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Snapshots Of Current America

I took this photo while we were on our trip to Washington D.C.  I love the architecture and the art often found within and around the structures.

I took this photo while we were on our trip to Washington D.C. I love the architecture and the art often found within and around the structures.

Snapshots of Current America

Recall what you saw
All you can remember
Storms long ago ignited
Will unleash what they can no longer hold

Music was just waiting to be played
There was a man in white linen pants
He began to play a beautiful piece
But barely had the chance

There was something tribal and glitchy
Something mechanical and thoughtful
There was someone drawn to the beauty
Then he turned and the music was gone

Suddenly covered head, no fight to be had
The man was sitting there looking hopeless
From whence came the gun? Where had it been?
Gun was pulled, pose in place
I barely recall if I really saw his face

So the idea of freely creating something so lovely
Something with beautiful, heartfelt sound
Must die so tidily?

My heart begins to break, only no time for that
The kids have to deal
This is America you see
Destructive things get the ginger care.
Carried away on a crimson cloth and carefully secured
Lest it is injured, found or fall
Like the man who dared to create a song, the man in the white linen pants

Let us quickly set it aside and move on
Dressed for school, work, or play
There's time for dealing with what breaks the monotony
We've lists to check and dancing to do
Smiles wide as the horizon
As survival dictates and rises to the top
Yet lives are still so easily skimmed and discarded

Gotta get your money even if people riot in the streets
Abandoned cars of both citizens and police
Even if you don't catch the news
There's money to be made and literally blown
It's just too easy to hide under a stone
As if rocks were a refuge from ourselves

Then there is a thing of beauty singing to the heavens
Roses among thorns
For this is America you see
Melody so beautiful, people living and sharing their joy

Attracting at least one and bringing a smile
Moved to dance given the chance
They clap to their heart's content and never intend to stop
When suddenly countenance is clouded
Dark shadow casted
No time is lost in catching the auto...

This is America you see
Lives fall and drop to their knees, some on their faces
Their blood is on the wall, it's over with not a beat skipped
Quick as it came, a weapon used for evil
Is whisked away gingerly on a crimson cloth
Because destructive things without souls get the ginger care

Police seem absent, are they running amok or maybe shot down?
Their cars abandoned with lights ablaze
People come running with 2x4's and tools
Above their heads often raised
Where are we running now, please tell when you know

A white-collar just threw himself off the second storey
Another life lost
Nearly escaping observation
No time now to know his story or destination

Kids watch both the carnage and fun from their angles
Voices silenced when there is so much to say
Mouths covered in white cloths whether by selves or others
Safely recording and sharing, as we do so well
While their souls are being trained to lay low
And innocent subconsciouses bear the brunt while they slumber tonight

Now get back to happy
There's fun to be had
And so much to process, but where to remotely begin?
The recklessness is hard to deny, and I'd rather be mesmerized anyway
Surely we can put off another day the musings of evil
The dark that can roll in like midnight waves

I've been living the dream
I've got connections and more
You'd be green if you knew
I won't be a victim, I know when to settle a score

The man in white linen pants is back with covered face
A few memories now melding and something is out of place
The lovely music he made revisits a moment
A haunting or miracle, I don't know which it is
Let my escape roll on while my thoughts and feelings go dormant
It's always an option when those around just foment

Warning signs come and go, set in stone, paper, and light
Hazards even blinking if you'll care to notice
Then strobe on even if you don't
Until even they too lose their power to transmit like signals of smoke
I don't even notice and just do what strikes my fancy
While living my way and shutting down the inner voice so readily

There is something in my peripheral, I notice but blankly stare
Suddenly everything is gone and walls close in
Sun has set, and terror engulfs
In a kind of suffocating horror
In a darkness that renders all mute and nearly blind

No seconds to feel for a gun or an about-dead phone
Matters not when seconds are lost and people run for their lives
From something far worse
White coats not exempt
With nothing to numb or protect, as if it even matters now
We didn't heed the warnings

No time to contemplate the universe's message
The things I thought mattered most
Have no value in saving me from what causes this stark fear
All those distractions didn't just get me through the days
The illusions were fertile soil enabling something far greater to grow
To come in and set up camp

When darkness is darkest
And sheer terror overwhelms
Only run fast toward the light
While we are still in time as we know

Do wake up... And not from a dream
Is your soul trying to get your attention again?
Will and push toward the light
There is something of strength yet untapped deep within

Paula Dente Betz

© 2018 Paula


Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on November 11, 2019:

Hello Bridgette, I love the thoughts you share in your comment, thank you so much.

Bridgette Crowe from Morrow on August 21, 2019:

The picture you painted is so real. There are those parts that sound hopeful while continuing to express poetically a frightening world in which we remain, in spite of all the chaos, apathetic or in denial. A beautiful and compelling observation. I'm going to watch the video.

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on July 05, 2018:

Hello Eileen, I know this can seem kind of dark while there is still so much good going on in America too. I was so inspired by the video I mention called "This is America." I felt compelled to try to understand the message and what was going on in the video. Also, to understand what he was running from at the end. I had to ask, what would explain all of this. As an artist, Donald Glover didn't respond really when asked to explain what the video meant. He wanted it to be up to the viewer. I love how it has inspired so many to give their thoughts on it in videos and blogs everywhere, as well as social media. This is my take on a response to it.

Eileen, I do see how it can have some similarities to the UK. Thank you for reading and for your comment. Paula

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 18, 2018:

Gives this Brit an honest glimpse of USA and it has some similarities to UK. Thanks Paula

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on June 13, 2018:

Hello Mark, thank you very much. Paula

Mark Tulin from Palm Springs, California on June 05, 2018:

Love the tension and anxiety in this poem. You were able to maintain it throughout with your beautiful perceptions.

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on June 02, 2018:

Hello Peggy, It is an amazing world, and our country is also. It is fascinating to watch things change over time and live in and among all the beauty and harsh things that come along. How people navigate through life's most difficult challenges and joys is something we all must think about and deal with. So often lately I feel just so thankful to be alive and am amazed we can ponder it all. Thank you for your comment. Paula

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on June 02, 2018:

Mary, thank you for your thoughts. Yes, there are times when survival matters most and people do what they can in those moments. The warnings can definitely be wake up calls for sure. Thank you for readin and commenting. Paula

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 02, 2018:

This is an amazing poem capturing the beauty of America and some of the evil that exists at the same time. I grew up in the "duck and cover" generation when people who could afford it had bomb shelters built. Nothing came of that unlike today when innocent kids in school or people attending concerts or watching a movie or attending church services suddenly become targets and are randomly killed. It is crazy!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 01, 2018:

This is such a beautiful call for us to wake up. There is still time though in tiny packets, this is already happening. Flash flood, for example, when all you could manage is save your life and that of others around. Everything else did not matter. These are warnings which we need to heed but some of us seem to live in a dream.

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