Friday, July 04, 2008

In honor of Independence Day, an oldie of mine:

Break-up Poem for America

(with apologies to Walt Whitman)

Oh America, you sad failed experiment,
It was lovely while it lasted.

People tried to warn me
They said that you were faithless
Professing everything
Remembering nothing
Fueled by lust and self interest
Always afraid of commitment

They said you were heartless
At your worst, you were violent
Your sweetest words coming
Just after the black eyes and broken jaws.

But I loved you anyway.
I thought they were jealous of us, America
You were young and impulsive
This time it would be different, I told myself

Because I could see the wild beauty
In your grain fields and skyscrapers
Your railroads and ballot boxes
Plates of hominy and cowboy boots
Even your corruption

I remember the good times
Shay's rebellion and the liberty tree
The New Deal
Apollo Eleven
You were the cool rebel
But I knew you would protect me
I dreamed we could go anywhere together

We did have our moments
Even as the firehoses blasted blacks
Marching for a seat at the front of the bus
You told me about the view from the mountain top
And I could see it then

It's been tough between us, America
But I always believed your promises
That you would settle down to your responsibilities
As you got older
Try to love your huddled masses
And it is hard to contain multitudes
I told myself

But it's been bad for so long now
Iran Contra
Florida, Ohio
There's nothing left to believe in

You've watered the tree of liberty
With the blood of so many patriots
The soil can't hold the roots
And it's a truism:
The ones who can't keep plants alive
Make lousy marriage material

I have to finally admit
It’s over between us.
I tried, America
I really did
But in the end, it just didn't work out
And I don't think we can still be friends
Because it's not me; it's you.

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