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I've been in Washington ever since 1981, trying to get out!

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Why Washington Retreated

1775

Said Congress to George Washington:
"To set this country free,
You'll have to whip the Britishers
And chase them o'er the sea."
"Oh, very well," said Washington,
"I'll do the best I can.
I'll slam and bang those Britishers
And whip them to a man."

1777

Said Congress to George Washington:
"The people all complain;
Why don't you fight? You but retreat
And then retreat again."
"That can't be helped," said Washington,
"As you will quite agree
When you see how the novelists
Have mixed up things for me."

Said Congress to George Washington:
"Pray make your meaning clear."
Said Washington: "Why, certainly --
But pray excuse this tear.
Of course we know," said Washington,
"The object of this war --
It is to furnish novelists
With patriotic lore."

Said Congress to George Washington:
"Yes! yes! but pray proceed."
Said Washington: "My part in it
Is difficult indeed,
For every hero in the books
Must sometime meet with me,
And every sweet-faced heroine
I must kiss gallantly."

Said Congress to George Washington:
"But why must you retreat?"
Said Washington: "One moment, please,
My story to complete.
These hero-folk are scattered through
The whole United States;
At every little country town
A man or maiden waits."

To Congress said George Washington:

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The Columbiad: Book VII

The Argument


Coast of France rises in vision. Louis, to humble the British power, forms an alliance with the American states. This brings France, Spain and Holland into the war, and rouses Hyder Ally to attack the English in India. The vision returns to America, where the military operations continue with various success. Battle of Monmouth. Storming of Stonypoint by Wayne. Actions of Lincoln, and surrender of Charleston. Movements of Cornwallis. Actions of Greene, and battle of Eutaw. French army arrives, and joins the American. They march to besiege the English army of Cornwallis in York and Gloster. Naval battle of Degrasse and Graves. Two of their ships grappled and blown up. Progress of the siege. A citadel mined and blown up. Capture of Cornwallis and his army. Their banners furled and muskets piled on the field of battle.


Thus view'd the Pair; when lo, in eastern skies,
From glooms unfolding, Gallia's coasts arise.
Bright o'er the scenes of state a golden throne,
Instarr'd with gems and hung with purple, shone;
Young Bourbon there in royal splendor sat,
And fleets and moving armies round him wait.
For now the contest, with increased alarms,
Fill'd every court and roused the world to arms;
As Hesper's hand, that light from darkness brings,
And good to nations from the scourge of kings,
In this dread hour bade broader beams unfold,
And the new world illuminate the old.

In Europe's realms a school of sages trace
The expanding dawn that waits the Reasoning Race;
On the bright Occident they fix their eyes,
Thro glorious toils where struggling nations rise;
Where each firm deed, each new illustrious name
Calls into light a field of nobler fame:
A field that feeds their hope, confirms the plan
Of well poized freedom and the weal of man.
They scheme, they theorize, expand their scope,
Glance o'er Hesperia to her utmost cope;
Where streams unknown for other oceans stray,
Where suns unseen their waste of beams display,
Where sires of unborn nations claim their birth,
And ask their empires in those wilds of earth.
While round all eastern climes, with painful eye,
In slavery sunk they see the kingdoms lie,
Whole states exhausted to enrich a throne,
Their fruits untasted and their rights unknown;
Thro tears of grief that speak the well taught mind,
They hail the æra that relieves mankind.

Of these the first, the Gallic sages stand,
And urge their king to lift an aiding hand.
The cause of humankind their souls inspired,
Columbia's wrongs their indignation fired;
To share her fateful deeds their counsel moved,
To base in practice what in theme they proved:
That no proud privilege from birth can spring,
No right divine, nor compact form a king;
That in the people dwells the sovereign sway,
Who rule by proxy, by themselves obey;

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Tom Zart's 52 Best Of The Rest America At War Poems

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF WORLD WAR III

The White House
Washington
Tom Zart's Poems


March 16,2007
Ms. Lillian Cauldwell
President and Chief Executive Officer
Passionate Internet Voices Radio
Ann Arbor Michigan

Dear Lillian:
Number 41 passed on the CDs from Tom Zart. Thank you for thinking of me. I am thankful for your efforts to honor our brave military personnel and their families. America owes these courageous men and women a debt of gratitude, and I am honored to be the commander in chief of the greatest force for freedom in the history of the world.
Best Wishes.

