The Disunited State of America

Griffin Hamstead

Griffin Hamstead is in his second year at the University of Georgia, where he studies English. He was first introduced into poetic writing through slam poetry and fell in love instantly; he has enjoyed writing in various forms since. He is an avid reader and outdoors enthusiast. He hopes to travel and learn throughout life, and his future goal is to become an author.

The Disunited State of America


I’m tired of the news feed.
I’m tired of the other news feed too.
I’m tired of the TV screens
the fifty-something
that daily burn my
burnt-out retinas
“Welcome to Hell"
I’m tired of the yelling
across a chasm of inaction
I’m tired of the selling out
I’m tired of the selling my vote
down the river
to the ornate lobbies
of spew-hate lobbies
dividing us like we’re
numbers not bodies
to keep on polluting
our sensibility with smog.
I’m tired of “Welcome to America!
You can be anything you want!”
You can be three things:
I’m tired of waiting
for someone to stand.
I’m tired of pretending
it can’t be me, of pretending
we can’t be freed of political identity
I’m tired of a government “for the people”
that ignores the people.
I’m tired of trying to say anything
above the sea of noise of
“See? Nothing ever gets done in
washed-up Washington” and
lately I’ve been washing a ton
of grease and grime off my hands,
trying to find the love of man
and every day they’re dirty again
and every day it’s a different sin and
I’m not saying I’m any better,
just that we could be, together.
I’m tired of relentless recklessness.

I’m tired for this hurting, busted-up world.
I’m tired of the first person.
I should be the last person.
“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit
of Self-Advancing Policy”
If you’re wondering what happened
to our republic
to our democracy,
they got Capitalized
and turned into
the color of your tie
and all your “friends”
on Facebook, since
ignoring the other
opinion means being
liked for being right
not asking, not caring
if there’s any truth left and
if you’re wondering how we fix this,
let’s start by saying hello, how are you?
let’s start by saying help me understand
let’s start by saying yes to compromise
to celebrating this community
to seeing one another as people not problems
let us start by surrounding the vulnerable
let us start by exalting the huddled masses
let us start by learning to breathe free,
then sculpting our nation a new form
far more colorful than red or blue (or white)
let us, in a chorus of all our voices, shout,
“We Are Here! We, The People, Belong!”
and our existence, our elliptical orbit
of persistence, will be witness that
we’ll vanquish this wicked sickness.
Have no illusions.
A great task remains before us, yet
if we don’t swallow our pride (all of us)
it will be too late.
And we can’t afford that because, really:
We’re just tired of the hate.
We’re just tired of the hate.
We’re just tired of all the fucking hate.


Framing Statement                                                                                                                                         

How many times have you woken up, seen the news, and been inspired or hopeful about its contents? For me, the answer is seldom. Most days, I want to throw my hands in the air and ask: does anyone even care about the good of our country anymore? I wonder if I was just naïve to believe in a world where we worked together, or if we have forgotten what it means to get along. This line of thinking leaves me with a choice: to drop my head and scuff my shoes along the sidewalk, accepting that the system can’t change and never will, OR to try to be a voice for love and peace in times ravaged by fear, hate, and war.

I built this poem around a structure of repetition to give the reader the voluminous and exhaustive experience of listing what feels wrong in our political society. I wasn’t content only outlining the problem, however. The poem isn’t meant to stand on a soapbox with “Instructions for Fixing the World,” but it is my sincere hope that these words offer an outstretched hand to similar-thinking (and different-thinking) minds to create something positive and lasting. Tackling a problem like the rampant party polarization I see in Washington can’t be done alone. That’s why I broke “let’s” into “let us” at the end of the poem. Because let us (emphasized, and reminiscent of the U.S.) be the agents of change.

On the page, the poem is supposed to appear a bit dense and cluttered. It should take the reader effort to pick out individual lines, because that’s how I feel these days, and how I think many of us feel—searching, combing through the wealth of information cast at us daily in hopes of picking some knowledge from it. There are no stanza breaks because there seems to be no break from the political discourse, which wouldn’t bother me if it felt like anything other than a screaming match of finger-pointing, and “winning” and “losing,” and thus “winners” and “losers.” We are one nation, though comprised of so many unique, individual components. Yes, many times there is an “us” and a “them,” but many more times I believe there is simply “us,” fighting ourselves, jockeying for position instead of using our power to build a better world for all. That is the better world I want to believe in, the world that I am willing to fight for, write for, and dream towards.

I also wanted to reference documents that contribute to the fibers of our national spirit, namely the Declaration of Independence (“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit…”), the inscription on the Statue of Liberty (“huddled masses [yearning] to breathe free”), and the Gettysburg Address (“A great task remains before us”) because we’re all American and we shouldn’t lose sight of that, no matter how divided we become. We should celebrate our diversity, not box it up and stamp it with rhinos and donkeys.