I Pledge Allegiance

by Dom Glover

[after Danez Smith]


You remember how
in school they used to make us recite the Pledge of Allegiance?
Each morning our young undeveloped overstimulated selves
would be giddier than a motherfucker to announce our undying devotion
to a country that couldn’t give a fuck less about people that look like me
But what if I made a more properly fitting rendition?
One that more accurately describes what I call home
It would go a little something like this

I pledge allegiance
To those working two jobs to only barely afford that month’s rent
To those who sacrifice food in their belly to be able to put it on the table
To those too tired to function yet find the strength to do it anyway
To those who make instead of break

I pledge allegiance
To the ones fighting invisible battles
To the ones who feel they’re forced to live in the shadows
To the anxiety and ADHD gone undiagnosed
To those who feel like closure is nowhere close

And I pledge allegiance
To those who sit in remedial classes, dreams of Howard undeterred
To those who would be eye-level with Yao Ming if they stand on their student loan money
To those who use education to avoid being another statistic

I also pledge allegiance
To the aspiring rappers only getting 27 plays per song on Soundcloud
To the drivers blaring bachata music out of their cars so loudly
it would make Jesus bust a move
To the congregations of hookah smokers and dice rollers right outside of a barbershop
And, yes,
to the $20 shape-ups that’ll have a brother feeling like Michael B. Jordan for the next 2 weeks

I, of course, have to pledge allegiance
To the single mothers
The fathers that actually do stick around
The young child watching LeBron drop 30
A gleam in his eye, inspired to reach for the sky

I pledge allegiance
To the basketball courts with conspicuously missing nets
To the full-court 5-on-5’s like it’s game 7 of the Finals
To the Nike apparel adorning our outfit
To the “yo check up”, “AND ONEEEEEE” and eventually, the “ayo run that back bro”

And I pledge allegiance
to the box of fried chicken wings for $6
The bodega on every corner
The manager that roams around, licking his paw
And to the ock, ready to whip me up a baconegg&cheese on a roll, salt pepper ketchup

I pledge allegiance
To the Nike tech sweatsuits
To the Yankee fitteds and North Face windbreaker
An Ethika logo can be seen along the waistband
While a fresh pair of Jordan’s complete the fit

I even pledge allegiance
To A-Boogie, Lil TJay, the drill scene, and yes, Ice Spice
To 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, that’s my MoMA
To our dance moves, ayeeee ayeeeeee as we get sturdy
To the one and only Big Woo, you cannot say Pop and forget the Smoke

Now that is my nation
With liberty
We’re still trying to get justice for all

Listen to Dom Glover read his poem “I Pledge Allegiance” here:

Dom Glover was born and raised in the Bronx. Dom has always had an affinity for storytelling. One of his favorite pastimes during his formative years was drifting away into his notebook, writing fictional tales about cartoons and pro wrestling that served as exercise for his creative muscles. Eventually, he was able to channel that into making music, a career which is still only just beginning. Dom’s biggest strength is his vibrant personality and sense of humor which shines through in his creative works. It’s clear that he has a lot to say, and his mission is to spread his message worldwide. Follow him on Instagram @domglover.ny, on Twitter @DomGloverNY, or on TikTok @domglover.ny. 

Image Credit: “BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTEST, JUNE 2, 2020. (BROOKLYN, NEW YORK),” by Andrea Murguia Dajbura, The Lit 2022.