Sincerely,

George W. Bush


SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF WORLD WAR III


Our sons and daughters serve in harm's way
To defend our way of life.
Some are students, some grandparents
Many a husband or wife.

They face great odds without complaint
Gambling life and limb for little pay.
So far away from all they love
Fight our soldiers for whom we pray.

The plotters and planners of America's doom
Pledge to murder and maim all they can.
From early childhood they are taught
To kill is to become a man.

They exploit their young as weapons of choice
Teaching in heaven, virgins will await.
Destroying lives along with their own
To learn of their falsehoods too late.

The fearful cry we must submit
And find a way to soothe them.
Where defenders worry if we stand down
The future for America is grim.

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Soccer World

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Washington and Lincoln

Come, happy people! Oh come let us tell
The story of Washinton and Lincoln!
History's pages can never excel
The story of Washington and Lincoln.
Down through the ages an anthem shall go,
Bearing the honors we gladly bestow--
Till every nation and language shall know
The story of Washington and Lincoln:

Who gave us independence,
On our continent and sea
Who saved the glorious Union!
And set a people free!
This is the story--
Oh happy are we--
The story of Washington and Lincoln.

Parents to children shall tell with delight,
The story of Washington and Lincoln;
Free born and freed men together recite
The story of Washinton and Lincoln.
Earth's weary bond men shall listen with cheer--
Tyrants shall tremble, and traitors shall fear--
When, in it's fullness of glory, they hear
The story of Washington and Lincoln:

Though on the war cloud recorded with steel,
The story of Washington and Lincoln;
Peace only Peace, can completely reveal
The story of Washington and Lincoln.
Thanks to the Lord for the days we behold!
Thanks for the unsullied flag we unfold!
Thanks to us, and in our time, was told
The story of Washington and Lincoln.

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The Presidency & General Washington = 2012

THE PRESIDENCY & GENERAL WASHINGTON = 2012

Those who wish to be President
Must practice what they teach.
For their people need inspiring
To believe what they preach.

Take heed therefore, unto yourselves
You overseers of the flock
Or the voters shall cast you out
For your futures are not of rock.

Life may place you in deep waters
Though it doesn't wish you to drown.
It's your past record that lets us know
Who you are as you smile or frown.

If you wish to be remembered
From the truth you must never part.
Power corrupts the best of us
When we stop listening to our heart.

GENERAL WASHINGTON

Once in command, he boxed in the British
At Boston where he captured Dorchester Heights
Overlooking the Brits at his mercy
As his men took aim with their cannon sites.

The British commander had but one choice
To sail to New York to renew the fight.
Where the English had much greater forces
Who soon chased Washington's men in full flight.

They continued on to Pennsylvania
After crossing the Hudson in retreat
With the British forces in hot pursuit
It looked as though George was doomed to defeat.

When winter seemed to have stopped the fighting
That's when Washington crossed the Delaware.
On Christmas night he captured Trenton
Where Hessians were surprised and unaware.

He whipped the British at Princeton
Where in victory his men began to sing.
Washington then wintered at Morristown
Training his troops for the combat of spring.

Washington fought bravely at Brandywine

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To Washington

Eight years of peace and prosperity
Scandal in the White House
An election is what we need
From coast-to-coast to Washington
So America voted on a president
No one kept count
On how the election went
From Florida to Washington
Goddamn, said one side
And the other said the same
Both looked pretty guilty
But no one took the blame
From coast-to-coast to Washington
So a new man in the White House
With a familiar name
Said he had some fresh ideas
But it's worse now since he came
From Texas to Washington
And he wants to fight with many
And he says it's not for oil
He sent out the National Guard
To police the world
From Baghdad to Washington
What is the thought process
To take a humans life
What would be the reason
To think that this is right
From heaven to Washington
From Jesus Christ to Washington

