then I grieve for lost America
the conception of holy land
City Set Upon a Hill for all to see, New Jerusalem
the glimmerings of justice and equality
even with the First Nations
a matter of sharing
labor for all, respect for all work
the land before TV and Hollywood
advertising hypnosis, consumerism
without insecurity, without loneliness
a place of worship and thanksgiving
the land before Gold Rush
strike it rich, lose it all, roll again
the land forest-quiet, the shores rippling
the Great Plains rippling before thunder
of bison, of elk, of wind
where a gun is for hunting, only
a land without slavery
not the place of Virginia planters
or their Mississippi offspring plantations
(the dissolute plantation house and mistress)
the land without tenements
children working in mills
a land that might somehow learn
to avoid the fears that gave rise to persecution
to listen to the warnings of John Woolman
to limit wealth and acquisition
to extend Sabbath beyond one day a week
to preclude the drunken street mobs that dragged
or drugged Poe to death in Baltimore
or that lynched thousands across the land
I grieve for the lost promise of Quaker liberty
the lost promise of Mennonite piety
the lost promise of Puritan liberalism and Yankee frugality
I grieve for the rise of armies in place of persuasion
I grieve for the broken families
I grieve for the broken spirit
I grieve for the illusions that sprang up and spring up
over festering lies and distortion
I grieve for ignorance too often celebrated
I grieve for superstition in high places and low
I grieve for the political expediency that enacts bad public policy
rather than guiding a nation and world
to environmental harmony and sustainable existence
I grieve for the disrespect given to labor
I grieve for the way stimulating work has degenerated into jobs
I grieve for economic inequity
I pray for the equality of all persons
in respect and care,
I pray for the Sabbath-day as time
for family, communion, healing

my America upholds
not the corporation
not the military
not the strip-mine
but the individual in community

my America is founded by John Carroll
and William Penn

my America heeds Sojourner Truth
Lucretia Mott
Henry David Thoreau
Job Scott

my America sings
Walt Whitman
and William Billings

oh, America,
these bruises are too much
for one so fair!


That’s what Woodpecker said.


One thought on “WOODPECKER REPORT NO. 36

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