The Tragic Condition of the Statue of Liberty

By Bernadette Mayer b. 1945 Bernadette Mayer

                                      A collaboration with Emma Lazarus

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!
Give me your gentrificatees of the Lower East Side including all the well-heeled young Europeans who’ll take apartments without leases
Give me your landlords, give me your cooperators
Give me the guys who sell the food and the computers to the public schools in District One
Give me the IRS-FBI-CIA men who don’t take election day off
Give me the certain members of the school board & give me the district superintendent
Give me all the greedy members of both american & foreign capitalist religious sects
Give me the parents of the punk people
Give me the guy who puts those stickers in the Rice Krispies
Give me the doctor who thinks his time is more valuable than mine and my daughter’s & the time of all the other non-doctors in this world
Give me the mayor, his mansion, and the president & his white house
Give me the cops who laugh and sneer at meetings where they demonstrate the new uses of mace and robots instead of the old murder against people who are being evicted
Give me the landlord’s sleazy lawyers and the deal-making judges in housing court & give me the landlord’s arsonist
Give me the known & unknown big important rich guys who now bank on our quaint neighborhood
Give me, forgive me, the writers who have already or want to write bestsellers in this country
Together we will go to restore Ellis Island, ravaged for years by wind, weather and vandals
I was surprised and saddened when I heard that the Statue of Liberty was in such a serious state of disrepair & I want to help
This is the most generous contribution I can afford.

Bernadette Mayer, “The Tragic Condition of the Statue of Liberty” from Up Late: American Poetry Since 1970. Copyright © 1987 by Bernadette Mayer. Reprinted by permission of Bernadette Mayer.

Source: Up Late: American Poetry Since 1970 (Four Walls Eight Windows Press, 1987)

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Poet Bernadette Mayer b. 1945

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Architecture & Design, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Money & Economics, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Bernadette  Mayer

Biography

An avant-garde writer associated with the New York School of poets, Bernadette Mayer was born in Brooklyn, New York, and has spent most of her life in New York City. Her collections of poetry include Midwinter Day (1982, 1999), A Bernadette Mayer Reader (1992), The Desire of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), Another Smashed Pinecone (1998), and Poetry State Forest (2008). Known for her innovative use of language, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Architecture & Design, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Money & Economics, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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