American Dream, Interrupted

Serrina Zou
High school

A Golden Shovel Poem
After “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazurus
Twenty-five years ago we forced our bodies to send
our spirits across an ocean brimming with these
bones, all calcium & fracture, breaking like the
country that welcomed the diaspora to cast us into homeless
vagabonds thirsting for the pulse of tempest-tost
need for belief in pockets of stars we pledged our allegiance to.
Every year I lose more face when this country promises me
a poster myth for prosperity, all picture-perfect the way I
imagine my own funeral procession: an open grave I must lift
from beneath a flag. In between blood-stained reds & tear-born blues is my
corpse, a body politic cleaved by white-picket fences & a dimming lamp
that guides me anywhere but home. Always memory hides beside
me, its arms lurching us into morning. It’s a story told too often: all the
untold tragedies sinking their roots into a fertile delta of golden
foreigner land, hands braided in surrender behind America’s closed door.

Serrina Zou is a writer from San Jose, California, a California Arts Scholar in Creative Writing, a 2020 Foyle Commended Young Poet, and a two-time Scholastic National Medalist in Poetry. Her work appears or is forthcoming in the National Poetry Quarterly, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, In Parentheses, The Rising Phoenix Review, and elsewhere.