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Sunday, August 13, 2017


by Thomas R. Smith

I'm in bed with America.
America is writhing and moaning in her sleep,
twisting the bed sheets around her
as if coiled in the grip of a giant boa constrictor.
America whimpers in her sleep
and turns her head to the left and to the right.
America is having a nightmare.

America is dreaming that the Inquisition
   is back with its old, unimproved tortures.
America is dreaming that the British won
   the Revolutionary War and that Franklin,
   Washington and Jefferson were hanged at Valley Forge.
America is dreaming that she must increase
   her nuclear arsenal because being able
   to destroy the world 5,000 times over isn¹t enough
   if Russia can destroy the world 6,000 times over.
America is dreaming that the southern plantations
   have risen from the dust, and the whips and manacles
   the torch and the hood and the noose.
America is dreaming that water is rising
   around her house and she can't get out
   because the EPA has boarded up the doors and windows.
America is dreaming that drinking melted polar ice
   has changed her children into Syrian refugees.
America is dreaming that her babysitter
   is a registered sex offender.
America is dreaming that her real parents
   are dead and impostor parents are forcing
   her into the family business of carnival geeking.
America is dreaming that Lincoln has just
   shot everyone in Ford's Theater.
America is dreaming that she¹s feeling faint
   after drinking the cup handed to her by Putin.
America is dreaming that she has nothing left
   to eat but the money dragged from the vaults
   after the last billionaire committed suicide.
America is dreaming that Whitman and Emerson
   have pulled up their grave plots and
   relocated them to Ontario.
America is dreaming that all the blood shed by patriots
   in her wars has congealed into a malignant tumor
   kept in a secret room in the White House.
America is dreaming that Henry Ford has
   returned from the dead to help the President
   rewrite the Constitution in 144 characters.
America is dreaming that when the Pilgrims
   go out to the woods for the first Thanksgiving
   all they can find to shoot are skeletons.
America is dreaming that the Italians and Irish
   and Poles have been sent back where they came from
   across the Atlantic in individual wooden washtubs.
America is dreaming that beneath the site of the World Trade Center
   are anti-towers deep underground where
   the real masterminds of September 11th
   are plotting a new attack.
America is dreaming that the President has hacked
   Jesus's twitter account
   and is repealing the Sermon on the Mount.
America is dreaming that a tiny severed hand
   is creeping along the floor like a pale spider
   toward the Button.
America is dreaming that a vast stone head
   from an exploded planet's Mount Rushmore
   is hurtling toward Indiana.
America is dreaming—STOP!

America, can you hear me?
(I'm shaking you by the shoulders.)
I wouldn't be in bed with you if I didn't love you.
Spare yourself this nightmare.
It doesn't have to be this way.
There is still time.

America, dear America, please wake up!

Thomas R. Smith is a poet and teacher living in River Falls, Wisconsin. He teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. His most recent poetry collection is The Glory (Red Dragonfly Press).