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Have you noticed — a poem

Editor’s Note: The Forward is featuring essays, poems and short stories written for our Young Writers Contest. Today’s entry was written by Shoshana Stern, a 17-year-old student at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati. You can find more work from our young writers here.

Have you noticed

“This is a free country”

Has turned from

A prideful statement into

A defensive justification

“This is a free country”

Morphs freedom of speech

Into “I can say whatever I want”

Regardless of who it may mislead

Regardless of who it may hurt

“This is a free country”

Spins the right to bear arms

Into “I can buy an assault rifle”

Regardless of their training

Regardless of their background

Shoshana Stern

Contestant: Shoshana Stern is a 17-year-old student at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati. Image by Courtesy of Shoshana Stern

“This is a free country”

Changes the wage gap

Into “I pay what I think you earn”

Regardless of progress reports

Regardless of personal bias

“This is a free country”

Whisks walking down the street

Into “Damn girl, why don’t you smile”

Regardless of what she wears

Regardless of whether she “asked for it”

“This is a free country”

Modifies freedom of press

Into “If you don’t look like this, you’re ugly”

Regardless of realistic expectations

Regardless of mental health

Have you noticed

“This is a free country”

Has turned from

A proclamation of independence into

A pitiful excuse

Because I have

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