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HEY, CAN’T YOU SEE?

“We have no right to believe that if anything were
different from what it is, anything else would be the
same as what it is.”—J. McT. E. McTaggart

Up, up, my friend, we’re missing the parade.
No? Why not? The fife and drum?
The uniforms? Hey this is not Iran,
Hitler’s Reich, or Imperial Japan.
This is America.

So, Jefferson was “really.” Is that true?
And Washington? Him, too? Have you considered
the “really” number I could do on you?
Ah, let that pass. But tell me this:
What would you have had those people do?

Wait! Before you speak, think how the flight
of a butterfly in Kansas can
ignite a dust storm in Afghanistan.
Tweak the historical record you’ll start up
differences in all directions.
The Indians—what if they’d won? Or the Mexicans?
What if the white tops hadn’t rocked and rolled
to Whitman’s Mission and to Sutter’s Mill?
Would there have even been a Civil War?
And what then of the slaves?

What if we’d let the Kaiser colonize
the Philippines? Or not dropped Little Boy?
Tojo was planning a giant Okinawa
Think of the final battle inside Troy.
What then would the occupation have been like?

Someday we will learn from someone clever
how to pick the fly poop out of pepper.
But good from evil? Never. Just the same
we have to choose. And so, my friend, would you
choose to be interned by us or them?

A citizen of the world? Come off it, man.
You’ve got U.S.A. all over you.
Hey, Mister American is what you’ll hear
anywhere on earth. So pop a beer,
and let’s go celebrate our nation’s birth.

Herbert Knapp

This poem is from Did You See This? Poems to Provoke the Politically Correct. For more poems from this book, see girandolebooks.com. For poetic commentary, see my blog, Poems and Prayers. http://ppp.girandolebooks.com