Collective Unrest



November 15, 2018

After the wonder that is Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”


I have seen the best minds of my generation rotting, stowing away in apartments and alleyways searching for something to fill the abysses and gaps and voids and holes boring through their tar-painted chests

muddy-mouthed, foggy-headed fuck-ups suffering in the streets for the sake of art and love and whatever the hell else they saw in color

who sat stoutly on capitol steps and in streets bearing signs for those whose color of skin could not afford the cost that white privileges demand

who leveled punches on Nazis in the streets of Washington and stole Confederate flags from the ever-existent remnants of the Jim Crow South

who laid dead-eyed in hospital cots and therapists’ couches and their own rugs praying for an end until they ran out of gods to ask

who sat hollow-cheeked and oil-slicked in dark rooms illuminated solely by blue television light, catatonically staring at cartoons and aching for release

who hated their parents and grandparents and aunt and uncles for what they were and despised themselves for what they were not

who pasted the words of Marx and Chomsky into their essays and pamphlets, foot-soldiering against the metal plate so slowly and heavily descending to crush their skulls

who curled themselves into the fetal position on the hard, tight-knit carpets of libraries, intoxicated on Orwellian foretellings and the angers of the Beats

who cowered in basements, floating comatose in the waves of ska and marijuana

who sold their dream-deprived souls to the brazen beacons of capitalism for a chance to pay their rent and obtain whatever scraps of the American Dream fall to the ground from the Baby Boomers’ tables

who sank into the boroughs of drug lords and candy men, inhaling and eating and drinking chemical after chemical for some hope of catalyzing anatomical self-destruction

who spoke intrepidly of the movement of patriotism from social conscience into political turmoil, soaked in propaganda and illuminated by fireworks, forced into the land of conservative pornography by the blood-covered, money-clenching hands of Uncle Sam

an apparently unrespectable population of intellectuals and philosophers banished to blogs and media deemed childish for themselves, yet appropriate for their president

screaming into the seemingly endless void about the how a history of injustices can tarnish the image of a country once called great

sleeping on the floors of whomever would will a room for them, freeloading and hitchhiking their way across the culture, beatniks and hipsters in the hippies’ wasteland

who dug razors and serrated kitchen knives into their forearms, tunneling into their veins and arteries as to finally take the bloody subway home

who slept on the playgrounds they long abandoned, watching the sky rain meteors and comets through the opalescent blue of the sky

who spoke jokingly of their wishes to kill themselves, praying to suffocate suicide with satire and failing miserably at it

who watched their limbs be bound with the labels of depravity as they kicked and screamed in their insistence for equality that should have been ensured by the simple reality of existence

who stole vodka from their mothers and cognac from their fathers, drinking relentlessly to dull the Michigan cold and the Georgia sun

who knew they were insane when they were no longer amazed by the way that their skin glittered in the State Theatre’s lights

who slept in the beds of whoever would promise them a warm meal, fucking their way through every steakhouse and late-night diner in the Midwest

who danced in the lights of damp, humid basements, showing as much skin as possible in their search for sex or love or beer

who threw their lives to the mouths of others, allowing infants to suckle at their breasts for hope of having been known as generous rather than useless

who were raped and told that they deserved it for dressing, acting, drinking, and existing

who bombarded the inboxes and ears of government officials who refused to hand a glass of water to the people of Flint

who starved and gorged themselves as their eating disorders saw fit

who drank their veins full of caffeine to work three jobs only to be called lazy

who choked out stories of abuse only to be called sensitive or weak or liar

who bit the hand that poisoned them only to be called thankless

who cried in horror as the podiums and playgrounds began to sink together into a pastorally political dreamland

who held hands through holding cells and across hospital beds in the endless search for mercy

who emptied their plates to better the wounds that their previous meals had stricken across the limbs of the Earth

who wrote encouragement on the mirrors and stalls and doors of bathrooms just to feel like somehow they had helped

who painted pictures of breast and vagina and clitoris in the hopes of presenting the obvious beauty of a woman deemed ‘unfuckable’ by the male gaze that has so heavily permeated artistic judgement since the dawn of time

who fucked angrily and emptily the faces and dicks and cunts of whoever responded to their desperate cry for numbness first