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Vision Of Columbus - Book 6

Naval action of De Grasse and Graves. Capture of Cornwallis..
Thus view'd the sage. When, lo, in eastern skies,
From glooms unfolding, Gallia's coasts arise.
Bright o'er the scenes of state, a golden throne,
Instarr'd with gems and hung with purple, shone.
Great Louis there, the pride of monarchs, sate,
And fleets and moving armies round him wait;
O'er western shores extend his ardent eyes,
Thro' glorious toils where struggling nations rise;
Each virtuous deed, each new illustrious name,
Wakes in his soul the living light of fame.
He sees the liberal, universal cause,
That wondering worlds in still attention draws;
And marks, beyond, through western walks of day,
Where midnight suns their happier beams display,
What sires of unborn nations claim their birth,
And ask their empires in that waste of earth.
Then o'er the eastern world he turn'd his eye;
Where, sunk in slavery hapless kingdoms lie;
Saw realms exhausted to enrich a throne,
Their fruits untasted and their rights unknown:
A tear of pity spoke his melting mind–
He raised his sceptre to relieve mankind,
Eyed the great father of the Bourbon name,
Awaked his virtues and recall'd his fame.
Fired by the grandeur of the splendid throne,
Illustrious chiefs and councils round him shone;
On the glad youth with kindling joy they gaze,
The rising heir of universal praise.
Vergennes rose stately o'er the noble throng,
And fates of nations on his accents hung;
Columbia's wrongs his indignation fired,
And generous thoughts his glowing breast inspired;
To aid her infant toils his counsel moved,
In freedom founded and by Heaven approved.
While other peers, in sacred virtue bold,
With eager voice the coming scenes unfold;
Surrounding heroes wait the monarch's word,
In foreign fields to draw the glittering sword,
Prepared with joy to trace the distant main,
Mix in the strife and join the martial train;
Who now assert the rights of sovereign power,
And build new empires on the western shore.
O'er all, the approving monarch cast a look,
And listening nations trembled while he spoke.
Ye states of France, and, ye of rising name,
That work those distant miracles of fame,
Hear and attend; let Heaven the witness bear,
We lift the sword, we aid the righteous war.
Let leagues eternal bind each friendly land,

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Washington At War & The Hinge Of History

WASHINGTON AT WAR & THE HINGE OF HISTORY

Once in command, he boxed in the British
At Boston where he captured Dorchester Heights
Overlooking the Brits at his mercy
As his men took aim with their cannon sites.

The British commander had but one choice
To sail to New York to renew the fight.
Where the English had much greater forces
Who soon chased Washington's men in full flight.

They continued on to Pennsylvania
After crossing the Hudson in retreat
With the British forces in hot pursuit
It looked as though George was doomed to defeat.

When winter seemed to have stopped the fighting
That's when Washington crossed the Delaware.
On that Christmas night he captured Trenton
Where Hessians were surprised and unaware.

He whipped the British at Princeton
Where in victory his men began to sing.
Washington then wintered at Morristown
Training his troops for the combat of spring.

Washington fought bravely at Brandywine
And again at a place called Germantown
But the British were the victorious ones
As the dead of both sides covered the ground

Americans were blessed early that spring
When the French entered the war on their side.
Though most suffered frostbite at Valley Forge
With the help of the French they marched in stride.

The battles raged on, in the North and South
As the King's soldiers laid waste to the land.
Washington himself was in great despair
Pleading for aid for his weakened command.

His prayers were answered by 5000 troops
And a French fleet who took Chesapeake Bay.
They bottled up Cornwallis at Yorktown
Who surrendered to victory drums at play.

Yorktown was really the end of the war
Though not many quite realized that fact yet.
But the British soon grew tired of the fight

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William Blake

A Prophecy

The Guardian Prince of Albion burns in his nightly tent,
Sullen fires across the Atlantic glow to America's shore:
Piercing the souls of warlike men, who rise in silent night,
Washington, Franklin, Paine & Warren, Gates, Hancock & Green;
Meet on the coast glowing with blood from Albions fiery Prince.

