Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


America is Loving Me to Death

acrostic golden shovel

America is loving me to death, loving me to death slowly, and I
Mainly try not to be disappeared here, knowing she won’t pledge
Even tolerance in return. Dear God, I can’t offer allegiance.
Right now, 400 years ago, far into the future―it’s difficult to
Ignore or forgive how despised I am and have been in the
Centuries I’ve been here—despised in the design of the flag
And in the fealty it demands (lest I be made an example of).
In America there’s one winning story—no adaptations. The
Story imagines a noble, grand progress where we’re all united.
Like truths are as self-evident as the Declaration states.
Or like they would be if not for detractors like me, the ranks of
Vagabonds existing to point out what’s rotten in America,
Insisting her gains come at a cost, reminding her who pays, and
Negating wild notions of exceptionalism—adding ugly facts to
God’s-favorite-nation mythology. Look, victors get spoils; I know the
Memories of the vanquished fade away. I hear the enduring republic,
Erect and proud, asking through ravenous teeth Who do you riot for?
Tamir? Sandra? Medgar? George? Breonna? Elijah? Philando? Eric? Which
One? Like it can’t be all of them. Like it can’t be the entirety of it:
Destroyed brown bodies, dismantled homes, so demolition stands
Even as my fidelity falls, as it must. She erases my reason too, allows one
Answer to her only loyalty test: yes or no, Michael, do you love this nation?
Then hates me for saying I can’t, for not burying myself under
Her fables where we’re one, indivisible, free, just, under God, her God.

 

Credit


Copyright © 2020 by Michael Kleber-Diggs. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 5, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“‘America is Loving Me to Death’ is an acrostic golden shovel; it's the merger of two forms. In acrostic poems, the first letter in each line spells a word or phrase. In this poem, the phrase is the title: America is Loving Me to Death. In golden shovels, the last word in each line is borrowed from an existing work, often a poem or song. In this poem, the last word in each line is the first 24 words of The Pledge of Allegiance.”
Michael Kleber-Diggs

Author


Michael Kleber-Diggs

Michael Kleber-Diggs is the author of Worldly Things (Milkweed Editions, 2021). A poet, essayist, and book critic, he lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Date Published: 2020-11-05

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/america-loving-me-death