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By Nicholas Barnes

ariel turns in a stained bottle deposit ticket,

crumbling under the weight of wartime wages.

her federal reserve is empty: she doesn’t have

enough scratch for the denny’s down the street.

overseas, some twisted u.s.o. bettie page bares all

in the name of arabia, in the name of desert storm.

an insecure pentagon sits gawking on a sand dune,

watching from afar in oily concealer makeup.

& larry flynt says it’s you who i long for, not her.

my red white and blue. you’re an erotic grand slam.

on a private jet, a blushing uncle sam flies home

to appear in the latest edition of hustler.

airbrushed, flawless, splayed out amongst the

primordial tidepool, flattered by compliments,

our yankee doodle dandy centerfold gazes

seductively into the glass, saying i want you.

meanwhile, ariel searches for spare change,

for an uncashed check, for a lost i.o.u., anything.

the postman’s knock startles her: he drops a dirty,

glossy magazine on the wrong doormat.

as she flips through the inane, flag-waving porn,

she spins the dial on the gas stove one last time.

god bless america, she says, pulling the sheets

over her hungry, tired, poor, star spangled body.


Nicholas Barnes earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Southern Oregon University. He is currently working as an editor in Portland, and enjoys music, museums, movie theaters, and rain. His least favorite season is summer. His favorite soda is RC Cola. You can find him on Twitter.


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