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Bellapoesie Jul 2020
Welcomed me
as a newly minted
lucky penny
I guess

My world
left behind
revolving dictators, military juntas
state police arresting, holding, never to be found again
university protesters
the lucky ones
pushed out of a plane in the middle of the night
their tortured bodies washed ashore
their families at the morgue demanding justice
that never came
All of it
erased from my mind
on my arrival in a nonstop American Airlines flight
at least
that is what I thought

“We must change your name, you must learn English quickly, don’t worry WE blend in,” my uncle said

My first day of American school
not all a Norman Rockwell painting

My teacher spoke above me to the class
while making room in the far back corner for my lone desk
She handed me “word searches”
for a language I did not have
and at recess she showed me the library
but after that
I did not count

I should thank her

The library become my sanctuary
all those books for me to read
The librarian pulled these for me
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn
My Friend Flicka, Little Women

I was so proud
when my broken English
could finally pledge
with my hand over my heart
my allegiance to the flag
and I could feel the idea that …
“This Land is Your Land”

As time always does
it infuses light color and clarity
I realized that the paintings
Norman Rockwell painted
the Americana he sold us
was missing so much
They really are fakes

Well maybe
not total fakes
but maybe an incomplete pictorial
a one-sided legend
one half of an complex whole
the oxygen removed one could say
now making it hard for me to breath

Each canvas needs another side
Another story is owed
These canvases are a forgery of the truth

It is more comfortable like this
We give ourselves license
to whitewash our “American” lives
but now
hear George Floyd’s words on repeat
“I can’t breathe”

Rockwell, your Ruby Bridge painting is a fantasy

You robbed her and me
missing the black doll in a baby's casket
which the crowd used to taunted Ruby with
giving her for years recurring nightmares

How about the terror
in her mother’s heart

You did not paint in
the white cop, yep, I said white cop
that pulled his gun to **** Ruby’s mother

You missed the horror
You missed the terror

You painted a splashed tomato
as if this was a bad comedy or play
The background you painted a peachy peach wall
with gray capturing the hate
how apropos
nope, you cannot take it back  

I cannot unsee
the Americana you invited me to see
or unpave the world
over blood spilled
or pretend I do not hear…
“I can’t breathe.”

— The End —