hearing john mellencamp
 ask america
what’s left of our soul
like who do we want to impress
 now
the exxons of the world
or the folks
sinking & slipping
off the side
waking up to find
the only thing real
 is the inequity
& when & where did the lady from ellis island
lose her tongue
to mostly silence now
unlike the days when my grandparents
landed on the lower east side of ny
tenements of anarchists and socialists
litvak now american
sisters of the triangle shirt factory fire
putting their shoulders to the machinery
of the amalgamated
steaming canal street pushcarts
 america where do we go from here?

the great woods of the maritime provinces
gathered up loyalists
from the american revolution
stole the land of the aboriginal nations
disowned french colonizers
& tucked them away
for their eventual debut
on the grand ole opry of the 1950s
interdependence not independence
should be the message of every july 4th
 still
african people die of malaria and aids
while the exxons keep our attention split
 on gas prices
 middle east war contracts
 the meaninglessness of all the variations
 of republicrats
always with an oily hand
in our pocket
 america where do we go from here?

hank snow kept bringing up
his lobster pots empty
like the last of them crawled out
at high tide
made their great escape
searching deeper quieter coves
leaving those depending on their catch
to find new ways of surviving
 chords and stories
plucked out on rickety wooden stages
of appalachia
broken-down coal miner pentecostal churches
rock farmers of eastern kentucky
louisiana delta blues sharecroppers
their children & grandchildren
being trashed
in a bloody crucible of energy politics
rationalizing the new world order
of the takers and plunderers
 america where are the givers?
 where do we go from here?

wetlands and hardwoods
north of liverpool nova scotia
a sanctuary with many answers
will we find them
find links from the mi’kmaq ancestors
guardians of the living
before the spoiling
connections the status seekers
killers of the dream
are blind to
 from the depths off digby neck
there’s a secret or two
we need to pay attention to
‘cause the sea never gives up its dead
 space in our memories
  marooned inner-voices

— e b bortz