©Carla Williams-Namboodiri 2017

©Carla Williams-Namboodiri, 2017

What did you say?
Say what?
Tell me again what you mean
When you say
Make America great again

Do you mean great
Like the buffalo that roamed
the prairies of my heart
Or the once crystal clear
Great Lakes?

Or great like the voice
Of Tecumseh, who warned,
“Brothers, the white men came among us feeble, and now we have made them strong”

No, that doesn’t really sound like who or what you mean

Tell me again what you mean,
When you say you want to build a wall
To keep our lives from coming in
Against the laws those great forefathers
Wrote to steal land Fair and Square

Can you explain, in polite terms,
Where and how you made
America
Was it before the Civil War or after it?
Was it when the Constitution
Settled on counting Africa’s children
As the three-fifths human
Or after blood and terror
Set us free?

Do tell, just once more,
Is your great America lily white,
With small apartheid “black spots”
Reserved for first nations,
“Hispanic-Latinos” and “inner-city blacks”

Or is it a modest version
Of a whitewashed college campus
After rolling back affirmative action
Rolling back to them good old days, ain’t it?

Down at the country club
Or was it the golf club,
With that private spa,
With the black attendant

How fun it was!
How he had to hold the towel,
while you jiggled your pecker,
And how you all called him Charlie Brown, laughing together

Though his name was Charles Brownstone,
After his father the master mason,
Like his fathers before him,
Who worked to buy freedom

Tell me once more,
What you really mean
About “Make America Great Again”
Do you mean like,
The Beach Boys
Or Chuck Berry singing,
“Rock and Roll Music,”
Crisscrossing color lines

When you say America,
It does not sound
Like me saying it

When you say
make it great
It sounds like
screams
Of nuclear bombs
On Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Nothing at all like the greatness
Promised
By the truths we hold
To be self-evident
That we are all equally
Endowed with
Certain liberties

The America of which you speak
Was discovered
By Christopher Columbus
Who got lost
Because he thought
The world was flat

©Carla Williams-Namboodiri, 2017

Carla Williams-Namboodiri is a writer and humanities teacher working on surviving the next four years.

3 Responses to “Tell Me Again by Carla Williams-Namboodiri”

  1. Alison McDonald Says:

    So powerful and excellent. Thank you for sharing your writing.

    1. carlaspeak Says:

      Thanks! Hope you add your verse to DP soon, and that your post-OUSD stretch is working magic. I remain in H&H, and working with kids breeds hope for a better tomorrow.


  2. thanks, Carla! Great job of spelling out what has needed to be asked! courage and carry on!
    and your lovely image of the ski slope overlooking the pacific –How far we climbed with Obama, and what a long-way down we may go before we settle in to climb again — Hope we can keep those ski-lifts in place!

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