

        and means poetic justice

        and doesn’t know it

The American boy wants to stop breathing so hard but can’t

The American boy takes 25 minute showers

The American boy is in a bind

        because he can’t watch his free streaming internet porn

        after taking a women’s studies class

        but he also can’t allow himself to pay for fair trade

        sex positive 3rd wave feminist pornography

        because he wouldn’t want to be associated

        with the type of people he’d have to buy it from

The American boy laughs when his euro friends talk about their hatred of gypsies

        it seems like a strange fairy tale to him

The American boy handcrafted artisan tea cosies and sweatshop pumas

The American boy instantly classifies every one he sees into clean or unclean;

        he suspects everyone who is unclean to be homeless

        and avoids eye contact

The American boy won’t give money to the same charity twice, but he’ll tell them

        as he passes, “Yo, I gave you like 2 dollars last week,

        remember?”

The American boy spends a week’s food budget on a beer pong table

The American boy is almost certain he won’t make his father’s mistakes–

        that is why the American boy is going to have

        a family.

The American boy eagerly awaits pot to be legal so he can buy local

The American boy xbox and sitcom and sleep with dreams of ample women

        who know the food groups for you

        and don’t care if you exercise

The American boy stopped watching the news after September 11th

        because he felt like the TV wouldn’t stop asking him

        a question he didn’t understand

The American boy feels like the asian GSI’s all hate him

        because his parents paid his tuition in full and didn’t care if he got an A-,

        and he still appreciates their studiousness but wishes they learned English better

        before they moved here

The American boy says he loves Detroit when he means Hamtramck

The American boy just wishes all those people around the world

        who fuckin hate America

        would just come to his house party

        and share a blunt with him

        and listen to some Phoenix

        and fuckin talk about the universe

        and shit, you know?

The American boy has felt nostalgic since he was 16 years old

        for when he was 5 years old

The American boy has seen neither his dog nor grandfather die,

        but in each case was bought a suit

        and made to stand still

        as a casket was lowered into the ground

        and was then told something about heaven

        and goodness

The American boy always likes to talk about heaven, but in his heart of hearts

        he is not sure

        how he feels about that

The American boy is only working his job

        as a file clerk/counter jockey/drive through order dialer

        until he finishes college, when he can work

        as a day trader/junior member/CPA

        when he’s not scuba-diving on the weekends

        on small islands where his money goes far

        and they call him sahib,

        though he’s not sure

        how he feels about that

The American boy’s grandparents knew what real courage was,

        the American boy thinks

        with a stirring of admiration

        in his breast

The American boy thinks his life is more like reality TV than a sitcom,

        but like not the Jersey Shore kind,

        but like also not like the The Weakest Link kind–

        he can’t seem to find his genre

The American boy is wrought with anxiety

        about the future of his football team

The American boy worries he is reaching his peak

        when it comes to sleeping with fuckin superhotties

The American boy, almost every week, looks to his right and left

        at the bar at his friends in their grins

        and dress shirts and clean sneakers, how sharp

        and relaxed and ready they are, and thinks I’m so glad

        we’re all in this together,

        smiling into his pint.

 

~  ~  ~

Gahl LiberzonGahl Liberzon is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Residential College and School of Education, where he studied Creative Writing & Literature and Secondary English Education, respectively. A native of Ann Arbor, Gahl was a two-time member of the University of Michigan Poetry Slam team, a four-time coach for the Ann Arbor Youth Slam team, and a three-time Hopwood award winner. He is the author of the forthcoming collection, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies from Red Beard Press.