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Long Beach, CA

Your Shining Century

After my wife and I paid our exorbitant entrance into the carriage
We passed at last, in the final arc of clop-clop-clop, the Strawberry Fields,
Adjacent to where John Lennon died
(Or, I was reminded, was killed, by some mad eye)

Which made me think of a trip my dad took to Spain, to study art,
After MLK had died (or, I am reminded, was killed, by some hateful heart)
And a Spaniard said to him, disgusted, “What is wrong with you all?”
You all…you Americanos
You who strike down great men
Your presidents and your prophets
(Though, I am reminded, some great men are simply men who prize great prizes and great-sized aspirations)

Even now, I want to defend my father, which is to say, defend him and me and us
What about your shining century? I would say
Your oppression, your rejection of humanity
Your Guernica, your civil war
How convenient you can only afford such a short memory

But I guess throwing rocks only locks us in their grip
And, after all, the clop-clop-clop of Brian (I think that’s our horse’s name)
Reminds me we all ride on the same field, despite these dividing lines which we call nations,
Which give us places to work out, in our own ways, all this pain

It would be better to say to that Spaniard,
Yes, say a prayer for us
Indeed, what is wrong with us, 
as I shake a sad head
And maybe he, confused by my refusal to raise arms,
Would nod his head and say, I understand 
What’s wrong with all of us, eh?
He’d prod my arm in solidarity
And we’d sit thinking about what a fine future there is somewhere, off waiting for us
A fine future just waiting to be built

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