Tag Archive: struggle


The Journey …

uBuntu – The South African philosophy that espouses that all beings are inextricably linked to one another = I am because we are

The Journey …

Travelling along the myriad pathways of this life, side-stepping thorny obstacles, at times clambeing over jagged rocks, our bodies wracked and bruised.

May we pick up the crushed flowers, the dead leaves scattering these alleyways, may we reach and assist the countless souls, lying by the wayside, forgotten, torn, abused.

May we be human, more humane, less oblivious, less cruel, may we appreciate lives that stagger, inert, broken, inching forwards wracked by coughs, held back by pained starts.

May we be kind, more embracing, of the other, may we be less cocooned, less self-absorbed, with true respect,

knowing that all the world, and all living things, are nothing when alone,

for we are of this earth,
a sum of all its infinite parts …

“Let Equality Bloom” by Brooke Fischer

✊🏾

art by banksy

i am human.

you hardly spare me a glance, as you walk past me, a fellow human, whom you pretend not to see.

you send me off to fight your wars, remaining comfortably ensconced in your ivory tower, while in the trenches i shiver and cower.

you dock my pay if one of your fine bone china cups gets chipped, you withhold my wages, while the hunger in my children’s stomachs rages.

your children still call me ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, though it was i who changed their diapers long ago, but it is still i who is the recipient of the epithets that you and they hurl and throw.

you use my body for your carnal desires, throwing some money on my stained bed, you use me as a lifeless rag, then dispose of me in a rubbish bag.

you claim to be so liberal, so open-minded and progressive, yet you ignore my plight, you discuss poverty in your chandeliered rooms, as i prepare some beans in the dim candlelight.

you send your cheques to greenpeace and amnesty, perhaps to assuage your guilt somehow, as you refuse to pay me my overtime due, your body weighed down by heaving jewellery, in red and white and blue.

you see me building your glittering skyscrapers and your glitzy malls, my hard hat pummelled by stone and dust, as i eke out a living, my dreams turned to rust.

you walk and you talk, leaving me to scrounge in the garbage heaps, for scraps of this and that, while your stocks and portfolios grow ever more fat.

i am invisible to you, to your posh and pompous kind, and i doubt your humanity will be ever anywhere to find.

you see me, a festering sore on your manicured lawns, a piece of dirt living on ‘charitable’ rations, and the first to bear the brunt of your police batons.

i am human, though only barely just, easily interred, once my purpose has been served,

i am human, though only barely just, as i get buried in a heap of dust.

am i human?

art by banksy
With President Nelson Mandela & my father

With the National Poet Laureate of South Africa Comrade Mongane Wally Serote

An absolute honour and truly humbling that the National Poet Laureate of South Africa Comrade Mongane Wally Serote chose to write the Foreword to my book.

The following is the Foreword by the National Poet Laureate of. South Africa …

Foreword by Professor Mongane Wally Serote.

National Poet Laureate of South Africa.

Afzal Moolla-The Poet.

Afzal Moolla is a South African poet. He is a prolific poet. He grew up in a family, which, for the longest of time, was part and parcel of the liberation struggle in South Africa. That is to say, he grew up in a family of freedom fighters. 

You can imagine what he had to listen to at an early age. He absorbed it all.  His folks are elderly now. 

“…These were the early 1970s, and this story was told to me by my parents, who themselves were recently arrived political exiles in India, having to leave South Africa, where my father, Moosa “Mosie” Moolla was arrested along with Nelson Mandela and 156 others in the infamous Treason Trial of 1956…”

 He is young, living in a country which emerged from the depth of one of the most cruel political systems ever imagined by human beings. Nothing will allow Afzal to forget that, even as he may have been a toddler when that system was at its most vicious. 

And now at his adult life, some among us, seek to destroy a dream of the people. We must scrutinize what this poet says about those who do that: who are they if face to face with OR, Madiba, Che, Fidel… that they can ony be traitors.

