Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Seeds of Dissent by Phil Woods

Seeds of Dissent by Phil Woods
Phil Woods dedicated this poem to me for my birthday, Phil is one of my favorite poets and one of the smartest and coolest guys I’ve talked to.
By Phil Woods
for Chris Steele
Every generation has to discover,
           or rediscover,
           what was authentic rebellion.
It could be a novel or a song.
           It could be a painting
           or very private poem.
Fitzgerald thought three times
           per century
There’s a rebellion
           against the Fathers.
First, there are those front runners,
           those scouts
           scouting the future—
           those great epic signs
           & early warnings.
Then, the full blown crisis
           & full mobilization.
Then, the walls & crushing blows,
           more often than not,
           of counterrevolution.
In the 20s the horror of WWI
           & the crass
           go-go hustle
           of America
Caused sustained, defiant exile.
Then, as Malcolm Cowley wrote,
           Exile’s Return.
Some became reporters
           going down
           to Harlan County.
Some helped organize the CIO.
Some defended the Scottsboro Boys.
Others went to Spain,
           either as press
           or in the Lincoln Brigade.
Then, after the War
           Tail-gunner Joe
& Tricky Dicky
           helped create
           the Big Chill.
Like the Lost Generation
           the Beats
           kept something alive
           during an ice age.
By 67 it was full blown
But it died a thousand deaths
           from Altamont
           to the townhouse
           that exploded
           in the Village.
Since then, it’s mostly been
           re-guard action
           & counterrevolution.
Reagan did his best
           to impersonate
           Calvin Coolidge.
& in 2007 W did his best
           to impersonate
           Herbert Hoover.
Since then, we’ve had
           a very thin
           of the memory
           of the New Deal.
But the Crisis deepens 
           & seeds of dissent
           reappear in Wisconsin
           & Zuccotti Park.
We need new songs, new poems,
           new strategy.
My grandfather tried
           to tell me
           look for security
           & cut the best deal
           you can.
           The age old wisdom
           of fighting for the
           immigrant family
With no illusions about
           changing the big picture.
Very Catholic, very conservative,
           & above all,
           very subordinate.
Know your place, accept your place,
           keep food on the table
           & a roof
           over the family.
Hope like hell the kids & grand kids
          can some how
          move up.
You don’t rock the boat.
          You prove you belong
          & are loyal.
Some of us, for some of us
          that’s not enough.
          We plant seeds of dissent.
          Blow on
          the old embers
          of past insurgency.
Try to keep a precious flame

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