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Thursday, June 14, 2018


by Thomas R. Smith

   Why does my country so often stand
   On the side of the mean and the cruel?
           —Ed Sanders, "Nicaragua"

Sometimes I think these recurring dreams
of insecure wandering aren't personal
at all, but the world dreaming through me.

Again last night, I had no bed, searched
a strange town with darkness falling.
Our country has strayed so far from that

young and fearless prophet it professes
to worship.  Kidnapping children from their
parents at the border, making criminals

of asylum-seekers.  A Honduran man
separated from his wife and child by ICE
kills himself in a cell described as a "kennel."

Does the man who calls himself President
and the cowards and bullies who enable
him really believe they can have power

without responsibility?  The five
percent feeding on forty percent of
the planet arms itself to keep the starving

away from the table.  So we drift toward
our destruction, uncaring, cruel, refusing
to enter into a human future.

In dreams we are relentlessly pursued,
can find no place to lay our heads in this land
of the Ego, the Dollar, and the Holy Gun.

In time our bad faith will make our nation
a prison, in which we serve our sentence
not for having killed, but for having killed

not for survival but for luxury.

A Honduran girl cries as her mother is search and detained near the U.S. Mexico border on Tuesday in McAllen, Texas. Credit John Moore/Getty Images via Slate, June 14, 2018

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).