American Cinema (1) 

            after Advance of Kansas Volunteers at Caloocan (1899)


fresh out of             Filipinos,        Edison and his crew paid (poorly) for          
african americans. which is why they march        lack luster          says
white film teacher.         

can anyone       white film teacher asks      tell me
what might be revolutionary?

i like      says the white girl in the first row   how the rebels seem to be firing
into the audience        like we are also in war.    white film teacher agrees.
expounds. opens again     any other thoughts? she asks.

our (only) black girl says     the frame aligns us with the american
fighters.     how? white film teacher asks.      how?

rebels stuff
their guns

step and fire         smoke fills the screen

rebels stuff
their guns

step and fire          smoke smoke smoke

rebels stuff
their guns

smoke smoke               smoke smoke smoke

rebels stuff
their smoke

and fall back           like smoke sweating itself out

rebels stuff    ed
with smoke

by the good ol boys

rebels stuff
the good ol boy waving a flag

with smoke         he downs like smoke stroked with sun

rebels stuff
themselves back toward the trees

back toward the trees        with blood heavy smoke

rebels stuff
is fucked up

the good ol boys have a new waving the flag       new smoke

rebels stuff    ed
into the edge of frame

poisoned pin pricks          no smoke nothing left to burn.


From the thick underbrush where the Filipinos are massed comes volley after volley. They are making one of those determined stands that marks Caloocan as the bloodiest battle of the Filipino rebellion. Suddenly, with impetuous rush, Funston's men appear. They pause but for a moment, to fire, reload and fire. The color bearer falls, but the standard is caught up by brave Sergeant Squires and waves undaunted in the smoke and din of the receding battle. This is one of the best battle pictures ever made. The first firing is done directly toward the front of the picture, and the advance of the U.S. troops apparently through the screen is very exciting; the gradual disappearance of the fighters sustaining the interest to the end. 65 feet. $9.75.

            --Thomas Edison



who doesnt love a good war? well perhaps
those getting shot. but then--who doesnt
love a good warflick? an opportunity to get
choked out then choked up. eyes water.
eyes always water. nickelodeons, some of
the first American theaters, could not show
certain films          for fear of riot. and aint
that love? hold me back homie hold me
back fore i dust this fucker. he dont even
know he aint even know.


the Philippine-American war waged from 1899-1902
says wikipedia. an armed conflict between Philippine
“rebels” (yeah, those are air quotes) and the United
States. the war wound out as the United States employed
scorched earth tactics, as Corporal Sam Gillis notes:

We make everyone get into his house by seven p.m., and we only tell a man once. If he refuses we shoot him. We killed over 300 natives the first night. They tried to set the town on fire. If they fire a shot from the house we burn the house down and every house near it, and shoot the natives, so they are pretty quiet in town now.


Reflection: Last lecture we screened Advance of Kansas Volunteers at Caloocan (Edison, 1899). Please compose some thoughts on the techniques, visual elements, and symbolism at work. (open ended, 250-500 words)

two small details:
(a) Sergeant Squires        is v super important
flagella        of our shiny nationalism
but the negroes for hire              have one too!
national gooey feeling      even a flag waver!

(b) after the Americans shipwreck up on the screen
and take their first shot

the rebels vanish

we may attribute this shit
to a forgetful Edison
or         smoke in through the wrong hole


Kansas did get p bloody. Kansas did get
p free. no slaves ever ever in this plane
old state. hot&preggers with grain. agro-
giant. Kansas volunteers as tribute. and
NO screams the mothers. no kill someone
elses baby they think. america war machine
go dink dink dink. go these Filipinos want
a revolution, hm? during the Phil-American
war more civilians died than soldiers. oops.
troop morale is caustic and bored. genocide
i believe is a word. well so is winner-winner-
chicken-dinner-history-book-maker. not a word
but you feel me. the film reels is reeling me.
cause now the pictures move / shift in their
seats with melodrama.

notes from the port, anthropological thots: catalogue in 11

coming to a city near me     that tofu stink again / hot pepper
and rot to ghost my nose   awash in silent waves--
as delillo might describe them--        the language of radiation       
how the dead speak to the living     where we wait together           
our carts stocked
                        with brightly colored goods

and it's not racist    coworker
says     under the street market’s bloody light        it's not racist
to call it stinky tofu cause it's stinky     which i might actually fuck
with    because it's all coming back now      not just what to read
but also     how

how with the metro/tube/transport machines and how with the laws
never quite opaque enough   how with the racisms          how nigger nigger in our
strange theater? what context can decode my rage?      and of all
these aberrations     how is racist?        how is for sure racist?

