I Grew Up


I grew up
with chocolate covered
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,
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