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America

America
(With apologies to Allen Ginsberg)

America I’ve given you my blood and my skin and
now I’m too old to riot in the streets of Portland,
$57 in my wallet and a quarter in my pocket, July 24, 2020
My thoughts are driving me crazy
America, when will you behave like a civilized nation?
Go fuck yourself with your armed federal agents and your tear gas
I’m in a bad mood tonight so get lost
I won’t finish this poem until I can clear my head
America when will you become enlightened
when will you strip down before all the nations of the world
when will you see who you really are
When will you be worthy of all the members of SNCC
America when will you stop using food to control the planet
I’m sick of your hypocrisy and your bombast.

When will I be able to go into my supermarket and buy local organic
food that doesn’t cost a fortune?
Don’t promise me apple pie in the sky when I die
Your 5-G towers are a nightmare
I want to live out my days as a wandering dharma bum
Isn’t there a way to avoid lining the capitalists up against the wall
and opening fire?
Che Guevarra didn’t really die in Bolivia, but I don’t think he’s
comin’ back to save us from Corona and trigger-happy cops
I’m really trying to get my message across
I refuse to give up my dream of revolution
America, stop ordering me about. I have a mind of my own.
I’ve been rereading Das Capital, like it more than Thomas Piketty
I refuse to pledge allegiance to a country that massacred thousands of
Indians, enslaved millions of Africans
I still haven’t forgiven you for what you’ve done to the immigrant
children on the border and in East L.A., East Oakland, East N.Y.
I wish I could stop reading the N.Y. Times online before I go to bed
It occurs to me that I carry the seeds of John Brown inside me and
that I’m talking to myself again,
that Mitt Romney doesn’t stand a chance against Trump
America do something now for all the unborn George Floyds in all
the cities from coast to coast
America I am Breonna Taylor and all her Black sisters
America I used to attend SDS meetings, listen to Mark Rudd orate,
before my ex wife went underground and
after I tried to levitate the Pentagon, protested against apartheid and
always loved the IWW
America, it’s those Chinese and Russian spies, and those terrorists
who want our Coca Cola and our Internet.
America I’m scattering my ashes above the fruited plain and praying for a rebirth of wonder.

Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.

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