[personal profile] llbbooks
(Originally posted at Facebook on January 20th, 2009.)

Not to belabor the point, because next to no one on this planet doesn't know it, but today, Barack Obama became President of my country. We have witnessed history. How it will end, I'm not sure. As I think I said here before, I'm not an Obama fangirl, and I don't appreciate, and actually, in fact, quite resent, the just-beneath-the-surface prosletyzing. There are other qualms I have, but... for the first time in a long time, I almost might have a little hope about the general direction of this country. I actually look forward to our future, and that maybe I won't have to feel so bad about being from this country some time in the future.

It has been a long 8 years, and I am a completely different person now than I was when I started. This country is, to be sure. Feminism and awareness of the fluid cultures around me, and the importance of preserving it all, are more present in my mind now than they've ever been. Tonight, I'm assuming because of the historic nature of this day, I'm thinking about the right to vote, about how it stemmed from the fight to get African Americans the right to vote, and tonight we have an African-American President. I see a forgetting among women, women of my generation especially. They seem to think that we won a long time ago, that Feminism is an outdated notion, and there's no reason to fight.

This is wrong.

We must keep fighting. Not just for the rights and wellbeing of women, but for the rights and wellbeing of everyone. Because if we don't fight for these rights, if we cede one millimeter of ground, they will take everything our foremothers and forefathers fought for, and, yes, died for. All this effort cannot be for nothing.

Tonight, I want to share two songs with you, both by Ani DiFranco.

Self Evident

Us people are just poems.
We're 90% metaphor,
with a leanness of meaning
approaching hyper-distillation.
And once upon a time
we were moonshine,
rushing down the throat of a giraffe.
Rushing down the long hall
despite what the p.a. announcement says, yes.
Rushing down the long hall,
down the long stairs,
in a building so tall
it will always be there.
it's part of a pair.
There on the bow of Noah's Ark
the most prestigious couple
just kickin' back parked
against a perfectly blue sky
on a morning beatific
in its indian summer breeze
on the day that America
fell to its knees
after strutting around for a century
without saying thank you,
or please.

And the shock was subsonic,
and the smoke was deafening
between the setup and the punch line,
'cuz we were all on time for work that day.
We all boarded that plane for to fly,
and then while the fires were raging
we all climbed up on the windowsill
and then we all held hands
and jumped into the sky.

And every borough looked up when it heard the first blast,
and then every dumb action movie was summarily surpassed
and the exodus uptown by foot and motorcar
looked more like war than anything i've seen so far.
So far.
So far.
So fierce and ingenious,
a poetic specter so far gone
that every jackass newscaster was struck dumb and stumbling
over "oh my god," and "this is unbelievable" and on and on
and i'll tell you what, while we're at it
you can keep the Pentagon,
you can keep the propaganda.
Keep each and every TV
that's been trying to convince me
to participate in some frat school punk's plan to perpetuate retribution.
Perpetuate retribution.
Even as the blue toxic smoke of our lesson in retribution
is still hanging in the air,
and there's ash on our shoes
and there's ash in our hair
and there's a fine silt on every mantle
from Hell's Kitchen to Brooklyn
and the streets are full of stories
sudden twists and near misses
and soon every open bar is crammed to the rafters
with tales of narrowly averted disasters
and the whiskey is flowin'
like never before
as all over the country
folks just shake their heads
and pour.

So here's a toast to all the folks who live in Palestine,
Afghanistan, Iraq, El Salvador.

Here's a toast to the folks living on the Pine Ridge Reservation,
under the stone cold gaze of Mt. Rushmore.

Here's a toast to all those nurses and doctors
who daily provide women with a choice,
who stand down a threat the size of Oklahoma City
just to listen to a young woman's voice.

Here's a toast to all the folks on Death Row right now
awaiting the executioner's guillotine;
Who are shackled there with dread and can only escape into their heads
to find peace in the form of a dream.
Peace, in the form of a dream.
Peace, in the form of a dream.

'cuz take away our Playstations
and we are a third world nation

under the thumb of some blue blood royal son
who stole the oval office and that phony election.
I mean,
it don't take a weatherman
to look around and see the weather
Jeb said he'd deliver Florida, folks,
and boy did he ever

and we hold these truths to be self evident:
#1 George W. Bush is not president.
#2 America is not a true democracy.
#3 The media is not fooling me,
cuz I am a poem heeding hyper-distillation
I've got no room for a lie so verbose.

