American Sugar

The American dream was a sweeter snack than Oreos,

More satisfying than a steak dinner.

How full I felt on reveries of ascendance,

A descendant of our independence.

I’m older now.

No longer covered in cookie crumbs and innocence.

 

Zip codes

And classes away,

Poor kids feast like I did–

On dreams like candy bars.

On a name brand future to erase a Goodwill past.

 

They’ll grow up too,

But not like me.

Obstacles will slice their dreams just large enough to fill a jail cell.

Access will be a foreigner to their fingertips.

Uncle Sam is a fair-weather relative to the projects,

And a wealthy politician scolds them for not trying,

For not vying for the highest.

They are dodging bullets,

Raising babies while babies themselves,

But a pointed finger has no sympathy.

 

The American Dream is a craving too strong for Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig to overpower,

Night after night,

Generation after generation gorges itself on too many fantasies and not enough resources when morning comes.

I ponder why my dawn is sunlight and roosters crowing

While theirs is sirens and food stamps.

And I have to wonder

Can we wake from the American dream?

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