Two weeks ago, the local preacher made reference to the Shema, the central prayer of Jewish faith. The introduction to the Shema reads as follows:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deut 6:4-9)

For whatever reason, I found the word “Shema” pliable, began twisting it apart until I created the word “Shema-rica,” and then began wondering, “what is the Americana version of the Shema?” These thoughts gave rise to this poem.



Hear oh America:

both polished people,
and huddled masses
of pulsing poor
who rise and fall
like the sea
and the other
shining sea
glimmering in
the setting gold
of evening—

the lord your god is one.
Hear oh America:

you stokers of
the Appalachian
whisky still,
sellers of spirits,
and you others
who reek of
perfume, program
peddlers to the
liminal lessees
in some Ozark
half-way house—

the lord your god is one.
Hear oh America:

you field plowers,
cotton purveyors,
frivolous fashionistas,
marketers, miners,
all you who
pull threads of
precious metal
through earthen
seams or
human veins
in worship—

the lord your god is one.
Hear oh America:

that smell is
profit’s smog,
the clink of coins
the price of
prophet’s song;
here, hidden in
market’s margin,
in the up sale, or
extended warranty,
in capital greasing
the wheels of our
is a God,
maybe forgotten.

Hear oh America,
the lord your god is one.

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  • Y’all who have ears, let ’em hear.

    • sethhaines

      Including me…

  • R W

    I love this.
    A lot.
    Like the guy below me…. You guys who hear, listen up 🙂

    • sethhaines

      Thanks, much. I reckon I need to llsten up myself.