Come bring me your tired, your poor
Escaping from hunger or war,
Or needing to flee
Or to finally breathe free,
Or what is America for?
Art by Paul Olson
Poem by Emma Lazarus
Counselor’s dialogue by David Sklar
COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CALLER: Not like the brazen giant
COUNSELOR: I do not like him either. Though I don’t think he’s as big a deal as he claims. And he seems to have lost a lot of stature since the election.
CALLER: of Greek fame,
COUNSELOR: They had frats at his fake university?
CALLER: With conquering limbs
COUNSELOR: (snicker) –and tiny hands–
CALLER: astride from land to land;
COUNSELOR: Yep. I think Mueller’s about to prove that.
CALLER: Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates
COUNSELOR: Is that it then? Do you think it’s nightfall? Or do you think America–
CALLER: shall stand
COUNSELOR: I’m so glad to hear it. So who do you pick for 2020?
CALLER: A mighty woman
COUNSELOR: Gillibrand? Harris? Duckworth?
CALLER: with a torch,
COUNSELOR: Agent Scully? In the US we call them flashlights. But I think she’s Canadian.
CALLER: whose flame / Is the imprisoned lightning,
COUNSELOR: The new Thor from the comics?
CALLER: and her name
COUNSELOR: I don’t remember it either, but yeah, Thor is a woman now.
CALLER: Mother of Exiles.
COUNSELOR: I’m not up on that comic, but I think Rogue is the mother of Mimic, and Scarlet Witch is the mother of Nocturne.
CALLER: From her beacon-hand
COUNSELOR: [sings] Call me Beacon Hand. Any relation to Judge Learned Hand? Of course, the Crimson Tide went blue on Tuesday.
CALLER: Glows world-wide welcome;
COUNSELOR: That was welcome news. Did you see what Maxine Waters said?
CALLER: her mild eyes
COUNSELOR: I’ll take that as a no.
CALLER: command / The air-bridged harbor
COUNSELOR: Wait…are we talking about Wonder Woman now?
CALLER: that twin cities
COUNSELOR: Al Franken? I was kind of upset when I heard that he was–
COUNSELOR: You think he was framed? I mean, it’s clear that there was a smear campaign, but that doesn’t mean–
COUNSELOR: I know, my opinions out of it, or I’ll have to go to retraining again. I’m just so jazzed after Tuesday. So what issues are important to you?
CALLER: ancient lands,
COUNSELOR: So, protecting native heritage and national parks…
CALLER: your storied pomp!”
COUNSELOR: …free speech…
CALLER: cries she
COUNSELOR: …women’s issues…
CALLER: With silent lips.
COUNSELOR: …a voice for survivors…
CALLER: “Give me your tired,
COUNSELOR: …a shorter work day…
CALLER: your poor,
COUNSELOR: … and a living wage …
CALLER: Your huddled masses
COUNSELOR: … health care for cancer patients…
CALLER: yearning to breathe free,
COUNSELOR: …air quality…
CALLER: The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
COUNSELOR: And superfund cleanup. Got it. But what shall we do with all the garbage garbage garbage garbage.
CALLER: Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
COUNSELOR: You’re very generous to offer, but–
CALLER: I lift my lamp
COUNSELOR: Shine on, you crazy diamond. But is it really your job to enlighten the world?
CALLER: beside the golden door!”
COUNSELOR: Oh, I get it–it’s a civil disobedience thing. We should send our trash to Dump Tower, like sending used tampons to Creepy Veep. I love it!
[click here to read the original by Emma Lazarus]