Concord Hymn

Our next poem was selected for us by Rick Robol from Ohio. Rick is an attorney and activist with Independent Ohio. He also serves on IndependentVoting.org’s national Election Reform Committee.

Rick.VRAP

Rick Robol at a Voting Rights are Primary informational picket outside the Ohio Secretary of State’s offices, 2014.

It is fitting in the month of April to remember poetry about the Battle of Concord, a battle that took place on April 19, 1775.  “Concord Hymn” is the famous poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson written for the 1837 dedication of the Obelisk monument in Concord, Massachusetts.  It commemorates the Battle of Concord, the second in a series of battles and skirmishes at the outbreak of the American Revolution.  At Concord’s Independence Day celebration on July 4, 1837, “Concord Hymn” was first read, then sung as a hymn by a local choir.

Emerson’s poem is significant for the way it transforms the brief battle into a spiritual symbol for the American nation.  The memory of Lexington & Concord, though 241 years ago, has become part of our nation’s core culture that the spirit of revolution, equal rights and freedom are among what make us distinctly American– a spirit that we expect to endure from one generation to the next.  In my view, Independents are united by their embodiment of this spirit.

 

CONCORD HYMN

By Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

 

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Our celebration of National Poetry month continues through the weekend with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

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The Discovery of the Sao Jose Paquete Africa

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Dr. Jessie Fields sends us a poem she wrote last year, inspired by the discovery of the sunken Portugese slave ship, the Sao Jose Paquete Africa in 2015 off the coast of South Africa. The ship sunk in 1794 with over 400 slaves aboard.

Jessie shares with us:

In 1794, Mozambique Island was the capital of Portuguese East Africa.

Carved onto the wall of the former French Consulate on Mozambique Island an inscription in Portuguese reads:

“Remembering the thousands of slaves that were torn from the Mozambique Island and from our continent so we can battle poverty, sickness, H.I.V., AIDS, malaria, famine and corruption.”

A poem dedicated to the millions and millions of enslaved people whose toil, blood and tears build America and Europe and to those who carry the mantle of leadership forward.”

 

The Discovery of the Sao Jose Paquete Africa

 

Below a mountain top, off the Cape of Good Hope dive.

To the ocean’s multitudinous bottom sink.

In the dark in a slave ship hold there lie.

 

The ship too close along the rocky brink

a storm splits. Two hundred and twelve people drowned

And two hundred survived still to be sold into slavery.

The inquest records in his own words found

The Portuguese captain survived to testify.

 

Retrieve the sea preserved shackles of trade in African people.

The old blocks and cooper buckles, the iron ballasts weighed against

human bodies, now to a different use double, every people

Of a world revive. Ascend to the air with manifest of centuries past.

Lift the discovery a searing beam from far, in hands black and white

These artifacts hold, remains for all who remain to fight.

  Jessie Fields, December 2015

sanjose_slavewreck_dive

Underwater archaeology researchers on the site of the Sao Jose slave ship wreck near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.  Photo courtesy Iziko Museums.

 

To learn more, you can watch a video about the discovery of the Sao Jose Paquete Africa.

From the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Our celebration of National Poetry month continues with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

Old Marx

Jan Wootten is a P4P member from Manhattan.  Her selection for our National Poetry Month is by Adam Zagajewski, who happens to be one of my favorite poets.  Enjoy.

Jan Wootten

 

I loved this poem, published in the New Yorker in January 2008, and kept it on my refrigerator for years.  

It made me feel sadness and compassion for Mr. Karl Marx and some of the loneliness, doubt and despair he may have struggled with in helping give birth to a breakthrough conceptualization of practical critical / revolutionary activity.”

 

Old Marx

(Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh.)

