An American Dream

An American Dream
by Josh Gaines

The American dream rejects us.
The prospect of earned respect
Through hard work is suspect
At best.
Beneath the weight of economic neglect,
Like pyramid boulders
That slump our shoulders
That make us colder.
When they say Giza
Wasn’t built by slaves,
That just means
In some way they were paid,
But that didn’t make them free.

Society has never been
More controlled
Than by the power of the paycheck.

My mother had this idea
That was crazy
About making money
To free me
From a system
That would find me
Bind me
Charge me and fine me
Hold me
Control me
And hang me from a rope
Made by men for the hope
Of a dollar
With a picture
On the back
Of a pyramid
That watches
Their every move.
My mother had this idea
And I wanted to be a poet.
And one time
I got sneered at
‘Cause I couldn’t know
Of hard work
Or struggle,
But ask me.

I’ve been car-jacked
Commissioned
Shot at
Kidnapped
Beat up
Broke down
Broke ass
Homeless
Foodless
Fearful
But, cared for.
Someone cared enough
To give me my voice,
One voice among billions,
On a planet among trillions,
In a world where men’s noise fills in
The gaps between wind and thunder
And I wonder,
I wonder if my 1% brothers
Could understand this dichotomy,
Could understand the solidarity of
Our fists in the air
In America’s night,
Pumping for our chance
To stand equal with the elite,
Even if we come
From the streets,
Outside
Wall Street.

Josh Gaines – An American Dream

Josh Gaines recently separated from the Air Force as a Captain, and is currently working towards and MFA in Poetry at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His poems have appeared in “Travelin’ Music”, an Oklahoma anthology from Village Books Press, and “Ain’t Nobody That Can Sing Like Me”, a Woody Guthrie tribute from Mongrel Empire Press. He finished writing his first book “Cigarette Sonatas” this year and has performed in dozens of poetry venues and schools around the country.

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