American Landscape, 2011

 (This poem was one of five of my poems that was selected to be preformed at The Ridgefield Theater Barn in June, 2011 at their inaugural Town Word presentation.)


There is no future… not yet.
Only the eternal present rising from ruins,
Struggling to extract itself from bloody past,
Dead bodies of natives buried in shallow graves,
Voices crying out at night from pain….
The railroad gangs, the quarry boys, the miners,
The dark slaves whipped into submission,
Prison dungeons strong as castles overflowing even now
With impotent, angry men… blood of women spilled on hard floors,
Hungry children by the score, lines of unemployed
Stretching out against horizon and wild sky
Burning with swirling smoke, the stench of lost dreams.
 
To free the present, we must be aware
Of dark woods at night, the murmuring words of ghosts
Haunting meadows, thick ambush of shadows,
Wide rivers flowing south, slowly overflowing banks…
Listen to the owl that wisely answers when moon is full.
If you cannot be aware of these hushed voices,
Then you will never be conscious of the present
Struggling to be born, to emerge and breathe, that
Hides in silent corners of wheat fields,
Creeps upon sandy ocean beach,
Walks upon lonely streets of every city….
Can you hear the soft consonants, the fragile music
Echoing off snow-capped mountain peaks? 
If you cannot tune your ears to this eternal,
Mythic language that speaks to living soul,
You will not see what stands before your eyes,
You will sleep forever…  miss the present moment,
Diminish hope that potential will rise,
Free as new future is born from hope found in silent prayer.
 
Better to be homeless and accept the poverty
Than kill the song.  Do not condemn children yet unborn
To live the past again, their cries unheard, the soil polluted,
Women sick from inbreeding of those who rape,
Pillage, holding onto wealth with clenched fist,
Living in cold hearts, cold fortresses with high gates
From which they rule the land.  If you cannot
See the suffering, America is lost again…
As it has been lost before— and the price will be paid.
Perhaps another time will come, but this present will be lost
Within the echoes of old songs and swirling dust that blinds.
The day will come when relics turn to ash and the present will be freed,
But eyes must open first.  We must be willing to listen to the pain.
We must be conscious and aware of where we are.

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