I traveled these United States
to see the wonders of the continent
and harmlessly flirt with cafe waitresses.
As I traveled I learned the word united
holds looser connections
than the dictionary suggests.
We are ten thousand cultures
based on personal freedom of expression
and dodging responsibility.
The stripes of the flag
might as well represent bloody bandages
on our collective social wounds—
not the original thirteen colonies
steeped in racism, genocide
I found the practice of religion common.
But it was mostly Sunday only Christianity.
Not something lived through each breath.
I met a great deal of kindness
but I was a tourist. Not homeless or single
struggling to raise a child alone.
On clear nights I noticed
the stars shone down upon all of us
with the same intensity.
copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney