I promised to share this piece a while back, and I didn’t, and didn’t, and didn’t. asked me about it, and I confessed that I have mixed feelings about it. I wrote it in response to someone else’s poem, and while I’m glad the poem exists, I’m not entirely comfortable with it coming from my pen. Sometimes we write stuff that feels right, and it still makes us uneasy. This is one of those pieces for me.
My name is America,
And I am not your fucking boyfriend.
I am the father of your father’s fathers’ fathers,
Not some sad-faced mope you can force
to sleep on the couch
Whenever you’re mad at me.
Don’t worry: your bed holds no interest for me.
Don’t bother talking to me as if I was some pretty boytoy
With emotional difficulties
and an unwillingness to commit.
I’m not interested in your petty fantasies.
I’ve got reality to deal with,
And Lady Liberty has been my lover long enough
That no fresh-faced model turns my head.
We are not kind to one another,
She and I leave terrible scars on each other,
great gaping wounds,
And I am jealous of her when she takes other lovers.
For her I spilled the blood of your grandfathers,
And I raped southeast Asia for fear
the commies would get her.
I will do violence again for the sake of your gas tank.
Lay every crime you like at my door, I care not.
Genocide, Slavery, Racism, War, Capitalism, you name it,
And I probably did it: for your sake,
and your father’s sake too.
I have battled that you might have freedom to hate me
And hate me even under my own roof,
Where every other nation would gag you
or slay you out of hand.
I have made you, my children, my beloved children
The envy of the whole world,
given you liberty and prosperity,
So that now, even in hard times, even you poorest,
own more than any other people in the world.
I have given you the vote to elect your morons for leaders,
to vote idiots and war-mongers in the seats of power.
Yes, I am violent. Yes, I am dangerous.
Yes, I am difficult and stubborn and obnoxious.
But you are ignorant, or careless, to presume
You can order me about like a love-sick puppy-faced boy.
I am America, that’s the United States, to you,
And I am a bastard so that you might be free.
So take my gifts and drink of all my bounty,
Punch me in the gut and stab my kidneys.
Criticize my governance
and stay away from your voting booth;
Scorn your rights and ignore your prosperity;
Barter away my greatness for ignorance and foolishness.
I am America, two hundred years old and counting,
and you will miss me terribly when I am gone.