Lawrence Sullivan Ross
In Aggieland where the Kool-Aid is laced with bled maroon
were they conscious of the irony in 1918, preserving
their confederate general in bronze skin?
Today, Sully, I mapped out your statue
like you mapped out the west, legs dangling
as I sat on your copper head and Van Dyke beard.
All so I could say this:
That when the immigrant sculptor, Pompeo Coppini,
was re-forging your sole into existence I bet
you struggled and resisted your creator.
When your fingers were being hammered
into submission you clutched in desperation
at the white work floor lights before
being carted away in a colored wheel barrel.
At your dedication you protested the brown
and black pebbles underneath your podium.
They reminded you too much of the people
screaming freedom amid reconstruction where
the only thing you diversified was your wealth.
Now installed on Texas A&M campus
you inspect it with an endless reveille
and your face looks so dissatisfied:
like a Christian virgin on his wedding night.
Over the decades students were told
to place pennies at the statue boots
of another white land owner
for good luck on their exams.
Today I found confederate flags hung
over your shoulders during a protest.
I saw white students lob their bodies
under your pedestal protecting you.
I saw black students throw their bodies
on top of your face to destroy you.
But how do we kill the ideals of your
uncivil uniform after you’ve taken it off?
After your racist beliefs were hidden away,
calculated into the promises of state politics?
You in your old age fit yourself
for the rags of a community Samaritan,
but does it mean anything if you
flooded ant hills with blood?
Sully, were the son of an Iowa Indian fighter!
You were only eleven battling your first one.
I wish the blood had stuck with you.
I wish it had dried in your nostrils
so every time you massacred a Comanche village
you would sneeze and the blood wouldn’t be yours.
I wish it had ground under your fingernails
and then implanted in your nail bed
so that every time you grew
you saw more of them in you.
Your hatred and history is
bleached and obscured,
protected by presidents
who hotfix our history.
The rumors still churn at A&M your Klan robes
are buried somewhere underneath campus.
But College Station is your timeless tabernacle,
by its own name the very definition of transient.
Nothing stays long in that town.
Except for the bigotry you represent.
So, I hope you listened well, Sully,
because it was your last chance.
It’s after midnight and I’m standing
in front of you without a mask,
wanting the world to witness
me meeting your statue’s glare
with a hammer in my bag and throat.
We humans love reused things, reminding
ourselves that we are all reworked
matter and come pre-scuffed.
We prefer homeless objects in antique stores
to dispossessed people on the boulevards
because things ask nothing of us.
Holding jadeite tableware and repurposed crowbar
lets us believe that there is hope to be
useful, appreciated, meaningful.
With each outcast object I invent a new backstory
into my worldview because I am obsessed
with what something was before it was.
But not everything has a satisfying story to tell
or wants to be in one. They just are.
Existing and then not.
* * *
Casey Aimer holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Texas A&M and is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Texas State University. For over a decade he has performed across the country for both competitive spoken word and page poetry. He continues advocating for radical thoughts and honest questions expressed in unconventional styles. This is his first feature on the Fictional Café.
The last line of the second poem is extremely powerful about the nihilistic quality of our existence.