American Psalm



America, I wanna embrace you

I wanna kiss you full on the mouth.

America, you broke my nose

but lifted my spirits, amen.

America, you have given me much,

I’d give it back (I say)

to sit at the table

with the Sons of Slaves

and Native Daughters,

with farmers, railworkers,

roustabouts, hobos, migrants

and the least of these, the children,

my children, amen.

America, in your great wingspan is a bosom

of warmth and wonder,

of struggle and toil,

a great heaving, a great crying,

a great laughing, loving, living, dying.

America, my forefathers fought under your flag,

it cost my father his youthful ideology but

not the love of his country, amen.

America, I am You, She is You,

We are You,

my children your legs your hands your feet,

your bone your blood your matter,

this grave task not lost on me,

as I stoop they are rising,

Daddy up above have mercy upon me,

bless the children as medics and migrants.

If Christ walked through you, America,

he wouldn’t hitchhike the Interstate,

he’d walk the backroad,

‘Follow me”

he’d say

and I’d weep for I could not -

Christ, I have a mortgage, a car,

a family, a job, amen.

America, I wanna punch you in the face

and kiss you on the cheek,

let’s get drunk on the Missouri River

until the second hitchhiking of Christ,

children rowdy, everybody holler,

singing songs of allkinds,

mankinds, womankinds:

rattle & bone

& drum & twang

rasp & moan

& hum & chain

prayer & chant

& piousprofane

pick & hack

& cough & clang

curse & cry

& holler & weep

shrill & shriek

& chirp & cheep

buzz & chuckle

& laugh & blow

suck & whistle

& sing in the row

O America, I love you.

And everyone says Amen.