Friday’s Weekly Round-Up – 468

Allen chose these lines from Walt Whitman as the epigram for his breakthrough book of poems, Howl

“Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!”

and the poem goes on:

“Whoever degrades another degrades me,
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.”

Epic times this week, worldwide.


From the Los Alamos Monitor – (Los Alamos, New Mexico, no less! – site of the development of the atomic bomb!):

“alleged’?  “allegedly? –  huh? – It seems the local reporter can’t just come out and say it!
– but at least the local high-school students (the youth) have unqualified understanding.

“What happens to a dream deferred?/ Does it dry up/ like a raisin in the sun?/ Or fester like a sore—/And then run?/  Does it stink like rotten meat?/ Or crust and sugar over—/like a syrupy sweet?/ Maybe it just sags/ like a heavy load/ Or does it explode?” (Langston Hughes)

Langston Hughes, 1932- photo by Edward Henry Weston

“Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the current and index./I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy,/By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.” (Walt Whitman)

We cited Allen last week from his 1974 National Book Award speech (for The Fall of America). Prescient?  Might we ever learn the lessons from history?   Here’s more:

(writing in 1974) “The reckoning has come now for America. 100 Billion goes to the War Department this year out of 300 Billion Budget. Our militarization has become so top heavy that there is no turning back from Military Tyranny. Police agencies have become so vast – National Security Agency alone the largest police bureaucracy in America yet its activities are almost unknown to all of us – that there is no turning back from computerized police state control of America.
“Watergate is a froth on the swamp: impeachment of a living President does not remove the hundred Billion power of the Military nor the secret billion power of the police state apparatus. Any President who would try to curb power of the Military-police would be ruined or murdered.” [Editorial note – And those who would seek to extend it?]
“So I take this occasion of publicity to call out the Fact: our military has practiced subversion of popular will abroad and can do so here if challenged, create situations of Chaos, take over the Nation by Military Coup, and proclaim itself Guardian over public order. And our vast police networks can, as they have in last decade, enforce that will on public and poet alike.”

Chilling reminders, chilling prophecy.  So it’s essential that we seize the moment. These are (it scarcely needs saying) pivotal times.

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