Country of Your Birth

Valium, watchdogs, etiquette: this is what
the populace accepted eagerly, and their
leaders felt comfortable in giving.
Everything softened, from muscles to heads.
Schools and graveyards intermingled.
Allotments filled with tiny houses.
Roads and tunnels spread like veins.
The canals stunk but what of it?
Bulldozers carved up the fields.
The map crumbled but at least everybody
had an address of their own to cling to.
And then, from time to time, leaders threw
in a valium war, caused a watchdog disaster,
reaffirmed the etiquette of disease and starvation
It was a country and this was the deal.
It was there all around you so you lived in it.

 â€”John Grey, Johnston, RI