who knelt at the foot of a country who refused to stand for them

who sketched bloody self portraits on buildings and sidewalks and exhibits and magazines in the search for recognition and hope

who, depending on the color of their skin, got a ticket or time for possession

who sat in dimly lit porches smoking and talking about the deliciously angry bands they sacrificed their eardrums to see

who dragged their reluctant hearts behind them as they threw aside their pens and marched forth into the world of suits and water coolers, selling their souls to appease their priestly parents and judgmental cohorts

who treated their bodies as Bibles and held them close and tight before throwing them to a fire and destroying everything that had once comprised them

who swallowed soap to cleanse the soot from their intestines

who drank bleach for purity

who pulled their ribs to the surface for grace

who mummified their mothers for truth

who stripped their skeletons of their meat and left their bones to dangle as windchimes from the railings of their shitty apartments

who threw themselves into the river to jolt awake the nerve endings so long ago made dormant and instead died of hypothermia or bashed their skin against the rocks

who fought to confiscate firearms and chisel change in the tablets of law

who were crucified on national television for kissing boys or kissing girls or killing yet another industry or marching for science and women and black lives or for caring about others or for living or for dying or for existing

who jumped into the doors of open train cars and left apartments and house and dormitories behind for a life determined by the tracks

who yelled out of their windows into the oblivion or the tunnel or the empty quadrangles of their universities, trading “shit” and “fuck” and “help” for sharp intakes of breath

who ran themselves raggedly through the concrete mess of the city, searching for sustenance and instead finding poverty

who drove contently in semi trucks’ blind spots to spare their families the shame of their suicide and themselves the lurches of living

who spun record upon Nirvana record in their grimy bedrooms, sipping on the adorations and musings of a soul they hope to encounter in the afterlife as soon as possible

who bared their breasts to the streets through their fourth story windows, praying for imprisonment or institutionalization or a cure for loneliness

who crashed their cars into light poles and garbage cans, caving the metal closer and closer to their bodies as time went on

who sat soundly in concert venues as boys and girls and people played their guitars on stages drenched in foggy lights

who threw insults at white supremacists in the streets of New York and with the works of their hands and in the auditoriums of their schools

who chewed the insides of their cheeks until they had murdered all feeling, creating a cure to the pain of quiet

who laid dazed and silent in the corridors of their own skulls, fruitlessly wandering the halls and looking for escape

who peeled their eyes from their sockets and let them wither on windowsills and shoved lit matches into their eardrums and eliminated all of their nerve endings and swallowed shards of glass in the quest for a prayer of achieving justifiable ignorance

who remade the atmosphere of Studio Six in their living rooms, shouting poems and lyrics surely while chugging gallons of wine and filling their lungs with black

who sank their teeth into the nearest foul-mouthed, cigarette-breathed boy and used him as a therapist when they knew damn well they needed more than dick

who stood stationary in their hallways and bedrooms and kitchens hoping that if the light hardened their skin to granite they might live as statues

who ran naked through the streets of Detroit, striking desire into the hearts of industry that existed in memory only as lustless shells bathed in bankruptcy and ill repute but in reality still boiled blood in their ventricles

who masturbated furiously in the confines of their bedrooms, professing self love as a positive and trying to express the same attention and care to the fragile states of their psyches, cumming to and coming to the notion that they could one day exist as a remote devoid of a power-down option

who rammed their bodies into and onto others, hoping to find drugs in the ejaculate of men and women and praying to find a god in the moments after orgasm and in between sweaty arms

who slept nude in the sheets they purchased at Target after bleeding all over the last set when they couldn’t make the copay for their birth control

who lapped at the bowls of water set forth by the magnolias of the city, careful to be seen and cautiously remaining uninvolved

and who I enter to history with the words of this poem so the powers that be may not erase us as they so desperately wish that they could.

Oh, darlings, while one of us suffers, we must all suffer, so we find ourselves in these prisons of misery and hopelessness until all of our brother and sisters and beings in between can hold themselves in safety within the confines of the United States.

What effigy of skin and dihydroxyacetone tried to sew shut their mouths and feast on the malcontent of their nation?