Yes, I'm looking out over my whole human family
and I'm raising my glass in a toast:
here's to our last drink of fossil fuels.
May we vow to get off of this sauce.
Shoo away the swarms of commuter planes,
find that train ticket we lost,
cuz once upon a time the line followed the river
and peeked into all the backyards
and the laundry was waving
the graffiti was teasing us
from brick walls and bridges
we were rolling over ridges
through valleys
under stars
I dream of touring like Duke Ellington
in my own railroad car.
I dream of waiting on the tall blonde wooden benches
in a grand station aglow with grace
and then standing out on the platform
and feeling the air on my face.

Give back the night its distant whistle,
give the darkness back its soul.
Give the big oil companies the finger, finally,
and relearn how to rock-n-roll.
Yes, the lessons are all around us and the truth is waiting there
so it's time to pick through the rubble, clean the streets
and clear the air.
Get our government to pull its big dick out of the sand
of someone else's desert

put it back in its pants
and quit the hypocritical chants of
freedom forever,
cuz when one lone phone rang
in two thousand and one
at ten after nine
on nine one one
which is the number we all called
when that lone phone rang right off the wall
right off our desk and down the long hall
down the long stairs
in a building so tall
that the whole world turned
just to watch it fall.

And while we're at it
remember the first time around?
The bomb?
The Ryder truck?
The parking garage?
The princess that didn't even feel the pea?
Remember joking around in our apartment on Avenue D?
Can you imagine how many paper coffee cups would have to change their design
following a fantastical reversal of the New York skyline?
It was a joke.
At the time.

And that was just a few years ago,
so, let the record show
that the FBI was all over that case.
That the plot was obvious and in everybody's face
and scoping that scene
the CIA
or is it KGB?
Committing countless crimes against humanity
with this kind of eventuality
as its excuse
for abuse after expensive abuse
and they didn't have a clue!
Look, another window to see through
Way up here
on the 104th floor,
another key,
another door.

10% literal,
90% metaphor.
3000 some poems disguised as people
on an almost too perfect day
must be more than pawns
in some asshole's passion play.
So now it's your job
and it's my job
to make it that way
to make sure they didn't die in vain.
baby, listen.
Hear the train?

Grand Canyon

I love my country.
By which i mean
I am indebted joyfully
to all the people throughout its history
who have fought the government to make right.

Where so many cunning sons and daughters
our foremothers and forefathers
came singing through slaughter,
came through hell and high water
so that we could stand here
and behold breathlessly the sight
how a raging river of tears
cut a grand canyon of light.

Yes, i've been so many places,
flown through vast empty spaces
with stewardesses whose hands
look much older than their faces.
I've tossed so many napkins
into that big hole in the sky,
been at the bottom of the Atlantic
seething in a two-ply
looking up through all that water
and the fishes swimming by,
and I don't always feel lucky,
but i'm smart enough to try.
'cuz humility has buoyancy
and above us only sky.

So i lean in
breathe deeper that brutal burning smell
that surrounds the smoldering wreckage
that i've come to love so well.
Yes, color me stunned and dazzled
by all the red white and blue flashing lights
in the American intersection
where black crashed head on with white.
Comes a melody,
comes a rhythm,
a particular resonance
that is us and only us.
Comes a screaming ambulance,
a hand that you can trust
laid steady on your chest
working for the better good
(which is good at its best)
and too, bearing witness
like a woman bears a child:
with all her might.
Born of the greatest pain
into a grand canyon of light.

I mean, no song has gone unsung here,
and this joint is strung crazy tight
and people been raising up their voices
since it just ain't been right,
with all the righteous rage
and all the bitter spite
that will accompany us out
of this long night
that will grab us by the hand
when we are ready to take flight
seatback and tray table
in the upright and locked position
shocked to tears by each new vision
of all that my ancestors have done.
Like, say, the women who gave their lives
so that I could have one.

People, we are standing at ground zero
of the Feminist revolution.

Yeah, it was an inside job
stoic and sly,
one we're supposed to forget
and downplay and deny,
but I think the time is nothing
if not nigh
to let the truth out
Coolest F-Word ever deserves a fucking shout!
I mean,
why can't all decent men and women
call themselves Feminists?
Out of respect
for those who fought for this.
I mean, look around.
We have this.

I love my country.
By which i mean
I am indebted joyfully
to all the people throughout its history
who have fought the government to make right.

Where so many cunning sons and daughters
our foremothers and forefathers
came singing through slaughter,
came through hell and high water
so that we could stand here
and behold breathlessly the sight
how a raging river of tears
is cutting a grand canyon of light.



September 2012


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