Washington spoke; Friends of America look over the Atlantic sea;
A bended bow is lifted in heaven, & a heavy iron chain t158
Descends link by link from Albions cliffs across the sea to bind
Brothers & sons of America, till our faces pale and yellow;
Heads deprest, voices weak, eyes downcast, hands work-bruis'd,
Feet bleeding on the sultry sands, and the furrows of the whip
Descend to generations that in future times forget.––

The strong voice ceas'd; for a terrible blast swept over the heaving sea;
The eastern cloud rent; on his cliffs stood Albions wrathful Prince
A dragon form clashing his scales at midnight he arose,
And flam'd red meteors round the land of Albion beneath[.]
His voice, his locks, his awful shoulders, and his glowing eyes,

Appear to the Americans upon the cloudy night.

Solemn heave the Atlantic waves between the gloomy nations,
Swelling, belching from its deeps red clouds & raging Fires!
Albion is sick. America faints! enrag'd the Zenith grew.
As human blood shooting its veins all round the orbed heaven
Red rose the clouds from the Atlantic in vast wheels of blood
And in the red clouds rose a Wonder o'er the Atlantic sea;
Intense! naked! a Human fire fierce glowing, as the wedge
Of iron heated in the furnace; his terrible limbs were fire
With myriads of cloudy terrors banners dark & towers
Surrounded; heat but not light went thro' the murky atmosphere

The King of England looking westward trembles at the vision

Albions Angel stood beside the Stone of night, and saw
The terror like a comet, or more like the planet red
That once inclos'd the terrible wandering comets in its sphere.
Then Mars thou wast our center, & the planets three flew round
Thy crimson disk; so e'er the Sun was rent from thy red sphere;
The Spectre glowd his horrid length staining the temple long
With beams of blood; & thus a voice came forth, and shook the temple

The morning comes, the night decays, the watchmen leave their stations;
The grave is burst, the spices shed, the linen wrapped up;
The bones of death, the cov'ring clay, the sinews shrunk & dry'd.
Reviving shake, inspiring move, breathing! awakening!
Spring like redeemed captives when their bonds & bars are burst;

Let the slave grinding at the mill, run out into the field:

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General Washington & Obama At War

Once in command, he boxed in the British
At Boston where he captured Dorchester Heights
Overlooking the Brits at his mercy
As his men took aim with their cannon sites.

The British commander had but one choice
To sail to New York to renew the fight.
Where the English had much greater forces
Who soon chased Washington's men in full flight.

They continued on to Pennsylvania
After crossing the Hudson in retreat
With the British forces in hot pursuit
It looked as though George was doomed to defeat.

When winter seemed to have stopped the fighting
That's when Washington crossed the Delaware.
On that Christmas night he captured Trenton
Where Hessians were surprised and unaware.

He whipped the British at Princeton
Where in victory his men began to sing.
Washington then wintered at Morristown
Training his troops for the combat of spring.

Washington fought bravely at Brandywine
And again at a place called Germantown
But the British were the victorious ones
As the dead of both sides covered the ground

Americans were blessed early that spring
When the French entered the war on their side.
Though most suffered frostbite at Valley Forge
With the help of the French they marched in stride.

The battles raged on, in the North and South
As the King's soldiers laid waste to the land.
Washington himself was in great despair
Pleading for aid for his weakened command.

His prayers were answered by 5000 troops
And a French fleet who took Chesapeake Bay.
They bottled up Cornwallis at Yorktown
Who surrendered to victory drums at play.

Yorktown was really the end of the war
Though not many quite realized that fact yet.
But the British soon grew tired of the fight
And the terms for its end were signed and set.

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At The Bar-Code Ranch

A stellar job in the bullpen
C.B.S. Baseball

I lie in a converted garage, sun coming up
and the chuck-chuck of unfamiliar birds
from Lake Mizell.
The lamp grows ineffectual
under a skylight; the great world
washes in, humid, composed of small numbered parts.

Sometime after nine, the classical music station stops
for the landing of a space shuttle

a sonic boom
shakes the bungalow
and Vladomir Horowitz
is abruptly terminated.

Yesterday, at New Smyrna, north of Canaveral:
knotted shoreline
looking out from a timbered interior
on the Atlantic;
driving inland on Local 40,
a two-lane, the Beach Boys on air,
to Winter Park, inches above the water table.

Today, flying north, from Florida’s eighty degrees
to Washington’s forty-something
a river far below
in South Carolina.

