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Jennifer M. PhillipsSeptember 14, 2023

America, my young brother,
you are keeping bad company these days,
swapping bravery for bravado,
racketing night after night.
You have grown too big for your own house,
fists too eager, voice too loud.

Every morning the jays arrive
with their stormcloud-colored shoulders,
their dapper uniforms in hues of blue,
staking claim among the seed
and sending off the sparrows
with lancet beaks and eyes
until there is nothing left—
tyrants of this empire of insatiety—
taking pleasure but no joy.

My brother, when did rage become your station?
In rage’s mayhem-blaze,
on constant guard, you stand outside yourself
And every Other is backlit as your rival,
every rival as your enemy.
Raging, you can forget you are so afraid
of everyone,
teetering on the I-beam
over your own ruined city,
daring anyone to take your weapons
or your hand,
wondering how far you must walk out
to stop hearing your mother weep.

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