definitely the eyes like ginsberg’s Moloch       whose eyes are a thousand
blind windows!         whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets
like endless Jehovahs!
                                    and fine not quite New York not quite    
but this is Hong Kong            and the eyes scritching my velcro folds      
got me loud as fuck     feeling pretty      kill the master and marry his wife

i'm rife with desires: mcdonalds      the boy back home     a form of general


but whatevz     i'm here now i'm clearing now       sawing through air
with body cause wood scrap makes good shrapnel
 cause useful Hong Kong makes me    
passing out of another study on               young black queer male suicides

i'm cadaver-less and clearly less capitalistic       under this thick limbed sun

because dead don't travel well and living makes these unravelling conditions       sound so swell        and someday       way back home is waiting flashbacked
flush with the flame of rememory
                                    and rolling up all at once       it feels all like::

ma and i are about the last minute shopping and it's about the dessert
though it's not about the apple pie         cause the apple pie is about
baseball         which somehow makes my throat feel a bit noose-y      
loosey goosey i am in hong kong       not quite cut with homesick quease
but a lack of familiar tension       though surprisingly well sourced today
it's the locals who giggle at me in the market:      staring down
packaging like a very hungry spaghetti western      hands holstered in flustration
wondering about the bruised apples       the dehydrated cheese puffs
what delillo would notice             through the misspelled american branding 


an isotonic rehydration sport drink launched in Hong Kong in 2011.specially formulated for those who enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle, suitable forhot weather or sweating occasions. 

            —Coca-Cola corp.

faster than a speeding bullet     my gullet poached with steam    
Aquarius       here to ply my wet dream. nine hunnit and twenty
milliliters of hydraulic lubrication and coca cola product to rock
my western ass to sleep      crampless campless the woes
of my white whine and deedless hands      like mrs. bishop knows:
travel is a needy needy boy    but there's always you aquarius
kissing on my ethnic booboos    my vegetarian barracuda
my constant reminder of capitalism         like cigarette smoke
caught in cotton       hong kong we poppin bottles    of aquarius
ticking through the streets    we bombed out hilarious    the point
is product           and ain't you one sharp ass star, aqua love?
quick prick in the dry mouth of sky     11 pins popping
the tumbler under my tongue    all blue tasting thank you thank
you thou art a minor-love god     all hydrating and completely recyclable


my tinder loves Hong Kong      my tinder swipes right and takes
a quick rinse in adoration       my tinder is bad      for my ego my tinder
would not leggo this eggo-tistical situation for anyone [not even the
white woman who claims i have yellow fever          which is def
            always a form of variation      always a boy         always
something to look at      throw a feeling and see if it lands anywhere
that might earn some trouble

so we go out    we get fucked up     we get up an alleyway and suddenly
it's gorgeous outside     and filled with three scottish dudes and drinks
(double vodka with soda      which should not be a thing but is and oh
are we thankful for the free drunk)     until hes not that cute anymore
because now he wanna know if my dick is one a dem       big organic
black dicks      and my dumb drunk ears hear clear as a hart crane still
ringing a bell        and my dumb drunk tongue snorts      i'd rather be the kind
of person that has yellow fever than the kind that answers you with want

revision: i  made out with him and the other two scots        don't tell mama
or my friends    also     my coworkers aren't really that racist but i have points
to make           baskets to weave tight    and they deserve it anyway
some way      walking around with that skin           that club-invite-in
always giggling thick and shiny as ivy                  getting me weeded
got my whole spot fucked up and poorly seeded


the first time a person takes my picture in Hong Kong [without
my permission]          i remember mrs alexander's poem about
her Boston year    about living somewhere that isn't hers (as if
anywhere could be) how whenever she saw other colored people
in bookshops, or museums, or cafeterias, she'd gasp,
smile shyly, but they’d disappear before she spoke.

What would she have said to them? Come with me? Take me
home? Are you my mother? No.
and i feel it   feel her (i wish)

here the bakeries are everywhere     the whole world powered
by carbohydrate and carbon       my spindly limbs melt
through the heat and camera lenses      my body a disruption
and oddity      here be the modern american negro    come
see what fantastic work       this ocean can bring    


and always the ocean still           the ocean not still       the ocean
split by the Central ferry and the ocean split by Hawaii (read home
sweetened home)       chinamans hat pushing the ocean elsewhere
and google will tell you with a quickness: more than 2,000 miles
from the nearest continental land mass, the Hawaiian Archipelago
is the most geographically isolated group of islands on Earth.

