National Anthems - a poem

Cover Image

In a televised post Iowa caucus speech, GOP
presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, tells me how much
he loves America. A lot. It’s eloquent, well spoken
and clean suited background noise, one without comb-overs,
just good parts. 

“I love the hymns of America,” Mitt says. I don’t yet
know who I’ll punch my ballot for, I’m far from sold on
anyone, but I love the hymns of this country too.
Romney may speak of God’s anthems sang in both red and
blue states, but my mine aren’t that simple, not so literal.

My American hymns are Great Plains thunderstorms and
summer sunset whippoorwill songs, tweets always worth
following. My treble’s railroad and Pennsylvania steel,
unshakeable even when weathered, the two open palms of my
grandfather, the slim young fingers he used to steal potatoes
from his neighbor’s fields during the depression, cutting
through the hard earth with his nails, just to put something
he could plate on the table.

Every chorus I sing is rocky mountain stream and rounded 
river rock. My edges have all been smoothed out by their
constant move towards something bigger. I hum the hooks 
of the curling ocean tides those streams have lead to, pulling
in nets full of Ad Astra. I shake ‘em loose til the deck’s one 
big stardust sandbox. I watch that wind whipped astro soil 
blow and twists in the salty breeze, tracing paths and building 
maps to all the treasure chests I’m still filling, every home 
this country’s given me, the ones it’s yet to give. I’m 
constructing the blueprints of tea leaves.

The verses are heard best when your ear’s flush to
the ground beneath you, the drag and grind of horse 
drawn plows still pulling their way through the spines
of our bookshelved histories, lining the chapters with
melodies of men and women with soot filled faces
and hand sewn trousers.

This choir I’ve found never sings in the sharp key of
tax cut. Sometimes they sing without opening their 
mouths, they just keep moving their feet to the beat of 
their pulse without stopping, the endless refrain 
Mt. Rushmore’d men were known for. 

This country’s still turning the keys that tune me.

Created: Jan 09, 2012


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