Tuesday, March 5, 2013

the Poet as a Politician by Bob Atkinson

Let America Be America Again
by 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 dreamed our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamed 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,

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!


the Poet as a Politician

(c)2013 Bob Atkinson

let me say it here and now
I like this writing, so wonderful
how this one of many talents
lays out his desire for excellence

yet, here, in thoughts of man
stated purpose, devoid of plan
the poet jumps into politics
that murky water quagmire pit

all he says, the truths he told
this sordid history yet unfolded
points to the demon in all of us
that which drives us onward

nature keeps us not benevolent
nature forces us to best the rest
all compete within this realm
for breath, honor, power, fame

Irish fought among themselves
killed many innocents
burned their blood's dwellings
much suffering in history there

in spite of our way, better here

the Indian by another bested
with numbers they could not imagine
diseases primed by lack of soap
carnage upon them oh so loathsome

they before this hurt themselves
a child of ten had not beheld
that death force because of age
violence alone, how most died

in spite of our way, better here

whose blood has not been a slave
to tyrant, brother or mixed up raven
can that dark continent show us better
don't think so, they have problems

Hutu slashing Tutsi chlidren
that primitive demon in us clearly
contrasts with forces controlled by intellect
we move toward our better ways

if you now look at us
us consists of many loves
white, black, brown and cream
we took our truths, devised our dream

together now we love each other
enjoy our differences not begrudge them
fold ourselves within a blanket
woven of many threads  

show me trodden who in other places
would not have the other subjugated
nature forces her rules on us
condemn me not for that force of life

show me one who has been conquered
who has not before done the same
New Spain conquered some
then got itself overrun

Comanche killed and pushed out Apache
some to others sold their brothers

tell me not I have sinned
unless you've not been washed with same

else, build with me a better purpose
don't remake us like your history's land
sure, we're wrong in what we've done
but, wrong evolves with each new sun

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