In America, this story goes,
cowboys vanquished pesky Indians.
Pilgrims bravely crossed the Atlantic,
found religious freedom, and served turkey.
Workers, imported from Africa, made jazz,
great background music for parties.
Railroads were built by industrious Asians
so we learned to use chopsticks.
Smart men became rich drilling holes,
harnessing rivers, creating code.
Coming home to delicious suppers,
compliant wives, dutiful children,
they donated their extra cash
to libraries, museums, and universities.
Anyone could become president, right?
This story leaves out
the scars of the whip
slashing through families, tearing apart
self-esteem and hope.
This story neglects the part
about mass graves, lynchings, vicious prisons.
About women killed for wearing the wrong dress
or sold for an hour of another man’s pleasure.
It is deaf to the cries of children,
screams of anger,
moans of despair.
It leaves out
the snuffing of entire cultures,
denigration of ancient knowledge
and denial of dignity.
In America, this story is an essay
formed of lies
steeped in blood.
Blood seeps from between the pages of its book.
It drips from fingers as pages are turned.
It spews from the mouths of those who tell it.
Tellers and listeners
are both sickened.
Slick with blood
they slip farther apart,
away, distant, opposed.
The only antidote is truth.
Tell the true stories
of America’s holocausts.
Admit the sins of
supremacy and profit.
Embrace in love those once
can the blood be staunched
and the wings of our people
made free to fly.