Just Let Me -- G -- Indoctrinate You!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

It's a Telling of How Rainbows are Made in the ShadeThing

Dear America,

"Poetry is a phantom script
 telling how rainbows are made
 and how they go away"
Carl Sandburg


you know, it's kinda funny how times change; and then again, sometimes it isn't.

growing up, awesome was a word to express something totally outrageous and cool and wonderful and magnificent.  if something was awesome, it was the greatest thing ever, the best thing I ever ate, or the most perfect day in the life of an American girl.

Today, the word is reduced to the ultimate in snarky putdowns -- of person or circumstance -- pulling a total reversal of fortune in magnanimity.  and with that being said --  it also demands the delivery to be of equal importance.

...we're talking dry as all get out [spilled milk..."awesome"]

...perhaps the situation may call for making a subtle change to the face -- going from 'I was already so bored with you but now look at me (as in, if sarcasm had a face, this would be the one)

...but most definitely, it's an attitude; an attitude that takes awesome the distance -- and far, far away from it's original use and meaning.

Like for me, G, I could say the president's economic speech @ Knox College was, in a word,  awesome...and with the right delivery, at the right time, could walk away without saying another word and you would get it.  The "awesomeness" would be unquestionably written across my face and fully recognized in the sound of my voice.

get it?

I didn't say it was AWESOME!  and jump up for joy and get a tingle all up and down my leg.
No.   I said something more like, awesome. yay...in a tone as flat as a pancake  (which is -- naturally -- really, really hard for me to do); needless to say, the pressure to pull that off was like, pretty awesome, scratch that -- I mean, like, super huge!

The very same day that our president was speaking @ Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois for one hour and four minutes of the world's time on America's dime, I was shopping for groceries as part of my daytime gig -- that being the nanny/the help for a little family of four.

And so there I was, mindlessly running through the check-out when the girl (maybe all of nineteen) asked me if I wanted to donate a $5 bag of groceries for the homeless, when, realizing it wasn't my dime had to say 'not today', and lo and behold, just what was her fantabulous retort?


I wanted to punch her lights out.

It was so uncalled for, you know.
It was like, seriously, did she just say that?

And talk about self-control; the word hit me hard;  I had to give it everything I got to fight off the natural urge for retaliation given the day already flying off the charts in splendid awesomeness, inescapably surrounded by tweeny-bopper attitude to the maximus awesomeness capacity, that is.

And just look at me!

Considering it's been days -- clearly her snarky-ness left an AWESOME mark on my sensitive, highly vulnerable, normally peachy, side.

Cue the childhood flashback, take two:  'sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.'

It's easier said than done, isn't it.

Petty annoyances linger.

And then I realize something more. 
I know myself. 
I know who I am and from where I came.

The president ended his one hour and four minute speech of grand economic awesomeness quoting part of a poem by Carl Sandburg, Prairie.

"There is a song deep as the falltime redhaws,
long as the layer of black loam we go to,
the shine of the morning star over
the corn belt, the wave line of dawn up a wheat valley..    .    .
O prairie mother, I am one of your boys.
I have loved the prairie as a man
with a heart shot full of pain over love.
Here I know I will hanker after nothing so much
as one more sunrise
or a sky moon of fire doubled to a river moon of water..
  .    .
I speak of new cities and new people.
I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
I tell you yesterday is a wind gone down,
  a sun dropped in the west.
I tell you there is nothing in the world
  only an ocean of to-morrows,
  a sky of to-morrows.

I am a brother of the cornhuskers who say
  at sundown:
        To-morrow is a day."

The golden highlight is the part shared by the president; while, make no mistake, he introduces it with a certain context: 

 "[Sandburg] saw fortunes made and lost.  And he saw how change could be painful -- how a new age could unsettle long-held customs and ways of life.  But he had that frontier optimism, and so he saw something more on the horizon."

Translation: the president equating that frontier optimism with frontier redistribution...

That "frontier optimism" through the eyes of Sandburg, begins innocently enough:

I am here when the cities are gone.
I am here before the cities come.
I nourished the lonely men on horses.
I will keep the laughing men who ride iron.
I am dust of men.

The running water babbled to the deer, the cottontail, the gopher.
You came in wagons, making streets and schools,
Kin of the ax and rifle, kin of the plow and horse,
Singing Yankee Doodle, Old Dan Tucker, Turkey in the Straw,
You in the coonskin cap at a log house door hearing a lone wolf howl,
You at a sod house door reading the blizzards and chinooks let loose from Medicine Hat,
I am dust of your dust, as I am brother and mother
To the copper faces, the worker in flint and clay,
The singing women and their sons a thousand years ago
Marching single file the timber and the plain.

