m a t t    r o w a n


Say Whatever You Like


Birds and Dirigibles in the Sky

Say Whatever You Like


I was reminded, you canít just say whatever you like. Not around here. Around here you might cause too many problems by saying what you like. You might say something that offends. So you can only say certain things. We have places now that you can go if you feel you must say whatever you like. We will send you to those places. We will send you to at least one of those places, and there you can say whatever you like. But be careful about saying it to the wrong person there, because, if youíre too free about what you say, and you say it to the wrong person, you may find that youíve said too much. You want to be careful not to talk about anyone who can do something about what you say. They can get back at you with force for saying something, probably about them, that they find disagreeable. There are certain truths to be held true. Hold them in your hands as too true to be messed with, bungled, said another way. Put another way. Donít be so quick to put things another way, in your own terms. Remember weíre all in this together, provided weíre unconcerned with saying, or no more than unwilling to say, things that people who can do something about it find offensive and would rather we didnít say anything at all, if thatís what weíre going to say.


Then say whatever you like.





What has happened to my many armies? I once had so many. But someone has come and taken my armies from me.

It started with the imperial guard. The stormtroopers were next. The marines, the navy, air force, and so forth. All gone.

Then my personal guard, fiery red robes and all.

It is difficult to remain a hegemon without armies. I could no longer look up from my steak breakfast and say, itís nice to live and rule in a great hegemon like this one. It would be unfortunate were I at the mercy of a hegemon as forceful as this.

My army of servants remained. I asked to speak with my head butler. I asked my head butler, whatís left of my armies? He said the peace corp.

I asked to speak to the general of the peace corp immediately. He said at once, my Lord.

General, I said to the general of the peace corp. What do you bring to the table in the way of pursuing and asserting our nationalistic interests abroad?

He said, Your eminence, we can destroy them with peace, love and understanding. We can crush them all.

I liked this and smiled, said:

Show me.



Birds and Dirigibles in the Sky


Airplanes never existed. The best people could do for man-made flight was wings of wax, and then wings of progressively more sustainable materials, like wood.

But beyond crudely-flapping winged mechanisms, flight hadnít been achieved by humans.

Birds and dirigibles ruled the sky.

A brief aside, humans had achieved dirigibles, though they were relatively slow moving as ever, could not get you where you wanted to be quickly, and in certain cases were alarmingly combustible.

Whenever I found my head pressed toward the sky, Iíd remark that-aways, Whereís all the metal? Whereís the sound barrier being broken? Common questions that felt uncommon, when I was the only one I knew asking them.

But that was because I was the only one I knew.

Of course this isnít true. I lie. I knew someone. And that someone I knew finally, in frustration, told me off, told it to me plainly, said it like this: There are so many planes in the sky? Donít you see them? They exist!

I was furious, truly mad, irreconcilably perturbed,

but only because it was true, there were, and Iíd been returned to square one.



MATT ROWAN lives in Chicago, near the mayor's house sort of. He co-edits Untoward Magazine with the lovely Ashley Collier. He's got things forthcoming from Hobart, PANK, Artifice and Another Chicago Magazine. His collection, Why God Why, will be published in 2013. The latter two of the three poems above are included in this collection. You can find more at litearyequations.blogspot.com.

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