In times when I’m feeling troubled, I often turn to literature to help me process what’s going on around me. The state of the United States right now reminded me of Alan Ginsberg’s America. This searing critique of 1950s America brings to light a lot of the hypocrisy and brutality of American culture. In re-reading it, I couldn’t help but think the themes were relateable while the cultural references were too obscure, lost to another generation, and thus needed updating.
Photo credit: Sean Scheidt
America, you’ve taken all that we had and left us nothing.
America $3,689 and 98 cents February 2, 2016
But soon that will be worthless and used up.
I can’t stand my distracted mind.
America when will you end the war against yourself?
Go fuck yourself with your police brutality, your racism, your homophobia, your xenophobia, your paranoia.
I don’t feel good about this.
I won’t write my own obituary until I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be humane?
Will you ever strip away your own costume?
Will you ever look at yourself through your own grave?
Will you ever be worthy of your million fascists?
America why are your libraries full of cameras?
America when will you send your bombs to Syria?
I’m sick of your insanity.
When can I go to the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are pure not the brown world.
Your machinery has grinded me up.
You made me want to be a fanatic.
There must be some other way to avoid this argument.
I am in France and I don’t think I’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to understand what is the point.
I refuse to give up my passions.
America stop pushing me away I know what I’m doing.
America the cherry blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for years, because news is force fed to me everywhere I go
Everyday somebody avoids going on trial for rape.
America I’ve always felt sentimental for the Hippies.
America I used to want to be a revolutionary when I was a kid and I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at my computer screen.
When I go to the pub I get drunk (of course) and I never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Dick and Orwell.
I can’t afford a psychoanalyst.
I don’t know the Lord’s Prayer.
I have horrific visions and cosmic yearnings.
America you know what you did to Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi and a five year old boy and
countless others when they tried to get to escape their hell only to reach you barbarous shores.
I’m talking to you, but you don’t seem to want to listen.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Fox News or, worse, Breitbart?
Personally, I’m obsessed with Vox.
I read it every day.
It arrives on my phone every few minutes, with headlines that tell me my worst fears are true.
Is this what it’s been like to be a Republican under Obama? Or is this something different?
It occurs to me that maybe I don’t have the stomach to be America anymore.
I forgot what it’s like to talk to myself.
The world is rising against me.
I haven’t got a dictator’s chance.
I’d better consider my international resources.
My international resources consist of some pocket lint and an unsecured internet connection
an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles an hour but
You’ve already read it probably.
I say nothing about your prisons nor the millions of underprivileged who live under the light of just one bright orange sun.
I have abolished the mosques at home, bathhouses and synagogues are not far behind.
My ambition is to save you from yourself despite the fact that I’m a Jew.
America how can I write the great American novel in your dour mood?
I will continue like Jeff Bezos my outbursts are as useful as his
Books or toothbrushes or whatever he wants to sell me this week
America I will sell you outbursts $2500 apiece $500 down on your old one
America pardon Edward Snowden
And Chelsea Manning
And Jack Johnson.
America save Ferguson and Baltimore and Anaheim and Milwaukee and Charlotte and Dakota and Flint.
America Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Grey, Keith Lamont Scott, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, the tireless litany of names of others
should not have died.
America I am Orlando.
America when I was twenty-three I went to some Green Party meetings and we all brought
something tasty to eat and the speeches were free and some people were angelic and sentimental about their fellow human and some were militant, and I didn’t understand it until now, it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in the early 2000s. Everybody must have been a spoiler.
America you don’t really want to go to war.
America it’s ‘dem bad Islamic terrorists.
‘dem terrorists ‘dem terrorists and ‘dem rapist Spics. And ‘dem terrorists.
‘dem terrorists wants to cut our heads off. ‘Dem terrorists’ religious zealots who want sharia law in the Constitution. They wants to take our cars from out our garages and turn us into Muslims.
‘Dem wants to grab Buford (Wyoming). ‘Dem needs a A-rabic Fox News. ‘Dem wants our freedom.
‘Dem wants to control our lives along with liberal commie fascists.
That no good. Ugh. She make ‘dem Spics speak English. She don’t need ‘dem big black niggers anymore so they better go back to Africa. And all the Spics to Mexico. And all the Muslims to Muslimland.
Hah. If we don’t work sixteen hours a day, she don’t need us either. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking at Facebook and Twitter.
America is this really you?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I could never join the Army or say hi at Walmart.
I’m farsighted and not wholesome anyway.
America I’m putting my white privileged shoulder to the wheel.