tagNon-Erotic PoetryKate Smith Talks Back to the Mirror

Kate Smith Talks Back to the Mirror


America? Remember when
we were young and I could still
jump high enough to catch
lightning bugs in a jar
without straining my knees?

You looked so proud once
before the gloaming,
the allure of your trees
half unbuttoned. It was no accident
when leaves bloomed
in that ancient ritual,
always coaxing summer
from the hard freeze of remorse.

Remember when we ducked
and covered, stacked cans of Spam
in backyard bunkers, played combat
for ant hills and bid you
sweet dreamsicles?

Those were the days, eh America?

Once upon a time passed
like time and not some made for tv
special. Remember when we didn't need
to film reality or cry on cue?
That was before we drove you
to the streets, slapped
your stars silly, battered
you with tear gas and made bruises
of your silly anthem.

We worried over times tables
and state capitals, not your ugly
restricted lunch counters
and nightmare sheets. Life
could be a dream, America
but you wouldn't
take us up to paradise.

You dragged us screaming
across oceans into burning
rice paddies all the while
singing about amber waves of grain
while Tony the red-faced boy
from Algebra 1 lay face down
in said paddy never again
to wake by the dawn's early light.

So excuse me for being tired
of your strident platitudes,
your moral majority, your go-get-em,
ass-kickin, yeehaw optimism.

I need a nap now, America.
I'm getting too old
for this roller coaster
nationalism. Turn off the light
on your way out, would you,
and we'll both say a prayer
that God will bless somebody,

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