Captain America Was a Nazi for a While, or, A Lament in Free Verse | Vol. 4 / No. 13.5

Open Mic. | Photo: Ian Muttoo, CC BY-SA 2.0

This week’s #FeministFriday is a little more poetic than usual. You’re welcome.


Soooo… I tried to make this into a cohesive rant, and it wanted to come out as free verse poetry. I haven’t actually finished a poem in ages. So… you’re welcome? Or possibly I’m sorry. I don’t know anymore.


Captain America was a Nazi for a while.

Did you know that?
It was a Whole Thing.
The writers and publishers claimed to have a reason.
But I didn’t really care.
It mostly seemed like they had taken classes
from the M. Night Shyamalan School of Twists.
and majored in “Spider-Man Was a Clone for Years” retcon.
But as I look at that symbol of America and patriotism
and see the words “Hail Hydra”
all I think is,
“Well isn’t that fitting?”

I used to say
that the first Captain America film worked so well
because it was simple
in a way things couldn’t be simple anymore.
I used to think we had too many Shades of Grey.
“Who could be the bad guy? Maybe the Nazi with the red skull.”
I would joke.
Then we elected Red Skull president.

I’m told I’m supposed to empathize
with the folks who elected him.
That I’m supposed to consider
their poverty
their confusion
their sense of abandonment.
Have you ever noticed
that it is always the oppressed
who are asked to sympathize
with their oppressor?
Have you ever noticed
that it is always the people
on the right side of history
who are supposed to sympathize
with the dying gasps
of a former world?

Speaking of Shyamalan films
I sometimes feel now that
I live in a land of spirits.
Dead people who don’t know they’re dead.
You can tell who they are
because they are wearing the red caps.
Red always means something in these movies.

Or sometimes I think they’re zombies.
shambling, stupid
(Am I supposed to call them stupid?
Am I allowed?
That seems inappropriate.)
No thought besides
I got in a fight once
about what was scarier,
werewolves or zombies.
zombies, I said.
Because they don’t stop.
And you can’t reason with them.

I usually like to argue.
I’m good at it.
It’s one of the few things I feel I’m good at.
I’m loud and I’m passionate and I’m smart.
(Are you allowed to say that?
That you think you’re smart?
That seems inappropriate, too.
Intelligence seems out of style these days.
You can say you’re rich, or you’re good at sports, but you can’t say you’re smart.)
9/10 times I know my shit.
And on that last time
I get filled with a false confidence so strong
you’d never know I was making things up on the spot.

But how do I argue now?
How do you debate
when what’s real is made up
and facts don’t matter?
How do you argue
when pointing to the truth
only makes your opponents
entrench themselves more firmly
in their delusions?
I used to like to argue
but now I feel so tired.

For a moment I wasn’t.

For a moment I marched.
With two thousand other people
more liberals than I’ve ever seen in Wyoming
at the same place
at the same time.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
It was exuberant
but it was also odd.
We were bad at chanting.
Much of the march was spent in silence
as if we knew we would need to save our voices
and couldn’t spare them at the moment.
Or as if we were so unused
to having others to speak with us
instead of against us
that we could not coordinate our voices.

For a whole weekend
I had hope.
Then it was Monday.
And the hope was gone.

It’s only been a week
and I’m so tired.
I feel like I’m screaming
all of the time.
Into the void.

My local and state representatives
have stopped taking my calls.
Their phones ring and ring
or go straight to voicemail
but an apologetic computer
informs me the inboxes are full.

I have written so many e-mails
their addresses just pop up
when I start typing their name.

Sometimes I feel like it works.
Most of the time I feel like it doesn’t.

Captain America was a Nazi for a while.
But it wasn’t real.
But this is.
And I don’t know how to handle that.

I know that I’m in this for the long haul.
I know that I have to fight
but I’m already tired.
And I don’t know how
to handle that either.


Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not trying to find the words to express the inexpressible, she studies gender in popular culture.


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