Trump! anger! excess! heartlessness! gilded pens and senseless proposals! families in ruin! humans torn from their homes! refugees screaming in the streets!

Trump! Trump! explosion of Trump! Trump the Almighty! unstable Trump! Trump jury, judge, and executioner of the United States!

Trump the leader of the military parade! Trump the jailkeeper of truth and equality! Trump whose estates block sunlight! Trump the small-handed! Trump the censor!

Trump with the cash register mind! Trump whose mouth suckled at the silver spoon! Trump whose fingers act as triggers! Trump who spins Woody Guthrie in his grave! Trump whose nose acts as the most violent of trespassers!

Trump whose fingers take what they want! Trump, abuser of women! Trump who just starts kissing them! Trump who erases accountability with scoff and slight of hand!

Trump whose love is cold and metallic! Trump who sleeps with the enemy! Trump who denies the writer yet loves to grasp the pen! Trump who transcends his party!

powerful Trump! hungry Trump! predator Trump! Trump who just kisses them! Trump who grabs them by the pussy!

Trump who seasoned them for the taking! Trump who knew what he was doing! Trump who has validated our the fear of patriarchy just as the men before him! Trump who abandons the others! We suffer in Trump! We die in Trump!

Trump! Trump! imposing structures! phalli of iron and steel! headless bodies! lifeless allies! shadows of illicitness! spirits of states! tepid adoration! unaccepted acceptance! calloused lips!

They sold their souls voting Trump to office! rallys, riots, scandals, distrust! burying our country in the grave our forefathers so kindly dug for us!

love! empathy! selflessness! kindness! safety! flushed to the sea!

creativity! clarity! truths! safety! boxes of happiness!

helpfulness! thrown to the wind! flushed! burnt like the witches! breaths! breaks! stares! a generation’s culminated belief! ideas! experiments! science! drowning in the galaxies of open space!

suicide and mutilation! we’ve seen it all! faithless tongues! deniable declarations! unsatisfactory goodbyes! journeys to heaven! happy! weightless! drinking honey! out of the libraries! into the blue!

Annaka! I’m with you in Jackson
where you write to the dead
I’m with you in Jackson
where you suffer for yourself in silence
I’m with you in Jackson
where your screams echo down Northlands Avenue
I’m with you in Jackson
where you’ve finally hanged yourself from the shower bar
I’m with you in Jackson
where you laugh at death and cry at humor
I’m with you in Jackson
where you bleed on your grandfather’s typewriter
I’m with you in Jackson
where your neighbor has locked his wife in the bathroom with a gun
I’m with you in Jackson
where your parents smile on Christmas cards but scream at each other
I’m with you in Jackson
where you dream nightly of throwing yourself from the top of the parking garage
I’m with you in Jackson
where you punch at your thighs until the skin starts to bruise
I’m with you in Jackson
where you sit alone in your living room and set your brain ablaze with vodka
I’m with you in Jackson
where you spit into the lime green of your walls that the soul is not something to be denied its most primitive pleasures
I’m with you in Jackson
where you sleep but wake more unrested
I’m with you in Jackson
where you cry for the troubadours who died before you were born
I’m with you in Jackson
where you grovel at your mother’s feet for money to pay for the therapy that her words made necessary
I’m with you in Jackson
where there are twenty other people in the classroom and none of them feel like you do
I’m with you in Jackson
where you choke yourself when there’s no one to help
I’m with you in Jackson
where we live our lives at the mercy of the hormones so lawlessly flowing and scouting through our bloodstreams body becomes the liveliest wasteland sweet release wrapped in styrofoam gratification delayed until it is forgotten
I’m with you in Jackson
where in my dreams you wake in a skin that feels like your own and peal like laugher through the streets of some far-away mountain town, rushing past the peaks before finally finding the courage to throw yourself off the highest of cliffs –

Oh valor!

Oh Jesus!

Oh cosmos!

We will be free!


Finally Free!


Annaka Saari is a writer from Jackson, Michigan. She currently lives in Ann Arbor where she studies English at the University of Michigan and listens to a lot of Bob Dylan. Her work has previously appeared in Ghost City Review and MICRO // MACRO. You can learn more about her at or on Twitter at @AnnakaSaari.

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