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Mar 2014
What is an American?

Is it decided by the timber of our voice,
the strength in our limbs,
the blood in our veins,
or the color of our skin?

Tell me,
for I do not understand,
unfold your thesis,
inundate my mind with statistics,
be it quantum blood measures,
origin or sociological constructs of the creature in question.

Tell me,
what it is to be an American?
This umbrella term,
I just do not understand,
is it to be a thief?
A country founded on stolen land,
and stolen labor,
sage bushed bills,
backed by gilded structures and systems of debate and seizure,
is being an American drowning in leisure?

What does this term mean?
I find myself confused,
it is difficult to quantify the qualitative,
and breath life into lifeless chiseled forms,
found in squares and plazas throughout,
a country split by hard wired ferocity,
quicksand laden dividing lines,
the vocal deciding what it is to be,
and what it isn't.

Careful lad,
there is such a thing as too much,
too much individuality,
so put up your hair,
put away the paint,
put away that sign,
sheath your weapon,
old boy,
this isn't your fight,
and besides,
what can you do with a toy?

I don't know what America is,
land of the free,
where is that?
I see only industry,
a dying morality,
drowned in ethics,
a protestant-core built on overt inequality.

What does it mean to be an American?
I can't tell you what it means to you,
only what it means to me,
and so I say dust off the document upon which this term was built,
and realize that the past is not what you should use,
just as anything else of import,
use judgement,
the ability to choose,
uphold theΒ Β freedom that suffocates in the back of your mind,
to the flame inside your chest,
to the weakness in your legs,
down against the sole of your shoes.

America is a country founded on rebellion,
a little man,
underdog all grown up,
and now he's the one throwing punches,
a story paralleled by Davidic tales,
and though he may not be perfect,
and is often reviled,
I love him still,
his rough edges,
for we are still part of the experiment,
the American dream.

Though the gates may be weighed down,
the hinges rusted,
a country of sojourners,
soon a country of minorities,
cultural pluralism,
though flawed,
I like it better this way,
a techni-colored mirage of what once was,
and if we must meet our end,
so be it,
guide me home,
for is it not true that all roads eventually wind home?
A.P. Beckstead (2014)
AP Beckstead 2014
Written by
AP Beckstead 2014  Utah
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