As we read what Afzal says, we will also be engulfed by a progressive and humane attitude of human life. Afzal is of Indian origin, a South African, whose young mind was shaped by a people who had to strife with everything possible to be human.

The combination of poetry and prose in Afzal’s rendition, walks one in very rough terraine, not sparing one. He calls all this, his work:

STRUGGLE   EXILE    LOVE 

“…As we walked through the tombstones of the war soldiers from all parts of the world, my father explained how apartheid was a scourge like Fascism and Nazism. He explained how the world had joined forces to fight Mussolini and Hitler, and why we too had to fight against apartheid….”

Even when the worst of things are explored in this work, the optimism of the spirit from the poet, is still the basis to seek hope; to search for a way out of pessimism. A rare skill indeed.  He can express anger, or despair, even cynicism, as also he seeks an anchor in the strength which resides in the hearts of human beings. And therefore Afzal, refuses to let go of the humaneness of human beings. 

He then braves the challenge by referencing the reality of the beings of struggle as the names of the freedom fighters spread throughout the pages which carry the weight of his writing.

There is too much pain in Afzals work, but equally there is love, there is joy and as said there is hope. Afzal is a skilled artisan of things made of words that is, of things which become the writing on the wall: a history, a culture tempered in the freedom struggle.


“Searching. 

Searching,

in the debris of the past,

scraps of casually discarded emotion.

Searching,

in hastily trashed yesterdays,

an inkling of moments flung away.

Searching,

in heaps of rubbished words,

that tiresome sigh of defeated thought.

Searching,

in the layers of moulted skin

the wilting self that once was true.

Searching,

in the reflections between the ripples,

for the whispered pangs of roaring desire.

Searching,

in the blank eyes streaming endlessly,

an echo of the faintest sigh of new life.

Searching.”

There is no letting go here. Life is pursued relentlessly, with the knowledge that life itself is a struggle for life and living; but also, knowing from having lived in struggle and among freedom fighters that there is no alternative to freedom. That want and that knowledge is insatiable; it is only satisfied by the reality of the manifestation of the spirit, meaning, everything which is liveable and defining being free.

(About Timol-a name we know because its reality teaches about the extremes of human cruelty, but also about utter commitment to that unbreakable particle of the human spirit which forever defines, and forever seeks freedom. )

“today their lies have been consigned to the dirt.

They tried to murder an ideal,

the revolutionary spirit that burned bright in your heart,

they tried to silence you, not knowing your memory shall never depart.

They tried to kill you,

but they will never silence you,

for you live,

through the expanse of our land,

mingling in the rivers,

standing high upon our shared revolutionary hill,

they tried to silence you,

yet the hunger for justice will never be still,

they tried to silence you, but the memory of your martyrdom never will.”

—————————————————–

March 21, 1960 – Sharpeville

They shot you in the back.

The oppressors lead tearing into muscled flesh. The flesh of Africa.

They massacred you in Sharpeville, in Soweto.

Today we remember you.

We salute you…”

There is an isiZulu saying which rings of finality in its utterance, expression and thirst for freedom: si dela nina e ni lele (we envy you who have fallen). It is a battle cry. It is an expression of love and hope. It is a yearning which is insatiable which knows and aligns with the purpose of life that living life is a definition of Freedom. When Afzal names the freedom fighters, and as a series ofthese names emerge and spread throughout his poetry, it conjures that feeling and that understanding.

That is what defines “Dr Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

You had a dream, of pastures of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.

They silenced you, yet your dream

resounds louder still,

in pastures not yet of peace,

where children of all hues mingle like rainbows.”

———————————————

” The Wind Carries his Name

They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Even as the bullets tore through him,

the wind carried his name.

Far across the weary fields,

high above the stubborn peaks,

over the blood-soaked streams,

the wind carried his name.

They shot him down,

to silence a man of flesh and bone.

Yet the wind carries his name,

to you and to me,

to them and to us.

