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The American Experiment

A Poem

If you work for the Department of Justice,
quit.

If you work for the Department
of Homeland Security,
quit.

If you are a border patrol agent,
quit.

If you are a contractor
who builds detention centers,
quit.

If you sell vehicles to ICE,
quit.

If you are ICE,
quit.

If you sell tranquilizers
to the Department of Justice,
quit.

If you write speeches for
the Homeland Security Secretary,
quit.

If you clean the office
of the Homeland Security Secretary,
quit.

If you sell laptops
to the Department of Justice,
quit.

If you copyedited the policy
that stipulates

children
held in detention camps

cannot be comforted,
quit.

If you are a guard, but
call yourself a conductor

and the crying children
your chorus,
quit.

If the president of the United States
has ever repeated anything you’ve said,
quit.

If you have ever seen, smelled, or touched
the president of the United States,
quit.

If you are the president
of the United States,
quit.

If, like him,
you carry the keys

that lock children in cages,
unlock them
and quit.

If you are a citizen of
The United States of America,
quit.

The American Experiment
is over.

The snake came over with,
who was it?
Was it Ponce de León?

The snake, gagging and gulping,
is eating its own tail.

Is it good to do anything
but pull, with great effort,
the tail from its mouth, saying

Stop. It’s over.
It’s all over, now. Stop.

Laura Cronk is currently the director of the Creative Writing Program at The New School. She is the author of Having Been an Accomplice from Persea Books and her poems and essays have appeared in The Seventh WaveLitHub, Statement of Record, The Best American Poetry Series and other venues. She can be found on twitter @LauraRCronk

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