After writing a poem years ago, I’d believed it to be completed in six pages. And it had provided me with a small national grant.
Years later when my community was impacted by the Columbine High School massacre I took the poem back out of its file. The school is less than a dozen blocks from where I’ve lived the last forty years of my life. I added a thousand words to the poem after the emotional addendum of reality that was Columbine. I believed the event had irrevocable changed our future – it had softened our hearts, and yet toughened our resolve to make certain it couldn’t happen again.
Yet our nation braced with pain as we endured 9-11. Again, we interviewed our souls, and I added another two thousand words – making my poem a volume. Each time, my own certitude was dimmed.
Now, another loss of innocent victims. This time equally unthinkable – small children. My heart breaks with the loss of these youngsters. My prayers and good thoughts go to their families.
In Columbine, we had signs, and bumper stickers inscribed: We are all Columbine. Today, in our hearts, we are all Newtown.
We inhale both rancor and vengeance. We exhale sympathy and regret. Our country endures, and hope is smudged. But perhaps it is time we examine what the violence is telling us. My poem, “We, An American” is now just under 4000 words. I can locate violance and evil. But I can’t describe it.
Years ago I’d gone on a quest to search out the soul of our country. Perhaps it is now complete, yet I feel the subject matter is still as unknown as it was before. For how does one ever understand a mind gone so far away from empathy. Here are excerpts from WE, AN AMERICAN:
WE, AN AMERICAN
We, an American
as written by a cynical jester,
as written by a melted stoic –
We, are the heart and soul of an American.
Printed in desperation,
hoping for a storybook ending,
yet we realize our conclusion
is a fragile and fated gift.
For we are published by accurate reason.
We are strung with beads of confidence.
We chain with an adhesive grasp
to a heritage believing in possibility –
often confusing the two.
We are a masterpiece community of Americans.
We interlock a continent with our wealth.
We often ignore poverty,
and we blend and believe together.
We are in concert with our own self-deception.
We are in unison with the brief reality
of our covert hearts.
And of our candid souls.
Spirituality ripens us;
false god concepts rip us.
There is the lonely rift that persists
when worship evolves.
And when crowds insist on perfection
of their belief.
There is the genetically charged armor
made of knitted humanistic love.
We are rocked by changes
brought by louvered rules
We recoil from dreams
that become a trap-door.
Sin inherits the caves of our minds.
Indiscretions are stationed within the limitlessness
with which crime allows itself.
For murder diseases humanity,
as corruption become intolerable.
Humanity, with transgression,
harkens as an instrument of its evidence.
A fine-tuned perception is in error too many times.
A tribe, we are, of selfless altruists.
A community, we are, of egotistical misers.
A citizen, we are, of autonomy and amazement.
Our cities are ransacked,
as our weakest are brutalized.
With contusions, we await praise.
With abrasions, we trace our ambushed pride.
Behind the guard rail hides silence.
Treasures are lost to looters, and lovers.
They become our religion, our residence, and our heart.
With a see-through soul, we wish to be located.
Yet our heart is cloistered.
We become disenfranchised from our own tranquility.
We do not understand the main ingredient of our fortune.
It is a simple blessing.
History prods new formats with which to grapple.
Youth grants permission.
For we, an American, are pious and pugilistic,
and self-loathing, and tyrannical.
And all is a primordial and authentic description.
Violence consumes us.
We bolt from the deep grief of it
but are transfixed by the mystery of it.
How can the wild musculature of hatred
and its expletives,
wander across our lives?
We advocate objectivity,
and philosophize about subjectivity.
Maximizing doctrines of isolationism,
we minimize program of selflessness.
We sample what is synonymous
with empty words in majestic speeches.
Above all, we, an American,
are members of a two-hundred year journey –
mapped in misery,
and highlighted in esteem.
We touch today’s disarray,
secular and religious aspirations,
and we often exclude reason.
We are guided by hopes
that we execute in daily smiles of youth.
The homily of those with integrity is often lost.
We are obscured behind actuality,
as we view it and as it is.
Explosive, intimidated, prodding, and generous, we are.
Crowned, corrupt, well-staged, and clandestine, we explore and expand.
We insulate opinions, we polarize into sub-cults.
We act as conduits for humanity’s irresponsibility
as we fracture kindness.
Automatic public relations smiles that we wear,
and we believe, meet the world.
We are angered, and then we continue on.
We extend our hand in friendship.
We bribe and we are bribed.
We, an American, take up causes,
and we charter beliefs,
and we climb toward optimism.
We elevate humanity;
we enrich the arts.
We structured truth,
and through gaping holes,
we fall, and keep falling.
We remain arrogant, productive, portrayed as fools
and monsters and saviors and saints.
We, an American,
are sometimes involved in our red, white and blue wrappings.
We are sometimes uninvolved in our impassioned trust.
But always, we are fortunate in our own way.
Though that way be blurred and steaming and singed,
as we are poured
out onto the red coals of existence.
We stand again and again.
With our ballads sung by a cynic jester.
With our anthems chanted by a melted stoic,
We, an American, are.
COPYRIGHT: Kieran York
Please check out some of my other poetry in a collection called Wet Violets, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 2, edited by Beth Mitchum. Books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.
If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or ordered through Bella Books distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.