When I was a little kid, we used to cook outside…

But what is freedom without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest possible evil. Because it is folly, vice and madness without education or restrictions. – Edmund Burke

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so Grab your cup and join it.

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When I was a toddler, we had a cookout outside, with some mini American flags for decoration, and there was a special three-flavored local diary ice cream – clusters of strawberry, vanilla, and raspberry – and I got a wad of some sparks after it was dark enough, and then I was sent to bed. As I got older, there were school competitions before the 4th, and that evening my family sometimes went to professionally staged fireworks shows held by one of the municipalities or local service clubs. By the time I was in high school, we could watch the wonderful fireworks on TV, carefully timed to the tunes of John Philip Sousa’s music.

But oh my gosh, when I went looking up some “Fourth of July hair” for my MOT this morning, I found an overwhelming amount of Really awful Poetry.

Until I stumbled upon “Immigrant Picnic” and it made me laugh.

I hope it makes you laugh too.

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immigrant picnic

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by Gregory Djanikian
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It’s 4th of July, flags
paint the city,
Plastic forks and knives
It is organized like a show.
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And as I roast, I have my apron,
I have potato salad, pasta, relish,
I’ve got a hat shape
Like Pennsylvania.

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I ask my father what is his happiness
And he says, “Sausages, medium rare,”
And then, ‘Hamburger, sure,’
What’s the big difference,”
As if he was really asking..
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I wear hamburgers and sausages,
cut sour pickles and bermudas,
Separate the spices. tissue paper
They flutter away like lost letters.
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My mother says, “You run,”
Like a hen with its head loose.
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“What,” I say, you mean cut,
loose and cut to be spaced
Like, for example, a son and a daughter. ”

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She gave me a deceptive look as if
I have committed some irregularities.
She says, “I absolutely love you and your sister,”
‘Sure,’ my grandmother enters,
“You are both our children, so why worry?”
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This is not the point I begin to tell them,
And I compare words to fish now,
Like those at sea in Port Said,
Or as birds among the palm trees on the Nile,
unrepentant Elusive, wild.
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“Sonia,” my father said to my mother,
“What the hell is he talking about?”
“He’s on a ball,” my mother says.
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“This roll!” I say raise my hand
“Like hot dogs, hamburgers, dinner rolls….”
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“And what about rolling out barrels?” my mother asks,
And my dad claps his hands and says, “Sure why.”
“Let’s have some fun,” he calls
In the polka, gyro mom
About and around like the happiest peak,
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Uncle shakes his head
“You can grow nuts by listening to us.”
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I think of the pistachios in Sinai
endless flourishing,
Southern pecans mixed
Suddenly it tastes in my mouth,
perplexed, silent,
crowding out everything else.


Migrants’ Picnic by Gregory Djanikian appeared in the July 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

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Grigory Dzhanikian was unknown to me, so I went through some of his other poems, and found two others that seemed appropriate for the Fourth of July.

Because it is a reminder that we are still a “nation of immigrants” and who – which “American is like apple pie” And the spaghetti, tacos, and chop suey; Curry, God and couscous. Or paprika, taboli, and lavash.

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Sail to America

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by Gregory Djanikian
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Alexandria, 1956
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The rug has been folded and carrots of it
floating in the center of each room,
And now, on the bare wood floors,
My sister and I used to walk among them
In the boats we made of newspapers,
sheets of them mounted on each other,
Sailboats, gondolas, clippers, ships.
There was a mule outside on the street
Although braying mostly under a load of figs
There was a calm wind from the desert
the city slept,
But we were so far away, the air
It was filthy and wet, and the currents were tricky
Our arcs against coral reefs
and shear structures under load.
“Ahoy I think!” I called my sister
Avast, Avast! She cried back from her forgery,
None of us knew what we said
But the words came to us from a movie,
Film, American. Richard Widmark,
I said. “Clark Gable, Boogie,” she said,
“Yo Ho Ho.” We passed Cyprus
And now there is Crete or Sardinia
Maybe something greater.
The horizon was everywhere I turned,
the water was flowing,
They were swaying, weeks passed.
“America, America, land!” I screamed directionlessly.
My sister said, “Gibraltar.”
Pointing to the right, her arm is straight,
She turned around and bravely set our course
North by Northwest for the New World.
Have we arrived? Years later, yes.
Suddenly flying. with bags
And something blurry like the future.
The November sun was pale and distant,
The air was colder than we felt,
Indeed, these were miracles for us
As much as snow or greenery,
It will take me a long time
Before I remember
Paper boats and islands of wool,
And my sister’s voice is like in the fog
call risk,
He leads me, and he gets us there.


“Sailing to America” ​​from Falling into the depths of America, © 1989 by Gregory Djanikian – Carnegie Mellon University Press

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A Brief History of Border Crossing

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by Gregory Djanikian
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It’s inevitable that this will happen:
The bus I’m on
Which town is sleeping on the border
Between here and heaven beyond,
And the old anxiety returns –
How rare is a Chinese vase that I have not seen before
It will suddenly swell from my baggage,
How is the recipe in my pocket for lozenges
It is actually a summons for questioning.
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Were you not many years ago in Alexandria,
That the borders around us were slow
Shut down like huge metal grilles?
And somehow we were going out,
The dirhams With a golden age
Looking at all our belongings,
They look up to me though I haven’t turned back,
He didn’t repeat anything the boy might hear
In the parlour or bedroom.
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And at nineteen when I swore
loyalty to the republic
That you stand for, I hold on
The certificate is lost
The text is ambiguous, and the paper is ambiguous green
Like the color of the money playing.
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Is it any wonder that even the marks
Like “Enter Texas” or
“Welcome to New York,” you should shoot
spinal paralysis needle,
Like the heroin I’ve never had,
sure it was there?

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“A Brief History of Border Crossings” appeared in the April 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

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Gregory Djanikian (1949- ) was born to an Armenian family in Alexandria, Egypt. He came to America with his family when he was eight years old. He was for many years the director of creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Honoring Poetry Magazine with both the Eunice Tetgens Award and the Friends of Literature Award, Dajanikian has also won the Anahid Literary Prize from the Armenian Center at Columbia University. Include his hair sets dead children, Dear GravityAnd the So I’ll be on the groundAnd the After yearsAnd the Falling deep in AmericaAnd the man in the middle.

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In memory of my friend Annie Dabat, another Armenian who came to America – from Beirut – with her two children, because she did not want them to accept bombings as a normal part of life.

We will always miss you.

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