In This America
Tim Hunt
  In this America deer
  is not game and squirrel
  is to eat.  In this
  America hunger is never
  in season or out of.
  but is.  In this place
  the game warden knows
  who hunts for game and those
  who hunt food.

  	*

  In this America the trophy
  wife fucks the pool boy.
  They do not screw or make
  love.  He plays the part.  He
  doesn’t matter.  In this America
  Pleasure is not meaning.

  	*

  In this America the body
  is a page: the mermaid’s
  black hair braiding the green
  kelp floating from the wrist.
  And studs & piercings—
  tongue, nose, nipples and dick.
  In this America beauty is skin
  deep, a mystery of runes &
  hieroglyphs.  And all advertising
  the truth.

  	*

  In this America the clichés are
  all true—real as casino dollars,
  dice & spinning slot machines.
  In the fluorescence of this America,
  everything glitters: the pole dancer’s
  sequined thong, her smile, the bottles
  behind the bar, the gold chains
  around his neck.  In this America—
  Everyone a winner.

  	*

  In this America, the mountain
  has pulled the coverlet
  of snow over its shoulder.
  It is inscrutable
  or would be if one
  looked up.

  	*

  In this America the sun peels
  the once bright paint from the
  drift of single wide trailers
  at the bend in the creek
  beyond the end of the county road
  where those who are beyond
  The End of the Road
  watch the sun peel the once
  bright paint.

  	*

  In this America the God
  of this America is somewhere
  speaking in tongues and the
  Chosen who hear Him through his writhing
  vessels know the Truth of the words
  they believe they understand.  In
  this America God has come
  unto us as a Snake and we pass
  Him hand to hand because He
  surpasses all understanding
  as we tremble in fear—flesh
  of His flesh.  In this America God
  lives in a Crystal Cathedral
  and all are blessed in electronic vision
  and fill the imagined offering plate
  with real dollars week after week
  to be healed and sanctified through
  the Power and Glory of Preacher
  Bob who is His humble servant.
  In this America the God of this
  America walks on electronic water
  and turns the water into Champagne.
  And most wondrous of all, in this
  America, this God can turn our
  Fear into Hate and we shall call
  it Love and Righteousness Unto
  The End of Time in the Glory of His
  Power which is our fear that we
  Are not, alas, truly sinners but only
  lost in some Wilderness that truly
  doth surpass all understanding.

  	*

  In this America Daddy takes
  his Son to the titty bar and out
  to fish.  Momma takes Missy
  to the Laundromat.  Missy has
  lace panties & Momma cotton.
  Daddy likes lace.

  	*

  In this America, the old woman
  sitting in the back room
  no longer remembers the names
  for the faces that come through
  the door but remembers
  the dust between her toes on the walk
  to school and the feel of flour
  sacking over her hips, and cool
  buttermilk after a bite of cornbread.
  In this America the game show voices
  on the TV are not there as she
  listens to her brothers and sisters
  splashing in the creek, as she
  splashes in the creek as she is
  there, is then.

  	*

  In this America, America
  means everything just like
  “cool” and “dope” and “bees knees
  razzmatazz.”  America—Now
  Fortified with Vitamin Liberty.
  Pass me The America.  Things Go
  Better With America.  America: The Fall
  Collection.  The Season Finale.
  Dancing With America. America’s
  Got America.  I’ve got big hands
  and My America’s bigger
  than your America.  This Sunday
  Attend the America of your choice.

  	*

  In this America, children
  have guns, and clean water
  is a lead pipe cinch.  In this
  America you die fast or slow.
  You choose.  Oh, Freedom!
  And remember: pledge
  your allegiance, cause
  there’s liberty and justice
  for all.

  	*

  In this America a man’s
  Truck is his castle.  In
  this America, a woman’s
  Place is in the home
  after her shift
  at the All-Nite diner
  out by the Interstate
  as she rustles up
  your breakfast and brews
  your coffee.  Ah,
  put a little sugar in that,
  Darlin’.

