Friday, October 06, 2006

"Hard Rain"


If you've been visiting good old Blog Meridian of late, you've no doubt noticed that I've posted a fair amount of political commentary. I've noticed it, too, but--and this may seem strange--I've been a bit puzzled as to why that has been the case. True, these things have held my attention and so have risen to the surface more than have other matters, but it's not as though I've made a conscious decision to shift this blog's attention in that direction. In fact, knowing how drained I feel after writing what I do write, I get exhausted just imagining what it would be like to be an all-politics-all-the-time blogger.

But still. The exact way of explaining the motivation for these posts has evaded me--until I heard the following poem on this morning's Writer's Almanac:

"Hard Rain," by Tony Hoagland

After I heard It's a Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
played softly by an accordion quartet
through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,
I understood there's nothing
we can't pluck the stinger from,

nothing we can't turn into a soft drink flavor or a t-shirt.
Even serenity can become something horrible
if you make a commercial about it
using smiling, white-haired people

quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes
in the Everglades, where the swamp has been
drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course
with electrified alligator barriers.

You can't keep beating yourself up, Billy
I heard the therapist say on television
to the teenage murderer,
About all those people you killed—
You just have to be the best person you can be,

one day at a time—


and everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,
because the level of deep feeling has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the power of Forgiveness is greater
than the power of Consequence, or History.

Dear Abby:
My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
are covered with blood-
but he never forgets to bring me a nice present;
Should I say something?
Signed, America.


I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own business and get along,

but that was just another song
that had been taught to me since birth—

whose words I was humming under my breath,
as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.

4 comments:

Winston said...

I missed it yesterday, but nobody can read a poem like Keillor...

Powerful message in this one. Now more than at anytime in our brief lives, it is important, necessary ... even mandatory... that we get involved now. This could well be the last opportunity we have to preserve and save the character of our country. I have always been apolitical, until now.

Shifting your blog's attention? OK. Doesn't need to be 100% and doesn't need to be permanent. It's like I convinced myself to " ... do something, for gawd's sake!"

Rain having similar thoughts at:
http://rainydaythought.blogspot.com/2006/10/politics-policies-politicians.html

and
http://rainydaythought.blogspot.com/2006/10/who-is-bush.html

John B. said...

Winston,
Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for pointing me in the direction of Rain's blog. Hers is a thoughtful, passionate, not-shrill voice.

Incidentally: To you and her and anyone else who might run across this comment, this post comments on how it was we arrived at our present political state. It makes for depressing reading, but I'm also of the opinion that if one has an understanding of the problem one can see the way to a solution to it. For my part, let me just say I'm less interested in retribution than I am in doing what little I can to fix what's wrong . . . but I also have to say that the events of the past week have provided more than enough retribution for me as the House Republicans eviscerate themselves themselves in accord with the very political dynamics they themselves have set up and perpetuated. As Andrew Sullivan recently said, "Part of me is distressed that the GOP could lose not because of spending recklessness, corruption, torture, big government, pork, and a hideously botched war ... but because of a sex scandal which doesn't even have (so far as we know) any actual sex. But part of me also sees the karmic payback here. They rode this tiger; now it's turning on them. And it's dinner time." But having said THAT, at some point it needs to stop--and it will stop only when the GOP stops playing the twin games of blaming others for the sins of their own and CYAing . . . and when (and if) the Democrats have been watching and taking notes on how NOT to run things.

We can hope, says this knee-jerk moderate.

Rain said...

That was a great poem and thought. Thanks for commenting on my blog. You might put another one there for today's putting your link to this as a lot of people may not go back to catch the earlier one and what you are saying is worth their reading.

Thanks winson for mentioning mine to him :)

Freudian Slip said...
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