BY 

I try to envision his last winter,                                                                                                         London, cold and damp, the snow’s curt kisses
on empty streets, the Thames’ black water.
Chilled prostitutes lit bonfires in the park.
Vast locomotives sobbed somewhere in the night.
The workers spoke so quickly in the pub
that he couldn’t catch a single word.
Perhaps Europe was richer and at peace,
but the Belgians still tormented the Congo.
And Russia? Its tyranny? Siberia?
He spent evenings staring at the shutters.
He couldn’t concentrate, rewrote old work,
reread young Marx for days on end,
and secretly admired that ambitious author.
He still had faith in his fantastic vision,
but in moments of doubt
he worried that he’d given the world only
a new version of despair;
then he’d close his eyes and see nothing
but the scarlet darkness of his lids.

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Our celebration of National Poetry month continues throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

A Song from Joe Pickering Jr.

Joe Pickering, an independent activist from Maine is also a songwriter. He sent us a song for our National Poetry Month celebration.  Enjoy.

 

Bangor public library< October 2013

Gwen Mandell and Jacqueline Salit from IndependentVoting.org; Barbara McDade, Director, Bangor Public Library and Joe Pickering. October 2013

 
AWAKE !

CHORUS

BORN IN A FLAME IN THE OLD NORTH STEEPLE
I WARNED THE BRITISH ARE COMING MY PEOPLE
YOU ROSE UP! I BECAME THE LAND OF THE FREE
AWAKE ! I’M THE LAND WHO CRIES FOR THEE
AWAkE ! I’M THE LAND WHO CRIES FOR THEE

DON’T WAIT FOR THE NEW I-PHONES TO APPEAR
AWAKE ! INSIDE INVADERS ARE HERE
POLITICAL PARTIES ARE SEIZING ME
OUR TROOPS CAN’T FIGHT THEM LEGALLY

AWAKE !! HORDES OF CANDIDATES ATTACK
MEDIA KNIVES SLASH FRONT AND BACK
ROUND THE CLOCK, PROMISES AND BABBLE
SUPER PACS FROM NEW YORK TO SEATTLE

REPEAT CHORUS

CANDIDATES WAGE CAMPAIGN ATTACK
THEY SHOUT I’LL TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK !
I’M RIGHT HERE ! I HAVEN’T GONE AWAY
DON’T ABUSE ME ! YOU’LL KILL ME SOMEDAY !

POL PLATFORMS OF WAR AND FEAR
WON’T SAVE YOU! AWAKE! LISTEN! HEAR !
MY PEOPLE WIN BACK YOUR LIBERTY !
YOUR CIVIL LIBERTIES ARE ME YES, ME !

REPEAT CHORUS

BRIDGE

YOU MY PEOPLE HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT
RIGHT PARTY WRONG USE YOUR MIGHT

OPEN ELECTIONS ARE THE WAY TO ELECT !
PARTISAN ELECTIONS DO NOT PROTECT
FREEDOMS THE FOREFATHERS FIRST WON
AWAKE! AWAKE ! OR, I AM DONE !!

FADE WITH LAST LINE IN LAST VERSE SIX TIMES

Joe Pickering Jr. Songwriter Harry King Artist and Producer King of the Road Music: Music Publisher C 2015

 

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Our celebration of National Poetry month continues throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural

Today’s selection comes to us from Harry Kresky.  It is not a poem in the traditional sense. It is Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

Harry shares his thoughts:

This is as close as a political speech gets to poetry. I love its understatement and its acceptance of responsibility by America (not just the South) for the sin of slavery.  It is poetry (and philosophy) in its “not knowing” stance towards profound and troubling questions: “Both [North and South] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.”

And Lincoln leaves no doubt about where he stands on the fundamental question of slavery.”

Harry

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1865

 

Fellow-Countrymen:

AT this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the causeof the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

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Our celebration of National Poetry month continues throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

 

Grassroots Nation by Catana Barnes

Today we continue our celebration of National Poetry Month with an original poem written by Catana Barnes from Nevada.

 

GRASSROOTS NATION

This great experiment referred to as Democracy

seized at dawn’s early light by patriots of hypocrisy

party lines drawn in the sand

choose a side or take a stand

grassroots nation seeking reform

survival relies on new ways to perform.

