America (For Alan Ginsburg)

America, it’s been some years since I touched the secret parts of you
Tumbled in a bus from water to water
Since then, it’s like we’ve been meeting for drinks in
Some civilized bar
Ordering beer flights while our knees touch beneath the table
America, I still love you

When you show me a little bit of living green cool in the rain or a flushed bicep pumping ohsofirm early in revolt, a thousand cells shouting no justice no peace after the Ferguson verdict, oh I melted for you then America,
I melted, but
I promised to love all of you
To rocket back and forth across you, saying,
“Here?  Here?  Here?”
And when I found the part of you that stood for all the rest, you’d tell me.

Instead, I spent the last three years in Philadelphia.
Which is more like a super necessary but icky part of you, not the asshole, (that’s Cleveland) but maybe the space between the toes…

But I’ve been keeping up with you America, even though we don’t spend nights together quite like we used to, no, not like when I was nineteen in Texas
With a crazy woman screaming on the seat behind me, and a staph infection crocked halfway up my side, when the dry lightning stuck way out in the parchment pan and I would have married you if I could have found a place to put the ring—
No, not really like that anymore.
Even though I don’t fall asleep in your strong arms in a strange place trusting to your strength anymore
America, I still follow your Facebook feed, and though you don’t tweet very often, I read your tweets too,
But things are strange for you now America, you sound so angry, and not about the things I think you should be angry about.
Did someone hurt you?  Way out while I wasn’t watching did someone do something terrible to you?  Or did you do something to someone else, something you can’t forgive yourself for?
I promise you I’ll listen.

I wanted you to be better when I was younger and with Clarissa, and we were all over you together it seemed that you were bigger than anyone could contain,
When we walked the red earth of her ancestor’s home after midnight and the fox was howling in the distance for her kits, it was like you were there, saying, “go ahead.  I am large enough to contain you, whatever you become.”
But America, I’ve been three years in Philadelphia, and things are getting worse, whiskey with beer isn’t enough anymore, America, no one’s asking but I feel like I have to—
America, do you eat your children?  I think you eat your children and your lovers alike, America, you nearly ate me but I was too quick, America my lover just left your jaws after a week of waterhoses, flash grenades, tear gas.  America, I always thought all of you was worth saving, but now I wonder if the best parts of you are the parts that don’t think but just sit there and grow, America, I’m not sure I want to put my queer shoulder to the wheel, America I’m sick of seeing officepark officepark officepark, mall, mall, mall, atrocity as lubricant, America, I’m starting to wonder what you’re good for, you’re two hundred and forty years old still breathing, you’ve even given up promising to get better, and is it just that you’ve gotten bitter, or were you always hateful and only me too young to see it?  America, why do you hate so many so much?

America, those who say they love you the most remind me of the abused children I have met who defend their parents with the bruises still livid on their cheeks.

America, we still live in the same house, share the same cutlery, cook food next to one another though we listen to different music these days.  I don’t want you to to take me back, and I don’t want to take you back but I do want to listen, I want to know why, why I, why them, why the dead at Ferguson and the wounded at Standing Rock, why Custer, and Pinkerton and internment camps with red and white kites overhead and dead children in unmarked graves?  And why do you always ask us to forget?   I want to listen, here, over cups of chamomile, with the steam rising up like flags because heat’s expensive in this city, here, where my hand can cup yours, both of us living and fragile.  Here, now.  Hello.

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