American flags on Memorial Day in Boston. Photo by Flickr user Matt Kieffer (creative commons).
American flags on Memorial Day in Boston. Photo by Flickr user Matt Kieffer (creative commons).

Towards the end of a UTSA College of Architecture Dialogue in Urban Planning session, president and founder of imagineSanAntonio founder Bob Wise aptly called for more citizen-oriented democracy in the planning process for the benefit of the future of San Antonio.

“Democratizing city planning by actually involving citizens in the process. Who would’ve thought?” I sarcastically said to myself, after which I turned to a friend and dramatically lamented, “oh democracy, how my heart bleeds for thee.”

Harnessing creative momentum in exercising my writing skills, I took the line and ran with it – April is National Poetry Month after all. After taking an evening and a workday of mulling over its potential, I drafted a poem on the lines of yellow legal pad and soon committed it to memory. The rest is as follows.

I write this as a concerned American citizen, concerned with the existing implementation of democratic practices – or lack thereof – in our institutions such as the classroom, the workplace, electoral politics, and so on. Though our nation portrays itself as an outstanding model of democracy on the world stage, I feel there remains a need to examine representative vs. direct democracy pertaining to the development of these environments, specifically in determining policy and economics.

Enamored with the eloquence of poetry and the liability of the social contract, the poem I’ve written is a reflection – a reflection expressing my perspective of the current state of democracy in the U.S.

Addressing Democracy

O democracy
O democracy
how my heart bleeds for thee
O democracy
O democracy
how you cradle the cry of liberty

They slander your name at every step, every twist, every turn
My ears cringe, my heart aches
but for your promise I still yearn

O democracy
O democracy
harboring equality in a day’s work
O democracy
O democracy
in the face of your doubters I smirk

In the town halls, in the courtrooms
In the streets, on the block
“They all shall have a voice,” you say,
your utter profoundness leaving many in shock

O democracy
O democracy
with no pecuniary motives to be found
O democracy
O democracy
your simple grace perseveres to astound

With each passing insurrection
your potential increases tenfold
I revel in the rapture of your ethos,
a truly glorious sight to behold

O democracy
O democracy
how my weary heart bleeds for thee
O democracy
O democracy
your self-evident truths shall set us free

*Featured/top image: American flags on Memorial Day in Boston. Photo by Flickr user Matt Kieffer (creative commons).

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Rene Jaime Gonzalez

Rene Jaime Gonzalez is currently pursuing an Associate’s degree in Public Administration at San Antonio College. In 2012 NPR Cities published his submission to the “Sound of Your City” project.