Monday, April 3, 2017

American Citizen

One thing I like about being
A citizen of America
Is how everyone you meet
From around the world bows
And curtseys, mouths agape
When I enter the room,
As if I were about to say something
That could fix it in a blink,
That could help raise the average loser
High above the heads of even the greatest
People the world has ever known. 
You can live in a castle, I'll say,
And you don’t even have to know
How to add or spell—
My importance to the world
Is the stuff of legend, my methods
Of rule universally praised
As the most just, most modern
Most sophisticated so far
During civilization’s great parade
From Plato toward perfection. 
I try my best to be aware, to remember
That others occupy the planet too,
And we all have to get along. 
Listen, now this is what we’re going to do,
I tell them, and when I say that,
Everyone pulls out a pen
And a notepad and gets ready
For the important info
On how to proceed with running things,
How to think about things, how to
Make sure it all transpires accordingly.
Even though we discuss the finer details, go
Over the numbers and work out the kinks,
They rely mostly on me,
On my armories,
On my universities.
Feels good to be American.
One day I thought about how horrible it would be
To be from Portugal, a mythical place
That once ruled the seas, explored
The frontiers of unknown worlds
For treasures in its bowels,
That once set the standard
In Europe and half way
Across the globe, a land
Of knights and ladies
Who, today, have don aprons
And patrol the restaurant floors,
Man the kitchens,
Check in visitors at front desks
And clean pools they
Can't swim in, and leave home
First chance they get, world
Citizens of equal opportunity!
What does it feel like, I ask, to grow up
In a country that had its day
Like Rome or Athens, whose glory
Was 2000 years ago?
What does a Roman feel today?
How does an Athenian feel?
I’m an American, so
I feel like everyone is standing up
Just beneath me.

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