Rudy Guiliani in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
By R/B Mertz

Between Vampire Slayers, students reach
hands up into nothing, teachers bite
their tongues with sidewalks.

Holes worn through the stratosphere
& the population. Oil shaped hole, fear
shaped hole, AIDS shaped hole.

Certain vampires cannot be staked
having already gauged an us-shaped
hole in their hearts,

The stake of our lives flies through,
lands in the unturning leaves
having touched nothing.

“There’s no next election. This is it! There’s no more time left to revive our great country,” [Guiliani] concluded apocalyptically, so overwrought that he seemed about to work himself into a stroke, barely able to get out or articulate words and simply shouting, “Greatness!” near the end of his speech.” – Brooks Kraft, Politico

Kyle Kirchmeier, the Sheriff of Morton County, SD, in The Sixties
By R/B Mertz

Fascists breathe handcuff
shaped breaths
through crew cut teeth,
through corporation shaped
paychecks, the cops
wear armor
& war on their faces.

In Birmingham & in Cannonball,
Kyle/Bull Connor picks his teeth
with a man’s rib bone,
& spits tobacco
in history’s face.
Whiteness makes the sky
& stars a metaphor.
Whiteness makes what
is supposed to be beautiful-beautiful
into weapons: movies, love, home,
school, sex, food, water, spirit.

In my alternate memory
we tour the Museum
of What Could Have Been.
In the gift shop of how the world
wanted to be, you can buy
a book of all the lost names
& a movie of what it would
look like here if white people
had never come.

“Whiteness is a lie, a ghost, a legend, a will-o-the-wisp, but one that we have believed for so long that it seems real to us, and allows us now to blame black people for the death of Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin, and Renisha McBride, and Amadou Diallo, and Oscar Grant, and of our country, which stopped belonging to us the minute we cut that side deal with the landowners in the colonies, and agreed to wage war on the indigenous, and go along with the enslavement of Africans — the minute we decided to become white.” — Tim Wise

Betsy Devos in Ewoks: The Battle For Endor
By R/B Mertz

A sci-fi witch, a televangelist & a bad teacher
aren’t so different, reaching down
to grab your throat.
Your soul says,
“Fuck you.”
The lady gets pissed.
She prays/does a
spell on you.
& you get silent.

A cosmic justice happens,
turns her into a bird
you see at rest stops
or sketch into your

You thought you were special
but she just wanted to find out
what you could do
so she could take it.

This might be the most exciting thing
that ever happens to you,
but it’ll never be considered
part of the canon.

“Betsy DeVos stands at the intersection of two family fortunes that helped build the Christian Right … At a 2001 gathering of Conservative Christian philanthropists, she singled out education reform as a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” — Katherine Stewart, New York Times

Tomi Laehran in Pleasantville
By R/B Mertz

Whiteness is being the postcard
instead of being the mountain.
Like those wax hands
you could make if you kept
your hand totally still
in one shape,
if you had $5 & could get in
to the fair,
then you could
stare at your own hand
like you owned it.
Whiteness dips you into
something that keeps
your heart the same shape,
makes infinite copies,
sells you off to the highest bidder,
demands you celebrate your sale.

“[Beyonce’s] just like President Obama, Jada Pinkett Smith, Al Sharpton and so many others that just can’t let America heal, you keep ripping off the historical bandaid. Why be a cultural leader when you can play the victim, right?” — Tomi Lehran

Barack Obama in The Red Shoes
By R/B Mertz

Politics/Ballet starves you,
scrapes your dignity
from your uterus, your guts.
You might feel a little
pinch, a lingering,
dull, wide ache.

This dance makes hearts
grow like buds
inside every muscle.
You feel all of them break,
every morning. Every night
you sew them back together
again, hard as you can be
by yourself.

You’ll always feel the emptiness
squirming in your belly,
like your dad hovering
a drone over your life,
like a snarky guardian angel
flapping its invisible

Your ankles are warriors,
secret flying muscles nobody knows
you built from pain.
When you take flight,
when you do the extraordinary thing,
everyone is very, very

Everyone forgets the purple
blue yellow red green tail-feathers
of your beauty
are just the permanent landscape
of your bruises.

Eventually you reach the limit
& it looks a lot like melting,
like a landing, like a breakdown.
When the blame comes,
it comes right at you,
it doesn’t see the

“I’m saying, people have gotten things wrong in the 5,500-year history of our planet.” — Anthony Scaramucci, Trump Advisor

You & Me in Cabaret
By R/B Mertz

Of Black people wasting away
in prison for weed, while white people
get rich off of medical marijuana,
the white guy at my drug deal says,
Yeah, that’s how America works.
He tells us about the cops
breaking his pipe, not even asking
for his stash, letting him go
alive. He says he doesn’t mind cops.

There will always be someone
pretending it’s not happening
& someone caught in the middle
& someone singing, anyway
& someone pouring a coffee
like it’s any other day,
which it will be & it is,
until it’s the last one.

We were already there,
the part of the movie where
the choreographies symbolize
the suffering & the indifference
of the neutral friend/good Nazi,
the oblivious relative.
We’ve been filming this part
for four or five hundred years.
Someone on the radio says identity
is becoming very important.

R/B Mertz is a genderqueer dyke artist, poet & writing teacher. Raised a Christian homeschooler, she’s working on a memoir called Burning Butch. New poems are coming out in The Gay and Lesbian ReviewFence and Pittsburgh Poetry Review; art can be found displayed in homes in at least seven states. Her essay Whiteness Kills God & Sprinkles Crack on the Body was just published on the awesome blog, Mistress Syndrome. Mertz is 32, which surpasses averages and expectations. She has almost published several books, and has been shortlisted for one prize.