this is a doctored version of a passage from novelist john dos passos's USA trilogy written to be read at the start of a Little Big Bangs set on fourth of july...
They brought his body back from the battlefront for a celebration and ceremony.
In the tarpaper morgue in the reek of chloride of lime and the dead, they picked out the pine box that held all that was left of
enie menie minie moe plenty other pine boxes stacked up there containing what they'd scraped up of Richard Roe
and other person or person unknown. Only one can go. How did they pick John Doe?
Make sure hes a pure amerikan best representing the cause,
how can you tell a guy's a hunredpercent when all you've got's a gunnysack full of bones and, bronze buttons stamped with the screaming eagle?
. . . and the gagging chloride and the puky dirtstench of the yearold dead..
John doe was born and raised in Brooklyn,
in a shack cabin tenement apartmenthouse
-and now the morning, the revolving metaphor of ceremony and nationalism
-he worked a million dead end jobs as a plumber, a busboy, an exterminator looking for a raise and cash for college he joined the forces
We are met today to pay the impersonal tribute
as a typical soldier of this representative democracy he fought
and died believing in the indisputable justice of his country's cause...
Naked he went into the army;
they weighed you, measured you, looked for flat feet, squeezed your penis to see if you had clap, looked up your anus to see if you had piles, counted your teeth, made you cough, listened to your heart and lungs, made you read the letters on the card, charted your urine and your intelligence, made sure you weren’t fucking nuts nor of questionable belief, religion, sexuality or character.
John Doe and Richard Roe and other person or persons unknown
drilled, hiked,, learned to salute, to soldier, to loaf in the latrines, and the ping of shrapnel and the shrill bullets combing the air and the sorehead woodpeckers the machineguns mud cooties gasmasks and the itch.
It's a great life ain’t it in amerika, Catch 'em young What he don't know won't hurt him treat him rough, Tell 'em nothin', He got what was coming to him he got his, This is a white man's country, Kick the bucket, Gone west, If you don't like it you can fuck of
Lost his id tag getting deloused
heart pumped blood:
alive thudding silence of blood in your ear
The shell had his number on it.
The blood ran into the ground.
and the incorruptible skeleton,
and skin bundled in khaki
they took him to some French morgue
and laid it out neat in a pine coffin
and took it home to God's Country on a battleship
and buried it in a sarcophagus in the Memorial Amphitheater in the Arlington National Cemetery
and draped the Old Glory over it
and the bugler played taps
and the spectators all thought how beautiful sad Old Glory God's Country it was to have the bugler play taps and the three volleys made their ears ring.
Where his chest ought to have been they pinned the Congressional Medal, and everyone forgot to mention patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.