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Today (a poem for November 4th, 2008) ~ By Drew Anderson

Rosa had a seat today
Martin saw his dream today
W.E.B. and Booker T agreed to disagree today
And the Last Poets noted that the revolution was indeed on TV today
Marley’s song was redeemed today
Sojourner soujourned in the truth
Nat and Harriet licked off shots
Gandhi threw a barbecue
Jesus joked
And God grinned.
To all my soldiers of struggle, it is okay to celebrate today.
It doesn’t make you any less of a man.
The point of the struggle was never to struggle forever.
Wise is the warrior who recognizes when to rest for the fights further ahead.
Remain ever vigilant, but do not be afraid to openly embrace your victories, large and small, because you never know how long until the next one will find itself within the reach of your arms.

To my revolutionary sistren, it is okay to smile today.
For revolution only means radical change
And what change could be more radical
than cracking the cobwebs
of the forgotten foundations
of those things called “smile lines”
as they run like rivulets
and just as wet
through the creases of your beautiful battle-hardened features?
So smile for me
No, smile for he
No no, smile for we
and sink not into that seductive cesspool of cynicism
that has for so long made you distrustful of men in general
and of black men in particular.
This man is not our Jesus
but if we build him up only to tear him down
then we will succeed only in making him our Job.
We cannot fault anyone for turning their backs on us
if we are the first to turn.
We are one another’s reflections.
Try turning your back on your reflection in the mirror
and see what happens.

To my elders today, thank you for not giving up on us
For patiently waiting for the return on your investment of blood, sweat, and tears.
Leave the blood and sweat part to us today
As you shed fresh tears of joy
That taste like sweet justice.

To my students today
I pray that you appreciate the significance of what you behold today.
Tell your children that you were here today
And when they ask what you were doing today
Make your answer one that you can both be proud of tomorrow.

To the college students of every color who cut class just to register voters
And the career chasers who quit their jobs just to work for this campaign
I salute your steadfast selflessness
Acknowledging that sometimes the biggest you can be
is part of something that is bigger than yourself.

To my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters today
Who aided and celebrated Obama’s victory even as you mourned the passing
of the California bill that illegalized your matrimony
Chanting “yes, we can” right alongside some of the same grinning bigots
Who are more committed to your extinction than they were even to Obama’s election
I personally promise to work toward understanding and tolerance
And to fight homophobia wherever I see it, including in myself
Understanding as I do that injustice anywhere truly is a threat to justice everywhere.

To my Republican brothers and sisters today
To the ones who did not vote for “that one”
My red state representers, often of lighter hue and heavier pocketbook
Who see not success but sadness in this turn of events
And who now feel that your country is being led by one who does not represent who you are
We can relate to such a feeling.
Some might say we have lived with such for generations.
And we do not gloatingly wish the same upon you.
I hope for peace beyond partisanship
Cooperation beyond Congress
Fortitude beyond fear-mongering
And healing beyond hurt.

To my poets today
Oh yes, poets today
I have said before that the poets are the town criers
And thus necessarily more beholden than anyone to the current currents
And as the landscape of the people shifts
So too, then, must the craftsmanship of our gifts
Gone are the days when a political piece was allowed to consist solely of
how many lines one could rhyme with “Fuck Bush”
So in our new political poetry, my fellow poets
I challenge us to greet our new President with open minds and balanced pens.
May we praise him with patriotic pride when he does well
And, when necessary, may we criticize him with measure and fairness.
And by the way, politics do not reside solely betwixt these coasts
So let us broaden our worldview
And begin to more thoroughly explore this thing known as
The global politic.

To myself today
I challenge you, Drew, to live up to your potential
To be more presidential
Allowing the calmly confident demeanor of our young commander-in-chief
To inspire you to chiefly command your own dreams
Here was a man who never doubted that he could be right where he now is

Borrow from that bold ambition
And be no different
I mean, really, if Barack can be President
You can get your black ass to work on time.

And lastly but certainly not “leastly”
To my President today
We’ve come a long way from the back of the bus, haven’t we, Mr. Swagger Like Us?
From Enemy Of The State to Head of State
With your Mays Gilliam ways and your Will Smith ears
The better to hear us with my dear
The Man In Black
The Bad Boy
You Are Legend
Keep spitting that saucy Chi-Town shit
Translated into that righteous CNN-ready Harvard rhetoric
And keep that Malcolm in your baritone
So these bammas know what “by any means” means
And I know you’re smart enough to already know this
But I’ll say it anyway just to remind myself:
Enjoy today
Because tomorrow?
Oh, the cynics will spin it
The honeymoon will end in a Hollywood divorce
And the same media that made you a darling
Will place your every misstep under a microscope
While making your accomplishments microscopic

But today?
Rosa had the best seat in the house
Martin saw his dream, no doubt
Booker T and W.E.B. agreed to disagree
And the Last Poets saw that this revolution was indeed on TV.

And you?
You are America
You represent our best and brightest
Now lead us through our worst and darkest
Just do what we elected you to do
You know, the little stuff:

Lower the taxes and the dependency on gas and
Free Mumia and legalize the cheeba cheeba and
Bring home the troops and pardon Assata and
Save the trees, the babies, the whales, and while you’re at it the world
(And by the way, if Michelle has a younger sister
Put in a good word for a player, know what I’m talkin’ ’bout?)
Sincerely yours, Mr. President
Drew Anderson
Proud citizen of these United States of America
Since when?…

Since Today.


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The Rainmaker

He had also made the discovery that, in a certain peculiar manner, men of thought gave offense and aroused the repugnance of their fellows. They might be valued at a distance and called on in emergencies, but others neither love them nor accept them, rather give them a wide berth.

He had also learned that the sick and unfortunate are far more receptive to traditional magic spells and exorcisms than to sensible advice; that people more readily accept affliction and outward penances than the task of changing themselves, or even examining themselves; that they believe more easily in magic than reason, in formulas than experience. These are matters which in the several thousand years since his era have probably not changed so much as a good many history books claim.

But he had also learned that a seeking, thoughtful man dare not forfeit love; that he must meet the wishes and follies of men halfway, not showing arrogance but also not truckling to them; that it is always only a single step from sage to charlatan, from priest to mountebank, from helpful brother to parasitic drone, and that the people would by far prefer to pay a swindler and be exploited by a quack than accept help given freely and unselfishly. They would much rather pay in money and goods than in trust and love. They cheat one another and expect to be cheated themselves.

You had to learn to see man as a weak, selfish and cowardly creature; you also had to realize how many of these evil traits and impulses you shared yourself; and nevertheless you allowed yourself to believe and nourished your soul on the faith, that man is also spirit and love, that something dwells in him which is at variance with his instincts and longs to refine them. But all these thoughts are no doubt far too abstract and explicit for Knecht to have been capable of them. Let us say: he was on the way to them; his way would some day lead him to them and past them.

 Herman Hesse,

The Glass Bead Game