Still Beautiful: A Poem for Independence Day

O beautiful, for spacious minds
That think, despite the fear,
Of other views besides their own,
Perspectives far and near!
America, America!
Can we be truly free
Without the good of brotherhood
And rich diversity?

O beautiful, for those who pause
To listen ‘fore they speak
To understand their fellow man
Though some may call them weak.
America, America!
Has greed torn us apart?
Have party lines and dogmas blind
Replaced our human hearts?

O beautiful, for peaceful dreams
That seem so out of reach
When anger and hostility
Pervade our daily speech.
America, America!
Open your eyes and see!
How have we lost, and at what cost
Our common decency?

O beautiful, for patriots wise
In discourse and debate
Through demonstrations, protests, votes
Fight bigotry and hate.
America, America!
Let love and reason be
Our standard guide, in us abide
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful, for lingering hope
Of future bright and fair
When laws are just and Earth robust:
Clean water, sky and air!
America, America!
May grace indeed we find
And someday rest with none oppressed,
At peace with all mankind!

Head For the Hills

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I haven’t written a poem in at least 25 years. But, because it’s National Poetry Month, and because the world seems to be falling apart and writing a normal post seems preposterous anyway–what the heck. Here’s a poem.

A Sunday night crisis after a beery afternoon
soaking up sunshine and friendship
dipping my toes in drunken escapism
then fading back down the jagged path toward home,
that giant pit of need.
The impendence of Monday
slams up in my throat
with the dreadful certainty of morning sickness:
Oh God, not again.
And then a revolt—no really, not again
commandeers me back to my car.
Auto-pilot through miles of tears and stoplights and strip malls
Until concrete gives way at last to earth,
to gentle, grassy slopes,
the calming rhythm of winding roads
and cool, deep canyons where the sunset darts in and out of view.

In the gravel lot of a roadside café I stop to breathe and recognize
and breathe again.

A sleek crow hop-hobbles towards me through the half-light,
waits, watches, cocks his head sympathetically,
but I know better.
You don’t fool me, Crow.
I would give all the shiny things I own
to trade places with you:
my hands for your wings.
And your greedy corvid heart would take the deal, wouldn’t it?
What treasure you could amass with these strong hands,
these opposable thumbs–
Bigger and better. More and more and more.
You’d gloat on your stockpile
til the day you realized
that for a lifetime of grabbing,
of hoarding sparkly trinkets,
you bartered away your birthright:
Flight.

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