The New Depressus: Readers’ Poems for Trump’s America
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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
— Emma Lazarus
There’s a new anthem for this new age in America. Replacing Lady Liberty’s torch for the poor are tiki flames inflamed by slurs. Optics reign, senses numb. Ids and egos are enacted. An adviser compares the White House to a plantation, but she retracts the statement and uses it as a late-night punchline. Misogyny. Machismo. An endless well of racism.
I could go on.
Last August, the President’s senior policy advisor, Stephen Miller, dismissed Emma Lazarus’s poem The New Colossus when discussing immigration policy at a press conference. He said that immigrants who did not speak English would not be allowed entry into the land of the free since their native tongue would be “ahistorical.” He was quick to point out that Lazarus’s poem was erected after Lady Liberty, yet failed to acknowledge how the Statue of Liberty and immigration are congruous.
In response, The Guardian asked their readers to reimagine Lazarus’s poem in the age of MAGA. The article, entitled “The New Depressus,” asks: What would be displayed on Liberty Island if a forthright (and unfiltered) poet were commissioned to comment on today’s American promise? Below are a few of my favorite, which can be sardonic and satirical, and are always harrowingly astute.
The New MAGA
Give me your rich, your white,
Your big business interests, yearning for less tax,
But staunchly refuse those who are fleeing plight.
Send away the poor, Hispanics, Muslims, blacks
I lift my middle finger, and douse Liberty’s light.
— Alexa Perea
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I was born rich,
Why weren’t you?
Send your white, your men
With billions to invest
Men of no questions
Who look the other way
While fortunes are made
By the few.
— Beth Macy
The New Depressus
Where are my tired, my poor,
My lost souls sailing from across the sea.
We promised you riches, promised you more.
On care worn dreams, you came looking for me,
But then they dimmed my lamp and closed my door.
— MB Donnelly
A statuesque lady so tall
Once greeted with warmth one and all
But now she’s been fired
And set to be hired
As builder for Trump’s fucking wall
— Tom Freeman
Read more poems from The Guardian article here.