Detail from "Apotheosis of Washington" at the U.S. Capitol Building.Poetry Challenge: ‘My country used to be… ‘ The Society May 14, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Deconstructing Communism, Poetry, Poetry Contests 44 Comments New York poet Joe Tessitore challenges poets to begin a poem with these words: My country used to be… Post your poem in the comments section below. (Poems should be metered.) Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 44 Responses Sally Cook May 14, 2020 My Country used to be Filled with great dignity; Each one his own. . My country used to be More than a travesty — Who could have known we’d be Tied to a phone? Lost to reality, Wed to a flat TV;. Slaves to what we can’t see –. How we have grown. Reply James A. Tweedie May 14, 2020 And “God Save the Queen!” “Tis of thee,” Sally, that I sing. Nice, and both serious and funny at the same time, too. Reply Joe Tessitore May 14, 2020 Sally led off and hit it out of the park! Sally Cook May 14, 2020 Thank you, James, both for making me the subject of your .comment, and for recognizing that I am often simultaneously serious and funny. Susan Jarvis Bryant May 15, 2020 Poetry meets sagacity, wonderfully. Sally, your poem certainly captures the travesty of the modern era. Reply Alan May 14, 2020 All Things Lofty My country used to be a book of myths, Believed to be the truth by working stiffs. Now those who seek the truth cannot make out Which info’s true, which info is in doubt. Our privacy’s destroyed by ones and noughts; Our jobs, usurped by ANI robots. Confusion never was this thick before; We cannot trust our neighbors anymore. When people do not have some faith and trust, Then all things lofty fall into the dust. No truth, no trust, no jobs, no clothes, no cash; Will we just sit and watch it slowly crash? Reply Joe Tessitore May 14, 2020 It seems so. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 15, 2020 Alan, you tune into these deceitful times with a fine poetic eye. Reply Peter Austin May 14, 2020 My Country Used to Be My country used to be a rotten place Where blacks and reds received an equal place With whites who’re twice as blue as indigo And not too damn yellow to let it show; But now the Oval’s manned by one whose shade Is orange (note the hair that hasn’t greyed!) And loves to midnight-tweet in purple prose Instead of being scared of palest rose And kicks the shit from everything that’s pink And signs his name in spikes with ebon ink; Yet still, in every poll, he’s going down (Can’t you see where his pants are turning brown?), So, if you don’t want neighbours who’re Iraqi, Don’t vote the Dems back in: they’re full of khaki! [Paid for by the Donald Trump re-election campaign.] Reply Sally Cook May 14, 2020 Damn the cost, when near to Boston My folks fought at Bunker Hill — Other places, too. The traces Of their nation linger still. Who cares what the Donald’s hair is – Who says what the polls say? Do You reject our leader, where his Brain is must be bothering you. Can’t you see our country used to Have a vigorous bustling hum. Donald brought it back; will do Again; to hate him’s really dumb. Reply Joe Tessitore May 15, 2020 My verses demonstrate I am a child of hate. I am not whole. Completely overwrought, Incapable of thought, For pennies I’ve been bought, Shackled, my soul. Reply T. M. Moore May 14, 2020 My country used to be an earth-bound entity firm built on sand. Upheavals, tumults, wars tattered her stripes and stars and left unhealing scars on ev’ry hand. This native land I love bends ‘neath the burden of self-love and hate. While far-off names contend for pow’r that knows no end and endless wealth to spend on projects great. We who the people are scattered both near and far over this land, our lost republic mourn; that which by blood was born now seems forever torn – how shall it stand? My homeland waits above, where my King rules in love, ever to reign. For that yet coming land, I take my fervent stand, and lend my mind and hand its shores to gain. Yet now I work and pray that there may come a day – soon may it be! – when through this burdened land Christ once again will stand reaching with nail-scarred hand to set men free. Reply Joe Tessitore May 14, 2020 Amen! Spur of the moment, and beautiful! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 15, 2020 Beautiful, indeed! Reply Martin Rizley May 15, 2020 I share your prayer, T.M. Beautiful poem! Reply Joe Tessitore May 14, 2020 My Country used to be A land of liberty But not today. Battered and tempest tossed Safety at any cost Despite the freedoms lost This price I’ll pay. I am a horse’s ass I think this too shall pass I am a fool. And I will never learn All bridges they will burn There will be no return When tyrants rule. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 15, 2020 A fine poetic observation and so very true. Thank you for the challenge. Reply Marieke Vos May 14, 2020 My country used to be one of butter mountains My country is now one that is ‘mostly flat’ according to google maps My buttery country was one of friendly neighbors It was one of helpfulness, silly clean sidewalks and a howdoyoudo for all passersby My country was one of free sailing and high flying adventure seekers Slowly we have been mislead to believe in an atheist future full of immoral monkeys In that we would be those monkeys And forget our golden past I dare say no I dare say we shall return to our over flowing milk buckets I dare say we shall return to our greenest meadows Will you wait for science to save you? Will you lay down and wait for the state to decide what to do now? Or will you unlearn the lies that made you helpless, hopeless, dependent and scared? You are one of us, one of those who sailed the Seven Seas And you can learn to hope again Why would I not repent and let past wrongs be gone? Why would I not be a better person? Will we be a strong people again Will we be free spirits again, devout, brave and kind? Reply James A. Tweedie May 14, 2020 My country used to be a narrow place For those not of an Anglo/Scottish hue. A land where those not of a chosen race Were lynched or segregated out of view. Where “Yellow” was a designated peril, And “Red” uncivilized, a savage tribe. And Catholics, the bottom of the barrel— All drunks and mobsters, eager for a bribe. Yet still the wretched refuse of the poor And persecuted of the world still stand In hope of coming to my country’s shore, Their “city on a hill,” their “promised land.” Despite its flaws, America, it seems Is still a land of liberty . . . and dreams. Reply Martin Rizley May 15, 2020 Hi James, Your vision of America´s past has a lot of truth in it. There is no doubt that a number of injustices lie in our history– sins that can in no wise be justified– but I like the way you balance the negative with the positive, recognizing that, for all its faults, a land which in principle prizes liberty (even if this was not always the shared blessing of all) is still to be preferred over nations lying under the thrall of despotic regimes where God-given liberties and the rule of law are routinely trampled upon. I have some friends in one very troubled nation of Latin America whose dream is to immigrate to the United States some day, because of the promise of liberty and prosperity that it holds. So the U.S. still holds a strong attraction for people around the globe; but I fear it is living on the capital of a more principled past, and is therefore, on life support. Your poem reminds me of the words of Oliver Cromwell when someone wanted to paint his portrait– “I´ll let you do so, but you must paint me as I really am, warts and all!” We must do the same in describing America´s past. We must not blind ourselves to the warts. The problem with the cultural Marxists who dominate the universities and public schools today, however, is that they see nothing in America´s past but one giant wart, and do not value the principles of its founding. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 15, 2020 James, the closing couplet of this well crafted sonnet makes my heart sing. Reply James A. Tweedie May 15, 2020 Thank you Martin and Susan for affirming my poem. Martin, your final sentence is a cogent summary of the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in. It reminds me of the Chesterton parable about the English boy who longed to see one of the great hillside chalk carvings. He hated life on the farm where he was raised and finally abandoned home and family and ran away. As he came to the top of the hill opposite his family farm, he turned back for one final glance and saw that the farm was in, in fact, set in the middle of one of the chalk carvings, but he had been too close to it to see it. That is how I see America. Except the intelligencia that wants to abandon what we have for a mess of pottage is too arrogant to look back and see that we are already the land of opportunity, freedom, law, liberty and dreams. Maybe Mao was on to something. Instead of mandatory military service, all university and federal employees should be required to spend one year working on a farm or in a meat packing plant and experience some REAL real politik, rub shoulders with a different set of “real” people, and, as a bonus, celebrate true diversity while they’re at it! Joseph S. Salemi May 18, 2020 Martin, both you and James Tweedie are laboring under the massive delusion that America is founded on an intellectual proposition — namely, that “all men are created equal.” No nation is founded upon words, and