Daily Archives: November 5, 2022

An American Poem

Revised from November 2021.

To write an American poem
nature image here;

purple up those mountains,
you god.
Then chew

the scenery
until there’s nothing left
to suck from it. The

American poem,
a rigged dance
of myth and cynicism.

Right outside the poem
is where we step on

until the pain becomes so strong
they cannot help but kick at us. Inside
the poem is where we apologize.

An American poem
should be brimful
of exuberantly shaded ghosts

and their decorative babies,
crying, screaming — playing dead. 
If you write it someone will say

no no, not the babies, please.
Leave the babies out of it.
So precious, so beautiful. 

Bah, humbug, you say, 
though it’s not Christmas, it’s
the Fourth of July and the Fourth

of July is built on dead children.
Uses fireworks to justify
a war everlasting.

What’s that about the ghosts? You
don’t recognize yourself in there?
Still cheering, still writing,

strangely inverted? A good mirror
shows you your other side.
A better one shows you more than one.

An American poem
usually holds an America over half
of its readers cannot recognize.

See the babies
before their mirrors,
either clapping and laughing

or screaming, wondering
where we went wrong
that this is how we look now

from wherever
you find yourself
when you come near

an American poem.
The fireworks are done.
Sulfur and sizzle hang in the air.