They shot him down,

but his name resounds,

as it floats on the breeze.

And,

still they try to shoot him down,

to silence us all,

to stifle an ideal.

But the wind cannot be stilled,

and the wind carries his name:

“Che” “

Afzal is here, with that ‘…they…”  referring to the international oligarchy, that “ …small group of people,,,”, who with mighty force control everything at all cost, against billions of people, indeed against humanity, who now, as Afzal warns us are pushing all of humanity to the precipice of a final and last war, if there are no thousands upon thousands of “Che(s)” who must emerge to stop them.

The world, humanity is once more, as the saying goes, that “…history repeats itself…”  faced by a great possibility of an international arms race. The oligarchy’s objective: to amass all the resources of the earth for the “…small group of people…” They are relentless.

Afzal’s work of poetry traverses human feelings fearlessly.  He is the child of Freedom. He is the adult nurtured by a series of names of people who carried the blood that has been spilled, whether in the street, or in the veld, or in the houses, on the bed or finally ill of health and having to bid a frail life farewell-nevertheless, life which sought to express the will of millions who have been trampled upon by the international oligarchy, “…a small group of people…” who will stop at nothing to burn the world and is content, turning it into ashes.

Afzal keeps “…Searching…” because he was brought up and grew up in the struggle for freedom. He searches, seeking to find  that particle, which no one can break because it resides in spirit-it knows peace, it knows being secure,  it knows the meaning of freedom. It is profound in it being simple. 

To OR: Afzal says:

“And then finally off to a new dwelling in a faraway alien land,

reeking and drenched in a foreignness so blatantly bland,

never fitting in, though always dreading being shut out,

singing paeans to hope scribbled in the sand.

You left your country, your home, your very own place of being,

you fled, into exile, far away from blinded eyes so unseeing,

and you held to a principle within, and you stood resolute,

till the shadows felt themselves in shame fleeing,

We salute you! And all like you, and the so many countless more,

into whose flesh the tyrant’s sword so cruelly tore,

We salute you!

You who fought at home and you who left to fight,”

To his mother, who is an experience and  voice of many women in South Africa, on Our Continent, and of the world; Victims of the powerful “…small group of people…” in the world, who tear it apart.

” For our Mother, Zubeida Moolla (1934 – 2008)

She left us,

with the thoughts of her embrace to warm us,

in frigid mornings of tomorrows yet to come.

She left us,

with words of tender truths to shroud us,

in the coming evenings of slicing sleet.

She left us,

yet she stays within us,

in our waking dreams, our restful thoughts.

She stays within us,

and of us she shall remain an abiding part,

of the love,

the pain,

the tears,

and for that, we shall never be truly apart.”

And of course Afzal the poet now:

———————————

As Evening Settles

As evening settles

may tender angels

ease the knots of tiresome day

and

may warmth embrace you

caressing your aches away

so, sleep softly

and

let the morrow bring

what the morrow may.

———————————————-

Overcast Skies

Overcast skies

when days seem bleak

and our shared sky is overcast

may you always be wrapped in warmth

enveloped in tender colours

for however dark the nights and days may seem

there is always hope

beyond the pain and the sorrow and the lies

there is always hope

there will always be a tomorrow

when a new dawn

a fresh sun

must

like us

rise.

Sometimes in my life,

I’ve trudged down cobblestone pathways,

walked on broken glass,

shed tears, had my share of dreams broken,

have had my quota of fears,

now the years have slipped away,

and a decade ago seems like yesterday,

but the moment I saw you,

something, something,

made me pause,

it was you. 

It is you,

and maybe, it will always be,

only you.

———————————————

For Wendy Cope

I may not have brought you flowers.

I know I was always late.

You tolerated my moodiness,

and my ever-increasing weight.

You said men were like buses,

and you had grown weary of waiting,

Of putting up with my quirks and my fusses,

though we barely knew we were dating.

Ah, but we weathered the squalls;

Your patience has always been saintly.

