Letter to America by Colleen J. McElroy

One Poem

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Dear America

it practically leaves me speechless: this retrograde that renders you blind
American the beautiful—this happens under your name time after time

that’s what I am talking about
       that’s what I am talking about

tell me when I can stop on one hand counting black faces
in movies set in the glistening metropolis—tell me why it’s normal

                that is what I’m talking about
                          that is what I am talking about

listen up: I am not them or other a mob or color
the only pronouns that fit are: I and me personally

                                       that is what I’m talking about
                                             when I want you to hear

look at your reflection in the mirror—own your mistakes
do you have the constitution for it?

                                                            that is what you hear
                                                                      when I’m talking

say it is not all right (alright) not right to push the laws back
when half of the real story has yet to be told

                                                                            talking about that
                                                                                   talking shade

can you hear me America?—the same old same old
all this chaos and no disorder not for sale

                                                                            can you hear me
                                                                                talking at you?

how many died to get us here: boys dead girls disappeared
sheets wearing suits—the rest weeping when the horsemen come

                                                                                       I’m talking about
                                                                                            who’s not
                                                                                               talking, America



Colleen J. McElroyColleen J. McElroy lives in Seattle, Washington. Winner of the Before Columbus American Book Award for Queen of the Ebony Isles, McElroy’s poetry books include Here I Throw Down My Heart (finalist for the Milt Kessler Book Award, the Walt Whitman Award, the Phyllis Wheatley Award, and the Washington State Governor’s Book Award) and Blood Memory (finalist for the 2017 Paterson Poetry Prize).
Read poetry by Colleen J. McElroy previously appearing in  

Header photo of the stars of the U.S. flag by tookapic, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Colleen J. McElroy by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. is the first online literary journal of place, publishing award-winning literature, art, editorials, and community case studies since 1998.