I Will Not Wave My Flag For This Country

Where ATMs taunt the poor on every street corner
but the polling place remains closed
the abortion clinic is bloodied with false choices
the food pantry is riddled with rotten plums
the homeless shelter is stacked with a hundred sobbing children

Where chickens bellow in cages as progress breaks their beaks
but the vegetable garden is barren

Where the white supremacist wraps himself in satin sheets
but the sage sleeps in the sewer

Where rifles are the religion of the masses
but reading is an endangered ritual
the shooting range shouts the hillbilly’s screed
the library whispers the hero’s lament

Where dogma infects every hotel room drawer
but the poet preaches to the dead
the sedated pastor prays the rosary on his way to the whorehouse
the blind grandmother sits in the pew every Sunday as her grandson pops another OxyContin beside her
the oblivious priest serves communion next to a prison

Where baby seals rest in toxic beds
but the oilman washes the sins of his trade off with clean water
the owl turns his head in horror
the turtle retreats into her shell
the storm comes, as it should
the politicians do not hear the storm’s cries
the trees await the howling winds, their battered bark a warning

Where activists pace behind bars, banished for telling the truth
but rapists walk free, passing our daughters in waking nightmares, and smirk
the rapist in the board room makes business decisions about Bitcoin
the rapist in congress votes on whether the filibuster should or should not be reformed
the rapist in sports wins another trophy for throwing a ball
the rapist in your family, or mine, celebrates Thanksgiving and thinks he’s escaped punishment
the rapist has escaped punishment, and knows he always will

Where wives bake hot chicken dinners for burned-out husbands
but babies starve next door, begging for nutrition from single mothers who work the night shift at the waffle house

Where miners drink well whiskey in dive bars to cope with countless pages of past due promises
but their masters pop champagne on Lake Como
the ski slopes of hostile privilege are partying
the factories of surrendered ambition are weeping
the strawberry fields of the lonely immigrant are sighing
the migrants, too, dream in coffins

Where the painter’s brush snaps before its first stroke
but the police officer’s pistol never misses its target
the black mother’s womb is wailing
the black boy’s back is heavy

Where tomorrow’s leaders practice TikTok dances
but the teachings of Primo Levi collect dust in empty classrooms
the lessons of fascism go unlearned
the cycle of control continues

Where power soldiers on to protect the state of things
but the state of things is constant pain.

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