I hold the dust of these amid changing stars.
I last while old wars are fought, while peace broods mother-like,
While new wars arise and the fresh killings of young men.
I fed the boys who went to France in great dark days.
Appomattox is a beautiful word to me and so is Valley Forge and the Marne and Verdun,
I who have seen the red births and the red deaths
Of sons and daughters, I take peace or war, I say nothing and wait.

and all of a sudden we get something different.

All over America, hush now, the prairie is speaking.

It's the prairie that remains through thick and thin; surely it is a land of men past and present, steadfast, strong and proud.  Nearly everything under heaven comes and goes, freely.  And yet the prairie may just be the one thing that outlasts, one and all.

A wagonload of radishes on a summer morning.
Sprinkles of dew on the crimson-purple balls.
The farmer on the seat dangles the reins
 on the rumps of dapple-gray horses.
The farmer’s daughter with a basket of eggs
 dreams of a new hat to wear to the county fair..    .    .
On the left-and right-hand side of the road,
        Marching corn—
I saw it knee high weeks ago—now it is head high—
tassels of red silk creep at the ends of the ears..    .    .
I am the prairie, mother of men, waiting.
They are mine, the threshing crews eating beefsteak,
 the farmboys driving steers to the railroad cattle pens.
They are mine, the crowds of people at a Fourth of July basket picnic,
listening to a lawyer read the Declaration of
Independence, watching the pinwheels
and Roman candles at night,
the young men and women two by two
hunting the bypaths and
kissing bridges.
They are mine, the horses looking over a fence
 in the frost of late October
saying good-morning to the horses hauling wagons
of rutabaga to market.
They are mine, the old zigzag rail fences, the new barb wire..    .    .
The cornhuskers wear leather on their hands.
There is no let-up to the wind.
Blue bandannas are knotted at the ruddy chins.

Falltime and winter apples take on the smolder
of the five-o’clock November sunset:
 falltime, leaves, bonfires, stubble,
the old things go, and the earth is grizzled.
The land and the people hold memories,
even among the anthills and the angleworms,
among the toads and woodroaches—among
gravestone writings rubbed out by the rain—
they keep old things that never grow old.

Nearly everything under heaven comes and goes, freely; and yet, the prairie remains the constant.

 Read the whole poem.  Like everything in life, our individual experiences bring a context that is truly of our own making -- even in poetry.

"poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance." 
 --  Sandburg

"when a nation goes down, 
or a society perishes,
one condition may always be found;
they forgot where they came from. 
They lost sight of what brought them along." 
 -- Sandburg

"I've written poetry even I don't understand." 
 -- Sandburg

"I have often wondered
what it is an old building
can do to you
when you happen to know
 a little about things
 that went on
 long ago in that building."
 -- Sandburg

Obama also said this @Knox College, when he spoke for one hour and four minutes of total awesomeness:

"When we think about our own communities -- we're not a mean people; we're not a selfish people; we're not a people that just looks out for “number one.”  Why should our politics reflect those kinds of values?  That’s why we don’t call it John’s dream or Susie’s dream or Barack’s dream or Pat's dream -- we call it the American Dream. "

...which is ironic when put in the context of the book that put Obama's political career on the map, Dreams From My Father.   [Not to mention, interaction with a certain checker-girl coming to mind -- she being an awesome reminder of how unfortunate the times and all the ways times have changed.   But let's keep moving forward, shall we?]

The president continued --  muscling every ounce of awesomeness of Politics in America... from the prairie...to the purple mountains majesty...from sea to shining sea...to the forefront -- saying:

"And that’s what makes this country special  -- the idea that no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from or who you love, you can make it if you try. (Applause.)  That’s what we're fighting for.

So, yes, Congress is tough right now, but that’s not going to stop me.  We're going to do everything we can, wherever we can, with or without Congress, to make things happen.  We're going to go on the road and talk to you, and you'll have ideas, and we want to see which ones we can implement.  But we're going to focus on this thing that matters."

Politics and propaganda
is like poetry --
 a phantom script
 telling how rainbows are made
 and how they go away

The speech was a stunner on many levels, but you shouldn't take it from me.

Just look upon the task of reading the transcript @ Knox College like a piece of Americana, plucked out of the poetic reality from an iconic writer, or something.  Just know it will be awesome either way;  and surely, reading it will take a whole lot less time than the one hour and four minutes to listen to it.  [This old prairie girl, here, is always looking for new ways to make lemonade.]

Make it a Good Day, G


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