Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Poem about Sesquicentennial

Here for the first time ever is a new poem about John Brown and the Sesquicentennial. It was written by a dear friend, who has given me permission to share it with the world on my blog.  Please enjoy!

After Harper’s Ferry
                       by Gwen Gunn

snow began to fall on Adirondack rocks
as wreaths were laid to decorate the Old Man’s grave 
where for one hundred fifty years
he has lain since being hanged

Roy Innis was first    co-founder of CORE
shaky underneath a black umbrella
followed by a line of younger activists
locals from Lake Placid   travelers from afar

like Maria    who told of rape and bondage in Texas   
slavery still exists    but at least it’s now illegal
the horrors of John Brown’s days are fewer
his violence is becoming seen as justified

black folks have always understood that slavery
maintained by force of torture   of loss of family
indeed   of all identity   required force to end it
as slaves were sent farther south after the cotton gin

this peculiar institution grew more profitable
while the fugitive slave law made no free black safe
laws had to be broken to help them
abolitionists were terrorized and killed

passive resistance freed India from Britain
and improved civil rights in the Sixties
by facing detainment    dogs   even death
resistors risked their lives for their cause

but is it fair for an outsider to ask that of the victims?
moral suasion wasn’t winning after our revolution
John Brown couldn’t stand to see more ruined lives
believed he had to fight for those enslaved

American patriots fought to oust the British
the U.S. and Europe fought against the fascists
feeling there was no other way but force
now again we’re in a “just war” to free others

the Old Man in this grave farmed these hills with Africans
when most white people thought them lesser beings
his war against terror was personal    profound
seems in retrospect less mad than many others  


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