I give to you a portrait of America in trash.
I give it to you with love and respect, America:
mountains of beer cans crumpled, plastic figures
with fallen action, black velvet portraits of Elvis
with broken frames and food stains; I give to you
all the beautiful useless objects of our time built
up into great muddy walls of stench, solemn mon-
uments to steady gimmicks and confidence games,
women and men with voices and no spines. Like
hallelujahs falling on a parking lot’s wet pavement,
or tattoos of hearts on wrinkling skin, I am moving on,
trying to find a way around these American mountains.
High above the fruited plain I hover; America, my
lover, I give to you my rotten paradise, I bequeath
to you my hog’s view, I toss to you what is heaven
and disposable, a gracious state of nothing that lifts us,
a celebration saying that everything we know is trash.
The poor cast off plastic wrappers, paper soaked with
grease and noisy metal as the rich cast off the poor
like an itch; it’s as easy as a blink, witty or dry like
a fly; attracted to what dies, he makes his way toward
the glaze of a poor man’s eye. What America makes,
America can throw away: we have the right, right?
I step off the plane and into the flushing river. I am
petrified. I am stone. My eyes are all aquiver.
Photo by Jose Padua. Jose Padua is co-author of the blog Shenandoah Breakdown.