Note: this is a key poem of Fox's autobiography,
"Lost in America: The Charred Lord's Anthem to the Wall", planned for 2013.
Lost in America
Lost in America with very few clues
To tell you which is the right way to choose
What can you do to steer the right course
To lead you to that nation’s source
Where so many spirits seem to belong
Singing the words of their national song
Standing together in every way
Beneath the flag they hang each day?
How did they come to sound like one
All of those peoples under the sun
So many colours and different creeds
So many tongues to meet their needs
So much interest in winning through
Fighting each corner and the middle too
Their wagons rolling all over the range
Where they were able to wreak their change?
They tore up the land with mighty deeds
Split it asunder and sowed their seeds
Where in their ground they rooted and grew
Reaping the fruits for the very few
Slaving all of their days and all of their nights
Losing sight of those human rights
Writ by their fathers in those famous days
When all of the land was set ablaze.
And through this haze and heat of hate
They saw a vision of their state
Rising independent of their King
When they’d no longer kiss his ring
But take division by the throat
And give themselves the right to vote
To keep their land with brand new laws
And not pay tax without good cause.
And didn’t that prophet bring it out
What all the blood could bring about
For as the sun returns each day
Almost perfect in its way
From east to west its light was shed
Bathing this land in bloody red
Till darkness fell and ruled by right
And bled the people purest white.
Yes white pure white those thirteen angels stood
Nary a blemish of black to blacken their good
Yet even thus bereaved of light
They put the black boy out of sight
For it was free men that they meant
Whose rights they said were heaven sent
But obscured by clouds their angel’s eyes
Saw only Albion ghostly ride the skies.
Thus we freed us from our past
With new found rules so finely cast
And danced liked shadows in the fire
While all before us would transpire
Ghosts extended by the words we breathed
Distilled as spirits in a future weaved
Where the past could seem to live
And in this present comfort give.
But what comfort did we find
When that wound we tried to bind
With words so weighed and widely praised
That all our hopes were truly raised?
But as that fire took hold again
It seared our soul with mark of Cain
Whose pain forever grips our heart
From which that hurt can never part.
Yet in this state still deeply riven
Its open wound quite unforgiven
They fought their way out to the West
To wrest the land they liked there best
From the tribes who took it first
And though they fought and did their worst
They fell like buffaloe beneath the guns
That blazed across those killing runs.
Just as before the redskins fell
As if a plague had come from hell
To wipe them from their earthly place
Replacing red with white man’s face,
But as the paleface drained their blood
Another breed was born in mud
And life was breathed in those that bled
So they could rise up from the dead.
Now they live and fight in court
Joining in the nation’s sport
To score their points as in a game
That lays the blame to win their claim
Upon a state that took the lands
They took themselves from other hands
Or was there really no one there
But wolf or lion or grizzly bear?
Perhaps the air was full of birds
That swirled above the buffaloe herds
And swooped to see her swollen streams
That teemed with fish beyond all dreams
And cleanly washed the purest gold
That all those waters could not hold
But told the tale that gold was free
In their whispers to the sea.
And as that story crossed the waves
So came Spanish steel to dig their graves
To steal the gold in their King’s name
Until newcomers jumped their claim
And made their stand where cottonwoods grew
Their roots in waters from the desert dew
Till they kept those golden sands
And took its treasures in their hands.
They’ve all gone west those settlers now
Cowboys and injuns have taken their bow
Who can tell what damage was done
In those ways that the west was won
During the days it wasn’t thought wrong
For all of the land to belong to the strong
Hadn’t it lain there empty and bare
Waiting the white man’s heavy share?
So with long knives and iron horse
Human nature took its course
Until this nation state was built
Without the slightest sense of guilt
For it was made in nature’s name
Where the fittest won the game
Then made the rules above the board
In the name of their good Lord.
So as they viewed their holy visions
They could make their cruel decisions
When with death they surely diced
Gambling on the name of Christ
To inspire their cause with God
That he would raise his mighty rod
To light them through all time and tide
And fight for freedom on their side.
Beneath the light her fairness shed
She brought the poor and those in dread
And as they massed upon her shores
Cast against those golden doors
So she handed out her grace
By giving portions for each race
That would stop all future rifts
Forgetting that they all had gifts.
Broken from their homes in fear
All those folks had landed here
With their gods and with their woes
Running from their deadly foes
Here they fought to find their place
In the arms of their new race
And then to keep it safe and sound
Fought modern wars to hold their ground.
But while they fought their gods took hold
Turning death into pure gold
That got them keys to heaven’s door
So they could profit ever more
As if the way to Paradise
Was on the back of sacrifice
That gives itself to godly powers
Who milk such kindness ‘til it sours.
With every god came wealthy prophets
Committed to their healthy profits
Then they built their towers high
To make their office scrape the sky
And as each holy block was built
So they filled the land with guilt
And all the people herded in
As if their freedom was a sin.
But with so many peoples and so many gods
No wonder the races were always at odds
When towering yell or summoning bell
Told unbelievers they were headed for hell
And so many gods seemed to grow on trees
Or called on the world to crawl on its knees
Or seemed to inhabit intellectual space
Somewhat remote from this earthly place.
With so many gods apparently one
And so many races to be won
What could be done to stop holy strife
Stripping this land of all common life
Leaving it bloody and bitterly split
Each faction fighting for its little bit?
What could they do but convert god to Faith
So all their religions could feel really safe.
Somehow or other it all worked out
Creating a nation with almighty clout
Having absolute faith in great big bombs
Blasting their foes into ready made tombs
Putting their troubles to sleep beneath blooms
Nurtured by waters of far away tears
That flow through the world for endless years
To form into futures flooded with fears.
For in the anguish of that darkest hour
America produced its industrial power
To fight with the English its greatest strength
Lending and leasing to its uttermost length
Then taking its chance to get the whole lot
It reached right over and took the pot
But thrashed the fascists to the end
As if to help a special friend.
How can you know the final cost
In a world that’s all criss crossed
By invisible signs that fly through the face
Of all that we know of human space
Where soft as silk our web is spun
To ensure we’re number one
In this new world where we aspire
To leave our caves of steel and fire.
In this new world we set the pace
To ensure we win the race
Crawling through the new terrain
With no frontier but our brain
Like an insect we are found
Spinning all the globe around
Binding all that we can find
With the threads we have in mind.
Yet across a peaceful sea the sun has found its way
To light that inner kingdom with its fiery ray
There the dragon curls and bides its bright red flame
While tigers sit and play its game
By trading rights they all conspire
Their tribute to its holding fire
For in the dragon’s mouth there lies
A tongue of flame to lick the prize.
Yes freedom raised its burning flag
Upon whose smoke the people gag
And blindly staring through their tears
Are moved to silence by their fears
While sinuous tongues of burning fire
Find out deserts of dread desire
Where gods of old close all the doors
To inspire new holy wars.
But now the flag wraps up the past
To make it all seem right at last
In this new age the past is changed
To suit the way we’re now arranged
As if the world’s all peace and light
Flags are furled no need for might
But when they’re told a threat’s in sight
Still the people vote to fight.
Surely it shows how America cares
For this is how America fares
Plumbing the paradox of peace through wars
Playing the line of opinion scores
Fashioning frenzies to feed on goods
Managing masses in consuming moods
By having its ways of making you think
Just a click away from that final link.
So here you are in America lost
Wondering what on earth it has cost
To cover her face with furrows and cuts
Just to extend her endless gluts
Surely the splits and the painful scars
Are part of the price we pay to be stars
Loading the world with wonderful wares
Making sure it’s just fair shares.
Back to Library