Not a Poem – Just a rambling tribute to Pete Seeger, Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter, Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie and many more.

Please excuse the paragraph spacing. I can’t find a way to space the paragraphs.



                 __________

1.

It was a long time ago, when you put your words into song.

This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender” you etched on your old guitar.




2.



You wielded those banjos and guitars as weapons,

fiddling out a hail of truth,

of solidarity,

of internationalism,

of calls for equality, justice and peace.

You said of Leadbelly, that “Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man“,

you sang through dust clouds and relief lines, you sang of “dust bowl blues“,

you imbibed in us hope.

3.

When the McCarthyites called all of you “goddamned reds“,

you sang louder,

rattlin’ their prejudices as they slept in their plush beds.

4.

You “rode and you rambled” and thumbed your way around,

the “land that is your land“,

you believed all this earth was shared common ground.

5.

You sang of “overcoming one day“,

the injustice, the pain that you witnessed along the way,

they branded you left-wing agents of communism,

un-American enemies of the state,

while your banjo and guitars continued to sing songs of hope,

of resistance,

of protest,

of love,

eclipsing their bigotry and their hate.

6.



This machine kills fascists” you etched on that guitar as well,

but they were deaf, they could not hear the tolling of the bell,

the bell of freedom,

the hammer of justice,

the song of love between your brothers and your sisters“,

they knew not that they were to sizzle in their own fascist hell.

7.

Then came the marches and you were there too,

with Dr. King in Birmingham and Selma,

facing their spit,

their venomous rage,

their clubs, sticks and knives,

but you always knew,

that your cause was just,

that the truth would pirevail,

however long it may take,

you never gave up,

you sang and you marched,

strumming yourselves,

victoriously,

into their jail.

8.

Then they shot him.

They shot Dr. King.

They murdered many more,

yet you stood firm, you never wavered, your blood was red after all,

and they could not tarnish the truths’ core.

9.

Then came the day, when Woody went on his way, to his “pastures of plenty” up in the sky.

Paul too, passed on.

Huddie said his final goodbye.

10.

You were then one, to face the battles and all that was wrong,

but the people were with you,

as they had been, all along,

so you continued fiddling that old banjo,

through Newport and Calcutta and Dar-es-Salaam,

through unknown halls in numberless towns,

across this earth, turning, slowly, putting smiles of togetherness,

on faces that were pock-marked with beaten-down frowns.

11.

So,

today as I write these words for you,

Woody, Paul, Huddie, Pete, and many many more,

I do so with gratitude, for after all the travails that you’ve been through,

of loss, of injustice and of at times gloom,

I know that though the old “

flowers may have gone”,

there always will be, as there always must be,

a fresh flower somewhere,

that will, with wild hope,

radiantly bloom.

           ______

note: all verses in quotation marks and in italics are excerpts from songs, or from words lifted from historical records.