  	*

  In this America, he
  and she both know
  every bed in the No
  Tell Motel, and as he
  lets her pretend she
  doesn’t, he watches
  as she offers a third eye
  wink, bending to slide
  her jeans to the floor
  and humming
  “Stand By Your Man.”

  	*

  In this America, America
  is the name we give
  this somewhere we call
  America as if all other
  somewheres mustn’t exist.

  	*

  In this America Duck
  Dynasty is not a joke
  ’cause reality is Reality
  TV and hick chic is not
  a schtick and nuthin’
  says Don’t Tread on Me
  like Camo, some chaw,
  and that nice T-Bone
  on the propane grill.

  	*

  After school Daddy
  always takes his baby
  doll for an ice cream
  after he lets her do
  their special secret—
  the one she mustn’t
  tell because only they
  understand.  She likes
  vanilla with Rainbow
  Bright sprinkles.  He
  wipes her chin and takes
  her home.  He watches
  her walk into her room
  and close the door.
  Tomorrow they will again
  be redeemed.  Tomorrow
  he will buy her ice cream,
  vanilla with Rainbow
  Bright sprinkles.

  	*

  In this America we live
  as if name and place
  still marked us as real
  in that litany of Aunts,
  Uncles, and Cousins: of who
  cleaved unto who and who
  begat who and who fell
  into a darkness so that their
  Name became a silence
  as if they had not been.
  In this America there is still
  an Old Testament of the stories
  you once heard but no one
  tells them.

  	*

  In this America we turn
  each week to America’s Biggest
  Loser.  Oh, Rachel and Zeke,
  George and Amanda, we pray
  for you that you might take our pounds
  away.  We bless you for having
  stories to tell and idolize you
  for seeming real.  And we believe,
  Oh truly, that the camera and screen
  could make us real in your image,
  Oh flesh of our flesh, the Power
  and Glory and Amen, the losing forever.

  	*

  In this America you can not
  use food stamps for beer
  and smokes.  In this America
  meat is not enough.

  	*

  In this America we believe
  in the Word
  of the Founding Fathers
  as if our fingers have traced
  the graven stone,
  our faith strong in the chain
  of he saids that he saids that
  they Said as the Word speaks
  to us on talk radio so that we
  do truly know the Word
  that the Fathers must have
  said.  And it doth proclaim
  Thou shalt be a Christian nation
  and Thou shalt have the right
  to dangle an AK47 across your chest
  and stride into the Walmart of your choice
  and all the women shall follow thee
  up and down the aisles of your
  shopping cart with eyes damp
  with submission as you lead them
  into that promised land
  of your bidding, the bondage that
  shall make them free, and they
  shall worship thee in the faith
  that you believe in the Word
  of the Founding Fathers
  as you have heard that Word—
  the truth, white and pure.  The
  truth that shall save us from
  the black letters of what
  was once written that would
  betray us into a wilderness
  of words.

  	*

  In this America, the woman
  in the stiletto boots and
  designer jeans with the curlicue
  stitching as if tattoos on her
  perfect pilates ass, the silk
  blouse all bordello frill, and cute
  cowboy hat has come here
  to be authentic—as if Dale
  Evans bought her costumes in Paris
  and didn’t know the difference
  between what you wore on the set
  and wore on the ranch.  Sipping
  her latté she looks at the hills
  as if they are a painting.  She likes
  to think of the horses running
  in the pasture, sun dappled and sleek.
  She doesn’t like you—your boots
  work worn, your truck work worn,
  you work worn.  She likes the picture
  better without you.  She wishes
  you’d move away, but where could you
  go, in this America that is her
  America—the one that no longer seems
  to be yours.
Tim Hunt has published three collections, Poem's Poems & Other PoemsThe Tao of Twang, and Fault Lines.  Recognitions include the Chester H. Jones National Poetry Prize and three Pushcart nominations. Originally from the hill country of northern California, he recently retired from Illinois State University, where he was University Professor of English.