The following poem engages with an ad for woodcraft tools, as originally placed in the 1939 Camp Fire Outfitters catalog. The listing describes “A lightweight axe for girls,” forged “in one piece so that head can never come loose.” The ad also notes that “the shiny head is often used as a camp mirror,” and the axe comes complete with a genuine leather carrying case.1
We desperately need an educated workforce that can create, can innovate design: and we need to tap into that large, untapped resource of girls in America.2
– Sylvia Acevedo, Girl Scouts of America/NASA/Apple
Their self-discovery through that hands-on learning is going to be an important part of their growth . . . When you’re sitting in that seat, when you’re grabbing that tool and you’re actually using it, that’s when the lightbulbs go on.3
– Rebecca Rhoads, Raytheon CIO
Love, drone bomb me.4
I want the democracy-to-come5
but they’re getting the mirror-axe girls
to unmake the world
If a tool is an archive of past need,6 what
kind of tool was the atomic bomb?
Ever since, need has been busiest
burgeoning with needs
There are mirrors everywhere and in the mirror
that the tool sometimes is there is also
an imprint of future violence
I am become death
isn’t that what, what Narcissus said?
isn’t that a girl, a tree-downer,
polishing her visage
The drone bombette
Marks: she knew!
“The camera is one of the best guns for the wilderness.”7
O, official campfire axe
O, aperture, pool in which to look her best
Mirror-axe, forged so the head can never come loose
so that the body remains
in so many ways
and heads will be had,
bew, byou, bewbew!
O, prim accumulation.
O, genuine leather to make the case
when being genuine is having
been placed on the knee
of the father
Father, as in fatherland,
As in, kneel, and you too shall
believe! Again, as the great girl Marks said,
“A girl who has learned to camp will not only have her own pleasures
greatly increased, but she will also add to those of her friends, becoming
a better companion for her chums, her father, her brother.”8
Anyway, here we are, back with the thing that empire is:
a pack of Pascalian dogs around the bonny fires, now
set by, yes! set by girls
visual culterati, eyes in the sky!
resource-ful and ready to hack
“I break problems into little pieces,”9
saying boom, chick
- See Susan A. Miller’s Growing Girls: The Natural Origins of Girls’ Organizations in American (Rutgers UP, 2007) for further commentary on girl scouting origins, and the cultivation of the girl scout as a tool-wielding, ‘nature’-loving consumer citizen.
- Raytheon Girl Scouts Campaign ad, Vimeo video, 2:38, August 10, 2018. http://vimeo.com/284418385.
- ANOHNI, “Drone Bomb Me,” Hopelessness, Rough Trade/Secretly Canadian, 2016.
- Here, I am gesturing to the discussion Achille Mbembe coordinates around planetary democracy and “being-in-common,” the political horizon of which is obstructed by both the ‘mirrors’ and ‘axes’ of our world. Mbembe writes, “the democracy-to-come will rely on a clear-cut distinction between the ‘universal’ and the ‘in-common.’ The universal implies inclusion in some already constituted thing or entity, where the in-common presupposes a relation of co-belonging and sharing—the idea of a world that is the only one we have and that, to be sustainable, must be shared by all those with rights to it, all species taken together. For this sharing to become possible and for planetary democracy to come to pass the democracy of species, the demand for justice and reparation is inescapable.” See Necropolitics, trans. Steven Corcoran(Duke UP, 2019), 40.
- Here, I am paraphrasing Jane Bennet’s characterization of Bernard Stiegler’s study of tool-use. See Vibrant Matter: a political ecology of things (Duke UP, 2010), 31.
- Miller, 149. See also Jeannette Marks, Vacation Camping for Girls (D. Appleton, 1913).
- Ibid., 139.
- Raytheon Ad.