POETRY
The First Lie
Ally Malinenko
Writer of the Month

Photo by Aaron Burson on Unsplash

Photo by Aaron Burson on Unsplash

What was the first lie?
Do you remember?
Being told your neighbors
were bad?
your government bloated?
That your hair or your teeth
or your face was wrong?
Was it when they told you to save your tears
because we don’t need them up here?
 
What was the second lie?
Or the third?
Is it screaming that you hate everyone in this house?
Is it the food we cannot swallow
our stomachs churning hot and wet
each night as we rise and walk
these empty halls
 
asking how
when we should be saying
of course.
 
Or was the first lie
the system?
The innate belief
that we are good
that we can do anything
this fat rotten American Dream™
spit forth from our blue televisions
and our little phones,
as we pretend are history
is not pain and blood and misery,
as we pretend that we can do anything
as long as we will it
and want it
as long as we fight for it and need it
and go on television and demand it
and fly in our big planes
and talk about our big plans
until we have the highest office in the nation
because we wanted it more
because we lied more
because we stalked on that stage
crowding up against that woman
because we cheated more.
 
What was the first lie?
Can you even remember anymore?


Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry books The Wanting Bone, How To Be An American and Better Luck Next Year as well as the novel This Is Sarah.