Salt-pork and black-eyed beans
“soul food” – and cheap – in D.C’s low
where U.S. presidents
fall like leaves . . .

Consume and Die!

Wednesday
under the pines
looking out over the waters of Potomac
a torn Bush-Quayle poster in the grass
the morning after the election,
and down on Canal St
a bag of crushed Busch beer cans
reminds me that poetry exists.

Up at 3040 R St N.W.

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My Washington Woman

The wages of an unskilled working man never paid enough
From time to time a nickel on a race keeps him from giving up
A blue collared man in Seattle never lives on white collared street
But there was food on the table for my Washington woman and me
The work slowed down and the one day
The foreman laid me off
That night in a tavern down on my last dime
I met a girl from Arkensal
Her daddy was a banker in Little Rock
She had a mansion on white collared street
The next morning my Washington woman woke up without me
From city to city, and state to state, I get her in shame
My Washington woman had six months left
Before out child would bring her pain
That Arkensal woman hurt me
As we crossed the Arkensal line
But the arms of Seattle
Are the arms that kept huggin' mine
For year I have basked in expensive wines
Taste champagne every day
I gave up all the things I loved
For all these things I hate
I locked up all of her forgiveness, the day I set myself free
And the heart of my Washington woman stopped beating for me
My Washington woman sends me a letter every once in a while
Inside a folded wordless page is a picture of my child
All but words, the room grows cold with a feeling of jealousy
And there's a silence between
My Arkensal woman and me

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The Columbiad: Book VI

The Argument


British cruelty to American prisoners. Prison Ship. Retreat of Washington with the relics of his army, pursued by Howe. Washington recrossing the Delaware in the night, to surprise the British van, is opposed by uncommon obstacles. His success in this audacious enterprise lays the foundation of the American empire. A monument to be ere on the bank of the Delaware. Approach of Burgoyne, sailing up the St. Laurence with an army of Britons and various other nations. Indignant energy of the colonies, compared to that of Greece in opposing the invasion of Xerxes. Formation of an army of citizens, under the command of Gates. Review of the American and British armies, and of the savage tribes who join the British standard. Battle of Saratoga. Story of Lucinda. Second battle, and capture of Burgoyne and his army.


But of all tales that war's black annals hold,
The darkest, foulest still remains untold;
New modes of torture wait the shameful strife,
And Britain wantons in the waste of life.

Cold-blooded Cruelty, first fiend of hell,
Ah think no more with savage hordes to dwell;
Quit the Caribian tribes who eat their slain,
Fly that grim gang, the Inquisitors of Spain,
Boast not thy deeds in Moloch's shrines of old,
Leave Barbary's pirates to their blood-bought gold,
Let Holland steal her victims, force them o'er
To toils and death on Java's morbid shore;
Some cloak, some color all these crimes may plead;
Tis avarice, passion, blind religion's deed;
But Britons here, in this fraternal broil,
Grave, cool, deliberate in thy service toil.
Far from the nation's eye, whose nobler soul
Their wars would humanize, their pride control,
They lose the lessons that her laws impart,
And change the British for the brutal heart.
Fired by no passion, madden'd by no zeal,
No priest, no Plutus bids them not to feel;
Unpaid, gratuitous, on torture bent,
Their sport is death, their pastime to torment;
All other gods they scorn, but bow the knee,
And curb, well pleased, O Cruelty, to thee.

Come then, curst goddess, where thy votaries reign,
Inhale their incense from the land and main;
Come to Newyork, their conquering arms to greet,
Brood o'er their camp and breathe along their fleet;
The brother chiefs of Howe's illustrious name
Demand thy labors to complete their fame.
What shrieks of agony thy praises sound!
What grateless dungeons groan beneath the ground!
See the black Prison Ship's expanding womb
Impested thousands, quick and dead, entomb.
Barks after barks the captured seamen bear,
Transboard and lodge thy silent victims there;
A hundred scows, from all the neighboring shore,
Spread the dull sail and ply the constant oar,
Waft wrecks of armies from the well fought field,
And famisht garrisons who bravely yield;

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America Politica Historia, In Spontaneity

O this political air so heavy with the bells
and motors of a slow night, and no place to rest
but rain to walk—How it rings the Washington streets!
The umbrella’d congressmen; the rapping tires
of big black cars, the shoulders of lobbyists
caught under canopies and in doorways,
and it rains, it will not let up,
and meanwhile lame futurists weep into Spengler’s
prophecy, will the world be over before the races blend color?
All color must be one or let the world be done—
There’ll be a chance, we’ll all be orange!
I don’t want to be orange!
Nothing about God’s color to complain;
and there is a beauty in yellow, the old Lama
in his robe the color of Cathay;
in black a strong & vital beauty,
Thelonious Monk in his robe of Norman charcoal—
And if Western Civilization comes to an end
(though I doubt it, for the prophet has not
executed his prophecy) surely the Eastern child
will sit by a window, and wonder
the old statues, the ornamented doors;
the decorated banquet of the West—
Inflamed by futurists I too weep in rain at night
at the midnight of Western Civilization;
Dante’s step into Hell will never be forgotten by Hell;
the Gods’ adoption of Homer will never be forgotten by the Gods;
the books of France are on God’s bookshelf;
no civil war will take place on the fields of God;
and I don’t doubt the egg of the East its glory—
Yet it rains and the motors go
and continued when I slept by that wall in Washington
which separated the motors in the death-parlor
where Joe McCarthy lay, lean and stilled,
ten blocks from the Capitol—
I could never understand Uncle Sam
his red & white striped pants his funny whiskers his starry hat:
how surreal Yankee Doodle Dandy, goof!
American history has a way of making you feel
George Washington is still around, that is
when I think of Washington I do not think of Death—
Of all Presidents I have been under
Hoover is the most unreal
and FDR is the most President-looking
and Truman the most Jewish-looking
and Eisenhower the miscast of Time into Space—
Hoover is another America, Mr. 1930
and what must he be thinking now?
FDR was my youth, and how strange to still see
his wife around.

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On the Way

(PHILADELPHIA, 1794)

NOTE.—The following imaginary dialogue between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, which is not based upon any specific incident in American history, may be supposed to have occurred a few months previous to Hamilton’s retirement from Washington’s Cabinet in 1795 and a few years before the political ingenuities of Burr—who has been characterized, without much exaggeration, as the inventor of American politics—began to be conspicuously formidable to the Federalists. These activities on the part of Burr resulted, as the reader will remember, in the Burr-Jefferson tie for the Presidency in 1800, and finally in the Burr-Hamilton duel at Weehawken in 1804.


BURR

Hamilton, if he rides you down, remember
That I was here to speak, and so to save
Your fabric from catastrophe. That’s good;
For I perceive that you observe him also.
A President, a-riding of his horse,
May dust a General and be forgiven;
But why be dusted—when we’re all alike,
All equal, and all happy? Here he comes—
And there he goes. And we, by your new patent,
Would seem to be two kings here by the wayside,
With our two hats off to his Excellency.
Why not his Majesty, and done with it?
Forgive me if I shook your meditation,
But you that weld our credit should have eyes
To see what’s coming. Bury me first if I do.

HAMILTON

There’s always in some pocket of your brain
A care for me; wherefore my gratitude
For your attention is commensurate
With your concern. Yes, Burr, we are two kings;
We are as royal as two ditch-diggers;
But owe me not your sceptre. These are the days
When first a few seem all; but if we live
We may again be seen to be the few
That we have always been. These are the days
When men forget the stars, and are forgotten.

BURR

But why forget them? They’re the same that winked
Upon the world when Alcibiades
Cut off his dog’s tail to induce distinction.
There are dogs yet, and Alcibiades
Is not forgotten.

HAMILTON

Yes, there are dogs enough,
God knows; and I can hear them in my dreams.

