The VGP Literate No. 6

American Machine
Visionary highways under construction;
one nation, indivisible…
liberty syncopation bursts forth as a breath
guided by gilded ideology;
flags rippling in the wind,
stubbornly stoic
Emergent sunrise – golden – collapses as
webbed corridors form
a kind of no-zone reflection,
the strangely beautiful
gestation of art, cradled, then
kindled; brought forth by a country of
contradictions – 50 bright stars
assembled in a pre-washed fabric:
color-coded fractions, capsized and failing,
a computational warehouse
tumbling through cycles
Pulp altars, paper soldiers,
patriotism and World War II,
(jazz in the ‘40s)
exploratory complex sounds
of improvisation digested
and reconstituted by the American Machine
The American Machine:
tough, worn, and in need of repair,
churns out an assortment
straight from the boiler pot:
joy, pain, discovery – innovation
Static conversations
over coffee house jazz,
comic book artists crammed
in corners, making sequential
art that moves as breezily as
a ride cymbal skirting atop
inverted chord progressions,
yielding to the democratic process
Walking bass line, descending,
then dividing  into a graphic
depiction, stalled and transfixed,
leaping off the page and into
imaginations, spreading
a pop culture virus, while
history accumulates and
regurgitates shadows
mimicking a drum cadence,
faded and enveloped, awakening
time signatures, and ghostly
arrangements; harmonic
dissonance from voices
left silent by many wars  
The American Machine:
stuffed, smoky, guttural,
it archives, records,
rearranges and consolidates
plans…choked by its own
regenerative qualities,
Sousa marches, freedom marches
and Constitutional remixes,
the pattern re-emerges,
Two pages of a four-panel grid
depict a star-spangled comic book hero
fighting for the common man,
the downtrodden, the helpless
(and by extension, the American dream)
Charlie Parker…George Gershwin…
Jack Kirby…Stan Lee…
could only have happened in
– beautiful, complex,
ugly at times,
rich in culture,
The American Machine,
an unwritten graphic novel
whose last pages have yet to be
rendered in any form
Cornelius Fortune is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The Advocate, Metro Times, Chess Life, Yahoo News, Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, Tales of the Unanticipated, Illumen, The Writers Block and others. Fortune has written extensively on popular culture, comic books and 21st century trends. He is also a Rhysling nominated poet and the author of Stories from Arlington. In addition to journalism, he mostly writes poetry and less-than-interesting grocery lists, devoid of imagery or clever alliteration. Visit his website at

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