Tag Archives: prophecy

America is Still: an erasure exercise

America, as Whitman wrote,
is fading low;
her heartbeat, a sour note.
Her voice blows sadness,
and one can hear her weep.
Her voice
resonates inside the bones,
reminding of truth,
your own.
Her war machines
songs of might.
Her technologies
keep hope alive
of should or could.

Across the age
times are lean,
echo songs that
America still sings,
sadly led astray by fools
who sing as others do.
America, they cry,
’tis treason to
keep this deadly pace;
grey and die.

And a dirge
echoes in the
as hope sickens and
tune is fading.

The lifeforce beats strong
out in the wild;
but urban adult and child
recognize the rhythm is wrong.
The arteries swell
the weary head;
circulation is
sent off-course.
While doctors
sing of operations yet untried,
freedom varies;
avoiding blame,
they sew prejudice inside,
and her heartbeat is slow.

Who are the great?
What works?
The grand and strange,
is the rage.

Her story must be
in jokes
to be
the common folk,
America’s juke-box
hit parade, unsung,
memorized by rote;
her Music faded,
the piano
a frequent sour note
and her song of hope,
a new way
will join the fray,
and fight for dignity
but her
vulgar selfish lot
enter the ring
to entertain
yet she cheers,
hoping their valor will prevail,
the cause will win.

America sings a
song of travail;
Her voice shouting in the wind.
Out in the night
turn this great gold
and reap nature’s plight.
This diversity of
pay the cost.
She sings for
for the forlorn,
crying out in pain,
that still defy
the song that sells the future.
Where triumphs and ideals
spurned a nation to believe,
to grieve –
and turn the wheel.

With funeral songs
she celebrates
memory gone wrong,
the dregs of misery.
Those who listen
with deaf ears –
faces in the rain,
are called deranged,
and must abandon careers;
there is a sadness.

She cries out for the
sculptor and newsboy;
they pursue another dream,
and silence is the song.
In that chasm her dreams
heed and follow
in shadows,
with strength to give.
Before the dawn, some fools
grasp at them before
drink the mead that fills,
in spite of
others’ dreams, cheaply made
now and again.

26 APR 2013

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was creating an erasure, in essence a rewrite of a longer poem by eliminating words or even whole sentences from the original resulting in a new and potentially drastically different poem, in both form and meaning. While this kind of exercise is often done using a “famous” long poem, like “Howl” or “The Raven”, “Evangeline” or “Paradise Lost”, I decided to apply this idea to one of my own longer poems, an envelope sonnet inspired by Whitman and intended as a song of hope. The original can be found here: America is Still Singing: an envelope sonnet. The result, I think, is not so hopeful and slightly more dire in its outlook. Maybe.

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Let Vain Cassandras Moan

Let vain Cassandras from their pulpits moan,
decrying what velocity the world
has chosen for its obvious descent;
and in their sermons, demonize each day
that dares to start as sunrise shattered dark.

They make the Word a flesh that only rots,
its destiny disease and graying bones;
and would deny what lies beneath such text:
a corpse that with its dying, brings new life.

Let these harangues of fire and brimstone fail;
they seek to reap by fear what love has sown,
and would for glory’s sake destroy the world
to prove their theories worthy of what gods
they cast in their own image of despair.

I will not preach the ending of the earth,
nor advocate an abstinence so strict.
Instead, I seek to understand myself;
and feed another’s body when I go.

14 APR 2007

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Question On Prophets

How does one, not having enlightenment (or grace or whatever you like to call it) recognize that someone else is enlightened? How does someone without the benefit of having seen Nirvana (or the face of God or the underlying principle of the universe whatever you like to call it) know that someone else HAS seen it? How does someone who has never seen Niagara Falls understand the description given by someone who has seen it, has felt the spray of the mist, heard the roar of the tumulting waters?

Is it any wonder that a prophet is never accepted in their home town?

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Comfortably Numb?

Last night, after consuming far too many cups of jasmine green tea following a day of bad stomach upset and then finally, after a fitful hour or two of tossing and turning to get comfortable lying in bed with a throbbing colon and still stiff back, I fell asleep. When I woke up this morning, very groggy, head pounding, I realized that I had just experienced a four and a half hour dream that may not have been a dream, but a flashback – although it was NOT particularly clear whether the events in the dream (?) had actually happened in my past or not. Roughly, and I can only remember it roughly at this juncture – I was visiting some location where at one time I had participated in/organized/attended some kind of festival that had some kind of political agenda although it was primarily a Music/entertainment festival (I know, not all that clear …). I have attended a number of festivals, performed at roughly five, and even was involved in organizing and planning a couple behind the scenes, so it COULD have been the scene of one of those – it looked kind of like downtown Boston, where I did attend an Earth Day festival (and actually did participate in organizing an Earth Day/Arts Festival). In any event, it was an urban environment but one with a number of open spaces. It seemed foreign, though, in a “Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii” sort of way. It was a place that I know I have never actually been before. But of course, I knew the way ’round the locale. On the way to the main event area, walking to visit the scene of a festival past, I and whoever I was with (a bunch of unknown people) we encountered a bunch of other people who were on their way to attend the festival (the same festival that we had attended in the past) in the present time. And they knew who I was, because for some reason I had become famous for my involvement in this festival in the past. See how Spot gets unstuck in time here?
It felt like I was dreaming about having an acid flashback related to a dream … and in the back of my mind, there echoed the words:

We mourn your passing, California…

And I woke up crying.

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