News Poetry: Made in America

You have the right to bear arms
to bear poverty
to bear discrimination.

You have the right to assemble
in free-speech zones
behind well-marked chain link fences.

You have the right to the free exercise
of shopping and driving.

You have the right to a fair trial,
and if you cannot afford one,
some other arrangement will be made.

You have the right to work
in a department store,
a fast-food restaurant,
a for-profit prison.

You have the right to be secure
in knowing that your personal data will not be sold
unless a good profit is to be had.

You have the right to an education
based on your zip code
on a need to know basis.

You have the right to an attorney,
to a financial advisor
to an insurance salesman.

You have the right to bake cakes,
bake cookies, bake pies,
for all blue-eyed, heterosexual, Christians.

You have the right to stand your ground
against all things foreign and Dominican,
against all things black and brown.

You have the right to remain silent.
You have the right to remain silent.
You have the right to remain silent.

_____

From the Poetry Editor:  We are ending the year with a round of news poems by Antonito poet, Tony Alcantara.  Enjoy this marvelous work!

Photo credit: Sticker Giant, Creative Commons, Flickr
Jose A. Alcantara is a former construction worker, baker, commercial fisherman, math teacher, and studio photographer. He currently works in a bookstore in Aspen, Colorado. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Poetry Daily, The Southern Review, Spillway, Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, and 99 Poems for the 99%.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is my current fav poem, and a highlight of the recent Crestone Poetry Festival, where Mr. Alcantara read this poem and others – and co-led a workshop on News Poetry. This poem articulates the present realities of the great American experiment and calls us to stand strong for the true rights forming the foundation of our still-young and very troubled nation.

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