American Exceptional

By on Sep 3, 2017 in Poetry

Sierra Mountains, plains and Camden rowhouses

There are rhythms running in my heart, wordless and sensuous as music,
that, dreamlike, release images of mountains, massive, even grand,
of prairies – especially prairies – immense, open, endless, American,
and cataracts, rushing, tumbling, white, silver, sparkling as lifelines.

In the caverns of memory, the skies of anticipation, the murk of the future,
in treasured rubbish in the attic, broken streets of slums, flower beds behind keypad gates,
I search constantly to find words for the energies anterior to words,
for the e=mc2 of a single atom in the old wood of a pioneer’s table,
for the cohesion of galaxies huddling in the void.

In this life around me, daily, in alleys and allées, American and elsewhere,
in the peculiarly American dream of opportunity unbound,
possibility endless, life not everlasting but exceptional in its promise,
in the evidence of all human history, from which we Americans are not excepted,
what I observe, experience, learn, and re-learn,
is that we, like all peoples, are exceptional
in the rhythms running in our hearts.


Llyn Clague walks the dog that’s been dead five years every morning except in the sleet, works his forehand and backhand on weekends, and looks for poetry wherever it can be found. His poems have been published widely, including in Ibbetson Street, Atlanta Review, Wisconsin Review, California Quarterly, Main Street Rag, New York Quarterly, and other magazines. His seventh book, Hard-Edged and Childlike, was published by Main Street Rag in September, 2014. Visit