By Michael R Burch
America's Riches Balboa's dream was bitter folly— no El Dorado near, nor far, though seas beguiled and rivers smiled from beds of gold and silver ore. Drake retreated rich with plunder as Incan fled Conquistador. Aztecs died when Spaniards lied, then slew them for an ingot more. The pilgrims came and died or lived in fealty to an oath they swore, and bought with pain the precious grain that made them rich though they were poor. Apache blood, Comanche tears were shed, and still they went to war; they fought to be unbowed and free— such were Her riches, and still are. Ali’s Song They say that gold don’t tarnish. It ain’t so. They say it has a wild, unearthly glow. A man can be more beautiful, more wild. I flung their medal to the river, child. I flung their medal to the river, child. They hung their coin around my neck; they made my name a bridle, “called a spade a spade.” They say their gold is pure. I say defiled. I flung their slave’s name to the river, child. I flung their slave’s name to the river, child. Ain’t got no quarrel with no Viet Cong that never called me nigger*, did me wrong. A man can’t be lukewarm, ’cause God hates mild. I flung their notice to the river, child. I flung their notice to the river, child. They said, “Now here’s your bullet and your gun, and there’s your cell: we’re waiting, you choose one.” At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled. I gave their “future” to the river, child. I gave their “future” to the river, child. My face reflected up, more bronze than gold, a coin God stamped in His own image—Bold. My blood boiled like that river—strange and wild. I died to hate in that dark river, child. Come, be reborn in this bright river, child. (*This had been said by Muhammad Ali: “no Vietcong ever called me nigger” while referring to racial discrimination.)
Michael R. Burch has over 6,000 publications, including poems that have gone viral. His poems have been translated into fourteen languages and set to music by eleven composers. He also edits The HyperTexts (online at www.thehypertexts.com).
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