America

Walt Whitman, where are your hymns, your patriotic prayers?  Beatniks, circle back around with your feverish daydreams.  I myself ached for America.  Gave her my number but she never called.

So I quit college after a year, swapped formal education for sunburn and highway grit against my neck.  A girl painted my shoes with suns and moons, and sent me on my way.  I bopped, swung, and rag-timed through the scenery of youth, always hugging the outside edge like a good red-eyed trucker on the highway, always on my feet, my Samson feet that I thought would never break.  I balled the jack, baited the hook, and everything was jake.  Even when all heart seems lost, I thought, you find it’s pulse again in places like this one.

America, where the value of the soul’s currency is not decided by you and me.  Where we’re turned inside out and thrust into the streets with no back-up plan, dodging diesel demons with wild faces on their engine grills.  America, where we keep our eyes on the stage but are hesitant to peek behind the curtain.  America your youth was no frosted cake and I worry about your future.

And yet around your jawbone and Eastwood crow’s feet is a marksman’s cool knowing, a way of tossing skirts aside and flinging garters to the floor as the rusty joints of the bed-frame whine and the headboard thumps the wall.  America who are you fucking now, in the private suite above the floor where the paying customers go?

America the steady bow, the speeding arrow.  You want it all but might lose the hand, so place your bets and take a stand.  America I’d be lost without you, yet long to get free of you.  Call me sometime.  Go on then, outfox yourself.

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