And now that old age palls,

our tiffs are recalled only faintly.

We laugh at youth’s follies and know,

the beauty we had sought unaware;

It’s as wide as a calm river’s flow,

and as timeless as our years of care.

——————————————

A Wish for You

May your smile never fade,

may you always be as you are now,

warm and kind,

true and filled with the generosity of spirit that defines you,

may your dreams soar into the boundless open skies,

and may the benevolent fingertips of time and of fate,

brush away any tears that should fall from your gentlest eyes.

May you forever stand tall,

may your head always be held high,

with stoic dignity.

May your past experiences be the stepping-stones that mark your path ahead,

may your heart be your guide,

your blazing beacon of wildly enthusiastic hope,

may your wishes be simple,

and may they come to be,

filling your life and your moments,

with joyous bliss,

where you truly feel free.

Free of the weight of yesterday,

free of gnawing doubt,

and may your being be infused,

with the softest serendipity,

so that you may spread your arms,

and to the heavens shout,

I am free,

I am me,

at long last,

I am standing tall,

never again to bow,

or to fall on bended knee.

This is a wish both simple yet elusive,

a wish that only you can make true,

by simply being,

the kind,

warm,

gentle person,

that is you.

———————————-

In Your Eyes

As another day recedes,

enveloped under the shawl of night,

allow me to drown,

in your eyes.

Moments fleeting,

fickle hands of time unseeing,

allow me to seek solace,

in your eyes.

The trodden path littered with each shard,

regrets this heart wishes to discard,

so, allow me to seek refuge,

in your eyes.

I have walked through twisting boulevards of life,

seeking simple joy, away from desolation, strife,

so, allow me to find peace,

in your eyes.

In your eyes,

I find,

the gentleness left behind,

away from superficial smiles,

away from fatigue of the walked mile.

In your eyes,

I feel,

at home at long last,

your love caressing away the restlessness of the past,

stepping out of the shadows to embrace pure contentment,

though a bit player,

in your life’s theatrical cast.

In your eyes,

I touch,

the flame of promise radiating through your loving light,

that is why,

I no longer dread,

the vacuum of encroaching night.

—————————————–

What all of these words say, which Afzal has crafted, which we dare not forget, is that we as South Africans, as Africans come from a poetic place, as do all of humanity who come from a “…Paean…” a ululation and praise of the relentless freedom fighters.

Professor Mongane Wally Serote.
National Poet Laureate of South Africa

With Comrade Winnie Mandela

Signing a few copies of my book “Struggle, Exile, & Verse”

a child of war and terror

art by banksy





a child of war and terror.



 


as she lies bleeding,


the girl who skipped, hopped to school,


all of nine and a half years old,


with ribbons in her hair and a laugh that was her father’s pride.


 



as she lies bleeding,


shrapnel lodged in her torn stomach,


she stares at her skipping rope,


blood soaking it the colour of cherries her mother buys.


 



as she lies bleeding,


she sees human shapes all around, thick in the black smoke,


blurred visions of scattering feet, 


shoes left behind,

hearing nothing but the pinging in her smashed eardrums.


 



as she lies bleeding,


she slips away and then she is dead,


a mangled heap of a nine and a half year old girl,


whose laugh was her father’s pride.


 


 


as she lies bleeding,


even in death she bleeds some more,


shrapnel wedged in her torn stomach,


stealing the light from her bright innocent eyes.




as she lies bleeding …



in jallianwala bagh in ‘19,

johannesburg in ’93,

leningrad in ‘42,

freetown in ‘98,

soweto in ‘76,

beirut in ‘85,

hanoi in ‘68,


st. bernadino,

manchester,

baghdad,

brussels,

london,

tripoli,

miami,

jenin,

paris,

kabul,

raqqa,

basra,

mosul,

gaza,



aleppo still.


 


as she lies bleeding,


a little nine and a half year old girl,


whose laugh was her parent’s pride,


we know she’ll bleed more,


tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn,


with shrapnel in her stomach,

ripped open and torn.


