America, My America
Though you say I am not yours,
though you pissed all over my front door
with your black graffiti hissing
“Go back home chink!”
you are still my America.
Because I believe in you,
not in your greatness
but in your capacity to repent.
Though you think you are great — drunk with blood,
and puke your vulgarity, you are still my America.
For when you are sober, you are an inspired poet.
Your song of independence is painfully beautiful.
Though you don’t believe in your own rhetoric, I
believe in the words that constitute you, my doubting poet,
that we are all endowed by the creator with inalienable
rights no nation can deny, not even you, America.
for they are not your words which you can
undo or redo for words are greater than the poets that borrow them.
And one day, those words will cut your heart into repentance.
America, you are my America because you are a dreamer.
Did you not raise your small hands against the Behemoth Britain
because you dreamed of a land where lady Liberty called
the poor and refuse of this world into her shores,
shining an inviting light through the open seas?
We call it the American Dream, but it is older than you America.
Older than all your contradictions and nightmares,
older than your Jim Crow laws and burning crosses,
older than the Trans Atlantic slave trade, older than the
Red Man’s decimation, older than the rise of people who call themselves white,
older than nations fattening into self-importance and rapaciousness.
Prophet King did not awaken the dream.
King was awakened by the dream.
It was in Hughes for it is older
than the rivers in his body;
Old as the Tigris and Euphrates.
It gave visions to Crazy Horse,
of all races gathered around the tree of life,
singing the same song in different tongues.
It inspired Whitman to see in the grass,
the soul of the black and white in the same soil,
his life continuing to life on the boot soles,
the journey-work of the stars.
It stirred in Sojourner Truth
her song to go home as a meteorite.
It was the dream of a young Palestinian
dying splayed open on a wood
to welcome all nations
to dine around his table
It was the dream of Abraham, that both his sons
would put down their swords and put him to the ground as brothers.
The dream is as old as Adam and Eve
who dreamed of Cain and Abel returning home for dinner.
One day, you will see me and see the error of your ways.
You will repent, that ancient practice of grasping Dream’s wings,
and I will welcome you home.