If America Is a Medal to Be Earned, Pin It to Our Hearts
Who have bitten holes in our tongues,
Who have leashed them like disobedient dogs to the roofs of our mouths,
Who have sewn shut our lips with percussive vowels [peter/picked/a/pipe/of/pickled/peppers/],
Who have coaxed our Ps into Fs,
Sucked our teeth into diphthongs--
How can we still be told we don’t belong?
We have crippled our fingers,
Scrubbed them to the bone,
Bent them into crucifixes bleached whiter
Than the soldiers who promised us freedom
But brought us more misery instead.
We have sacrificed
Four hundred years given to foreign gods;
We have bled.
We have wept.
We have clung to our islands like rafts,
Finally finding refuge on ruptured soil--
It would have been easier to sink under the waves.