We didn’t do it of course,

it happened so long ago,

but we’re truly sorry for

the Tuskegee syphilis experiment

and also the sterilization of retarded

people in the ’20s that inspired Hitler,

the Rosewood massacre and Groveland Four

(what were those white women thinking?),

not to mention the Scottsboro boys and poor Leo Frank,

nor forgetting Sacco and Vanzetti, though

perhaps they deserved it, but we do regret

children working in the mills in Pownal,

the Chinese Exclusion Act, General Funston’s capture

of Aguinaldo, Red Summer, the bombing of Tulsa,

Japanese internment, the Trail of Tears, Seminole wars,

Mankato hangings, the soldier who stabbed

Crazy Horse, old Spotted Elk and Wounded Knee,

also inspiring Hitler as he marched east into (soon to be)

empty lands to make the Volga his Mississippi.

But it all happened really long ago;

these weren’t even our grandfathers 

but before them, men whose names and faces

we don’t even know, the ship captains,

cavalry officers, plantation owners in the rotunda

of the St. Louis Hotel, Conestoga drivers, doctors, and

cotton factors with warehouses on the Chattahoochee,

so we don’t really owe anybody anything,

but we’re very sorry.