BURR

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Bury Me In My Shades

In a pad with no heat, up on Sullivan Street,
The last of the hipsters lay dyin'.
Wearin' his shades, so like no one could tell
Like whether or not he was cryin'.
All the junkies and loners
An' coffee shop owners
Were all gathered 'round his bed.
He took one last puff
Of some imported stuff
And this are the last words he said.
He said, 'Send my sandals home to Mom,
Hang my T-shirt away.
Burn my guitar
In Washington Squar',
'Cause I never learned how to play.
Give my pad
To some needy lad
And tell him the rent is all paid.
Keep my cash,
An' my stash,
An' my hash,
But bury me in my shades.
Bury me in my shades, boys,
Bury me in my shades.
Burn my guitar
In Washington Squar',
But bury me in my shades.'
He said, 'Give my Brooklyn chicks away
To anyone who needs 'em.
Give all of my poems away
To anyone who'll read 'em.
Dig me a grave 'neath the coffeeshop,
And let a sad folksong be played.
Get everyone high
On the moment I die,
Bury me in my shades.
Bury me in my shades, boys,
Bury me in my shades.
Burn my guitar
In Washington Squar',
But bury me in my shades.'
We threw his sandals out in the hall,
We left his T-shirt lay.
We sold his guitar
At the corner bar
To someone who knew how to play.
We smoked all his stash,
And spent all his cash,
And threw all his poems away.
And Bob got his records,

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Now, Heart' - Some Of What I Remember When I Listen

A river is a process through time, and the river stages are its momentary parts.
—Willard Van Orman Quine

From early poems,1970s, youthful indiscretions/attempts to vocally/poetically arrive at/derive a worthwhile writer's voice. Some explication might serve or enhance these under serving, undeserving though 'striving-after' poems hidden in old journals understandably unpublished but now so with apologies which are these expiatory explanations. Recently rediscovering these early arrivals, derivative yet aspiring I recognized and reembraced an enduring self maturing, arriving into late middle age:

Obsessed newly by jazz, mad about the many miraculous lady singers, entranced all too easily as youth are wont to be by sorrows and sexual infatuations which feel, emphasis on 'feel', like love, here are two of many 'songs' as tributes and life markers to jazz singers who provided soundtrack and felt expression to my angst and easily inflated/deflated sense of self, of beloved others, and of that new territory, independent life away from parental home and childhood community discovering, blundering into the fray of separate hearts and minds, irresponsible genitals and insouciant jouissance ('juiciness', in French) , discovering then and again and again that like Walt Whitman I 'contain worlds' and many disparate selves poorly formed, most of them collective projections and expectations of who or what I wanted to be, what others wanted and expected me to be, resulting in much confusion, tumult and multitudes of momentary throw-away selves. Thus singers like Bessie Smith and Dinah Washington became anchors, warm contexts and containers, for my daily fragmentation and re-formation.

I lived on 3rd street in downtown Chattanooga, a refugee from zealous, politically conservative white evangelicals and the vestigial yet still viral Southern Confederacy. Just a block or two from where Bessie Smith was born, I used to watch from my upstairs porch the steep hilly street's comings and goings with a glimpse of the Tennessee River between tenements across the street, its persistent rich aroma heavy in the air. I imagined Bessie Smith as a little girl playing up and down the street like the kids I saw then - once, two of them gleefully chasing a frighteningly large and confused looking rat.

William—he insisted on 'Willie'—an old man down the street who knew Bessie as a little girl, used to come up to my porch after one day hearing Bessie from my phonograph singing blues onto the always busy but attentive street. One of the first and permanent things I learned from my porch is that a city street has keen, observant eyes, acute ears, omnivorously seeing/hearing everything, indifferently, perhaps, but nothing escapes it, a roving, all-knowing urban Eye of God.

Extremely green and eager as green always is though stutteringly, and without apology, I enjoyed Willie's many stories and back pocket bottles of Old Mr. Boston Apricot Brandy, both of which—story and spirits/spirited story —dissolved or appeared to, age, racial, cultural, and sociological differences, along with those catalysts/cata-lusts, the forever alchemical Bessie and other jazz singers, Billie! Dinah! Ella! Sassy! Lil Ester Phillips! Nina Simone! to name only a few of the sensuous solutio chanteuses resolving sexual confoundaries by Miss-ambiguating sins' plethera with loose lilt and will- o-the-lisp whisper tongues.

