I Grew Up

I grew up

With chocolate coated Cocoa Puff dreams
of happily ever after,
And I believed it.

When I grew up,
There was no war.
We stood by
little wooden chairs
and said
I pledge allegiance
to the flag of God’s Blessed America,
And I believed it.

When I grew up,
The West Was Wild,
And John Wayne was the ruler.
Evil never won,
And I believed it.

Where I grew up,
The Marines flew through the air
like diving acrobatic swallows
with bumble bees that carried honey
to their hives
preparing for, I guess,
winter,
And I believed it.

When I grew up,
My sisters and me
climbed trees and low crawled
through ditches
to get a better aim
with rifle sticks
designed to
take out horsepower driven Indians,
And I believed it.

When I grew up,
The belt was for my own good,
and mama had to do it to teach me a lesson,
And I believed it.

When I grew up,
I got a baby in my sixteen year old belly
by a boy that I thought was a man,
that was miscarried away,
and we were all better off,
cause only God knows what’s best,
And I believed it.

As I grew up,
I began to see
that happily ever after
did not mean ivory towers
and prince charming,
and that the pledge of allegiance
made me the wooden chair,
and John Wayne was an actor
with cancer eating at his suffering soul
and that good almost never wins.

When I was older
The diving swallows became bombers
and the bumble bees
were carrying guns and vehicles
necessary for defense
against the atom bomb
that at any moment
could eat into God’s blessed America
like John Wayne’s cancer.

As time went on,
I saw four little girls climbing
towers of tears
low crawling through ditches
of pain and anger
with no ammunition
for protection,
and that the belt gave a beating
and mama still thinks
it was the right thing to do,
and that the boy was a boy
and the baby was better off there
wherever that was
cause here is hell,
and the enemy is my neighbor
and worst of all me.

Nobody prepared me
for the real
they stacked me on a shelf
in a censored library
where the very tools
that were designed teach were
always just out of my reach.
forcing me to face
a firing squad of nonfictitious reality.

Published in Western Maryland College’s Anthology, Spring 2001