I come from rural patriotic people. I served in Vietnam--which was probably beginning of doubt for me. The killings of nine Black parishioners in a Charleston church by a young white racist; the many recent videos of unarmed Black men being shot dead by white policemen; the ignorant, violent, overtly racist presidential campaign by Donald Trump; and the grotesque economic income inequality of the country have knocked the old patriotism right out of me. Or I guess I could say I'm involuntarily patriotic. Jimi Hendrix’s 1969 performance of the Star Spangled Banner speaks to me.
O Say Can You See?
for Jimi Hendrix
The national anthem starts making you
an American crazy before you’re born
thirty thousand six hundred & forty-two
times I figure I’ve heard it I was in
my high school band I watch a lot of sports
I know all the words when somebody sings
it on TV I hum the tenor part
when I’m in hell it’ll be the last thing
that gets burned away from me I’ve renounced
my hometown I’ve disavowed the south
& I’ve lately come to see how my country
tis a nightmare no more pledge of allegiance
for me I can’t help it I’m American
can’t get this God damn song out of my brain.
©2016 David Huddle
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