Tag Archive: woody guthrie







Why does the sun dry up cascading, perennial tears,



slipping down the coarse cheeks of a million hushed fears,



where all are scalded when the searing fog clears,



while prayers are mutely spoken as the end nears.





We shatter and scrape on delusional knees,



blindly scrounging for mercy as it apathetically flees,



searching listlessly for a salvation frozen in the frigid breeze,



spitting at the soft petals suffocated by a gasping wheeze,





I know now what I need never have known,



of hope that was trampled before it had flown,



into a wasted sky filled with hate that could drown,



the sniggering of the crowd and the sobs of the clown.





A hope so fragile with wings of brittle glass,



ripping away the veneer off the sewers of class,



twisting the fabric of the weighed and huddled mass,



who numbly wait hoping that this too might pass.





For when shards of hope in hearts scurry away,



to a darkened night callous to many a stray,



perhaps then sewn eyes shall behold that doleful day,



when all shall tear at each other while at each other we continue to bray,





Deadened souls may wander the desolate street,



for a lifting of the veil of wilful deceit,



wrapped up in flags, religious snobbery, and a jingoism swollen with conceit,



while humanity’s  limbs splinter in the claws of compassionate defeat,



the drums of war tolling for the ill-fated who chose never to retreat.





From that drenched battle-ground where blood flows through a sieve,



where love’s lost song plaintively begs for a reprieve,



from eternal loss which into raw emotion does cleave,



only to slip through fingers like grains of sand,



and silently leave.











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howling moons, broken teaspoons,

cajole me back, to the track,

the path i tread, sans fear sans dread,

this death row shell, a barren cell,

twisting and torn, of all humanity shorn,

a living being, passing through this world unseeing,

left in rags to rot at the curb of the road,

where golden chariots roam and forever rode,

gleaming high heels, covet greed-wheedlin’ deals,

tossin’ a few spares in the outstretched cup,

to the dregs strewn across the way,

digging for something on which to sup,

while off on silken robes we fly, far from the inconvenient 99%,

we are complicit, all of us, you and i,

high on up into the golden sky,

where the promise of paradise waits, stalks, preys,

on this highway of hurt, and on many doleful by-ways,

but still, yet, through it all im stuck in this shell, this cell,

and though this scribbled rhyme was written in joburg city, where i do dwell,

if Woody were here, he’d yank us all,

out from our apathetic, banal hell.

talkin’ bobby dylan blues … … …

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'illusory art' by Maya

howling moons, broken teaspoons, cajole me back, to the track, the path i tread, sans fear sans dread, this death row shell, a barren cell, twisting and torn, of all humanity shorn, a living being, passing through this world unseeing, left in rags to rot at the curb of the road, where golden chariots roam and rode, gleaming heels, covet deal-wheedlin’ real deals, tossin’ a few spares in the outstretched cup, off on silken robes to fly, far from the dregs, the chattel, the me’s and you’s & i, high on up into the golden sky, paradise waits, stalks, preys, on this highway of hurt, and on many doleful by-ways … and still, yet, through it all, im stuck in his shell, this cell, and though this is written in joburg city, where i do dwell, if woody’d be here, he’d damn us all to fascist hell … … …

“first they came for the _____” ( Mr. Trump, fill in the blanks )

_______________

then they came for the. ______________

( fill in the blanks, Mr. Trump )

be careful,
the extremists appear to be on the ascendancy,

the brutal murderers of daesh and the neonazi drivel of trump,

so be careful: guard your mind,

never forget,
remember,

always,
always remember:

“first they came for the Communists …”*

* – Pastor Martin Niemoller

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Pete's Banjo

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Woody

Woody’s New Years Rulin’s

image

in memory of woody and huddie and pete,

and long may the jazz and blues and folk ring loud …

been a long time walkin’
my long tongues been a-talkin’

blistering my feet
slipping and slidin’ down church street

lookin’ for a job
with decent pay

and here’s what all the signs say
ain’t no jobs round here today

so keep on a-walkin’
and a-talkin’

braggin’ and a-baggin’
yappin’ and a-waggin’

knowing there ain’t no place
that’ll bear my kinda face

cos’ i know there’ll never be
home for a-hobblin’ one like me …

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

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…

A Child of War …

a child of war…

 

as she lies bleeding

the girl who skipped and 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

the warm bullet lodged in her torn stomach

she stares at her skipping rope

as her blood soaks it the colour of the cherries her mummy buys

 

as she lies bleeding

she sees the people through the thick black smoke

blurred visions of scattering feet and shoes left behind

hearing nothing but the pinging in her blown-out eardrums

 

as she lies bleeding

she slips away quickly 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

for even in death she bleeds some more

the warm bullet wedged in her torn stomach

steals the light from her bright little eyes

as she lies bleeding

in jallianwala bagh in ‘19

leningrad in ‘42

freetown in ‘98

soweto in ‘76

jenin in ‘02

hanoi in ‘68

beirut in ‘85

raqqa now

basra still

gaza too

 

as she lies bleeding

this little nine and a half year old girl

whose laugh was her father’s pride

we know she’ll bleed and bleed some more

tomorrow and in many tomorrows yet unborn

with that warm bullet in her stomach

ripped open and torn

 

as she lies bleeding..

afzaljhb@gmail.com

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

Rolling & Rambling

Rolling and Rambling…

(for my heroes – Woody Guthrie,Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter, and Pete Seeger)

Rolling along the meandering pathways of half-torn memory,

Rambling through the deserted highways of jagged doubt,

Rolling and rambling,

along and alone,

I’ve seen the hounds of hunger,

I’ve heard the howls of prejudice,

I’ve felt the dull-edged stiletto of need,

Rolling and rambling,

I’ve tasted the sweet waters of unquenchable thirst,

I’ve been thrown to the wolves of endless war,

Rolling and rambling,

walking and talking,

with a man in whose eyes, I saw the depths of the sea,

with a woman who laughed through her tears,

Rambling and rolling,

here, there, everywhere,

searching for that elusive anchor,

that may unshackle this vagabond heart,

Rambling and rolling,

searching for that elusive anchor,

to rest finally,

and gaze upon the echoes of pain,

as they silently depart,

rambling and rolling…

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