A More Perfect Union
When children by gunfire die,
When the dreamer and the warden clash,
When statues betray the artist, we say
This is not who we are.
Who are we?
I take my chisel to Plymouth Rock
But the rock gives no blood;
Our history is like that stone,
Heavier than its weight…
Stood at a dank underpass, I rattle
A tin cup, wave a sign that reads
This is not who we are—
I can grow rich here, devote my life
To the pursuit of happiness…
It is said that upon his murder, Lincoln belonged
To the ages: Why do we wait for blood?
We’ve planted great forests of headstones.
I wander their lush paths, the sanguine streams,
And amidst this grandeur, this horror,
I glimpse both what is and what could be.
What of the Future?
I’ve been hearing Save the Rainforest
Since I was small enough to sleep
In the safety of my parent’s bed
Or snuggled with stuffed animals—
Pandas, giraffes, monkeys, frogs;
Since I lived for lullabies and storytime;
Since the world was as small as a crib
And as big as my imagination;
Since a nightlight could douse fears
And a drop of Tylenol could erase pain;
Since adults could assure me
That all was well and would always be well.
Now I hear that 20% of the Amazon is lost,
That the remainder is on fire,
That a tipping point may soon be passed—
All life in peril.1
Now I have a beloved wife, toddler, dog—
Great plans for our lives.
Now my parents are older, frailer.
Now, at thirty-four, I have traveled enough of life
To know that adults have always betrayed their children,
That absent drastic change I, too, will betray my child,
And that without a future for him
There can be no real joy or pleasure in the present.
1 Fisher, Max. Aug 30, 2019. NY Times. ‘It’s Really Close’: How the Amazon Rainforest Could Self-Destruct <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/30/world/americas/amazon-rainforest-fires-climate.html>
Andy Posner grew up in Los Angeles and earned an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial services to low-income families. When not working, he enjoys reading, writing, watching documentaries, and ranting about the state of the world. He has had his poetry published in several journals, including Burningword Literary Journal (which nominated his poem ‘The Machinery of the State’ for the Pushcart Poetry Prize), Noble/Gas Quarterly, and The Esthetic Apostle.
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