Portrait of the Nation, Circa 2016

statute of liberty nyc 2005 aashish vaidya

“Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand”

Auntie Thrilla from Wasilla. She will greet you

With twitchy eyes and not so open arms.

She’ll say:

Heh, ancient lands, with your storied pomp,

We can no longer take

“your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,”

For you’re not the right size, the shape, or color

Your eyes are not the steely blue of the sky

Your hair, not the golden rays of the sun

You don’t speak in the right tongue

You don’t say Yahweh as we do.


She’ll say:

We can’t greet you little children with

“gift baskets of teddy bears and soccer balls”

For you might grow up to be drug peddlers,

rapists, terrorists and killers.  


Auntie Thrilla from Wasilla will say:

Ancient lands keep your wretched, stinking

refuse on your own teeming shores,

Don’t send us your homeless, we got no place for them,

You may be “yearning to breathe free”,

but our air doesn’t have enough free oxygen

for you and your kin.


Notes: Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem that takes the form of a family portrait.  I came across a news story about 2016 election campaign.  So then I expanded the frame from an immediate family to a wider national  portrait.


News story on 2016 election campaign

Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

Stereo. Typical.

(after Eileen Myles)

You must

be really

smart you

must be a

genius you

an engineer?

a doctor?

an IT guy? You


eat spicy

curry like


do you

have relatives

working in a


center can

you do that head

bobbing thing

it’s so

hilarious but I

mean no

offense by it

you don’t

have an accent can

you speak with

an accent, it’s so

cool no

but where

are you ori-

ginally from?

No but originally

from? I bet


you play with


everyday like that


song when

you grow up you

think you will

get arranged

marriage I bet

you speak fluent

Indian I bet


family owns a

motel how

can you find


head offensive. I


after all

you put a dot

on your for-

head. I bet all

your get to-

gethers break out

in Bollywood

song and dance


You must be

limber as hell




and all.


Notes: An example of Eileen Myles’ poems: An American Poem.  The style that I used in writing this poem.