On the face
of my radiant
I see lines crueler
than Cointelpro, cutting
deeper than Kent State.
I see hairs whiter
than State Department White
Papers, and almost as white
as the mourning bands
on those terrified Vietnamese crouching
forever in my crumbling clippings.
I see eyes dark and
heavy as the losses:
King, Janice, Jimmi, Lennon,
Phil Ochs, Abbie, Morrison,
and 56,000 more.
I see toenails
as the saffron robes
burning on long-
forgotten Saigon streets.
And I catch rising, as incense rises,
a vague odor of decay, like
after a torrential rain, or
My Lai after Calley barreled through,
but there's no one here to blame,
no one to hear the righteous shouts,
or see the vast crowd's fists upraised.
We chant our incantations, certain as
ever that The People United Can Never
Be Defeated, and that Brother Huey Must
Be Set Free. We demand our rights!
We call for hearings! We protest!
We stand shoulder-to-shoulder
with Allende in that final hour.
They shall not pass! No Pasarans!
But truth goes marching on,
and, with bodies now in
open rebellion, we gamely
follow, railing at the injustice
of it all, heading toward our
final Woodstock, where "No"
means "No," and outside
the wind just blows.
After seeing the film, 'Berkeley
in the Sixties," at age 44)
March 22, 1991