those particular words are intellectually insane. Martin Rizley May 19, 2020 Dr. Salemi, Nevertheless, they are the words of the founding fathers. I’m sure you would agree they were no intellectual lightweights, nor were they Marxists pursuing Utopian dreams of a classless society in which all difference between men have been eliminated. They certainly did not not mean to deny the natural inequalities that exist between men in terms of their strengths, endowments, gifts and opportunities, but rather their sole intention was to affirm the God-given equality of all men before the law, as the words that follow make plain– “and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. . .” Not only did they regard that as a “sane ” proposition; they were willing to fight a war against the King of England in its defense, as a later generation of Americans were willing to do in the right against Nazi fascism. Joseph S. Salemi May 19, 2020 Three points: First, the Declaration of Independence is not a legal document, and carries no compulsory force in our republic. Second, that Declaration itself belies the comment about “all men being created equal,” when it very openly refers to the American Indians as bloodthirsty savages beyond the pale of civilization. Third, many if the signatories of the Declaration were slaveholders, and certainly did not consider their slaves as “equals.” It is an anachronistic misreading of the Declaration of Independence (but common among liberals) to think that its text is a support for later left-liberal ideologies. The term “men” referred to in the text simply means “all free-born Englishmen.” David Paul Behrens May 14, 2020 My country used to be A sweet land of liberty, But boy, did it change! A land where my father died, Serving this land with pride, Singing “Home on the Range.” Youngsters would walk to school, Following the golden rule, Now all that seems strange. We used to be sure about How most things would turn out, Leaders were not deranged. We need men like Eisenhower To acquire the reins of power, That remains unchanged. Reply David Paul Behrens May 14, 2020 I didn’t realize I was going to follow James Tweedie, which makes my poem somewhat of an anticlimax. There should be a period after the word “out” instead of a comma. (Which makes this comment an anticlimax.) Reply Sally Cook May 14, 2020 Hi, Joe – This was a good idea .! Reply Joe Tessitore May 15, 2020 Thanks Sally! I pretty much recognized it when the line came to me. Mrs. T totally agreed, and Evan was on it in a flash. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 15, 2020 My country used to be… My country used to be content and free where liberty reigned over prying eye, where we could kiss and wish beneath a tree without the threat of “bend-the-rules-and-die”. We picnicked on the cliffs where swallows fly, then strolled the brackish beach and breathed the sea in surf-bliss, sun-blush rushes of sky-high – my country used to be content and free. We met, we ate, we chinked and sipped with glee. We toasted morrows over apple pie. Now yesterday’s a hazy memory where liberty reigned over prying eye. Now smiles are masked and no one hears the cry of howling hearts held under lock and key. All dreams drift back to days before goodbye where we could kiss and wish beneath a tree. The curve is flat yet still soothsayers see the Reaper’s glinting scythe and that is why they push the non-essentials’ destiny that holds the threat of “bend-the-rules-and-die!”. And here I sit in fear; I can’t deny each stage of this new plague has got to me through bilge and bile from tongues that twist and lie, and kill the land of hope’s prosperity my country used to be. Reply Martin Rizley May 15, 2020 So well crafted, and such beautiful phrasing and imagery. Thank you for sharing this! Reply Joe Tessitore May 15, 2020 Beautiful, Susan. Reply Martin Rizley May 15, 2020 My country used to be An apple on a tree, So full and ripe and round- To all appearance, sound. But little did I know A worm inside did grow That slowly, day by day, Its sweet flesh ate away And gradually did bore A tunnel to its core. And so, destroyed within, By folly, pride, and sin, It sits– a sight grotesque– Upon a teacher’s desk In some sick, godless school, Where atheists now rule. