These two poems by Judy Juanita join a collection titled Gawdzilla which conflate the destructive, prehistoric sea monster Godzilla with U.S. Imperialism…
by: Judy Juanita
the biggest difference is not the money (on seeing robert palmer’s hands clutching a cigarette two days before he died) the biggest difference is not the best selling records the chart-topping sales the stadium tours the vacuous interviews like they’re geniuses not hustlers or products of hustlers changing I Shot the Sheriff from protest freedom anthem to celebration of guitar virtuosity the biggest difference is not the pure imperialism of elvis and his forbidden sex versus the wide open sex of big mama thornton the biggest difference is not retiring midlife to palm springs and jersey versus having to work the casinos until they drop dead the biggest difference is the unknuckled uncalloused soft white hands
godzilla of innocence How did white Americans get so innocent? Why do they hate us? Why would they kill innocent people? A while back a white woman went to get her prescription filled in the middle of the night in Oakland on Telegraph Ave. Now that’s bad enough right there. As a black woman I would be watching my back just on account of that. But this woman- God rest her innocent pure soul-takes her recycling to the back of the Walgreen’s at midnight after getting her prescription filled. I know she must have been in pain to be out at that time of night but as luck would have it a crackhead comes up and blows her away. Very sad but, again I ask, when did white folks get so fucking innocent? With the blood of four centuries of oppression and war and what do you call that when you take somebody’s land and call it your own – appropriation, misappropriation? And I know white folks love to say, but I never owned slaves I never did that That was over 150 years ago. I grew up in East Oakland I was never a slave I never picked cotton or got paid in chitlins and hog maw but I know from whence I came and the road that led here. And here we go again with this guy in the CIA, this innocence this fucking innocence. Why? Johnny Mike Spann. He was 29 years old. Wanted to be in the CIA or FBI since high school. Where did he get this notion? Only two of two places: movies and tv. He was watching reruns of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “The Saint” with Roger Moore, not to mention Tarzan, the original CIA, the template for the CIA, Bwana. This was the pattern in his little blond head. That’s why two CIA, with their pistols, he’s so proud to be one of them-step up in front of a crowd of captured Taliban with a simple-assed question, Why are you here? A real John Wayne moment on non-John Wayne turf. Of course all hell breaks loose and while Spann kills three of them, they stomp and bite, yes, bite, yes, bite him to death. “Mission Impossible” never ended like that. “Secret Agent” man? It’s very powerful when our fantasies come true. It’s very dangerous when our fantasies come true because it’s very unreal when our fantasies come true.
Judy Juanita’s poetry collection, Manhattan my ass, you’re in Oakland, won the American Book Award 2021 from the Before Columbus Foundation. Her poem “Bling” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012. Her semi-autobiographical novel, Virgin Soul, is about a young woman who joins the Black Panther Party in the 60s (Viking, 2013). Her collection of essays, DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland [EquiDistance, 2016], examines race, gender, politics and spirituality, as experienced by a black activist and self-described “feminist foot soldier.” Her essay, “The Gun as Performance Poem,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014. Winner of the Tartt Fiction Prize at the University of West Alabama [UWA], her short story collection, “The High Price of Freeways,” will be published by Livingston Press [UWA] in July, 2022. Her website is www.judyjuanita.com.