Thursday, December 01, 2011

Excavations In a Used Bookstore-- Part I

[published 1991 by Caernavon Press (== my friend Terry Hertzler)]

[As this was me in the late 80's, I may revise slightly for sound & clarity. But removing the embarrassments would be cheating.]

The book is signed
by the author, and given
to his father, a friendly note.
It is on nuclear disarmament.

The book is in fine condition; I would say
it was hardly opened, never read.

There was a pretty time; the girls
wore short skirts and netted stockings
and their hair long
lay gentle about their faces.

It was a glorious time; in November
I rang doorbells for Lyndon Johnson
getting the vote out in the Black district
and in December I was arrested.

I remember my father, when I was six
gave me his set of science books
which I kept proudly
reading all I could follow, and more.

I remember my father, when I cried
screaming at me to stop
or he'd give me a reason to cry;
he was the perfect manly man
not long out of the army;
used the Voice for Commanding Men
for all those minor emergencies
but we could talk, other times.

There was a fearful time; the bombs
fell burning on the innocent
and the guilty, and on those
who simply wanted their country
even more than we did;

it was a noble time; we saw
with photographic clarity
how the world was ready to change--
changing under our feet
as we walked, signs held
to the blindness of cameras.

"Science," my father said,
"does not advance with new theories
but only when the aging
believers in the old system
eventually die out."

The house was full of books
I never saw them read--
My father was busy in the basement,
my mother absorbed in illness;
she'd find me reading in the bedroom

and ask, "Why don't you go
out and have fun?"

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