Small town, creative commons pic

Poem: My America


A version of this story ran in the April 2013 issue.

Our America: From Oil Well to Refinery
is the proud caption splayed beneath
a print of assorted oil wells
at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Midland, Texas.
I eat a fork full of broccoli casserole,
read the caption again,
think to myself; my America is more than oil wells.

It’s violets for Easter, disabled veterans selling
miniature flags to help support the local VFW,
a black man jack-hammering the
presidency’s white wall
for the first time since the birth of America.

I was birthed from the womb of a black woman,
never used it as an excuse to keep
from going forward,
at times it held me back—not by my own doing.
Who will hold his blackness against him,
judge his roots?

On the drive home, I scan the scenery
of half-naked tumbleweeds, sallow dried grass
and a field rife with steel horses grazing.
Their gigantic heads pump up and down like yo-yos.
Boredom directs my attention towards the sky.
I watch the sun descend at the pace of eternity—
setting as though its wilting blaze
brought on a migraine.

Night’s brewing in the distance;
after nine pm, darkness will shower the city
street lights will become umbrellas
and I will sleep with fertile, oil-less dreams
in my corner of my America.