The Castles Of America

By Andrew Shields

Amerika, du hast es besser
– Goethe

The castles of America
are invisible.
Everyone imagines
they aren’t ruins.

Their ramparts are erected
on hirelings’ graves.
Their moats flood their banks
and drown the villages.

The rusted drawbridges
are half-open
and littered with guano
and spiderwebs.

The sun rises
on the skeletons
of guards, and ghosts
scan the horizons

beneath empty flagstaffs.
The cables clang
indecipherable inflections
in the rising wind.

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