From Camden come, rise from the dust
fly to Zuccotti Park with your shaggy beard
and your old school hat come see what’s happened
to your home and your beloved democracy.
Let’s grab a beer or eight at McSorley’s
your old haunt, where 19th-century dirt clings
to chandeliers, let’s reminisce and plan
our trek through New York’s teeming streets
before we saunter to the Bowery or the Nuyorican
where exclaimers and exhorters still sling verse
of hope and despair to hungry crowds who
still believe in the power of the word.
We need your sweeping vision, Walt,
to offer our children more than low expectations
of life sat in front of screens or held in gadgets
that promise expression, but offer convention.
Let us not see America through rose-colored
blinders, but as it is, an unfinished kaleidoscopic
cacophony created by imperfect human hands,
beautiful in complexion, ghastly in reflection.
This new century has been cruel and unusual,
the ideology of greed consuming itself in a spasm
of defeat engineered by merchants of fear
and postmillennial prophets of doom.
We need to recognize healthcare
and education as basic human rights,
we need to restore the dignity of work
as well as the dignity of leisure from work.
We need to get off our flabby asses
to dance as if nobody is watching, to howl
to stir shit up, to worry the rich
with a real threat of class warfare.
We need to take back our democracy, from the masters of Wall Street,
banks too big to fail, insurance deniers, education profiteers,
from closet racists, and self-appointed homophobes,
the unholy trinity of greed, corruption, and cruelty.
Walt, give me the courage to not be scared
to offend, to tell the truth which is:
most Republicans are heartless bastards
more willing to sink our elected head of state
to protect the interests of the moneyed
than do what’s right for the greater good.
They are the party that has impeded progress
and sucked the joy out of any forward movement
for all my 54 years and they’ve only gotten more sour,
they scare me with their fascist posturing
while most Democrats are frightened
as usual to betray the welfare of the rich
(Historians of the future will laugh at us).
Yet, we’ve come so far in so many ways,
call it evolutionary progress if you will
though there’s so much work left undone.
We need a revolutionary spirit to unfold.
It’s time for us to dream big again
of democratic vistas and barbaric yawps
of space travel and scientific discovery
where we protect our glorious habitat
and build structures worthy of our dreams.
Imagine America based on empathy and equality
where we lend a hand to those in need
unembarrassed to embrace our ideals.
Walt, we’re here, citizen poets for change
across the United States and we believe,
we believe, call us dreamers, call us fools,
call us the dispossessed, your children lost,
our hopes on hold, left no choice but to stand
our backs against the corporate wall
ready to fight for what we’re owed,
for what we’ve worked, promises bought and sold.
Let your spirit rise, old Walt Whitman
take us with you to another place and time
remind us what is good about ourselves
basic decency that’s been forgotten
May your words guide our daydreams of deliverance
let the hijacked past tumble away
let the dismal present state be but a blip
may the undecided future begin today
let us become undisguised and naked
let us walk the open road . . .
Fore more of Danny’s fabulous work…