DEAR UNCLE SAM(AND OTHER POEMS ABOUT THE AMERICAN DREAM) is the fourth book of poetry by quintessentially American poet Douglas P. Smith. Mr. Smith born and raised on a farm just outside Syracuse, New York, writes of the simple joys and pleasures of rural and small town American life but cannot willfully ignore the struggles and underside of what used to be called the 'American Dream', especially in the title poem: Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam I can't afford green eggs and ham. Why won't you help me? I don't understand. Uncle Sam Why did you send my job To another land? How can the children learn When you close their school? Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam Oh say can you see what The country's going to be? Still, like the great '60's' icon Phil Ochs, Mr. Smith's laments about the state of his beloved country, end on a note of optimism: Uncle Sam If it rains on the fourth of July Just make a wish with The two cents China lent And light a sparkler for the American Dream. Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam Oh say can you see that Things can be so much better Than they seem? We can have the American Dream. Poems of quiet despair- the marvelous sequence of 'Syracuse Winter' poems, 10 in all- are balanced by poems of celebration, humor and strength, such as Cups of Steam a funny evocation of the entrepreneur of a local diner and Birthday Party a lovely fantasy of dead rock stars-Hendrix, Lennon, Joplin, Morrison and a rock star from another era, Mozart!- helping to celebrate the author's birthday at the popular local tavern, Dodester's. There are many more celebrations of and insights into American life in the 21st century, spotlighting the mall-The Old Lady, the hospital cafe where Mr. Smith works-Saturday In The Cafe, family and pets-Festus The Bestest, Amy and Pumpkin-Bus stations and bus trips- A Little Ode, A Girl at the Bus Station- and local eccentrics like The Nazi Pimp: He swaggered into the street. Smoke from the tail pipes of passing Cars billowed around him like the fires Of long past wars screaming into the present, Coughing us into remembrance. His face was turned toward the heavens, His eyes half closed I am the Nazi Pimp, He shrieked as he walked between moving cars. A frustrated driver beeped her horn at him. The clock ticks, I wait for the six hundred and sixty sixth, He replied to the horn, his eyes still half closed. An essential aid to understanding a core segment of American life in the early 21st century, DEAR UNCLE SAM fulfills the promise of Mr. Smith's three previous volumes of poetry-The Window At The Top Of The Door,Wake Up The Ghosts and Poems By A Dishwasher-and promises a future of wistful evocations of the past and bold, uncompromising prods to his fellow Americans to fulfill their destiny: On Bussey Road A lonely guitar always plays In the distance, Like a train whistle Without a train. Kissing the silence Caressing Making promises. The heart aches for what The mind can't name Places the feet won't go On Bussey Road There are ghosts. Wake up the ghosts. You can see them If you try. Let them be your guide. Your feet more than Move. Wake up the ghosts Wake up wake up Let the guitar play Kiss you in the silence Caress Promise in the dark About a brighter day -from 'Bussey Road Ghosts'
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