April Poem #30: And I, too

My inspiration for “And I, too” comes from  Verse-Love, Ethical ELA, which was created by Sarah J. Donovan. Today’s prompt is the last prompt in celebration of National Poetry Month. Sarah invited us to think about claiming ourselves as writers and poets. Sarah used René Saldaña, Jr’s poetry anthology, I Sing: The Body  as a springboard for this prompt. The anthology contains poets’ thoughts on self-image, self-doubt, and constructing an identity.

When I read the prompt and some samples of other poets’ work, I immediately thought of Langston Hughes’ poem I, too. I used the form of Hughes’ poem to construct my own poem. I have always loved the way Hughes could lay out a strong message in a few words. I thought I would practice this, using his structure as a scaffold. I don’t normally take on other poet’s styles and forms, but through participating in Verse-Love this month, I came to realize how building on others’ work could help budding poets build a body of work and step out of their comfort zones. And isn’t that what poetry is all about – stepping out of your comfort zone and beginning to dance!




I Hear America Weeping

This week, I cannot write about education, travel, or art.  This week I have to address world events.  The disaster that is Afghanistan has weighed heavily on my mind and heart.  When disturbed and rattled, I usually turn to poetry to make sense of my feelings.  I thought and thought about how I could express the immense sadness I feel about our great country, our amazing America.  Not our perfect America, but our promising, hopeful America. 

Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” and Langston Hughes’ poem “I, Too!” reverberated in my head this week. Written in 1867, Whitman’s poem celebrated America’s work ethic.  Then in 1926, Hughes’ demanded that Blacks be recognized as an essential part of America.  With COVID, racial unrest, discrimination, limited rights and freedoms, rising inflation, the Afghan crisis – America is not singing now. Never, in my lifetime have I felt so frightened and so worried that our country is slipping away. But my strong belief is that America is worth saving, and we must find a way to heal and regain our strength and standing.

I  Hear America Weeping

I hear America weeping,
No longer brave,
No longer beautiful,
No longer united.
Land of industrious immigrants,
Once strong and diligent,
Now at odds with each other:
Masked, unmasked;
Vaccinated, not vaccinated;
Black brown, red, yellow, white.
Great cities burning,
Flooded by drugs and violence,
Open to looting, and shootings.
America, I hang my head
Sorrowful and ashamed,
Who will heal America?

I hear America weeping,
No longer noble,
No longer resolute,
No longer the shining city
Upon the hill,
Beacon of hope.
Once the world leader,
Once the honorable democracy,
Now disgraced and embarrassed,
Open to terror, disorder, and chaos,
We have lost the world’s trust,
Abandoned our citizens and our allies.
We no longer stand for freedom.
America, I’m weeping,
The eyes of all people
Are truly upon us.