 

New_Catana_2a - Copy (2)Catana Barnes is the founder and President of Independent Voters of Nevada.

 

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Our celebration of National Poetry month continues

throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

Next Selection-Who Stole the American Dream?

As we enter the final week of our celebration of National Poetry Month, I am very happy to announce that our next book club selection is Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith.

Book Image

Hedrick Smith is a bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, and Emmy Award–winning producer. He has written five best selling books, including The Russians and The Power Game. As a reporter at The New York Times, Smith shared a Pulitzer for the Pentagon Papers series and won a Pulitzer for his international reporting from Russia in 1971–1974. in addition, Smith has been a producer for PBS’ Frontline.

In Who Stole the American Dream?, Hedrick Smith analyzes what happened to the American dream over the last four decades, how it is our economy has crumbled and we have become so divided as a country.

I met Hedrick in February in NH, when both he and Jackie Salit, the President of IndependentVoting.org spoke at the NH Rebellion We the People Convention.  Hedrick is an outspoken advocate for structural political reforms from campaign finance reform, to ending gerrymandering and top two nonpartisan elections.

It was a pleasure to hear him speak and I know we will greatly enjoy reading and exploring his book. Our book club conversation with Hedrick will be on Sunday, June 19th. I am looking forward to it!

IndependentVoting.org President, Jackie Salit in conversation with Hedrick Smith

You can get your copy of Who Stole the American Dream? on Amazon, at your local bookseller or library. It is available in hardcover, paperback or on Kindle.

Let me leave you with an excerpt from the Prologue:

A House Divided: Two Americas

Over the past three decades, we have become Two Americas.  We are no longer one large American family with shared prosperity and shared political and economic power, as we were in the decades following World War II. Today, no common enemy unites us as a nation. No common enterprise like settling the West or rockeing to the moon inspires us as a people.

We are today a sharply divided country–divided by power, money, and ideology.  Our politics have become rancorous and polarized, our political leaders unable to resolve the most basic problems. Constant conflict had replaced a sense of common purpose and the pursuit of the common welfare.  Not just in Washington, but across the nation, the fault lines that divide us run deep, and they are profoundly self-destructive, unless we can find our way to some new unity and consensus.

Abraham Lincoln gave us fair warning. “A house divided against itself, ” Lincoln said, “cannot stand.”

Americans sense that something is profoundly wrong–that we have done off track as a nation.  Many skilled observers write about this, but it is hard to grasp exactly how we arrived at our present predicament or how to respond–how to go about healing America’s dangerous divide.  The causes do not lie in the last election or the one before that.  They predate the financial collapse of 2008.  The timeline to our modern national quagmire lies embedded in the longer arc of our history, and that history, from 1971 to the present, is the focus of this book.”

 

 

Politics for the People Conference Call

with Hedrick Smith

Sunday, June 19th at 7 pm EST

Call in number (641) 715-3605

Access code 767775#

 

 

 

Poverty by Jane Taylor

This poem was sent to us by Ramon Pena. Ramon currently lives in NJ and has been an independent activist for the last decade.

ANTI-CORRUPTION-3

Anti-Corruption Awards Dec.2012.

Poverty

BY JANE TAYLOR

I saw an old cottage of clay,
And only of mud was the floor;
It was all falling into decay,
And the snow drifted in at the door.

Yet there a poor family dwelt,
In a hovel so dismal and rude;
And though gnawing hunger they felt,
They had not a morsel of food.

The children were crying for bread,
And to their poor mother they’d run;
‘Oh, give us some breakfast,’ they said,
Alas! their poor mother had none.

She viewed them with looks of despair,
She said (and I’m sure it was true),
‘’Tis not for myself that I care,
But, my poor little children, for you.’

O then, let the wealthy and gay
But see such a hovel as this,
That in a poor cottage of clay
They may know what true misery is.

And what I may have to bestow
I never will squander away,
While many poor people I know
Around me are wretched as they.

