America I Yearn For

America I yearn for, this is your kiss:
A space full of hunger and health-care cares,
Ignorant teachers, gun play, homelessness.
Do all grow wise who stroke your kinky hair?
America, you lead-lipped liberty,
Take each neighborhood, sweep the streets, wash cars,
Brush your teeth before I tongue your perky
Smile with my poetís mouth, and shout in bars
Your name, and pick fist fights for your honor
With pharisees and pro-wrestlers who mock
You, who bed you, roll you, then call you whore-
Sucker of Republican Party cock!
America I yearn for, whose taste burns
The roof of my mouth, your daughters kiss worms!

The roof of my mouth, your daughters kiss worms,
And I your poet daughter spit them out
On paper in a crown of sonnet germs:
Women are beaten, and their husbands shout
Insults when the cops come with camera
Crews to film it all for the Fox network,
Only to blur it with parabola-
Pixilated faces, only to shirk
Responsibility for spectacle-
Driven culture that causes more beatings.
They might as well weld a large pentacle
On the squad car -- a hex on these meetings!
Your daughters kiss worms, America, on
Television -- Lucy, where have you gone?

Television Lucy, where have you gone?
The chocolate factory closed long ago.
Ethel traded fire escapes for a lawn.
Ricky got on the Ed Sullivan Show,
Sang ìBabaloo,î but Lucy, what of you?
Who stays home and makes our TV dinner?
Who wears crinolines to the petting zoo?
Who blows bubbles of soap and paint thinner?
Whatís a mother to do without a break
filled with catchy jingles selling car wax?
Whatís a housewife without a plattered steak,
Without an advertisement for Ex-Lax?
Lucy, the plot to be part of the act
Is foiled, but all is forgiven. Come back!

ì...Is foiled, but all is forgiven. Come back!î
The e-mail read. Quickly, she deleted
Another sick invitation to shack
Up again in his smelly-sock-stench bed.
She would have rather had a molar pulled
Than run into him at K-Mart one day.

She shuddered. He stank like old mussels hulled
In humid August on the delta quai.
The football was always on during sex
So he would never miss the extra point.
She remembered the shiny stucco flecks
On his ceiling better than his sirloins.
Momma had warned against being alone,
But itís better on the road than at home.

Which is better on the road than at home,
A pile-up or portable VCR?
This is a consumer survey poem
Compiled by a market soothsayer.
Which is better after eating hot dogs,
A cold beer or The Glass Menagerie?
They ask all shoppers dumber than prize hogs
Questions for an oracleís reverie.
Which is better from a Vice President,
Smiles or a bullet from the grassy knoll?
To probe this eraís deepest resident
Fog, instead of church, we go to the mall.
Come listen to the riddle of the Sphinx!
Download the answer with our hyperlinks.

Download the answer with our hyperlinks
To the new Brittney Spears trivia quiz!
The Web, that Edison light bulb that shrinks
The world into a beige plastic box, whizzes
Information fast as electrons dance
Around an atom, has yet to produce
A less simian human being. Lance
An e-mail at an ape, it asks for juice.
Give most people Alexandriaís burnt
Library, all the books in Timbuktu,
As programmers have done. What do we learn?
We search for the lyrics to Fu Manchu
Hit songs and chat on-line so we can lie
About the stars of American Pie.

About the stars of American Pie,
About the chewers of apple crumble,
About the distillers of sour mash rye,
About the planes of the tower tumble,
About the wrath grapes that we crush daily,
About the thieves of American dreams,
About the characters of Grace Paley,
About the statueís robeís riveted seams,
I have cried out here, America mine,
The one most longed for since my first parade!
America free, laughing and sanguine,
Out of all of your wealth, what have you made?
Many widgets, a few fortunes, less bliss.
America I yearn for, this is your kiss.

by Anne Babson

Anne Babson is an American poet with four chapbooks ñ Counterterrorist Poems (Pudding House Press) and Dictation (Partisan Press) are still in print. She has won numerous prizes for individual poems. She is the librettist for Upbringing, a forthcoming opera by Chinese-American composer Su Lian Tan, slated for performance by Meridian Arts Ensemble chamber orchestra. Her poetry is also significantly featured on a soon-to-be-released hip-hop CD, The Cornerstone. Her work has appeared in close to one hundred literary journals worldwide, and she is the founding editor of Vernacular, an international womenís poetry journal.

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