One night Willie, much 'in the pocket'—an expression for being well onto tipsy which I've never heard from anyone but him—wanted to dance to a Bessie tune playing, 'Back Water Blues', him recalling nights as a young man in rural Tennessee where he'd worked hard days in oppressive vegetable fields then hit the after hours juke joints for 'colored, twas segregation days, ' he explained, where he would go to drink, dance then dive/delve, as it were, into the sensual mysteries of moist skin, hot breath, mutually open mouths with their commodious moans and mumbles, venial hands, always vital parts, private hearts mutually pounding ancient known rhythms, odors and tastes of gin and those slender, forbidden, now greedily stolen bites in those all too short nights with their damned intrusive dawns.

'Dawnus interuptus, ' I quipped, us both slapping knees, passing the narrative bottle fore and aft hefting moments re-grasped between us, offerings to the equally narrative river, the all-knowing hungry street.

Jumping to his feet, Willie described 'powder dancin'' (pronounced marvelously, 'powdah') which I had never heard of. Talcum powder would be copiously scattered onto the dance floor where couples in stocking or bare feet would ecstatically dance, gliding and sliding sweetly scented, muskily bent toward later glides and slides in the slippery joy of momentary allure and amour on dimmed porches or surrounding woods often enough and gratis upon delicate slabs of moonlight gratuitously dewy providing cushion for Passion's out and in, honoring and dignifying deities of skin wanting more making more skin, headlong Nature's frictional algo-rhythms indelibly scored in every/each his/her yawing yen.

Willie shouted, 'YOU GOT ANY TALC POWDER? ! '

...The jazz us trembled...

'NO! ' I bellowed, curious.

'YOU GOT ANY FLOUR? ! '

Even more curious, 'YEAH! ! '

'GO GIT IT! QUICK! ! '

He grinned an Old Mr. Boston juke-joint night-memories quaff-again grin.

Martha White, a brand of flour sold down South, has never been put to better use. Willie threw handfuls of 'Martha' over the tenement-planked living room floor as I half protested at the mess it (and me and Willie) was and would become. Completely gripped by his present-in-the-past brandy trance, a much younger man now, he suddenly grabbed me, brandied and tranced, too, my long hair flying, and danced me all over the floor the night through with swigs of Old But Now Spry 'n' Sprightly Mr. Boston with pauses to change record albums on the phonograph, 'catching up our breaths, ' he panted.

Next morning (more likely early afternoon) , Willie long gone, I awakened sprawled on the penitent porch—a cool concrete floor my sinner's bench—sweaty and thick as pan gravy, mosquito bitten, marinaded in Tennessee night mists. I staggered into the living room onto the ghostly floor powdery white, 'stroked' with two attached, or close to, sets of foot prints, heel slides and smears, a kind of 'Jackson Pollock meets Tibetan sand painting 'yazzed' yantra'**' with cigarette ashes flicked into the flickering impermanent mix. I've not powder danced since when we drank discovering oral history's joys, opened eager ears and fraternal arms forgetting fears of race and religion, age and expressed/ espressed Desire's multilingual disseminations.

I know that wheat is anciently sacred but now even more so for flour, the sight and feel of it, its unbaked smell, turns me again toward a Chattanooga 3rd street, its compass river swelling like bread nearby bearing witness still for one cannot say too much about rivers—their irreverence of edges scored, spilling themselves, proclaiming natural gods deeper than memory yet dependent upon it for traced they must be in every human activity, no matter the breech, for something there is to teach even deity though it may be wrong to do so, or hearsay to say it or sing, but the song is there for those whose ears are broken onto bottoms from which cry urgencies of Being and between, dutiful banks barely containing the straining Word.

**From Tibetan Buddhism. Visual meditation devices,
Yantras function as revelatory conduits of cosmic truths.

1. To Bessie Smith,3rd Street Chattanooga (circa 1971)

Already the river begins its sweat.
April to September I'll be on the porch
Come sunsets listening to cars in the
Dark and you, remembering the flour
On the floor and me and Willie in
Stocking feet dancing till dawn,

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Early Works - The Royal Wedding

The sun gave them its blessing,
the people celebrated with parties
as the Prince and fairy tale Princess
married under the bells of Saint Paul.

30 July 1981


Author’s note:
The above poem was written to celebrate the marriage of Diana and Charles in 1981.

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