 

as she lies bleeding,


a child of war and terror.






art from google








The veins of Africa 


interwoven veins, crisscross this land, this continent, connecting the north to the south, the east to the west, veins infusing life, binding peoples, wrapped in the canopies of the forest, buzzing in the cacophony of the cities, silent in the arid deserts, meandering between the mangroves, flowing gracefully into the oceans, knitting us together, despite the slashing of these veins, the plunder of these lands, the desecration of the peace of the ancestors, tearing these veins open, pilfering the continent’s innards, gold and silver and copper and platinum and diamonds and so much more, so much more painful in the millions of souls herded as cattle, packed onto the slave ships, doomed to live and die in shackled misery, oh yes, these veins have felt it all, these veins that continually, silently, peacefully, benevolently, spread the precious gift of life across these lands, this continent – Africa.




The pendulum swings,

while the mania in my head,

strips me bare and yanks me,

into the cauldron of love.


Once again,

never divining the tea leaves,

knowing, always knowing,

the gnawing knots of unease,

that curl into a fist.


My isolation is a shield,

a suit of armour,

tightly clad around my self,

once worn,

then discarded,

taking its place,

on my barren shelf.


Love, mania and verse,

coalesce, beseeching me,

with timeous forewarning,

not to tread into the quicksand,

that slippery bog of promise.


Yet,

in times past,

in moments present,

tis’ that very promise,

that I cling to.


At times I lose,

myself in the crowd,

rebelling in the solitude found there,


at times I claw,

my way back to the now,

aching for the pain that stings,


the buried voice that sings,

dirges to forgotten emotions,


scribbled verse that flings,

the toys out of my cot,


while I wait,

for the mania to stop,


knowing,

always knowing,

that it shall be,


merely a matter of time,

before the other shoe,

must, as always, 

drop.

the stench of prejudice.



1.




when rancid prejudice strikes,

in cocooned fungal minds, narrow, superficially deep,


an insidious venom begins to seep,


into our consciousness as we sleep.



2.



bigoted beliefs held so true, so deep,

stripped of feeling,


empty, hollow, feigned, designed, branded as compassion,


feeds the conceit in chests swollen and rotten with self-righteous passion.



3.



the insidious extremism once firmly entrenched,


envelopes all, not unlike a comforting shawl,


needing more and more bluster to fester, and to mutate,


into doctrines of superiority, bigotry, and new fashioned, ‘palatable’ hate.



4.



are we guilty of succumbing to this virulent plague?


sipping our cappuccinos, and shovelling more, always more onto our heaving plates,


falling, slipping into inebriated stasis, without care,


as the stench of hate, prejudice, gay-bashing, terrorism, racism, antisemitism, islamophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, casteism, tribalism,


continues to belch into the polluted air.

the duality of time

 

      

 

 

the duality of time …

 

   

 

time

erodes.
loves, lives, hearts.

 

 

souls, spirits, selves …

time

mends,
wounds
a salve,

a balm.

 


knowing only that

in the end,

 


there shall be,

 


only
stillness,

silence,
peace,

calm.

 

 

 

 

 

for women everywhere






for women everywhere …




they said she was opinionated.


they castigated her for not following the norm.


they dismissed her for being “loud-mouthed”.


they spoke disparagingly of her for flouting cultural, religious, sectarian narrow-minded claptrap.


they damned her for unclipping her wings, as she soared free into the open skies.



she is you. 



and may you always be you …





​in love with hope








​in love with hope …



she comes to me,

offering solace, gentle words whispered in my ear,


she placates me,

her words a tender caress, dispelling fear,


she seduces me, as sure as she breathes fire into my soul,


she teases me, offering glimpses of the promise of being whole,


she heals me, when i’m down, battered blue black,


she picks me up, shuffling my self as bones achingly crack.




in love with her, i know now, without her, i would not cope,


in love with her, i know now, she is abiding hope,


hope lives,

hope breathes,


always … 















for Ché



(14 June 1928 – 9 October 1967)



The Wind Carries His Name.




