The Works of Dave Chambliss 

Dave Chambliss is a History graduate student at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He hopes to own a rat terrier named Sophie with his fiancée, Brittney, by the time you read this.


All Poems © Dave Chambliss

American Historiography X


1.
I am the child of thieves,
a hundred million packages stolen
and maybe a quarter of those
arrived at their destination


the packages were unwrapped
renamed
reassigned
run into the ground until irreparably broken
and the process repeated on their replacements


and when they took to their feet
and declared their freedom,
their humanity,
we hanged
and shot
and burned
and bombed as many as would stand still
and plenty who wouldn't


but we don't make mistakes, now do we


2.

I am the child of rapists,
rapists in cornfields and colonies
rapists at nighttime and wartime
rapists of peasants and queens
rapists for business and pleasure


the victims were picked out
on natural resource maps
usually standing on valuable minerals
or farmland
or near valuable bays or inlets
or coaling sites for trading ships
or just too close for comfort
because we couldn't let anyone else
rape them first


when their children take to their feet
and ask uncomfortable questions
about why fifty percent of Americans
get five percent of government funds
or why sixty percent of the women we rape
think it's their fault


we roll our eyes and change the channel


3.

I am the child of murderers,
not the first
but the best
the most prolific
and the least convicted
the most vicious
and the least suspected
from contaminated blankets
to cluster bombs
from the Lusitania
to Lockheed Martin


and now I read the crime scene reports
and all the evidence was there
reporters from different nations
standing idly by
(as if anyone could help)
across six continents
watching master races
manifest their destinies
against any and all


now we get out of school thanks to thieves,
schools named after rapists
on land taken by murderers

and the history teachers
look like my parents
and the history books
look like our photo album


and the victims
are special interests
and welfare queens
and anchor babies
and feminazis
and insurgents


and I am defendant, prosecutor, judge, and jury.


Transfiguration, 1940


How odd;
it appears a train
in Kaunas
became a tree
for twenty minutes
on 4 September


as autumn in Lithuania
brought the oak leaves
to the ground
leaves fell
from a train
bound for Prague


bizarre leaves
with a signature
and a seal
from the Japanese Foreign Office


entitling the bearer
to a train ride
(at five hundred percent markup)
across Siberia
to China


the leaves did not clutter the platform
as hundreds of Jews
were more than willing
to clear the area


three thousand similar leaves
had been seen
throughout  town,
though their bearers
tended to leave the region
shortly after acquiring them


from the tree-train,
a voice cried out
“Please forgive me,
I cannot write anymore,
I wish you the best”


and disappeared forever.