Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Citizenship

It may be laid down, as a primary position . . . that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it... 

“As soon as any man says of the affairs of the State 'What does it matter to me?' the State may be given up for lost.” 

"If I knew something that would serve my country but would harm mankind, I would never reveal it; for I am a citizen of humanity first and by necessity, and a citizen of France second, and only by accident" 

Midweek Motif ~ Citizenship

What is its purpose and its rituals?  Is it in the taxes we pay or the flags we fly?  Is it in the ideals we hold standing side by side?  Is it in our borders and who is in or out?  Just what is citizenship all about?  

Where and how are we each citizens?

(The recent Federal Tax Day in the USA 

raised these questions for me.)  

Your Challenge: Write a new poem that answers one or all of these questions with images of citizenship.

It's the Fourth of July, the flags
are painting the town,
the plastic forks and knives
are laid out like a parade.

And I'm grilling, I've got my apron,
I've got potato salad, macaroni, relish,
I've got a hat shaped   
like the state of Pennsylvania.

I ask my father what's his pleasure
and he says, "Hot dog, medium rare,"
and then, "Hamburger, sure,   
what's the big difference,"   
as if he's really asking.

I put on hamburgers and hot dogs,   
slice up the sour pickles and Bermudas,
uncap the condiments. The paper napkins   
are fluttering away like lost messages.

"You're running around," my mother says,   
"like a chicken with its head loose."
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE at the Poetry Foundation.)

Hmong Hunter Charged with 6 Murders
Is Said to Be a Shaman —new york times

If a tree falls in a forest,
does it make a sound?

If a rifle fires a shot in the woods,
whose body first hits the ground?

If a group of angry hunters
surrounds, curses at, and accosts you
for wandering onto their land

If you apologize for being lost,
inform you saw no posted signs, swallow
their chinks this and gooks taking over that;
are walking away over mud and fallen leaves when a loud
crack far behind you kicks up black earth

If your father was conscripted to fight
on the side of the United States
for the cia during the war in Vietnam

If he, your mother, you—the oldest son—
and all your younger siblings were later abandoned
in the hills of Laos as targets for genocide by the Viet Cong

If after five years in a Thai refugee camp,
you come to this land as a teen, a casualty
of history and time, then receive three years
of training to become a sharpshooter
in the u.s. military

If you spent your adolescence watching blacks,
Asians, Latinos, and whites watching one
another watch each other for weakness and flaws
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE at the Poetry Foundation.)

He was a mystery in smoke and flags
Saying yes to the smoke, yes to the flags,
Yes to the paradoxes of democracy,
Yes to the hopes of government
Of the people by the people for the people,
No to debauchery of the public mind,
No to personal malice nursed and fed,
Yes to the Constitution when a help,
No to the Constitution when a hindrance
Yes to man as a struggler amid illusions,
Each man fated to answer for himself:
Which of the faiths and illusions of mankind
Must I choose for my own sustaining light
To bring me beyond the present wilderness?

       Lincoln? Was he a poet?
       And did he write verses?
“I have not willingly planted a thorn
       in any man’s bosom.”
I shall do nothing through malice: what
       I deal with is too vast for malice.”

Death was in the air.
So was birth.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others 
in the spirit of the community.

 (Next week Sumana's Midweek Motif will be ~ Home)


  1. Thank you for the midweek - as ever we are circling our own universe but are very glad to be part of this one too!

    1. I am happy you are a citizen here too! Good to see you this morning!

  2. It is an evolving issue. Im sorry that some people consider others of so little value in this global community.

    1. Wordpress is asking me to sign in in order to read your poem. I don't think this has happened to me before. Is there another way in at a slightly different address that makes it public?

    2. not sure why it is doing that Susan. I think its because WP isnt reading the title (?????)
      let me put the link here

    3. That works for me, so I'll try to fix it in Mr. Linky.

  3. You've created a wise and varied poetic feast for breakfast, Poets United. I'm heading out for my 9am Doctor's Appointment, and looking forward to another feast at lunch. Wow. Keep 'em coming!

  4. A theme that is topical and of particularly personal significance to me, Susan. Thank you, I look forward to reading the poems.

    1. Thanks for bringing your story as well as a poem. You are very welcome.

  5. nice prompt Susan...ah all i want is peace at this moment...

  6. i don't know why Leslie's link is taking me to my own wordpress blog!!!!!

  7. Hello everyone,

    Wooooo hooo its time for Midweek Motif :D sharing my poem "Burgess" hope you guys like it.

    Lots of love,

    1. You are so funny! Thank yuu for a powerful poem--which is not at all funny.

  8. Wow, If In America is a sobering read. I will see what furrball my brain coughs up and make rounds later this day as I am off to babysit the beautiful baby Lunabella this morning. Yay! I look forward to reading all the offerings.

    1. Sobering, indeed. We rarely read personal stories of the Asian experience of the USA after the USA engaged war in Asian countries. Enjoy Lunabella. See you later.

  9. Thank you, Susan, for this prompt. I have posted mine & will be around to read later today. Promise!! (This is the first thing I have written in more than a week, I think.)

    1. It's so good to see you! It's a powerful comeback.

  10. Good topic for the US. Thanks for always making me think.

    1. You, too, Myrna! You make me think. I also loved yesterday's interview!

  11. Sorry, Susan, the link for my poem is incorrect. I will link again. Please remove the kooky one, LOL.

  12. What great poems! Thanks for sharing, and a great prompt!

    Sarah Allen


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