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OSTRIKER, Alcica



Ghazal: America the Beautiful


Do you remember our earnestness our sincerity

in first grade when we learned to sing America


The Beautiful along with the Star-Spangled Banner

and say the Pledge of Allegiance to America


We put our hands over our first grade hearts

we felt proud to be citizens of America


I said One Nation Invisible until corrected

maybe I was right about America


School days school days dear old Golden Rule Days

when we learned how to behave in America


What to wear, how to smoke, how to despise our parents

who didn’t understand us or America


Only later learning the Banner and the Beautiful

live on opposite sides of the street in America


Only later discovering the Nation is divisible

by money by power by color by gender by sex America


We comprehend it now this land is two lands

one triumphant bully one still hopeful America


Imagining amber waves of grain blowing in the wind

purple mountains and no homeless in America


Sometimes I still put my hand tenderly on my heart

somehow or other still carried away by America