If I’m ever convicted of capital crimes, and then I am sentenced to death,
I know what I’ll want for my very last meal, just hours before my last breath.

Don’t give me a pile of hummus, not caviar nor any peas.
Don’t make it gourmet or artisanal; just give me a cheeseburger, please!

You can skip buying brie or manchego; a big slab of cheddar’s delicious.
Whatever you do, don’t add a fried egg – by God, that is just sacrilegious!

The bun can be laden with gluten, the beef need not come from Japan.
You can grill it or broil it on a flame or a stove, in a cast iron skillet or pan.

Its invention is claimed by multiple folks. Some say it was born in the west;
Some say Kentucky and others say Denver and everyone thinks they know best.

Well, whoever decided to slap on that cheese and throw that ground beef on the grill
Should have gotten a medal and a Hollywood star and a monument up on a hill.

The cheeseburger’s part of a glorious feast of distinctly American things.
I hope we remember, this Fourth of July, the blessings our citizenship brings.

I suggest as we gobble our hot dogs and pie, and drink a Sam Adams (or two),
That we put down our phones and reflect on the things that this country allows us to do.

If you shut your eyes tightly and listen quite close, you’ll hear the American song:
A racecar’s roar on a Darlington track, a freightcar chugging along.

A carousel ride on the midway, the crack of a bat on a field,
Guitars being tuned on a boardwalk stage, a church’s bell being pealed.

A tenorman wailing at midnight, the whoosh of an eagle in flight,
The choice of a dozen talk-radio shows to make us less lonely at night.

A cowboy boot on a barroom floor and a trucker unpacking his load.
Sinatra’s voice and a shot of booze and another one just for the road.

Now open your eyes and take a good look at the landscape we’re privileged to share.
Strap on a backpack and camp ’neath Sequoias and drink in the stars way out there.

Pack up a Winnebago, my friends, pay the fare for an outbound train,
Cross the mountains, the desert, the long fields of corn, to the rocky coastline of Maine.

Hop on your Harley or jump in your car and seek an alternative byway
Like Route 66, or the Turquoise Trail, or the fabled and eerie Blues Highway.

Marvel at seeing Mount Rushmore, visit Nashville or old Santa Fe,
Streak boldly across the Badlands, go crabbing in Chesapeake Bay.

Or pull on your blue jeans and pick up a book, if you feel like you want to stay in.
Open a copy of Leaves of Grass, spend your evening enjoying Huck Finn.

Try watching a classic western, perhaps, directed by John Ford.
With all those swingin’ tavern doors, and all those whiskeys poured.

If you listen to different musical styles, it’ll open up your ears.
You can savor a Woody Guthrie song, or the Sons of the Pioneers.

Maybe try some hip-hop tunes, some ragtime, or some punk,
Count Basie or Cole Porter, or some great New Orleans funk.

And finally, friends, let’s not forget the ones who brought us here:
The legendary midnight ride and the cry of Paul Revere.

And the brilliant Thomas Jefferson, who penned the Declaration,
Pledged his life and “sacred honor” to the free and fledgling nation.

And never forget the people who were here when it all began.
The ones who loved this great land first: the Iroquois, Hopi, Cheyenne.

Centuries have passed since then, and changes have been clear.
Colors blend, and stories end.  Things beloved disappear.

But Americans always find their way; it’s something in our past:
The balance of democracy; the balance that holds fast.

Our pluralism strengthens us, we’re bolstered by dissension;
If one group cannot see a wrong, another pays attention.

So let’s all root for the underdog, leave lights on for neighbors in need,
Lend our hearts to the wayward man, and bandage our comrades who bleed.

Test out the roads less traveled, my friends.  Tamp down the cynical snark.
And honor the heroes who gave us their lives, and the artists who left us their mark.

11 thoughts on “Cheeseburgers in Paradise

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