How To Spell American

Spell it with two guns
and a coat of whitewash.

Spell it with three picket fences
and a wolverine trapped
under a left thumbnail.
Spell it with seven dirty words
and rigor mortis laid thick
between bricks.

Spell it with fifty-seven apologies
flavored with forgetting,
sixty-three apologies
blind to remorse,
one hundred and eleven apologies
offered on a dagger’s tip.  

Spell it original thirteen,
broken five hundred.  Spell it
three-fifths, spell it six-nineteen.  
Spell it nine-eleven; spell it with
a cloud over it, a strained 
flag, a lowered boom.

Spell it with two more guns
and a Nagasaki blister.  Spell it
with moon rocks and cratered
cities, dead kids, dead eyes
dotted with good flowers. 

Spell it with a burr. Spell it
with flanks quivering.  Spell it 
with pink dawn over gray streets
and a boat swift-rocking 
down a snow fed river. 

How to spell American:

with a cauldron. A melting pot
if you prefer. A bullet mold,
a fireproof suffrage, a vote
for steam over simmer, 
a last summer of drowsing bees.

Spell it,
respell it,
spell it,
respell it;

it’s not like anyone knows
the correct way to pronounce it.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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