By A. Hodenpijl, USA

In America I learned
about a starter house,
updating the kitchen
then upgrading to a larger house
then moving up to a three car garage
not for the cars
but for the stuff we buy
and don’t use
but hold onto
as if it all has meaning.

In America I learned
to eat on paper plates,
with plastic sporks,
suck drinks through a plastic straw,
in a paper cup with a plastic top,
to throw away —
hopefully in a trash can,
more hopefully in a recycle bin,
which means it ends up on a beach
next to the Santa Monica Pier
or on the sands of Palau, Africa, or Indonesia.

In America I learned 
to watch the evening news 
as rivers swell
as floods ravage
as fires rage
as lakes deplete
as air suffocates.

In America I learned
to tune in to Science Friday
to salve my conscience with
a “woke” scientific mind
as bears leave their mountain
in search of water
as birds lose their way
in search of their migration
as the monarchs struggle to fly
as flowers can no longer 
decipher spring from winter.

In America I learned
I have to do more
consume less . . . 
or as Janis Joplin sang,
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

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