A New State of the Union

an erasure poem based on George W. Bush’s 2001, so-called “War on Terror” speech which read in part “In the normal course of events, Presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the Union.” 


American people.
rescuers, unfurling light    blood, prayers
– in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

We the people
citizens, enemies

to bring justice
rebuild communities

join together
enemies of war

Americans know wars
casualties of war — peace
freedom itself.
Americans have questions

Muslims Christians and Jews,
all Americans,
no distinction
military and civilian
women and children.
linked to many    different countries,
neighborhoods   camps   homes
around the world to plot      a great vision for the world:

respect the   human
condemn   the regime.

the unjustly imprisoned. journalists, workers
a radical network      of support
freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to
overthrow      government terror
end every atrocity, pretenses
abandon    will to power —

will diplomacy, intelligence, law      disrupt and defeat the network of war?
no combat   lengthy campaign,
dramatic strikes, covert operations, secret terrorism
harbored by the United States.

announce the creation of a Cabinet-level position the Office of Homeland

be grateful organize respond
expect to live your lives,     hug your children.
be calm

dramatically expand      hijacking
of the extraordinary spirit

the United States of America
our mission
The advance of human freedom
Thank you.


Floyd Cheung is author of the chapbook Jazz at Manzanar (Finishing Line Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in qarrtsiluni, Rhino, and other journals. He teaches in the Department of English and American Studies Program at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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