Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
Leave a comment

American Pride


American pride — from our pride we should hide,
for it’s caused us to hate, despise, and decry

those who are just trying to better their lives,
who constantly sacrifice just to provide

From one crime to the next we have moved through time,
taking miniscule steps and feeling sublime

as though we should be envied, filled with delight,
denying our evils, while belching up chyme

caustic, acidic, and destroying our minds,
filled with such arrogance and foaming with brine

With our words we beseech the heaven’s divine
to free us from what we’ve created — the grime

Let there be no more kids who cry out and pine
for parents massacred because we assigned

much greater importance to casting aside
those who are different with their alien vibes

Let’s not care more about preserving gun rights,
than acknowledging what will bring a decline

in the deaths, the violence, the building of shrines
to all those who have passed because of our lies

That we’re safe when we’re armed, I am not inclined
to believe these concepts are somehow entwined

Of these constant events, we can’t be resigned,
we have got to remove this slime from our eyes

When speaking of issues most urgent and prime,
we slow down our progress with pathetic lines

Distractors convince of how greatly we shine,
we’re perfect and good, there is no need to climb

to aim higher, progress, not grovel like swine
not just sit and wait for a heavenly sign

While we bandage, cover, and constantly mime,
pretending to defend those on whom we dine

Now is the time for us to think and define,
who we are, who we’ll be, this we can design

A new America, with actions aligned
on a path to do good and show we are kind

And then we can have our American pride


I wrote this poem at the end of my first week of medical school on the day after the mass shooting in El Paso on August 3, 2019. At the time, I lived just over a mile away from the Walmart where the shooting took place. I had actually visited that Walmart the night before. When I wrote the poem, there were 22 reported deaths. So in each couplet, there are 22 beats. Tragically, there was one additional death almost nine months later. I thought of trying to update the poem to reflect that, but I decided to keep it at 22 as a reminder that we’ll never know the true toll. I was short-sighted in thinking that I could commemorate those impacted by the shooting with my poem in such a precise way. There are thousands of people who are forever impacted by the 23 lives lost. This poem is for all of them.


Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.


Melissa Huddleston Melissa Huddleston (7 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine


Melissa Huddleston is a fourth-year medical student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso, Texas class of 2023. In 2016, she graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Science in informatics and a secondary major in classics. In 2018, she graduated from Baylor University with a Master of Public Health in community health education. She enjoys hiking, jumping rope, and reading. After graduating from medical school, Melissa would like to pursue a career in pediatrics.