LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN

AS WE GO FOURTH TODAY…
Let’s remind ourselves who we are. In case we aren’t sure,
or have forgotten, here’s Langston Hughes spelling it out…

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN
—Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

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WHERE I AM

turtle

keeping your head
above water . . .
sink or swim . . .
going along swimmingly . . .
meeting one’s watery grave

phrases that have crept into
everyday language
surely, but slowly
as turtles and tortoises
move, to catch up
with the times
and integrate—

their huge, but soulful
eyes taking it slow
and steady,
as they navigate
large bodies of water,
dragging their entire
house with them—

something I might want
to do. I can’t see myself
leaving behind
year’s worth of “stuff”
I’ve carefully harnessed
that makes me
who I am.

Parting out takes
courage and
endurance. I know
it would break me
bit, by every bit.

dogwood

the last of march has skitted away
like a jackrabbit, the vestige of grey swept
clean by rains to uncover the cerulean;
but the tree still dons its winter look—
black etchings against a tincture of blue,
some blossoms fallen, carried away
by the wind into small pools of puffy tufts,
ready to be cradled into garbage trucks
with bristles and brown, and woody twigs
crowned by clusters of snowy bracts,
that look down to watch the pink wash,
slowly filter through and stain
the alligator hide, until it turns
a stunning autumnal red—
a telling
bark of the dogwood.

  dw-b

KNOT ON WOOD

What possessed us to first buy
this dining table, then look
for a home with a dining area
large enough to accommodate it?

At the apartment, a door placed
on two bench-horses, served well
for our meals. At Christmas, we sat
family and friends at dinner—red
and gold fringed tablecloth under
an elaborate spread—our guests
could not guess they sat around
a door singing Christmas carols.

We didn’t set out to buy a large table.
It found us, like an orphan puppy.
We just had to have it. A floor sample
for an entire banquet, spread out
on five panels. Scandinavian teak
with golden warmth flowing through
its entire length of solid bronzed wood—
an elliptical marvel on display

resting on four strong legs—bound
by molded trim defining its bold lines
and curvature—our Norse thoroughbred.
Then we downsized. The table dismantled,
additional leaves put away, reduced
to a smaller elliptical, or sometimes
a circular configuration, still holding
its charm and warmth. Its knots and grain,

my constant reminders of long-lasting
value and integrity. My circle of friends
gather at the table to read together
or share a homemade meal, stay chatting

till food runs dry on empty plates.
I find this comforting—very comforting.

First published on willowglenpoetry

TeakTable

April 2017—National Poetry Month

To celebrate April—National Poetry Month,
I started posting one Haiku a day on Twitter
and Facebook. I didn’t get started right away
because of other commitments. I’ve reposted
them here, since some of my friends are not
on Social Media. Feel free to comment.

poppies

April, come she will…
When streams are ripe
and swelled with rain…

A burst of poppies reappear—
a splash of gold and green
yellow cups of sunshine
palms upturned offering
petals of peace and poems
for our troubled world…

Celebrating National Poetry Month, April 2017

walking a thin line
between what’s big and BIG—note:
the word BIG is small

geese

Imagination
leaps past the clock into night
I’ve lost my morning

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 11.41.45 PM

I hear the clock tick
louder in the silent room—
I quieten my heart

clock sm

haikus are lines with
seventeen syllables—bent-
back measuring sticks

ruler sm

morning starts alone—
days feel like old luggage, now x
too heavy to drag

luggage

words falling like spit
on hot concrete, dissipate—
like nothing was said

Words

grass shoots up—as high
as weed. I inhale—Ah! Sweet,
the smell of drizzle.

grass

birds on high wire
tweet on air, sharing posts—they’re
birds of a feather

birds sm

tired eyes pop like
Slinkys—their helical springs
unfurl rods and cones

slinky

the evening glow spreads thick,
like marmalade on toast—
bittersweet memories

Marmalade

TAXMAN

taxiing through taxes
plowing through the pile—toiling
roiling, plowed under

Taxi

haikus—like bells, are
sweet little chimes that tinkle
and linger awhile

lillies

posting little notes—
like offering votive lights
to appease the night

votives

EPICURIOUS?

if yeast is yeast, and
Best is Best—never will egg
‘n’ mayo be rice

mayo.png

yet a dance, though no
movement, rhythmic heartbeat
vibrations abound

heart

trying to write at night
I’ve lost more pens, than ideas
in folds of the quilt

quilt

music from the flute
as it trips and meanders
through large empty caves

Flute

money is not love. love
is what I thought I had. now,
money’s all I want

how very sleek is
the emerging Monarch now,
then ah! the brilliance!

life has a way of
putting us in tight corners . . .
helps expand our minds

 

for years his book graced
my shelf—chanced to read last week
he died yesterday

ink blots and shadows
have one thing in common—they
throw you for a loop

garbage trucks rumble
sirens claw their way through traffic
ah,Thursday morning!

dreams that wake you up,
only remind you’re asleep,
not dead—your first pass

unlike these chalk marks
carved in stone, your words with me
I have paraphrased

last cup of tea as
bedtime nears, something’s afloat—
tip of a teabag

MOTHER’S DAY

Folks wait in lines to
treat mom to lunch—if mom cooked
they’d be done by now

POWER UP

power-up
—The most common way people
give up their power is by thinking
they don’t have any. (Alice Walker)

Sometimes, there is nothing
you can do in a situation
you have no control over

but you can still decide
for yourself, what sounds
right in your heart.

In the convent school,
the nuns taught us
about our conscience—

They said the little voice
you heard in your head
was God talking to you.

All my life, I have believed
and understood, it defined
something important—

morality—a moral
consciousness—a state
or quality of awareness

of something external—
—within ourselves. Being
aware of what’s right

and what’s not. Speaking
out when you know
something’s awry;

taking that step to help
the blind, or teach
the obtuse, to connect

a wrong—or stop abuse
from people in power or
those in charge. We can

stand up for our rights.
Stay strong in spite of—
because of—what we

believe is right. Power up.

DEMOCRACY IS COMING

A last ditch effort to give a shout out to the 2-million and then some Americans, whose hearts and hopes have vanished as quickly as the year 2016 itself. This is for us Democrats—and we shall prevail.

DEMOCRACY IS COMING

It’s coming through a hole in the air,
From those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It’s coming from the feel
That this ain’t exactly real,
Or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
From the sirens night and day,
From the fires of the homeless,
From the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It’s coming through a crack in the wall
On a visionary flood of alcohol
From the staggering account
Of the Sermon on the Mount
Which I don’t pretend to understand at all.
It’s coming from the silence
On the dock of the bay,
From the brave, the bold, the battered
Heart of Chevrolet
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street,
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin’
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here
And the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

It’s coming to America first,
The cradle of the best and of the worst.
It’s here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.
It’s here the family’s broken
And it’s here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It’s coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we’ll be making love again.
We’ll be going down so deep
The river’s going to weep,
And the mountain’s going to shout Amen!
It’s coming like the tidal flood
Beneath the lunar sway,
Imperial, mysterious,
In amorous array
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on

I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight,
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags
That Time cannot decay,
I’m junk but I’m still holding up
This little wild bouquet
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

——Songwriters: COHEN, LEONARD
Democracy lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC