“Of course we understand the folly of war,
But it’s a Grand Old Flag
Which we’ve planted into the navels
Of people all over the world in order to
Safeguard their digestion
So they can enjoy the benefits
Of life, liberty, democracy
And regular bowel movements.
“Let me be clear: The United States opposes torture
Under every circumstance, without exception,
But, of course, we will do whatever is necessary
To uphold our values
And to ensure our vital interests.
Sometimes that means innocent people get hurt,
Mistakenly tortured, and even die—
But we will always extend a helping hand to
What remains of their families
And we will not hesitate to express our gratitude
For their sacrifices to our highest principles.
“We did not ask for this war.
We recognize that the vast majority of the Afghan people
Did not ask for this war
And we will do everything in our power to ensure
That they will never have to not ask for war again.
“We are not perfect; mistakes have been made.
But, we have shed our blood—well, not our blood,
But the blood of our working classes
And oceans of blood in other countries–
Because we recognize that our ideals
Often entail the spillage of blood.
“Let the world never forget
That we are a country that was born
Out of the spillage of blood
In our opposition to King George’s tyranny
And that we did a lot more spillaging
During our Civil War which was also about
Some serious, hard choices.
“Let the world never forget
That we have spillaged whole continents of blood
Of red, yellow, black, brown—and even white—
Men, women, children, dogs, cats and canaries
In pursuit of the happiness of our leisure classes
And our unique versions of freedom and justice.
“We will never shirk our duties,
And I repeat, emphatically,
I did not have sex with that woman;
And, further, Tiger Woods is a great athlete
And so was Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King–
Whose name I will never stop invoking
In order to remind everyone
That I am pretty much the same color,
And to salve the consciences of those “progressives”
Who voted for me, thinking I was someone else.
Never forget that I am standing in his long shadow.
“In conclusion, the future is not inevitable
But we will all get there eventually
So long as we have the audacity of hope
And keep our entrails clean with colonics
And see the bright dawn
And lift up our eyes unto the hills,
The stars and the mountains.
“A rising tide will lift all boats
And the trickle down theory
Is not about the rich pissing on the poor,
But, as my father used to say,
If you put someone on a pedestal
They will surely piss in your mouth.
“But, we don’t worry about that.
There are no cynics here,
Only us brave pioneers. …
“Only us brave pioneers
In this great city on a hill,
Marching in our steel-toed boots,
Round and round the mulberry tree, singing—
America, America, God shed His grace on thee!”
Gary Corseri has published his work at Dandelion Salad, Dissident Voice, CounterPunch, The New York Times, Village Voice and hundreds of other periodicals and websites worldwide. His books include: Manifestations (edited); the novels, Holy Grail, Holy Grail and A Fine Excess; and collections of poems. He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum and his dramas have been produced by PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He can be contacted at email@example.com.