and i guess in this sense i'm acclimated the humidity always pressing
my buttons down and the anonymity always pressing me down
Hong Kong is half island and a familiar place to love       a familiar place
to work that word around

until yeah the coworkers are a little tiny accidentally super fucking
racist until i'm tired and sad and [apparently] in need of a white woman
to save me and she just wants me to know [over blueberry yogurt]
that you should totes come to vacation with us        you can stay for free
no one has to know anything       don't even worry about money

and nah i get it that's a sweet offer      why yes    i would love to eat dinner
at the table       with the rest of you


Hong Kong might be the world's best locale to stress shop       or buy
yourself back     like t hayes says        you can tell what's important
to a culture by the size of its buildings       and moloch aint got shit
on the malls     i'm tellin ya     shoe stores     sock stores  store stores
once my blister became sore in the doors of a Hong Kong mall
and i started crying      but that could have been either my stiff throbbing
respect for HK capital        or because this shit hurt     a lot and mom
mom would know what to do         where to be      what to buy


and here's the heart of the nasty little wart      the mole the poor sport
i'm drunk and drunkenly asked if i know that the guy buying me drinks
is a Mainlander       and no i didn't / don't and am complicated in my understanding
of the question
            until urban dictionary is all like: ahem excuse me lemme tell you

Mainlander (n): People from China. They are usually FOBs (fresh off the boat). They usually have shit loads of money to blow but has very little manners. Talks hella loud in public and talks Mandarine with a Bei Jing accent. They often wear terrible knock offs clothings like Nikke, Reboot, and Addadas without noticing it.

Those damn mainlander....piss off or crash your BMW and die!

i conclude my navel gazing and turn to the asker / Hong Kong nationalist /
racist / political theorist / random lady at the bar extraordinaire       tell her
i know what it's like      outside of the thing everyone else is under    and
not to be vague     but        it is much more polite       dontcha think?

because who wants to be that dude?     crystal ball gazer of national origin
bathing still in memories of milk powder and sweat
                                                                        this lovely urbane sleet


you don't know Hong Kong rain until the only thing you want
is an umbrella        until you're willing to drop fifty usd on an umbrella
until you're willing to truck-stick a child from their makeshift shelter

in the states we call this CLOSE THE SCHOOL JESUS       in Hong Kong
its called black rain      in Hong Kong it's black all disruption and the government wants
to protect you therefore      People having no safe place
to go may take temporary refuge in any of the special temporary shelters
opened by the Home Affairs Department.

my first flight to Hong Kong was rocked with rain      as i stumbled to the
vacuum sealed bathroom
                                    and instead of soap       or lotion there was
a variant of skin lightening cream there was black rain pounding through
the airspaces


...meanwhile     somewhere in Taiwan a fire arrived late
to the warehouse-turn up           How rude and shameful

dude! I bet if the attendees knew      they'd a finally done it:
bought the tassled orange tube top         asked the guy

from the gym if he's      busy this friday? cause there's this
cool color party thing     at a warehouse    ya know with

the powder and stuff     it might be your thing     it might not
just had to ask... 

                        BUT NO YOU HAD TO GO FUCK THIS UP
with your oceans of chance       what are my odds homie? char-

master? flip a coin for my continued function? i'm not mad just
DISAPPOINTED          and yeah

i know i'm being irrational        with my hot breath heaving
i'm all sweaty and thumbs    i'm all waiting for it: my final destination /

rube goldberg machine   hitting the outfield  like someone who
already knows     he's walking the long way home   heady

with the sleep     of a new parent (even in repose)    waiting
for the impending scream      in the plasticine night light


its always there
                        if carefully examined
another poor preposition / tense modifier
with the quick cliffhung

ma home from work eyes large and hungry
for error
                        of course yall forgot
                        the laundry / what if i forgot
                        the light bill?

and yeah she's right (again) it's always
something       the loose thread
the sunset speckled with smog

it's gorgeous Hong Kong with so many
dogs unchained     my shiny American fears
rattled as always      just for me clearly
yes i am so interesting    so blindingly staggeringly interesting
the dog must surely want my throat
my mother for a fur coat

but still HK     buying everyone another round    lookin
cute and shit
            eclipsing my small personal concerns
anonymity like gum in the deconstruction machine
i couldn't dream of this many air conditioners
this many egg crate apartments      holding whatever
this city allows     the knowledge to walk 


about ☐ of the time
                        [yeezus knows of the other
its not just leaving the hometown    or   piledriver
and assorted positions
but a true closure
                        the elbows firetruck fading out
                        to a scar

first Africans
then cargo
and eventually smoke and College Dropouts

the gatekeepers [in their assorted capacities]
were not fired      but wandered off
when the openings calcified

my drinking started to mother    when the factory
learned fingerhuman magic    when the system
updated me homebound  
                                    all conscious negroes in America
must choose:     remain near the gate of departure at all times   
flights      of terror are subject to change

were you saying something?

