Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Once I wore armbands and marched with flowers in my hair -





 


Once I wore armbands and marched with flowers in my hair

Left the battle-ground tearing the nation and traveled to an island far from the hatred

sputum streets thronging there - 


Left my armbands, kept my flowers – found a place where there was pure treasure in simply living the hours –

Possessions were few and completely unnecessary when crystal waters flowed and there was gentle harmony -

Where I could in gentle frangipani breezes listen aware 

nod Bon voyage to other materialistic far off voices running the treadmill to nowhere –

 

I yearned for the peace, for the universal kindness connection and believed with allmy heart it would come to pass – that I could step out and into a worldly nirvana and without guilt let the years pass –

 

I inhaled sheer beauty each day, taught bright eyed little children their letters and numbers, bore a child of my own, sailed on boats, talked of the world through the night 

with those back from ‘Nam and those who had refused an unjust fight.

 

Once I wore armbands and marched with flowers in my hair

believed, in a new world order seeded, ready to blossom with care

 

It never occurred to me that once this movement danced and sang in ardent passion as one glorious teeming mass. 

All hues and beliefs marched, loved and lived in ardent certainty that we had breeched the stultifying morass .   

The beat went on and on and on nothing, absolutely nothing seemed out of scope. 

We brought wars abroad and home to a halt, everything seemed possible with this power of hope - 

and as all transpired and we rose above fallen and slain – 

burgeoned by new optimism, believed in all that the entire planet would gain.  

All the while of this time we listened, and respected the clarion call of Mother Earth – 

it never, ever, for an instant occurred to me that any of this could spin in reverse.

 

Now –

Many decades have flown and I am beyond all conceits - fully grown -the proverbial flowers have faded, dried and in the wind blown  – 

there is nothing as sad, depressing and desperate as aging in place – 

when there seems little hope sparkling on the horizon for this too often inhuman race – 

Too many overfed, privileged, greedy, and such, others struggling starving, the continuum vast and wide, 

Horrors spreading as a bloody overall haze, but worse, even worse than all horrors is this  heinous malaise

 

The malaise that accompanies the grim reaper calmly irrevocably counting out our days with a smile that is cold.   

We are old. We are old. 


Revolutions need the power of belief – need stable institutions against which to rail – 

we stand on unsteady limbs in the tarnish of age that is no longer gold 

too much that glittered steady in a state of declining or absolute fail–  


No, this age no longer gold we sputter and cannot find the words to inspire ourselves or the young -with the tales once told – of a time when belief in each other was strong – 

in the power of the people and the future in each song.

 

And yet, and yet through this fog of grim, dim, hopeless carnage and ache –

there are those crumbs of joy that still remain one day when the soul screams in hunger for pleasure to take.

 

And yet, and yet, moving out, and above, soaring from perspective on high, this may very well be a time when the poison of hatred toxic and putrid runs through the lands and eventually runs dry.  

Perhaps, if we rise, far beyond our elusive, impossible, dreams of individual change, we will see that the seas rising, the bergs melting, the temperatures, quakes, tsunamis, all sorts of catastrophic things are simply the water pounding the rock

 

 

The rock that is stuck in our throats and our hearts, the rock 

that seems to be an individual and global immovable block-  

but perhaps it is true – in a beat of the sand and sea 

that this revolution is a question of evolution whirling about us, confusing, us, into thinking that rapid change we shall see come to be. 

 

In the beat of the sand and the sea and all that shines through darkness – we are but a speck of stardust - but stardust collected illumes the darkness shooting light through - 

whether we shall see the ultimate cosmic revolution is beyond all we can possibly know. 

All we can grasp with both arms, a full heart and soul is that ..

We are the wave

We are the flow

and as Belafonte sang long ago 

... soon the rock must go -


Harry Belafonte - Paradise in Gazankulu 

 

12 comments:

  1. Wow, just wow, Pearl! Of course, my favorite lines are "Once I wore armbands and marched with flowers in my hair, believed, in a new world order seeded, ready to blossom with care." I never wore flowers in my hair, but I so very much wanted to be a hippy and live the life....I never did, but.

