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STEVEN W. BAKER

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 2/15/2016 |




America 2016 #1
(written in Gainesville, FL)

How well I remember what has been lost
Of course, the big things are most obvious
Jobs, middle-class, security, prosperity
Peace, justice, freedom, and dreams.

But we moved in the other direction
We let the rich and their money dictate
Their morbid, banal vision to us all
To make the world a better place for them.

No one knows where we’re going, not I
Those future shores seem bare instead of green
But there is no way anyone can jump ship
When the ship is all the land and sea and air.

So, for just a moment, I will remember the past
The America that is now all but gone
Her tattered remnants alive in my memory
Though scoured from her sanitized soil.

Small town Indiana, Eitelgeorge’s Barber Shop
Is that an ethnic name? I never knew nor cared
All names and all colors were accepted equally
Though this was no dream world without bigotry.

It’s a summer afternoon when even flies get lazy
From the heat and the noise of the corn growing
In fields green beyond green past the horizon
So I am trying to sit near the lone, lovely fan.

I am but a young teenager, amongst my elders
Who accept me despite all they know I don’t know
And I am listening as if upon the lap of Orpheus
Because this is where inexperience meets reality.

Some of my compatriots, like me, are there because
Some woman told them they needed a haircut
Some are working at their craft while talking
And some came just for the fellowship and gab.

The owner is a rabid St. Louis Cardinals fan
While others favor the Cubs or the Sox or Reds
So, when possible, the 50’s black-and-white TV
Is tuned to the Game of the Week as background.

But the game never interferes with the conversation
Of local gossip, stories from the Great War
Speculation about the economy and politics
What Ike will do to stop the U.S.S.R.

Like a sponge I absorb the details missing from school
Instinctively aware that this is where a boy learns
How to be a man and how to deal with other men
Not without judgment, but with judgment in check.

Underneath the surface of details lies a still ocean
A sea of almost 200 years that have come before
The battles, both personal and public, tragic and
Triumphant that shaped this moment long ago.

Here, we are equals, even rookies like myself
Everyone lives in a house, OK if not quite fine
Almost everyone drives a car, even if not brand new
And everyone plans on sending their kids to college.

The barber, the baker, the shoe store worker
The farmer, the policeman, even the politician
The student, the factory worker, the builder
All sitting at an apex, confident in the future.




America 2016 #2
(written in Gainesville, FL)

Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll were everything in the 60’s
The beat on the street when we’d meet was mellow
My generation felt the call of the wild within us
And we followed with a blind kind of willingness.
I can still hear the shouts and protests rising
Against all that oppressed us, all that was unwilling
To see that the times were indeed a changing
And all our yesterdays dissolved into rubbish.
The bright tomorrow was our anthem to the sun
When the only thing to give us shelter was ourselves
And the freedom to make of us what we could
No debts, no promises, no obligations, no guilt.
Then that beautiful dancing girl became my wife
The kids and the mortgage followed soon enough
And all eyes shut for a generation of sleepiness
While those who ruled stole our dreams away.



America 2016 #3
(written in Gainesville, FL)

(with thanks to Sarah Palin, 1/19/16)

The dogs of war have been loosed upon us
The news is full of lies and sneering
The fish in the sea are disappearing
And the stock market hates the price of oil.
Charlatans rise up to demand our votes
As the ship of state starts to slowly sink
Far out of sight of the precious geenlands
That nurtured our fathers and theirs before.

“They’re fightin’ each other and yellin’ “Allah Akbar”
Calling Jihad on each other’s heads for ever and ever.”

“Are you ready for new? And are you ready for
The leader who will let you make America great again?”

“How ‘bout the rest of us? Right wingin’, bitter clingin’,
Proud clingers of our guns, our god, and our religions,
And our Constitution.”

“The status quo has got to go. We’re talking about
Our very existence, so no, we’re not going to chill.
In fact, it’s time to drill, baby, drill.”

“You rockin’ rollers. And holy rollers!
All of you who work so hard. You full-time moms.
You with the hands that rock the cradle.
You all make the world go round, and now our cause is one.”

“His power, his passion, is the fabric of America.
And it’s woven by work ethic and dreams and drive
And faith in the Almighty, what a combination!
Are you ready to share in that again? Because
That’s what’s going to let you make America great again.”

America! What have you come to, my dear land?


[©2016 STEVEN W. BAKER]

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