Wednesday, August 31, 2016

When We'll All Go Together

Channel Islands

And I will build my love a tower
At the foot of yonder mountain
And visit by the hour
From a lonely wooden tower

Van Morrison, from Purple Heather

That summer when I was still a girl, more offering than sacrifice, the boy I loved lived in an apartment in a suburb called Druid Hills. Putty colored buildings, mosquito-thick air, Georgia green, no Celtic magicians but a couch in a room where I lay while he took a shower, the sound of water behind the summertime has gone and the leaves are gently turning. I've always loved that song, will you go and we'll all go together. Solitude, the intense loneliness of new love, the piano chords singing of ends and gos.

This weekend I had carnival dreams. I kicked up my legs, hung upside down and swirled breath in my throat then out and over the tops of bars into sky. I slept. He said, You need this sleep. You are safe to sleep and I have, I had no memory of anyone ever saying that to me. You need this sleep. You are safe to sleep. Everything.

What does Drumpf mean when he asks to make America great again? What do any of them mean -- the man in the silly hat with the big bill, the couple in the Cadillac in the parking lot of the Harris Teeter in South Carolina with the semper fi and the sign:

M A K E  A M E R I C A  G R E A T  A G A I N.

Again is the operative word, I think, or maybe it's Make, yet neither seems right and much less left.

Back from a weekend away, I was shoving my small suitcase behind a chair in my room this morning, and a little book, a pamphlet, really, fell out of the bookshelf by the chair, fell out and lay at my feet. Let America Be America Again and Other Poems by Langston Hughes with a preface by Senator John Kerry.  I think I bought it when Kerry ran for President, when he called for inclusivity. That election, twelve years ago, seems almost quaint now. The book has a navy paper cover with silver type. Round water stains spot many of the pages, one dripping, bleeding onto the titular poem. Hughes wrote the poem in 1938.

Here's a bit of it with a link to read the rest:

Let America Be America Again

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!

Read the rest here


  1. Safe to sleep. How loving.

  2. If that's not love- watching over you as you sleep- I do not know what is.

  3. Thank you for the wonderful poem...

  4. Yes, thank you for sharing this perfect poem.


  5. I am so happy for you. So happy that you had this weekend.

  6. the intense loneliness of new love. yes. i remember. on some level, true love is always lonely, the promise of complete surrender and merging impossible, tantalizing, ephemeral. as for langston's poem, it is apt for me today, as i have just discovered, thanks to colin kaepernick's peaceful and completely constitutionally protected protest, that the american national anthem celebrates the killing of slaves in its third verse.

  7. Exactly! Langston Hughes said it better than most (certainly I) ever could. America was NEVER great for so many of the people who lived there. Only in recent years has it come close to bringing the dream to all its citizens -- and Drumpf wants to pull back from that, to an imaginary Leave It To Beaver time when everyone was white and middle class.

    I love that first dreamlike sequence of paragraphs.



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