They shot him down,
to silence a man of flesh and bone.


Even as the bullets tore through him,


the wind carried his name.





Far across the weary fields,
high above the stubborn peaks,


over the blood soaked streams,


the wind carried his name.




They shot him down,


to silence a man of flesh and bone.



Yet the wind carries his name,


to you and to me,


to them and to us.




They shot him down,


but his name resounds,


as it floats on the breeze.




They still try to shoot him down


to silence us all, 


to stifle an ideal.




But the wind cannot be stilled,


and the wind carries his name.


Ché





(50th Anniversary of the assassination of Ché)
               _________
my Chè tattoo – right arm

if i only could










if i could …




if i could sip the nectar of your honey-soaked lips, etching poems on your burnished skin with my fingertips,



if i could embrace you, enveloping your body whole, whispering odes to love mined deep from my famished soul,


if i could share this desolate life turned true by your side, no longer fleeing, nor searching for places to hide,


if i could, if i only could.


i would …






freeversing the blues



freeversing the blues …






tears trickle down far too many a cheek,

while bigotry and hate like raw sewage reek,

down these cellophane faces in plastic towns,

while hope in the well of misery drowns.




the fractured spirits never seem to mend,

even when swallowing the latest trend,

gagging at the emptiness of last week’s buys,

desperately polishing facades while the barren heart cries.




we crawl as we trawl the roads for joy,

spitting yesterdays away like some overused toy,

fleeting moments never savoured whatever the ploy,

we become the enemies we seek to destroy.




why do we slam the doors shut on faces hungry and needy,

don’t we already have it all for us to be so callously greedy,

while we suck the blood and drink the tears of the ones we chase away,

condemning them to ghettoes in which they absolutely must stay.




when will we excise the demons on which apathy feeds,

will we ever kill off sweatshops serving our wants and not our needs,

will we ever stop putting guns in children’s hands,

will we perpetuate the lie of where the tomahawk missile really lands.




what grotesque metamorphosis have we been subjected to,

where we whistle down corridors oblivious, blinded to all that is true,

throttling the many for the benefit of the few,

all the while supping on heaving tables as if we don’t have a clue.




will we continue to feign ignorance of marital, partner, and child sexual abuse,

discarding each fractured soul as if they were stale news,

blindly turning our heads and thusly perpetuating male hetero-patriarchy,

keeping the blinkers on, while banishing the sordid truth we pretend not to see.




when will people of colour all around the world be seen, as human beings and not merely chattel,

as people, as a part of humanity, and not as some half-bred form of vassal,

to be used and discarded like stale garbage that needs to be trashed,

while on single malt whisky we gleefully get smashed …




… and when will all the world share in the bounties of this earth,



so that we may truly bring a more equitable, a more fair, a more just world to birth.











deciphering silence …




you and i,


shielded by silence,


barred from ourselves,


inured against feelings,
exiled hearts,


building ramparts,
a berlin wall,


that may fall.



so my friend,


lay your head upon my chest,


and let my fingers run through your hair,



lulling you gently to rest.



life is far too short anyway,


to squander even a day,


so rest, my friend,


rest,


and lay your head,


upon my chest …








let us …





let us …




let us leave this place of jagged shards of glass, this place of crude spiked splinters.



let us leave this place of rotting words, this place of camouflaged jibes.



let us leave this place of race and of class, this place of us and of them, this place of prejudice and of tribes.



let us forge our own path ahead, choosing the simple purity of love instead.



let us walk on together till our hair turns white and till our skin wrinkles and pales,


we will have each other at least, if all in all, our great escape fails …















the bipolar conundrum …





something splintered
the fragmented mind,

deep within
flimsy neurons,

on
that day in may.


something splinters
flimsier dendrites,

each and every bloody day.







