Franklin K.R. Cline

Party In The U.S.A.

There’s a thousand yous, there’s only one of me.
-Kanye West

Hamburgers sizzle in their need-flipped way, crackle
of their deadness yummy. There’s no point
in considering from whence these patties came, the killing
floor. The floor is sticky

from ketchup, ketchup
was used for fake blood in black and white movies, ketchup
circling the drain, America
circling the drain. When I say America,

I mean nothing. I say it because it sounds good,
like it has meaning. I like to sound
like I have meaning, I like to sound like America, like
hamburger. A pickup truck. The sun exploding
off of windshields, yawning through spider webs,
the silver of which beards the long row of front doors
yawning across the afternoon street
nicely. Fall is becoming

inside and outside, running away from villains found in others’ nightmares
that’ve gotten transplanted into our brains through films
we used to pretend to want to watch in order to get our ketchup tongues
circling the drains of another’s throat,

probing the unknown lands, seeing
what we can poison, what we can steal?
The sky sure is nice today, this 70-degree
massacre of plants. Death’s really everywhere.


Robert Quine plays a bendy guitar solo and we talk about
                                 capitalism (c.f. “Trigger Warning”). We are in a bar

                                 with a motel attached
but have no interest in being
                                 here, we just want

to use the swimming pool
                                 the exercise room and the bar. We lament

                                 having not known how to play the guitar. One thing
music has over the poem is the fadeout. We are wearing
                                 ties. Once I admired a man in a purple shirt with a tie striped

purple and so I bought a purple shirt and wore it. I felt
                                 good. People complimented me. I walked down
the sidewalk and took in the love, although

                                 I believe
that no one tastes better than me.


Recently, we brought
a third cat
into our house.
A stray.
snuggly, quiet,
full of a love
she’ll displace
onto us
in exchange for some
food, some
glances in her direction.
The two
cats who lived here first
can’t stand her; it’s
not that easy.
one of our other cats,
hisses and scratches
at her; if she
knows Winston is
around a corner she’ll
haunch and stare. Six is
the alpha.
long and black,
shit herself
when Winston came around the corner.
Our house
smelled like shit
for days. Shit seeped
into our minds.
Weren’t we here


Not much is going on outside of our dome, we’re
being very careful the wine bottles in the recycling
don’t break, we don’t want to cut up our fellow Americans,
or if we do we’re wrong. Violence

is the new language, says a violent man long after
he’s committed a grand act of violence and been
tortured extensively for it.
I do things

to talk about them afterwards. I have been to
protest rallies. In 2004, when Bush Jr. was reelected,
someone started a small fire
in front of a small town Missouri public library. They

thought it made sense to burn a bush, to be
funny or provocative. Old Americans
watched from across the street, concerned, sighing weren’t
we here first


A knock on the door. You open it. A man
has a card in his hand and says hello,
he’s new to town. You think he’s
trying to sell me something so you say I’m not
and he puts his hand out (near
your hand) and pleads no, listen. He says
he needs to tell you he’s here, he says
things you don’t want to know about him,
about the world. You picture him
sweaty, face in hands, one bite taken out of a
glazed donut on a napkin in front of him, small
Styrofoam cup of thick coffee, dregs
puddled at the bottom, light bouncing
off of his bald spot, eyes
half open, this isn’t real, his mouth opening—


What do you want to be? What’s that you’ve
                                 been told you can do? It’s likely
less. It’s nice to be born rich, but then
                                 what? I wasn’t born rich. Look at me. I am ketchup:
smack what holds me on the bottom long enough
                                 and too much of me will spread all over, probing
all the new corners of the universe.


[AUTHOR’S NAME]’s work has appeared in B O D Y, Matter, and Beecher’s. He lives in [AUTHOR’S TOWN], with his fiancée, [AUTHOR’S WIFE].


The rain’s plopping down on the poor suckers stuck
Monday morning commuting listening to the muddy
voices from the local newsradio stations
postulating the thoughts of the latest wild child
to shoot up some crowded plaza
proclaiming some piece
of their Swiss watch brain needed adjustment needed
some old man a dusty shop with half-ticking
minds surrounding him to place a coupon in the newspaper
and they needed too to have stumbled
upon that advertisement and gone in looked him up
and down examined his credentials and sharp
tools and agreed to be turned
into something less I’m scared
for my privacy but I don’t really care I guess I ate
a burrito yesterday I’d hate to know I wasn’t
being watched my mother isn’t afraid
of being watched she says what have I got
to hide what do I care motherfucker I’ll kill you
a man in a yellow tie screams
through his windshield through the clouds
at some other passenger
blasting his horn the ugly hunks
cars and bodies


Check out all these tiny American flags
                                 alongside mostly-empty half-pints of whiskey

                     sitting pushed a half-inch up by the little grass

                                 near the sidewalk on the long lip of the graveyard! A bouquet
                 of daises makes itself known, thinking

                                 whatever and why! America,
                                                 filled with ovens
                                                                 beeping, ready for big turkeys!

                                                                                  Somewhere else in the world,
                                 India, maybe
                                                      Americans filmed cold neon aisles of elephants
                        parading mourning lost brethren
                                 like humans, then took their cameras
                        back home to the United States
                                                      and edited them together to tell the story
                                 they felt was most compelling, then
                                                  put it on the Internet for free. Brains
                                                  want niceties, nothing abnormal, just to keep on going
                 long enough for the big jolt, the so what.


Jane’s Haiku

Another day of
getting sexually harassed
at the Steak and Shake.


How would you like to hear yourself

in my poem? Officially this time.
I am
taking this very seriously the same way a passenger says very

seriously to the driver to take exit 89B for downtown and then take an immediate

oh not there, sorry, that left. Park here and we’ll walk the rest of the way. Who knows

many spots’ll be open down where we want to go. Oh no, they’re blaring Christmas
music out

of the storefronts. See, it’s easy to get lost

Let’s keep
strolling until we find something.


I don’t mean to ignore the rest of the world, but
I can’t help it. This is for us, for the I

that I am not, the we we aren’t. There is too much
music in the world, I could never listen to it all, God, books

I haven’t read. How is there
so much water everywhere? Too much,

not enough. The weather is like Seattle
today in Michigan. There are too many people,

we are past the occupancy limit. We weigh
too much, the elevator

doesn’t want to carry us anymore, our legs
burn with each stair. The rain burns

the cuts on the top of our heads where the thorns
were. Our cats do not get along. Push

us together, angels. Make us
understand each other. The sun’s

across the floor. I don’t trust my eyes so I can’t tell you

if the clouds are moving or not. I’m sorry, on behalf
of the rest of us I’m so sorry. I’m doing my part, I’m

recycling, I take the stairs, I feed
stray cats when they come to my porch, there are

a lot of stray cats in our neighborhood.
I don’t want to think

about what happens
to all the strays in winter,

when the sky gets so white like the ground you can’t
tell between them, and no one’s

looking out for anyone else; we are all
scrambling to buy enough heat.


Franklin K.R. Cline‘s work has appeared in Beecher’s, B O D Y, Matter, and Rabbit Catastrophe Review. He lives in Kalamazoo, MI, with his wife, author Rachel Kincaid, and three cats.