Caitlin Johnstone – “Strike the Drum of the Elephant God”

November 25, 2017 at 1:52 pm (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

Place a jade crown upon the night sky, oh my daughter,
and a silver crown on each grain of sand beneath your feet.
Do not trust horny boys or polite politicians.
Trust only the hymn in your cells.
The path you must walk is as narrow as a zebra sword’s edge,
and it is slippery with grandmother tears.

Find the moss-covered elephant bone, oh my daughter,
on the sea cliff where I brought you into this world,
where my labor cries mixed with the waves and the whale songs.
Strike the drum of the Elephant God with the bone
to the rhythm of the hymn in your cells.

Strike the drum for the orphans of the Calliope Wars,
and for the corpses of angels swinging from street lamps.
For the wailing trees being eaten by sheet metal locusts,
for the silent army of children with pitchforks,
for the night sky filling with deathball machines,
for the worm-toothed dragon awakening beneath the mountain,
for the puppets made of flesh made to dance for the oil kings,
and for the baby who is stirring in your womb,
strike the drum, oh my daughter, strike the drum.

My cells taught you a hymn as soon as you were conceived,
and it’s wiser than anything I can say to you here.
Strike the drum of the Elephant God until sunrise,
then begin making your nest as I taught you.
Your labor cries will soon mix with the cries of the grandmothers,
and I will be cherishing you deeply, oh my daughter.

Caitlin Johnstone


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Caitlin Johnstone – “The Mushroom Cloud Angel”

November 21, 2017 at 8:10 pm (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

A mushroom cloud angel came to visit me one night
while I was drinking whiskey and Gatorade
and arguing with a wrong person on the internet.
It smelled like ozone and tire fires.
Its eyes stretched all the way back to the Big Bang.

“Uhh, look,” I said as my vase of petunias wilted in its presence.
“Whatever this is, I’m really not ready for it.
I haven’t showered, and my credit’s a mess,
and I’ve got unresolved issues with my mother still.
Emma Carmichael next door, you should try her.
She’s got her shit together.
She drives a Honda Odyssey.”

There was a deep rumbling in my bones,
and the paint on the walls began to peel.
A cockroach scuttled out backwards from its hiding place.
My office supplies started to levitate,
and suddenly I knew what the creature wanted.
Why it had come to me.

“Oh,” I said.
“Okay. Let me think.”

I told it about how I try really, really hard
not to let any moment here go to waste.
How even if I’m just watching The Bachelorette
or doodling in my notepad or looking out the window,
I try to really feel every part of it.
I told it how the beauty of my lover’s face makes me weep,
and how I cherish every time my kids include me in their things.
How the galahs and magpies bicker every morning
and how they make me smile while I sip my black coffee.
How I know it’s spring when the magnolias blossom,
and how jasmine means summer’s near.

I showed it everything I’ve come to adore about people;
our frailty, our ferociousness,
our relentless drive to create.
The guileless symbiosis of an elderly married couple,
the elegant awkwardness of teenagers,
the desperation of parents trying not to screw up too bad.
How thrilling it is to start again every sunrise.
How terrifying it is to fall more in love every day
with someone who can’t live forever.

I invited it into my body and let it walk around in my skin
so it could feel how awesome it is to be human.
Still haven’t gotten the smell out of my nostrils
or the ancient eons out of my veins.

“Well?” I asked it, my face dripping sweat,
when I’d run out of reasons to offer.
“Do we get to stay here or not?”

The mushroom cloud angel turned and walked away,
burning craters in the Carmichaels’ lawn with its feet.
I don’t know who else it has talked to since,
or how often we’re made to answer,
but the bombs still haven’t dropped.
We’re all still here,
come what may.

Emma was so pissed off.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Caitlin Johnstone – “When We Raise Our True Flag”

November 17, 2017 at 9:22 am (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

There will come a day
(and it won’t be long now)
when the mandible-mouthed liars cease their death song,
and ivy grows over the bunkers of the Bank Boys,
and the cannons all sprout mushrooms,
and fireflies fill the air once more.

When that day comes,
we will lower the flag of the marching machine
(once used as wrapping paper for dead teenagers with rifles,
once hung over buildings full of men with red eyes,
once emblazoned upon flying robots that rained fire),
and we will raise our true flag at long last.

