“Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
‘That’s the problem, the people shout,
that message, that statue must go,
she urges every single soul
to journey to our shores.’
But others cry and gnash their teeth
and moan at such a thought,
they love their statue and the folks
whom others have forgot.
The highest court in all the land
will soon decide her fate
the Statue of Liberty might be axed,
despite the fierce debate.
The crowds all gather near the steps,
they chant the pros and cons,
they march beneath their handmade signs
demanding right be done.
The justices hear opposing sides
for many days on end,
they listen to impassioned pleas
and weigh the good and bad.
‘The statue is a symbol
of our complex, quilted land,
such beauty, culture, music, art,
from sea to desert sand.’
‘And each new stranger wants a piece
of all the promise here
They’ve come to find a better life
and share what we hold dear.’
‘We worry for our children
and for our future too,
we need our jobs, we need safe homes,
please tell us what to do.’
‘But freedom isn’t one man’s right,
it’s every human’s right,
who are we to cast the dice
and toss these folks aside.’
And so it goes for weeks on end
in all our nation’s towns,
until the ruling comes at last,
the statue must come down.
The wrecking ball begins its work,
folks shudder in dismay,
crashing pieces fall to earth
like broken, ashen rain.
By five o’clock the deed is done,
the lady’s torch is out,
there is no court to bring her back
there is no time for doubt.
Years from now we still will talk
Of all we felt that day,
but for now as nighttime falls,
we stop and look away.
Several weeks ago, I asked friends on facebook for their thoughts about America (both what they love and what they worry about). It took a long time to consider their thoughts and how I would incorporate them into a poem. I’m using the removal of the Statue of Liberty as a vehicle to show all the emotions that come to the fore when we discuss our country. I began this poem several weeks ago and then a few days ago, an editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch ran a cartoon with the image of the Statue of Liberty being carried away. I bring that up only to let my readers know that I did not plagiarize the idea.
A permanently referenced poem for me. Tragic and beautiful.