“U.S.A. is the slick of a continent. U.S.A. is a group of holding companies, some aggregations of trade unions, a set of laws bound in calf, radio network, a chain of moving picture theatres, a column of stockquotations rubbed out and written in by a Western Union boy on a blackboard, a publiclibrary full of old newspapers and dogeared historybooks with protests scrawled on the margins in pencil, U.S.A. is the world’s greatest rivervalley fringed with mountains and hills. U.S.A. is a set of bigmouthed officials with too many bankaccounts. U.S.A. is a lot of men buried in their uniforms in Arlington Cemetery. U.S.A. is the letters at the end of an address when you are away from home. But mostly U.S.A. is the speech of the people.” -John Dos Passos, preface to U.S.A.
My tribute to Aretha Franklin can be found here: http://ratsassreview.net/?page_id=2944
LADY LUSTITIA (IT TURNS OUT)
-for Aretha Franklin & Angela Davis
It turns out that I should read everything into music-
That piano intro into Think . . .
it’s just the footfalls of four youths
an afternoon before they were shot down
in the Algiers Motel in the hometown of
The Queen of Soul.
Those rising horns in Sweet Sweet Baby . . .
three hundred and fifty years of tidal Mississippi
rising to raise a gin fan and Huck’s raft
plus the flotsam rope they cut for some boys from Scottsboro
All thrown off a Tallahatchie Bridge to go down to the Gulf.
Let it all wash out among the hulls
of sunken ships and blown well heads spewing
the blackest crude onto those white sands
of a Riviera in Mississippi where they wouldn’t serve
The Queen of Soul.
The backbeat to The Weight . . .
well, shit . . .
It turns out that the weight itself was something
some Canadian of Mohawk blood
channelled like another black man felt the Wabash Cannonball
thumping through his pulmonary until he just had to become
A Pullman Porter.
One among countless standing with patches
behind a hammer and a hoe.
All of them
and how many women
now soundtracking the debutante balls
on countless new plantations
from Oakland in Michigan
to Sunflower County
and the precincts of starvation wage
trash collectors in Shelby
that’s Memphis, baby
The Queen was there,
must always be where mourners
and eye-of-the-needle transponders
move like Miss Angela herself
through the halls of blind Lady Lustitia;
how long she gon’ wait?
The Queen ain’t done preaching.
-Jeremy Nathan Marks
My editorial, “Let the Myth of Exceptionalism Die,” is in today’s London Free Press.
I caught an error after sending the piece in. You will notice that two dates appear regarding the Danish rescue of Jews during World War II: 1940 & 1943. The correct date should simply by (October) 1943.
I learned today that a tribute I wrote to the late Reverend-Doctor James Hal Cone will be appearing (soon) at Open Thought Vortex Magazine. When it is published I will share it here.
“White lives, for the forces which rule in this country, are no more sacred than black ones, as many and many a student is discovering, as the white American corpses in Vietnam prove. If the American people are unable to contend with their elected leaders for the redemption of their own honor and the lives of their own children, we, the blacks, the most rejected of the Western children, can expect very little help at their hands; which, after all, is nothing new. What the Americans do not realize is that a war between brothers, in the same cities, on the same soil, is not a racial war but a civil war. But the American delusion is not only that their brothers all are white but that the whites are all their brothers.”
-James Baldwin, “An Open Letter to My Sister Angela Y. Davis” (November 19, 1970)