One thing I like about being
A citizen of America
Is how everyone you meet
From around the world (except
Citizens of other white countries,
Citizens of poor ones) bows
And curtseys, mouths agape
When I enter the room,
As if I were about to say something
That could fix it in the blink of an eye,
That could 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 say,
And you don’t even have to know
How to add or spell—
My importance to the world
Is the stuff of legend, and my methods
Of rule are universally praised
As the most just, 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
And thinking about things, how to make sure
That it all transpires accordingly.
Even though we discuss
The finer details, go over the numbers
And work out all 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 the known
For the gold in the earth’s bowels,
That once set the standard
For others in Europe
And half way across the globe,
A land of knights and ladies
Who, today, have donned their aprons
And patrol the restaurant floors,
Man the kitchens,
Check in visitors at the front desk
And clean the pools
They swim in,
And leave home at the first
Opportunity. (That’s me,
A citizen 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 now?
How does an Athenian feel today?
I’m an American, so I feel
Like everyone is standing up
Just beneath me.