‘A Letter to America’ by BPT Australia Correspondent Olatundji Akpo-Sani

 Dear America,

I said I wasn’t going to do this, but I can’t help myself.  We always had that in common.  “That” being poor impulse control.  Anyway, I just wanted to see how you were doing.  I’ve heard some disturbing rumours.   I want you to know that despite the lies and the treachery, I still have love for you.  I don’t want to, but I do.  Lying to myself won’t help with the healing process and believe it or not, I really want this to be about healing.   

America, you have a problem.  You are addicted to bullshit.

Call this an attempt at an intervention.  Call this a misguided and ill-informed attempt to make myself feel better.  Call this whatever the fuck you want, but please, just take a step back and listen.  

America, you have a problem.  You are addicted to bullshit.  You used to be a functional bullshit addict so I ignored the signs.  We made nice and kept up with the Jones’s. But at some point it just wasn’t enough was it? Snorting bullshit just didn’t cut it anymore.  So you upped the ante, found the purest bullshit you could, cinched the belt, tapped the vein, pulled back just a bit to make sure you were in, and then plunged.  Mainlining whatever bullshit made you feel better.  I know pure bullshit feels good, but trust me when I say: You are Going the Wrong Way.  

I mean I know you think you have lots of other problems.  You think the current type of bullshit is the problem, or maybe it was the previous type of bullshit and at least this bullshit is new and refreshing.  You think others are jealous of your bullshit and just want to tear it down.   You even believe your own pie in the sky, pull yourself up from your bootstraps, white picket fence bullshit.   

'bullshit is bullshit'

I need to be clear here.  Bullshit is bullshit is bullshit.  The type of bullshit doesn’t matter in the least. You neglect your children and wonder why drugs are a problem.  You pay the wealthy to be wealthy and wonder why the poor are angry.  You let corporations buy authority and wonder why everyone is apathetic.  You trade freedom and independence for the illusion of safety.  When I hear you use words like justice, compassion, values, and facts, I wonder if you know what they really mean or if you are just making it up. Remember, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem and my friend you do have a problem.  I admit I am no saint.  I have had my own dalliances with bullshit.  I know how good it feels to put today’s problems on the backs of tomorrow.

God damn it!  There is such promise in your soul.

I still remember when I walked out. You were sitting on the couch with that superior shit-eating grin because after a lifetime of vanilla bullshit, you were proud you had decided to try some chocolate bullshit.  You ignored the increased deportations.  You ignored the erosion of individual rights.  You even ignored the increased income gaps.  Why? Because you had finally tried chocolate bullshit.  I tried to tell you it was still bullshit, but you didn’t listen.  Instead you doubled down and now, well now look at you.  I mean really look…  You look like shit.

God damn it!  There is such promise in your soul.  I have seen it in your bebop scatting of intellectual innovations.  Your cultural combinations mimicking miracles, and life pollocking the print screen of reality.  I remember hearing you whisper this poem to me as I fell asleep in your arms – you said it was an old favourite – the light that lit your way…

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

(New Colossus By Emma Lazarus)

What happened to that golden door? What happened to reviling “storied pomp”?   I mean I know you started out in a genocidal blood bath, but birth is painful and sometimes violent.  Your shame around that is probably where the bullshit addiction first started.  Maybe you just need to get real honest with yourself and ask for forgiveness from all those you have been fucking with for the past 400 years.  Maybe you need to get down off your high horse and take an honest inventory, admit your wrong doings, and beg forgiveness.  Time has not run out.  Humility is a much more stable foundation than hostility.  Quit shaking ineffectual fists and protesting against the “kind” of bullshit you are mainlining and put down the needle.  Quite letting bullshit divide you.  Get yourself together before it’s too late.  

Look to your artists, writers and most importantly your poets.

Well, I must be off now.  I’ll write more soon.  I hope you know how much love I have for you and how much it hurts me to see you go through this process. There is always hope though because there is no such thing as an ending.  Every moment is an opportunity to start something new.  Look to your artists, writers and most importantly your poets.  They will keep you in tune for they are your heart, your soul, your truth and your conscience.  

Until next time.

The Baobob Tree

crocodile-dundee-001 Olatundji Akpo-Sani usta live and make poetry in Boulder for a long time.  He was the co-host of the Burnt Toast-NoName weekly open mic series, co-editor of Baobob Tree Press, and a general is-there-whenever-you-need-him artistic ally.  One day he had an epiphany to wander the globe seeking adventures and some kinduv elusive spiritual freedom.  Now he’s in Australia, where we assume he lives with the crocodiles, carries a big knife, and has added perspective from living 14 hours into the future.