It will be woven from the prayers of our grandmothers
who will never see it raised but knew one day it would be.
It will be dyed in the blood of the media martyrs
who stared the Bastards in the eye and sang life songs.
It will have a traditional image of Michael the Archangel,
except instead of him stepping on the Devil
they are laughing together over a drink at the pub
while a man with a pipe looks on and smiles.
It will be based on a drawing made in crayon long ago
by a chain-smoking dryad who lurks in your brain pan.

We will all salute it in our own unique way:
with fart jokes and whale songs,
with unearthly ululations,
with runed glossolalia,
with lightning from our fingertips,
with air guitar karate,
with lava dance lovemaking,
with a single tear from someone who still misses you,
with an uplifting of the heart toward the sky.

And then we’ll all curl up together
and we’ll sleep unafraid
for the very first time,
and we will dream of the ones
who helped walk us home.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Caitlin Johnstone – “The Letter”

November 12, 2017 at 9:26 am (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

I found a dead bison by the side of the freeway.
A white one, the kind that visits you in dreams
and wordlessly walks you through the wonders and horrors
of everything that lies Underneath.

It was crumbled up smashed
at the foot of a billboard for wireless service
and was partially covered in fast food wrappers.
Violets and daffodils were sprouting from its flesh.

As dark clouds gathered and wetness began to fall,
I sank down and laid upon my side.
Thinking about all the bad things.
Watching droplets wash blood from white fur.

I asked the ground,
Why come this far
if it was just going to end like this?
With factories spewing black smoke from burnt angels
while plastic TV hosts twist their mouths into smiles?
With Raytheon revolutions and populist ecocide?
With brainwashed babies and an Amazon logo on the moon?”

I heard footsteps approaching,
but I didn’t turn around.

A familiar claw reached down
and handed me a letter.

“You’ve been gone for decades when I needed you most,” I said.
“Why come back at all?”

Air washed over me as the fucker took flight.
Never saw him again.
Didn’t need to.

I opened the letter.
My tears mixed with the rain.

Caitlin Johnstone 


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Caitlin Johnstone – “men.”

November 8, 2017 at 9:30 am (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

they lined up to punch and kick my flower

took turns politely like good little boys
with nice clean hands

it’s your turn my good man
after you sir you were here first
no no i insist
oh you are too kind

then set upon me like wolves
like apes

funneled my flesh through the secret screams of their mothers
their poor mothers who still wake up early
to put on makeup so they don’t disgust their husbands

they sowed my soil with salt before my flower could bloom
then asked why i’m not like the on-screen nakeds
with sperm on their faces like war paint on the fallen

tell me i should enjoy myself more
like the ones they shat out before me

i don’t know what’s wrong with this one
he told the next in line
maybe her mother dropped her on her head

i held my dead flower in my eyes and wept
while making lunch wraps for the children

mowgli was raised by wolves
they taught him to run and to hunt

tarzan was raised by apes
they taught him to climb and to swing

i was raised by men
and they taught me to hate my sisters

but the wind is changing
and the earth has been shaken
and there is a new topsoil now

as we kneel together
watching the sprouts emerge
we hold hands

Caitlin Johnstone 

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Caitlin Johnstone – “Utopia Preppers”

November 6, 2017 at 9:32 am (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

We hide in clockwork palaces
where the squawking screens can’t find us
and plant flowers in shoes
that we found in the gutter
by the light of a jealous moon.

We do not sing about the end of days.
The end of days is for the dead.
While they bore the bone puppets
with their funeral dirges,
we have unprotected sex on top of skyscrapers
and get pregnant with woodwind virtuosos.
We paint dinosaur murals on the castles of the Bastards.
We drink blackberry wine from flamingo skulls
and lie to God.

The sea has gone still
and the birds are all watching.
We are the utopia preppers,
and we are ready for the golden age.
Tell those giant crystal elephants in the womb of time
with their mirror minds and mushroom voices
that we are hungry for our feast.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Caitlin Johnstone – “Skullface Comedians”

November 4, 2017 at 9:37 am (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

“Here is a government official who’s helped kill thousands of children.
Let’s make jokes about his hairstyle.”

“We live in a country that spends medicine money on cluster bombs.
Let’s giggle about penises and vaginas.”

“Your government is lying to you and the media is helping them.
I live in a mansion but I’m just like you.”

They only come out at night.

Light dances in dark rooms
across half-dead faces full of all-dead dreams
staring at advertisements between advertisements
and listening to the shrill laughter of the live studio audience
and clutching their furniture so they don’t spin off the earth.

An actor sits on the chair beside the desk
and talks about a movie where actors pretend to do things
then cuts to a clip about a movie where actors pretend to do things
then cuts to a commercial about a movie where actors pretend to do things.
The host makes a joke about boobs.