    And then you go on to, " Revolutions need the power of belief – need stable institutions against which to rail – yet we stand on unsteady limbs in the tarnish of age that is no longer gold too much that was steady in a state of declining or absolute fail– No, this age no longer gold.... " Yes, agreed, and where has all the idealism gone? Our country seems to have lost it. I wonder if the generation that protested the Vietnam War etc. were young now if they would be more active than the youth of today which protests nothing.....maybe they will wake up before it is too late. We need a vibrant young, I think. We need a revolution as only the young can inspire. Thanks for this write.

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    1. Perhaps we're looking for a youth revolution that too closely approximates a bygone time- perhaps the revolution today is an evolution that is more dificult to grasp .. nevertheless I began in despair and then began wonder if as the Belafonte song posits .. if we are not, all of us, past, present and future the water on the rock and if the repetition to move the rock isn't completely necessary albeit frustating for the water ?

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    2. Thank you Mary for you kind words! I'm happy for the "wow" they are treasured!

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    3. Yes, I think we are looking for a revolution that approximates the bygone time. And after reading Rajani's comment, yes - perhaps the young are doing it in a different way - digitally and online! Hoping they will be successful in their undertakings. We need an engaged 'youth.'

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  2. This poem sure speaks to my heart, Pearl! I was a Love and Peace girl too, and, like you, believed we would change the world. And so many of the rights we marched for then are being lost, Democracy itself is threatened and an evil empire is trying hard to wrest all power. It is very discouraging to have witnessed the years since 2016. As we learn the hard way, maybe evolution will arise from cataclysms to come.......when we are forced to live with the land more primitively. Maybe next time humankind will get it right. This is a spectacular poem!!!

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    1. Aww thank you Sherry - I began in resignation, depression and despair and came to a far bigger picture where we are all, past, present and future the water on the rock, the repetition that we feel so down-hearted about is necessary to move the rock - maybe?

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  3. This was such a great read. And while it is true, that generation stood up and inspired so much, the kids now are doing it too.. just differently perhaps- more digital and online, but definitely taking on the old order. Their clarity on climate and war has been on point. But it does come full circle and we keep landing in this mess again, having to wear armbands and flowers in our hair and protest for all we're worth. Sad, Sad.

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    1. I began the poem in despair and resignation and listening to the Belafonte rendition came to think that perhaps we, in our human way, are too self-involved to realize that "we" all of us, the past, the present and the future are the water on the rock and yes, as you say it repeats and repeats again as water against a rock must do, before the "rock must go."

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    2. Thank you Rajani for the lovely comment and your thoughful suggestions.

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  4. I like the dream phase of the poem for its innocence and vigor which is set against the reality of " this fog of grim, dim, hopeless carnage and ache". And in between "there are those crumbs of joy" that lead us forward. I feel amidst all this the great truth truly lies in the sentence "...revolution is a question of evolution...". This is such a thought provoking poem as always.

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  5. This is such a powerful piece, Pearl. I too once wore armbands and marched with flowers in my hair, and found a ‘place where there was pure treasure in simply living the hours’. I agree that things have changed, that there is ‘little hope sparkling on the horizon for this too often inhuman race’ with ‘too many overfed, privileged, greedy, and such, others struggling starving, the continuum wide’. Yet we still cling to crumbs of joy.

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  6. Wow, Pearl, just wow! "everything seemed possible with this power of hope - and as all transpired and we rose above fallen and slain – gathered new hope and believed in all that the entire planet would gain."
    You speak my mind! I too was the hippy peacenik--were all of us poets? But you took us through that history with both wistfulness and hope. I'm so glad the Belafonte song moved you as it does me. Aging feels like waiting, but we still do what we can in crossing borders that seem like barriers/rocks, maybe one person at a time. And if we are not that active, our poems are. The rock yields--it must. There is no where else to go. I believe that youth--those that come after us--will step up. Oh! Publish this poem!

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