Bumbling Shithead Fascists

from War Balloons by Guante and Big Cats

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I will never be the darling of the so-called city fathers


And he appears before you as flesh, all reds and oranges and yellows, pulsing impossibly like a jack-o-lantern stuffed to the brim with eels, and the cameras flash, and 63 million spiders hiss their approval in unison. And, of course, he’s naked. And everyone knows that he’s naked. And he stands there, grinning like a hundred thousand dollar watch face at ten after ten, saying look. Look at my beautiful clothes. And you look...

I feel like pop culture did not prepare me
For this flavor of authoritarian we’re facing
You know: the bad guys were always sinister and calculating
And not tuned into fox news for eight hours daily
it’s like if sauron had dropped the one ring
Into his oreo mcflurry and then accidentally ate it
Or if darth vader were constantly callin’ people haters
And then slicin’ his own fingers off with his lightsaber
...or if voldemort made all of his horcruxes
enormous golden statues of himself
Demonstrating krav maga moves he learned on the internet
If this there were a YA dystopia the editor would interject:
it doesn’t make any sense, but there you have it
A bumbling shithead fascist, is still a fascist
And the smallest act of resistance, when the emperor is naked
is to say it, and say it, and say it

And he appears before you as flesh, absorbs your gaze, smiles impossibly wider. Webs float down from the rafters like confetti. The emperor’s advisors applaud his imaginary clothes. The propagandists write up breathless headlines about how perfect they are. The cable news networks convene panels of experts representing both sides of the debate. And the emperor, naked and sweating, begins to speak about his new policy of separating children from their parents at the border...

I will never be the darling of the so-called city fathers
Whose conception of community is to colonize and conquer
I’ve already thrown my lot in with the uncouth and uncollared
Who will never bother with what the officers have to offer: no
I pledge allegiance to red flags that teach us
When allegiance is mandatory it doesn’t mean much
So take a knee or take a kneecap
Clap for the emperor or clap at the emperor
‘Cause after november it’s a long winter win or lose
And we’ll still be anti-emperor when a new one is introduced
we lit the fuse with that simple truth
Passed through classrooms, clubs, community centers and living rooms
Watch a movement blossom
Brush your shoulders off: spread a little bit of pollen
Because we know a naked emperor is not the problem
The empire is the problem

And he appears before you as flesh, waving, one last time, and you remember, that this is real, but this is also a story. That stories are told, over and over again, that stories can change. You remember: that this particular story isn’t actually about the emperor. It isn’t about who sits at the center of the circle; it’s about the circle. It’s about us. What dialogue we write for ourselves. Whether we are protagonists or side characters. You remember: that we write our own stories. We write our own stories. We write our own stories. And that this one, is not over.


from War Balloons, released September 18, 2018


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Guante and Big Cats Minneapolis, Minnesota


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