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 15, 2020 An excellent and hard-hitting wake-up call of a poem, Martin. The apple conceit works perfectly. Reply Svetlina Trifonova May 15, 2020 My country used to be a sacred place for many hours spent, under the nighty skies, under the sweet embrace, of Gods and priests, and mysteries of Love. My country used to be a tailored for a Heaven, a place where higher souls would meet and turn their hearts the gold. Now it is a different thing I see. Some are hungry for the profits, others wish to steal and bribe. The trees care not about the temporary glory. They care to live and breathe with all. Don’t worrу, I say. This Earth, this land will become clean again. The blessed feet that do not bow to hunger, will touch the soil, we will grow again. You ask what my country used to be. But this is the land of the Sun. Where we find warriors and people of the peace. The sacred place where you only come to know. Meet someone graceful, real and of peace… If you want to be one with the Sun. Now joyful souls, those spirit-free, unite in Love rather than the sickness of the earthly deeds. Blessed is this land and I know there’s something beautiful that’s meant to be. Reply Svetlina Trifonova May 15, 2020 My country used to be a sacred place for many hours spent under the nighty skies, under the sweet embrace of Gods and priests, and mysteries of Love. My country used to be tailored for a Heaven, a place where higher souls would meet and turn their hearts to gold. Now it is a different thing I see. Some are hungry for the profits, others wish to steal and bribe. The trees care not about that temporary glory. They care to live and breathe with all. Don’t worrу, I say. This Earth, this land will become clean again. The blessed feet that do not bow to hunger, will touch the soil, we will grow again. You ask what my country used to be. This is the land of the Sun. Where warriors meet people of peace. The sacred place where you only come to become one. One with the Sun. One with joyful souls, those spirit-free. In Love rather than the so-called earthly deeds. Blessed is this land and I know there’s something beautiful that’s meant to be. Reply mary crow May 15, 2020 My country used to be: Free! Reply Joe Tessitore May 15, 2020 You nailed it, Mary! (As we pirouette to the Soviet) Reply Mia May 15, 2020 Have really enjoyed reading all the poems and comments Had to have a go another great prompt so thank you and best wishes to all in these difficult times My country used to be A land where men gave their word Shook hands and it was done, Tipped their hats when a lady walked past My country used to have Sweet pine-scented breezes Windows opened wide, Unlocked doors Rocking chairs swaying on the porch My country used to hear Bells chiming on a Sunday morning The sound of hymns echoing across hills Was it real? Or a childhood dream, A Hollywood screen of twinkling stars That ignored the stripes of violence and strife In the land of the brave and the free. Reply C.B. Anderson May 15, 2020 My country used to be a haven For persons longing for a way To earn success, but now the craven Incompetents have had their day. The patriots, so long ago, Who kept the British running Have been replaced by pallid dough — The differences are stunning. Reply Joseph S. Salemi May 18, 2020 Bravo, Kip! Reply Educated American May 18, 2020 My country used to be founded by integrity, founded for democracy. Now my country wants to be headed by conspiracy, headed for insanity. Reply Simone May 20, 2020 Hello. I just stumbled across this website and was immediately inspired. Thank you! I’m not sure if it’s too late to contribute and I’m still a novice on my poetry journey… But here goes: My country used to be hungry invaders forged their inventory in soil once tillaged by locals with proud and indignant vocals. Yet times of threat from pandemic developed trust now systemic. Response celebrated with pride for greed and commerce aside. Protecting public livelihood first evades tragic fears for the worst. No panic buying witnessed here as citizens ate without fear. Can you guess which country I am in? Reply Summer Else May 26, 2020 My country used to be a dirt road and fields a tire swing and fears thunder lightning scraped knees and tears. My country used to be new schools and new places new faces and chases rocky roads and potholes alone in big spaces. My country used to be someone loved me falling and floating untethered and free drifting and drowning surrounded by sea. My country used to be cutting the chains clawing and scratching impossible gains building, breaking and numbing the pain. My country used to be running away running and falling nowhere to stay nighttime and dreaming hoping for day. My country used to be a concrete path daisies and dandelions sprouting through cracks breaking and entering all the way back. My country used to be waving goodbye a full gas tank life passing by not wanting to wake up not wanting to try. My county used to be a place that I fled scanning horizons alive among dead I’m seeking my country somewhere ahead. My country used to be wandering aimlessly words, syllables, silliness smiles unmetered and free. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.