The moon is not laughing.
The sky is raining the skeletons of birds.
But our hearts are real
and our flesh is made of dinosaurs and stars.
The dew collects on our eyelashes
as the horizon turns pink
and we feel our own lives
for the very first time.

Sit down, you skullfaced clown.
Tell the band to make real music,
go plant your microphone in the soil
of a garden of blossoming antiques,
set out to sea upon your desk,
and let life get a word in edgewise.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Caitlin Johnstone – “Buy Stuff”

November 2, 2017 at 9:16 am (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)


drink beer

drink this kind of beer

because you are thirsty

and because it hurts to be a primate

with an overdeveloped cerebral cortex

on a dying world in a sea of blackness

and because these people are playing volleyball in swimsuits

and drinking beer


Buy stuff because your parents never loved you

not really

and because it will make the TV happy

and because everyone understands how to be a person

except you


The bone monsters are clicking together

to the shrill canned laughter of ’80s sitcoms

and the whales are so full of plastic

that their eyes bulge out like bullfrogs

and the booming fog horns of the garbage barges

say “you are alone”


Shut up hippie and go get me a latte

give me your white bison dreamguide

so we can curb stomp it and take its hide

go get a degree and get me a latte

and change into a suit

you’ve got blood on your clothes

and your wings are almost featherless


You are ugly you are ugly

you are ugly you are ugly

as sure as my bones are screaming

and my hands are horrible

and the rainforests are a parking lot

and the pop songs are all the same

and the pop stars are all the same

and the world is coated in crude oil

and the angels are dead

you are ugly


so that they’ll love you


to kill the pain


to drown your mother’s voice


to wage war on the inevitable


to hide from your mortality


to make the Bastards richer


to finally be good enough


because it’s all they’ve left you


you are alone



Caitlin Johnstone

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Caitlin Johnstone – “Speak”

October 31, 2017 at 9:23 am (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

Once you go backward it’s hard to regain what you have lost

Your voice can shake the sand dunes
and make farm flowers grow on the beach.

Your voice can knock down the tall castles
of the Bastards chortling against the smoggy night sky.

They don’t make you afraid of using it because it is stupid,
they make you afraid of using it because it is powerful.

So use it.


Let your voice awaken the embryos in their cells.


Wipe the grin off the faces of those recursive laughing Buddhas
and make the very fabric of the universe look up from its TV dinner
and take note.

Speak when your enemies tell you not to speak.

Speak when your friends and allies tell you not to speak.

Speak when your better judgment tells you not to.

Speak when every fiber of your being tells you not to.

Speak to shatter the conspiracy of silence.

Speak to end our ancient heritage of not speaking.

Speak so that others may lose their voicelessness.

Speak because only the Bastards are speaking.

Speak for the angels who are choking on chemicals.

Speak for the children sprayed red with blood.

Speak for the sea turtles drowning in plastic.

Speak for the dreamguides bulldozed and paved over.

Speak for the tree stumps bleeding crude oil.

Speak for the women trapped in small cages.

Speak for the mothers whose eyes are sedated.

Speak for the sky whose dragons have vanished.

Speak for the cities full of medicated childhoods.

Speak for the dreamers about to give up.



We are sitting here waiting
to find out if this play will go on.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Caitlin Johnstone – “Naughty Little Boys”

October 28, 2017 at 9:20 am (Caitlin Johnstone, Poetry & Literature)

That little boy’s mum is going to be so upset.

He hasn’t combed his hair,

and his clothes are filthy.

And what’s he gone and done with his legs?

Where are your legs, little boy?

Better go and find them before your mum sees you.

Those legs are very important to her.


They sent the little boys up into the sky

and over the ocean to go play soldiers.

They gave them toy guns

full of toy bullets,

and they screamed toy screams,

and bled toy blood,

and cried toy tears,

and had toy nightmares,

and called out for their mums

in the desert.


The man on the TV keeps calling them heroes.

Don’t call them that, TV man,

you’ll only encourage them.

These are little boys,

and they’re being very naughty.

They are worrying their mums sick

and it’s time for them to go home.


Find your legs, little boy,

and go be with your mum.

Find your hands and your face too;

she’ll miss those as well.

Find your mind and bring it back

from that dark, scary place.

You’re not there anymore.

You are home.

Stop screaming toy screams

and crying toy tears

and go tell your mum that you’ve had

a bad dream.

Caitlin Johnstone

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