Our celebration of National Poetry month continues throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

Ciudad de México by Jerry Everett

Our next poem was written by Jerry Everett.  Jerry lives in Florida.

Jerry Everett

Jerry Everett, Mexico 2015

 

Ciudad de México

 

Broad stones contain

Templo Tenochtitlan

Cathedral and Sagrario

The incompasing of mountains

 

There you steped to count the skulls

Laid out on racks in shining rooms

And so assecc the worthy men

Who hide from our lady of Tepeyac

 

Los Indio’s of careless art

Who pick up images wherever given

Who sell the flowers of the sun

And persist

 

The zero’s after their ones

Leave and walk the streets you left

Taking with them tomorrows roses

To redden a frosted dawn

 

In the one narrow path

North, out of the valley

Walk in peace

Away from the angry city

 

Red with stones in opposition

 

GRE – 2008

 

Re: The poem, some years ago Deborah Green was going down to Mexico City on business. I had gone down to Mexico and Belize with a friend back in 1972 and we had picked up a couple of students from the University of Mexico, in the DF, and they told us about the massacre of 300 students of the University of Mexico in 1968, by the military police. Just before the Olympics. The massacre did not take place in the central historic zocolo of Mexico City, but a smaller zocolo near the University. It changed my view of Mexico. The people there are so nice and decent on average you think they can’t have the problems that the news tells you they do. Still I could not see the stones of a zocolo (every Mexican town has one), but that I would think of the blood of all those people, on those stones. So when Deborah said she was going down to the DF for business, I told her to be careful. I went home and I was thinking of her job as someone who helped to make business negotiations, and of the central square in Mexico city and the giant stones it is made up of from Aztec times, and of Our lady of Guadalupe and the Indians, and the miracle of the roses, and the Spanish cathedral and the chapel there. It was all a bit of a swirl, but on the way home I saw a guy in a light coat in the freezing weather and he had the facial features I know are Mayan. So when I got home I put all that in a poem. What Mexico did poorly it kept, what it did beautifully it sent to us. Those who try to change those things are killed.”

Our celebration of National Poetry month continues throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

Ego Tripping, by Nikki Giovanni

photo (3)

Michelle McCleary brings us today’s poem.  Michelle is a long time activist in the independent movement and President of the Metro NY Chapter of the National Black MBA Association.

Here is what Michelle writes about “Ego Tripping”:

Ego Tripping by Nikki Giovanni is one of my favorite poems.  The poem reminds me of the power and beauty of women: not only do we figure out how to make a way out of no way on a daily basis, but we carry and give birth to other human beings!!  I just wish that women could remember this as they/we doubt ourselves, stay silent or act dumb in the presence of men, and compete with each other for crumbs.  We deserve the whole cake!!”

 Ego Tripping by Nikki Giovanni

 

I was born in the Congo

I walked to the fertile crescent and built the sphinx

I designed a pyramid so tough that a star that only glows every one hundred years falls

Into the center giving divine perfect light

I AM BAD

I sat on the throne drinking nectar with Allah

I got hot and sent an ice age to Europe to cool my thirst

My oldest daughter is Nefertiti the tears from my birth pains created the Nile

I am a beautiful woman

 

I gazed on the forest and burned out the Sahara desert

With a packet of goat’s meat and a change of clothes

I crossed it in two hours

I am a gazelle so swift, so swift you can’t catch me

 

For a birthday present when he was three

I gave my son Hannibal an elephant

He gave me Rome for mother’s day

My strength flows ever on

 

My son Noah built new/ark and

I stood proudly at the helm

As we sailed on a soft summer day

I turned myself into myself and was Jesus

 

Men intone my loving name

All praises, all praises

I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard

My bowels deliver uranium

The filings from my fingernails are semi-precious jewels

On a trip north

I caught a cold and blew my nose giving oil to the Arab world

I am so hip even my errors are correct

I sailed west to reach east and had to round off the earth as I went

The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal

I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean … I … can fly

Like a bird in the sky

 

Our celebration of National Poetry month continues throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

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