An American Show

a poem inspired by Caitlin Johnstone

The curtain rises on two marionettes dangling
stage left and stage right,
their nine gossamer strings disappearing into darkness above,
tied to manicured hands framed with bespoke cuffs
almost hidden from view
not if you look hard
but who wants to look hard, when
the puppet pair floating front and center is so easy on the eyes:
she in crimson, hair kissed with caramel highlights, pouty lips
he in cerulean, a salt-and-pepper pompadour, chiseled features
they are made of wood, you know
not just pretty faces, but credible too

“UNITED WE STAND” they shout in unison,
chewing the scenery in charged melodramas about
gun control abortion state’s rights health care
things they will never agree on
things they care they care they care sooo deeply about
because why else would they SHOUT
unless — unless —

“HOME OF THE FREE” they croon,
a reassuring tune to soothe away doubt
and the song must be true, why else would they sing it
and you find yourself lulled into singing along, unless
you disagree/you weren’t born here/you say things no one likes to hear
which no one likes to hear
so they harmonize LOUDER
until — until —

“JUSTICE FOR ALL” dazzles,
a heart-stirring crowd-pleaser of leaps and spins
choreographed by those skillful fingers that are still unseen, remember
shh, because watching this dance feels so good, so right
that the audience sighs with deep satisfaction,
surrenders to velvet seats and shrugs off
the few who are too foreign/too faceless
because there are so FEW, but then that same annoying gadfly has to ask
does justice include the too big/too famous? and
unfortunately — unfortunately –

shatters that lovely fourth wall and the marionettes hang limp,
FOR GOD’S SAKE, why do these killjoys have to ruin it for others,
there must be something wrong with them
only a malcontent freak points out the makeup and the costumes
and the strings
why can’t they just SHUT THE HELL UP and enjoy the show
or even better JUST LEAVE, and thank GOD the poor marionettes
faltered only a moment and can somehow soldier on
to high-kick and belt out their grand finale
the one everyone’s been waiting for,
the one that no one no one no one could question or possibly ruin:
“GET OUT THE VOTE”

just remember the strings


If my writing moved you, please consider clicking the clapping symbol below (the more you click, the more you clap) and sharing.

Thank you! ~MP

Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Written by

I write to entertain, educate, and enlighten — myself and others.

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