bright hawaiian christmas day

here im confused by social cues     bluesy       under a winter colder
than kanye’s [NOT summer in San Francisco mr twain] but december
trimmed in the hawaiian way to say merry christmas to youuuuuu      

which is ironic

the whole hawaiian way to say      steeltoe and sugarcane     but no matter
i have these sand fleas /       fruitcakes syncopated with a depressive binge
or twelve through the days 
though i still love it
home of course     pocked with assorted hapa boys

urban dictionary describes them:    of mixed racial heritage
with partial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ancestry
also defined as:        generally part caucasian

cause anywhere with christmas trees is also somewhere
overrun with white folk       the writer of mele kalikimaka and i
attended the same volcanic preparatory proving ground
whose school song limps to the tune of O Christmas
Tree, O Christmas Tree

tbqh its a bit odd for me    to celebrate a white chocolate baby’s religion    
when its the spray bottle to my cat like reflexes      theres nothing
quite like christianity in hawaiian to make me feel
like nigger jim     music has this way of plucking the heartstring
by the collar

as education requires a degree of acquiescence      mele kalikimaka
required concession      required creativity and creation
the hawaiian alphabet has no sound for the english /s/       
and as such       we bite the bullet and speak it easy   
we get as close as we can manage     just under the upward limit
of erasure

we have these words and sounds     because they each mean
something       something we need to mean      i say sugar
because im trying to be sweet about this      but also because
its white (usually) and no one likes talking about how /x/
had to be invented in hawaii along with the word annexation

Punahou alum       Robert Alexander Anderson isnt wrong
Here we    do    know that Christmas will be green and bright the sun
to shine by day          and all the stars at night          but arent the rest
of the days gorgeous too?      manoa’s valley squinting up toward sky
so blue it begs for creation          for sound       like so many others
like men who arrive on a shore       and begin dispatching words for
mine       for     yours       for isnt this fun? dont you love    this song?


blues clues 

            for P.

why you anyway? why massa of ceremonies? is your
name blue? show them blues     sing me a sad song
Steve    thought so      you just maybe ought not with

the flashing lights and educational slight of hand     
children arent dumb         though we’d like them to be     
they just dont understand sorrow or possibility:    what can

be swept under the rug versus what should be versus
what it means to feel sweepable              my mother
does not tolerate namecalling especially dog because ‘Merica

so when the current boy [lush with barsweat] asks if
im hung like a horse     im both scared of the white sheets
and three to the wind    solve that Steve     ask the toaster    

perhaps the rug ill crawl from under in the morning   
whose fault is that Steve? look!      right now! out
the window! past the mail and always greener grass         

theres me     peeping uncle tom always outside the box /
tv show / textbook      because dogs are bad   shedding
shitting on the floor again      we were the kind of black

that went from blue's clues to fresh prince       a school
of blind queues and poorly hidden evidence of crime   
ohhhhh Blue!                    growled cyan with shame

the dog has in common with the brown body    an American
necessity of name     of ownership and housebreaking
even Blue maintains a fetching vocabulary of barks     
my silly coats constant with the switch      swishing from Drake
to Derrida to Drake bell and bell hooks      so yeah fuck you Steve    
with these conspicuous clues     how you think folk look     

beside crazy?   these elephants and room? who hasnt felt
horse hung and buyable under strobe?             oh just me
and the other former products? my bad           perhaps

we have all slipped out of the barnes and noble bathroom
trailing toilet paper      or been asked if you guys have
any more copies of Beloved? i need it for class tomorrow

k thx        and lets look for a clue!   does my all brown everything
jeans / converse / skin / boyfriend       give it away?    any ideas
bookshelf?     no? what about you

Steve?     oblivious ass book buyer?

Kamden Hilliard goes by Kam and has received fellowships from The Davidson Institute and Callaloo. His chapbook, DISTRESS TOLERANCE, is forthcoming in early 2016 from Magic Helicopter Press. He is the recipient of the 2015 Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Poetry Prize and wants you to take him seriously. Kam is a co-editor at JELLYFISH MAGAZINE and his work has appeared in (or will drift into) Juked, The Sakura Review, The Atlas Review, and other lovely places. He has no chill and wonders if you’ve got some to spare. He tweets sporadically @KamdenHilliard.