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Acts of Patriotism

To be an American:
To buy what you want
eat what you want
read what you want.
To worship whatever
deity you please, unless
you’re a Muslim at an airport.
To nestle yourself snug and secure
in your fenced-in WASP backyard.
A half hour away, little hands
rest on small beating hearts.
Eyes stare up at fading
stars an stripes. The other hand
covers a mouth coughing up
soot from an old coal furnace.
Umbrellas under the chairs
protect their heads in the hallways.
They don’t need to look
out the duct-taped window
to tell the weather.
You pledge Allegiance
to the flag of financial
freedom. To working hard
and getting ahead, to
your tougher-than-shit
Army green bootstraps.
You know the rules
of those Other Neighborhoods:
Stand straight, hands at your sides.
Don’t look like a victim.
Avoid the glance of the
old man on the porch,
Who lost his legs
in a war against the doctor bill.
He didn’t have the mass-destructive
weapon of health insurance.
His eyes ask, What about
my American Dream?
But you don’t look. No,
you just keep walking.
You stand tall and proud
When they sing the Star Spangled
Banner at the Superbowl.
Right up to the last words.
The land of the poor,
And the home of the broken spirit.

19 Feb 04

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It's hard to write political poetry well and without sounding whiny. You want to catch someone's attention, you're going to have to do it without immediately accusing them, or they'll put up their defenses too quickly for the message to sink in.
 — Ananke

That said, I don't think this piece did those things.  Bravo.
 — unknown

The sport of America-bashing, however fun and easy, does not make a good poem unless you have something NEW to bring to the table.
 — unknown

I'm wondering if it would be better if it was changed from second person to a more third person point of view.  It would be less accusatory that way.
 — unknown

New to the table?

The news isn't even news anymore. That's the point of this. Politics becomes the same tired shit over and over, a rehashing of thirty years of stupidity. The poem isn't, however. Especially the part about the old man on the porch being the casualty without health-insurance. This is definitely speaking for new issues too. Great.
 — unknown

First off, it's a poem, whether it has to do with politics or not.  Clear your mind of all your personal ultimata and just comment on the feeling and emotion it stirs within you.

With that said...

line 9 - The use of the acronym WASP comes off as just unappealing.

line 25 - Cursing is ussually intended to add some type of shock value (or something along that lines) and is rarely used effectively in poetry, here is no exception.

line 34 - You're using excellent imagery, but you should add a semicolon after war.  The pause makes for an interesting twist when you bring in the prepositional phrase.

line 45 - 46 - Excellent paraphrasing.

I like this alot, well done.
 — Resonanz

Just perfect!
umm..r u a muslim?
 — unknown

I'm again inspired to leave a half decent crit. Poems of a political/national nature are indeed hard to write, as has been mentioned above. It falls into a similar vibe as death/cuicide etc. poetry, but I like this one.

In the fourth stanza, when the old man asks "What about my American Dream?", I think there should be some sort of dialogue indication, if only to make it stand out and blend less into the poem itself.

I question some of the line breaks, such as l22 to l23. I would put "
 — unknown

Sorry, I hit post by accident.

"freedom" onto l22, and commence l23 with "To working hard". I'm not sure about the significance of the half-sentences, but if it was just the way that it was written, I think this would flow better like that example there. There are quite a fair couple of places where this occurs, I'd change them if they are not significant in any way.

In l7, I would use "you are" as opposed to "you're", purely for rhythm and to keep that formal sounding tone. The capitalisation scheme is also a bit odd at time. For example, the beginning of each line of the last stanza is capitalised, but that isn't the case for the other stanzas.

Apart from techies, I enjoyed this. It reminds me of a more cynical contrast to aforbing's "of fireworks and freedom", which I also liked. You managed to pull this off without sounding overly passionate. I like the tone of the poem, as if it is merely an observer, albeit slightly disillusioned, looking onto a crumbling society. Good job.
 — unknown

Oh, and I really liked these bits:

"A half hour away, little hands  
rest on small beating hearts."
--great imagery, I can see the little people here.

"His eyes ask, What about  
my American Dream?"
--reminds me of old movies with old men on the verandah, smoking.

"You pledge Allegiance  
to the flag of financial  
--*sigh* =]
 — unknown

yeah.  i love this. :o)   thanks for writing something meaningful.
 — 8Gj00

this is not bad
 — kaleidazcope

Well conceived and well written. I found this evoking so many different images and thoughts as I read along.. I applaud you for the simplicity yet depth. Home of the free, land of the depraved indeed.
 — PipPatois

 — unknown

When i first started reading this, i immediately thought of my friend abby who is proud to be an american,. i hold her in teh highest respect because of her opinion, and sometimes i wonder why other people don't feel the same, i really loved it
 — Gabriella

profound. an excellent write.
 — thirdeyris