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Aileen Cassinetto: There are no kings in America

We are not that kind of country.

We are sanctuary for the hungry, 

the homeless, the huddled,

held together by an idea 

our immigrant fathers believed in. 

Rendered, it meant independence. 

Pursued, it kindled war, ordnance, 

a fighting chance. Forty thousand 

musket balls, by themselves, did not 

shape the boundaries on which we 

map our days. To draw our borders, 

we needed more than firecakes.

More than a pound of meat 

with bone and gristle,

or salt fish and a gill of peas.

We needed the faith and grit of people 

who were not yet Americans.

To be an American is to 

recognize the sacrifice 

of the widow and the orphan;

it is to understand the weft of tent

cities expecting caravans,

and the heft of a child in a camp 

not meant for children, or sitting 

before a judge awaiting judgement.

What do we say to the native 

whose lands we now inhabit?

What do we say to our immigrant 

fathers who held certain truths 

to be self-evident?

Do we now still pledge to each 

other our lives, our fortunes, 

our sacred honor.

There are no kings in America.

Only gilded men we can topple

again and again.

Copyright 2020 Aileen Cassinetto

Aileen Cassinetto is the founder and editor of Paloma Press, an independent San Francisco-based literary publisher. She is the author of The Pink House of Purple Yam Preserves and Other Poems.

4 comments on “Aileen Cassinetto: There are no kings in America

  1. ShiraDest
    December 27, 2020

    But are we still willing to make those pledges, and do we yet have honor?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    July 4, 2020

    “Only gilded men.” Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jose A Alcantara
    July 4, 2020

    Great finish. Gilded men beware!

    Liked by 1 person

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