April 08, 2010

the muse strikes again

A friend posted a poem on Facebook that was originally written by Pres. Barack Obama. I don't know when he wrote it, or why. It is an odd poem. As I was thinking about it, and what it might mean, the muse struck and these words flew from my finger tips:

it took a year

it took a year to raise this house
although it shouldn't have
half-trained workers tripping
over tools of master craftsmen
fumbling their hammers in the snow
because summer was too hot

now, finally, a year and a couple days on
here i sit, typing silent words no one will read
into an old acer computer given me
by my father in gratitude at seeing
his long-lost first born prodigal son
after two and a half decades
lost among cherry blossoms

but this land is not the land i remember
strange men with stranger beliefs
run a circus where proud, defiant men
threw off a king's shackles, proclaiming
freedom for the masses
another man, less defiant, just as proud
labelled slavery freedom, freedom slavery
and left his disciple holding the reins

these strange men who run the circus
forgot the original men, forgot their blood
spilled on battlefields up and down the land
choosing the insanity of a syphilis-ridden
wild-eyed savior who jumbled words
changed meanings, proclaiming right wrong
and wrong right

i came home to write stories of magic
young, brave men and women
struggling for freedom against evil kings
metaphors for history, real history
history no one remembers, instead
i write long rants against injustice
quoting those proud, defiant men
condeming the liar the leaders now believe

blood, my family's blood, reddens the dirt
where clumsy apprentices and elderly craftsmen
spent a year building this house
these new men will not steal this land
i will not let them have it
the blood of my family demands it
they will never understand
freedom is never free
the price has been paid by two dozen
generations of scotsmen, irishmen
africans, cherokee, and chippewa
germans and italians

this red earth beneath my house
this red earth where i plant trees
this red earth is red with my family's blood
this red earth is mine and if it must
this red earth will welcome my blood

it took a year
the price has been paid
this red earth demands freedom