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Poetry: J.D. Schraffenberger

Miss South Carolina


Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate
the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is so?

I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so,
To orient the splinters of their feverish burdens, to order
Their doubts, to uncoil the confusion of syntax with love,

Because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps,
Cannot locate their own cities of ravenous desire, run their fingers
Along the crisp red crisscrossing lines home, learn the angles

Of circumstance, and I believe that our education (like, such as)
In South Africa and the Iraq of our furthering dreams,
Everywhere, everywhere (like, such as, and whatnot, so forth

And so on amen), and I believe that they should—I believe
That we should—no matter our obligations to beauty,
No matter the itch of our hankering loins, no matter the words

To the song, no matter, no matter, no matter—our education
Over here in the U.S. should help the U.S.—ever reflexive, ever
Imploring Come hither, come here, come spell out your plea of syllabary

Grief—or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq
We’ve imagined at peace, if only our words could stand up
To the sea of such longing, could unbaffle us again unto belief—

Whatever can be helped to be helped, whatever can be loved
To be loved, and the Asian countries windswept with the dust
Of a million futures, so we will be able to build up our future.

All rights reserved to J.D. Schraffenberger.

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