The rains over Jo’burg






The rains over Jo’burg* …





The parched African earth soaks up the liquid offering from the heavens,


birds sing, ululate,


a chorus of catharsis flows through the barren land,


merging into a symphony of renewal.



The rains pour down,


transcending dry tinder of yesterday,


chasing insipid moments away,


drowning in a cacophony of jubilant life.



Life that rumbles,


streaming down desolate alleyways like meandering tears of joy,


drenching this mad, 
wonderful, insane, bubbling city of gold*,


this Jozi*, our eGoli*,


thirsting for nectar from the skies above.



Moments of undistilled mirth,


herald the arrival of spring,
a triumphant rebirth,


jubilant,
ecstatic,


as the Gods of Africa, the spirits of the ancestors,
smile down upon us.



We of flesh and of blood, of muscle and of bone,


thawing our hearts from frozen winter cold as stone,
infusing hope,


as the fragrance of rain on dry soil sketches rainbows,


seeking respite behind heaving clouds of charcoal grey,


the rains banishing winter chills away,


while graciously welcoming spring to stay.



The rains over Jo’Burg cleanse leaves on trees,


rinsing the detritus that listlessly hung,


dry and scorched by the merciless winter sun.



But today,


there are songs to be sung.



Today I am with the heavens,


no longer a mishmash of fragments,


and as our city breathes, 
purified by bounteous, rejuvenating rain,


I am whole, once again.

   
            __________

* – the different names that refer to Johannesburg.

* – eGoli is an isiZulu name that means “City of Gold”.





My Bruce Springsteen Songbook …




Growin’ Up in Delhi town, far away,
from being Born in the USA,

your words rang true to me,

nothing more so than when you sang Cover Me,

as i ached for release from my urban Jungleland,

to the rock ‘n’ roll tunes of The E-Street Band.

you made me weep with your melancholic My Hometown,

as i related so deeply to I’m goin’ Down,

cos’ when you sang, you sang from the depths of your Hungry Heart,

all the way beyond the seas from Asbury Park.

your lyrics slicing deep, scraping away the veneer of cellophane,

stuck inside the prison of my Downbound Train.

i remember the first girl i met,

with Bobby Jean stuck in my lovestruck head,

and as we walked hand in hand through the city’s park,

all i wanted was to be, with her, Dancing in the Dark.

i believed that we were Born to Run, far away from that Brilliant Disguise,

far beyond the Darkness on the edge of Town,

escaping our fragile spaces, on our Rocky Ground.

when Little Steven sang Sun City, it gave me more of a Reason to Believe,

singing truth to power, raging against Apartheid’s vile hell,

for all who from racial discrimination had no reprieve.

and when you sang with Tracy Chapman, Peter Gabriel, and Sting, all of you on stage for the Amnesty international concert,

you carefully picked your principled fights,

as we all sang Bob Marley’s Get up, Stand up, stand for your rights.

as i grew up, on that forked Thunder Road,

you reminded me of The Ballad of Tom Joad,

you lyrics cut straight to the bone,

when you belted out your sarcastic classic We take care of our Own.

you made me cry some more on the Streets of Philadelphia,

while so many sweated it out in many a Darlington County,


and the wealthy smiled and grabbed at this earth’s common bounty.




oh how we joined you in the chorus, when you sang Woody’s angry This Land is your Land,

while you paid homage to the countless immigrants in your powerful and visceral American Land.

i imbibed your words, feeling them course threw my veins when i was bruised and tender,

because you spoke to me of holding on tight to hope, to the words of No Surrender.



We are Alive
spoke of the many who died trying to reach The Promised Land,

to give it a shot, of Working on a Dream,

when crossing The River would impossible seem.

today, as so many are still sweating it out Working on the Highway,

you never fail to infuse hope,

the eternal hope,

of Waitin’ on a Sunny Day …






Dedicated to Clarence Anicholas Clemons Jr.


(January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011)



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