glory? hallelujah? lazarus come fourth

Friends, today is the 238th anniversary of the presentation of my country’s Declaration of Independence to the world. I feel compelled to write something for the occasion, so here goes.

glory? hallelujah? lazarus come fourth

columbus took slaves
& killed innocents

andrew jackson presided over the genocidal “trail of tears”
flogging the aptly named “indian removal act”

nixon carpetbombed cambodia
he’d barely been inaugurated

reagan mined nicaraguan waters
and even barry goldwater acknowledged that that was a war crime

hillary clinton has a good shot at the presidency
but she lost me when she championed the patriot act

america america man sheds his waste on thee
said george carlin to applauders who were horrendous wasters themselves

america the practice flies in the face of america the theory
in so many heartbreaking ways

but america has the songs of katharine bates and pete seeger and jackson browne
and bob dylan and janis ian and brian wilson and carole king and carly simon and paul simon

america has the poetry of langston hughes and maya angelou
and the musings of ralph ellison and james baldwin–descendants of slaves all

and walt whitman heard america singing long before them
and listen and you will hear her singing still

nonvengeful amish
freewheeling brilliant feynman pohl asimov greg bear poul anderson

thirty-one years ago i declared independence from a sedentary lifestyle
ran a mile in under nine minutes and would continue to do so daily for 420 days
that first mile of the streak began on 19th & indian school
& ended a mile north
& as i turned south to walk home & faced the phoenix downtown
as if on cue the fireworks started telling me i was on a true path
and i a molecule of america received a mandate to renew restore and become

that fourth of july 1983 was more than half my life ago
terrible things have happened since inside my life and out
sweet amazing things have happened as well
i cannot but think that america is wounded perhaps direly
but she still has a spark and a heart
and regenerable tissue
and a mind for the better

  1. While I agreed with most of the first part it was beginning to bum me out. The last part made up for it.


    • I tip my imaginary glass of Red Red Wine to you, Doug, with thanks back!

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