Getting Creative in the Torch

America, I don’t believe

we have met.

America, are you the fat man in the room that says ‘Turn on the war?’

Are you the headlines in red, white and blue that read

‘The war special?’

America, are you why

I can’t sleep at night?

Did we make love or

go to bed early;

did we go out drinking or stay in watching black and white movies?

America, I can’t

remember anymore.

Are we hung over?

Are you 67% of

the population, America?

(Is 67% of my heart

beating enough?)

Is that why I am not America?

Am I not enough?

Can I point a

finger at you, America?

Are you the loud kids on the train?

I went to Times Square

to look for you

but all the ropes of light danced

-and wouldn’t stop-

and I realized

you must be busy.

Of our youth I remember some sun and the stories you told,

and now I see you so little,

and for all the heights of our little shiny buildings

the sun always

falls off them, disgusted,

and they seem as if wood draped in dusty velvet.

Can I coax you out from the desert;

bathe your sand-swept skin,

and clothe you?

Can I kiss you America?

Your wounds and your sore feet.

Then I will serve you the finest Morocan tea.

You have never tasted sweetness.

Of course it will not be as it is there, in the pure red sands,

it will never be as it is

among the voices,

the thick sheet of dyes of tanin,

a scent that cannot be bottled, sold or even made;

it will never be like us as

it is for them:

The golden liquid falls in a fountain from the clouds,

and Man smiles.

But we will go there, you and I.

One day.

America, has this all been a lie?

Have we never met?

I sit at night and the stars suck up all my voice,

and in the morning the numbers of the dead do not add up but simply splatter and fade.

Is it really you?

I thought so much of us and now

I choke on your handouts,

and the hills and sea are

calling me home.

Have I not always been home?

Is this not my home?

I realize now that I have never shook hands with you, America.

The bagel man looks confused when I pronounce your name

in the first hour of dawn.

In the crowded music halls

the screams shake the chandeliers:

They are not

hymns to you, America.

I have never met

the “common man”

but in the space between

two piano notes

everyone silently says your name

like some secret we ourselves do not know.

And far past the midnight hour

I pound your name into the keys.

I rattle my memory;

“AMERICA”

(And I cannot say I know what it is that I am looking at)

Take off that silly uniform,

stop rehearsing those lines,

puffing out your

chest like a young sparrow.

The world has heard your little speech before:

Napolean said it

with a twinkle in his eye,

Hitler said it and his lungs collapsed

The whole world has laughed as you made your way to the podium.

Only I believe you would just smile and turn around.

We are here, America.

Your white flesh grips the podium, my last breath is already too late.

You will soon collapse.

And in the after-hours,

when the apocalypse has faded,

we will gather around a fire burning in a starless sky,

burning in a rubber tire, and I will say, of my friend America:

“I always told him-

Join the world. Have some tea, young man.”