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
Are we hung over?
Are you 67% of
the population, America?
(Is 67% of my heart
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.
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;
(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.”