The Lay of the Land
From your smoke-coughing cities
to your desolate plains
The children of Midas have taken the reins
And left you besoiled in blood-splattered stains
With none fit to wash you to purity.
The air-waved cacophony pleads for a song
That will once more unite you ennobled and strong
To take back the glory to which you belong
To wrench freedom from dreams of security.
The old man, he wanders through librium clouds
The young take their distance
to move through the crowds
And every one fitted for life-draining shrouds
Reflect only on death’s dance of conformity.
While poisoning rays permeate land and air
The high class step out like they haven’t a care
They’re bound to discover their world-rending tear
But can they comprehend the enormity?
Ridiculous sages exhort peace and love
Say we each have our choice of reality
So we fight over contexts and deny what we can;
But reality marches on.
Journeyman upon the road
Listening to the jungle drums
learns to bring it all together
as nightly his guitar he strums.
From the Woodstock Nation on to ’84
With his banner of music he learns to keep score
And the score, as it’s written, keeps costing him more
But it’s also what’s keeping him dancing.
With a beat in his heart and a song for his soul,
it keeps him journeying on.
Winter creeps whitely over streetlamp and spire.
Muted to whispers the Grand Freedom Choir.
A clattering chatter overtakes the high wire
Pure white like the night of beginnings.
The children have nestled all snug in their schools
In joyous rote marching, they take in the rules
Determined to never be taken for fools
Or give back an inch of their winnings.
Silent, the singers are searching for voice
They know in their souls it’s a matter of choice
They need to find reason, a cause, to rejoice,
A newly turned path to felicity.
A new day is dawning, but where is the sun?
Our freedom and faith are defined by the gun.
The symbol of power overrules everyone
‘Til we create our own electricity.
But under cover of darkness a banner’s being stitched
Of patchwork-bright colors and radiance
To someday soon be unfurled in the breeze
As we march to freedom’s song.
High upon a sacred mount,
Hearing now soft strands of sound
Journeyman no more, but quester
Nods benignly; ear to ground.
He’s learned his song clearly, and clearly he sings.
Hearing an echo, he knows what it brings.
The time is approaching to fasten his wings
and swoop down to join the festivities.
A new day is dawning, and he is the son
And it’s time to rejoice in the dawn.
But where are the marchers, the pipes and the drums?
Back in the schoolrooms, relearning their sums;
Or sleeping with vermin, despised in their slums
Unable to speak more than mumblings.
From time to time daylight enbrightens their souls
But most of their time’s spent enslaved to the doles.
The wonder is not the dearth of their goals
But that they’ve not given up on their stumblings.
The class struggle’s nothing compared to the fight
‘Tween having it all and doing it right
’cause whether you’re black, brown,
red, yellow, or white
You’re hooked on the sweet rush of buying.
But the dollar’s declining; and so is the yen.
From swords we’ll build plowshares and take up the pen
For here is the where, and now is the when
And the choice is ‘tween living and dying.
Is winter receding? Is spring on the rise?
Do we hear on the air a new melody?
Do we strive to accept; do we try to deny?
Or awaken our voices to song?
Having witnessed, having spoken
Having reached the cusp of change
Standing midst the still unbroken
Deploying troops throughout the range
A new age martyr need not die
But only stand beneath the sky
And sing each soldier’s battle cry
To emanate strength and courage
To keep them true upon the course
— An emissary of the dawn!
We shout our faith clearly, without fear or shame
We’ve learned to play music — and not play the game.
We’ve let loose our captors and broadcast their name
That they be captured and cleansed back to purity.
It’s a tried and true story we chant here anew
Of a born again many set alight by a few
Remember the Beatles, the Stones, Dead and Who
Back when freedom meant more than security.
We’re learning to share in an effort of gain
To harness the sunshine and bring back the rain
To take off our blinders and learn to be sane
Yet maintain self within that conformity.
Each singing in glory, permeating the air
Feeling good to be cared for, and better to care
As we mix up the glue and mend the great tear
Finding courage to face the enormity.
We don’t need the sages to find peace and love
We don’t need to fight against reality.
We need to learn rhythm and reason and rhyme
And raise our souls with song.
Knowing now his goal completed
Having given all he’d learned
On his private mountain seated
Enraptured in the peace he’s earned
He sings his song clearly, with joy and with fire
It’s all that he has and fulfills all desire
It’s getting him high, and then bringing him higher
And setting his spirit to dancing.
With a beat in his heart
And a song for a soul
Wafting aloft . . .
And he’s gone.