spittoon

Am I Baltimore or Chicago,
the brief suburbs or the combed—
over plains thirty odd winters on.

Am I Coney or Cork, Canada,
Genzano or Runnymede.
Am I Ellis, Elizabeth, Easton

Or Arundel, Germany or Aquitaine.
Am I treason. Am I the sunblind
eyes on the Sardegna, the parched mouth

Crusted with hope and fear.
Am I the bureaucrat that met them.
And did I change my name.

Do I work the fields or did I.
Am I a foreign tongue
or a word absorbed and lively.

Am I a shoeshine boy
or a mother of eight
in thirty-three or

A page of Polish jokes
in seventy-three. Am I
a dead Indian.

Am I a renouncement
or a cage. Am I a spittoon
or the brass that shaped it.

Image: public record, Ellis Island

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