Tag Archive: America


Song for Springsteen …

For Bruce …

it was a rain-swept monsoon day

way back then, so many moons away

when i felt the music strumming in my veins

setting me free like a runaway horse without any reins

you sang of simple truths,

your verse spoke to people just like me

in my lonely, wasted, and desolately quiet night

as you screamed out tragic human wrongs, and of everyone’s plight

‘bobby jean’ spoke to me

of that girl down the street

glimpses of whom, we as innocents would furtively meet

and ‘the river’ that flowed through my ever-barren heart

led me down further roads of thunder

when slowly i finally learnt that the hardest part was fighting on

and never to surrender

to the hard-luck dreams that were born to run

while i danced in the dark

with memories vivid and stark

even as i whined like that dog who for forever lost his howling bark

and then a ‘human touch’ came along

and ‘better days’ seemed real, not just words in a song

and still you sang and swayed and spoke straight into my unseeing eyes

as gardens of secrets were opened, and as your fist punched the skies

in an anger that i too felt and in whose cauldron i too burned

as we saw murder get incorporated, while on its wobbly axis, our fragile world apathetically turned

and then suddenly i was told that i was all grown up

working on a highway of scattered ideals

and absolving myself by sprinkling some coins in a waiting cup

well, after all these years of walking along so many a thorny road

with an armour of your verse covering me, even as i hear them taunt me and even as they continue to goad

but now i can feel myself fading away, into the bleakness of this coming night

just like the ghost of that old tom joad…

The Markets Are Down 2% …

Banish the hubris,

Toss away the choice words,

Spoken by rotten, broken tongues.

Silence the chorus of appalled shock.

Shred the sermons,

Burn down the gory edifices:

The churches, mosques, temples,

And the muted Gods they mock.

Drain the sewage.

Flush away the insidious odour,

Seeping up from malls, homes, carnivals.

Put it in a closet and weld the key in the lock.

Shut it all off.

Turn out the lights.

Pull the damned plug …

… but hold on to that blue-chip stock

For Pete Seeger, Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter and Woody Guthrie…

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

‘This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender’ you scribbled on your old guitar.

You wielded that banjo and guitar as weapons,

fiddling out a hail of truth.

Of solidarity.

Of immediate calls for peace.

You said of Leadbelly, that ‘Huddie Ledbetter was a helluva man’.

You sang and spoke through dust clouds and relief lines.

You taught us all, to seek out hope wherever we can.

And when they tried to call all of you ‘goddamned reds’,

you sang on ever louder and louder, rattlin’ their prejudices as they slept in their plush beds.

You rode and you rambled and thumbed your way around,

this land that is my land and your land too.

For you believed all this earth was shared common ground.

And when you sang of overcoming one day,

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

they branded you a commie,
a pinko,
a nigger and a Jew-lover.

An enemy of the state.

While your banjo and your guitars wrestled their blind hate.

‘This machine kills fascists’ you etched on that guitar as well
but they were all deaf,

for 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’.

And they knew not that they were the ones who would sizzle in their own bigoted hell.

And then came the marches.

You were there too.

Marching and singing with Dr. King in Birmingham and Selma.

And you faced their ugly spit,

their venomous rage,

their clubs and sticks and knives,
but you always knew,

that your cause was just and that the truth would one day prevail.

However long it may take, you would never give up.

You sang and you marched and you strummed yourselves,

victoriously into their jail.

Then they shot him down,

they shot Dr. King dead,

as they burnt and lynched many, many more.

Yet you stood firm,

you never wavered,

your blood was red after all,

and they could not tarnish the truth’s core.

And so it came to pass,

that Woody went on his way.

To his pastures of plenty up in the sky.

And Huddie too,

said his last goodbye.

And you were then one,

and you may have felt alone and overwhelmed by the battles and with all that was wrong.

But you saw that the people were with you.

As they had been, all along.

So you fiddled that old banjo,

dragging it through Newport and Calcutta and Dar-es-Salaam.

Through countless unknown halls in numberless unknown towns,

across this earth,
turning,
slowly,

putting smiles of amity on faces that were once pock-marked with disillusioned frowns.

Today as I pen these poorly scribbled words for all of you,

for Woody, Huddie, and Pete,

I do so in gratitude,

for after all the travails that you’ve been through,

I know that you know that this world still has its fair share of hate,

and of loss and of injustice and of gloom,

but I also know that you know that though all the old flowers may have gone,

there always will be,

as there always must be,

fresh flowers,

that will be ablaze somewhere,

driving away the apathy and reminding us all,

that this world has for all of us,

plenty of room.

scribblerofverses@gmail.com

For Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892 – 1984)

when,

the hushed rage of prejudice rejoices in triumphant pomp and hateful ceremony,

and,

the silent dagger of complicit racism plunges deep into the soul of a world bereft of hope,

and,

the long knife of embraced apathy twists and turns,

then,

perhaps we’ll open our opaque eyes,

and perhaps then we’ll open our sewed-up mouths,

and perhaps only then will we whimper in mock shock and startled surprise,

for,

the festering hate that spirals around us,

in the fertile minds of quasi-religious bigotry,

is unafraid,

and speaks in the loudest baritone.

2.

Yet,

we accept,

we acquiesce,

we wish it all away,

but,

there will come that time when the lines are drawn,

when the purest hearts of silently smiling bigotry will hold the world in their sway,

with their cherubic, agreeable arguments sprinkled with pieces of fact that will kill, rape, pillage, and slay…

what then,

I ask,

will we do that day?

          _____________

” … First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me … ” – Pastor Martin Niemoller

South Africa salutes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr!

They gunned you down,
on this April day,
all those years ago,

yet you live, you breathe!

They gunned you down,
just as they did Chris Hani and M.K. Gandhi,

and they failed, as they always will,

for they can never kill,

your dream, your ideals.

Your dream, your ideals,

live, and breathe,

still!

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