Thursday, June 30, 2011

... sung real sweet

In my post about the passing of Anne Frank's birthday and the tragedy and criminality of her murder I quoted from Hone Tuwhare's poem about the death of Martin Luther King. The poem doesn't have just one sense. It's a crashing together of sorrow, anger, fatalism, irony, desparation and bleak rock n roll.

Out of respect to both of the late kaumatua I will quote the poem in its entirety.

Martin Luther King

In Vietnam they’re using a new rifle shell
that’s a real honey. It describes a tumbling
parabola that could punch a hole in you
a foot square, check?

But when that 30.06
made a bloody mash out of your jaw, it didn’t
stop there: kept ploughing right on through to
drain the marrow out of your dream.

That bullet wasn’t meant to grunt an apology,
the meanie. When you slumped down, mankind
was hurled back a billion years, to a

Let’s face it, King: when news of your death
came through, lovers all over the World
turned each other on, rolled over and turned
the radio off.

But you were hip. And you never did fancy
fancy-names like Uncle Tom or Handkerchief-head.
You really dug the scene, man. From Birmingham
on you stuck your neck out; opened your big
black beautiful mouth to protest about the high
cost of dying in Vietnam. And you marched

armed only with a dream: a dream held aloft
in your red-hot parable-picking hands. Hell,
your continued existence had become an untidy
question mark sloshed across the American
Declaration of Independence. Yeah: and that
is why they shot you, King.

Before your light was snuffed out, you asked
for a song sung real sweet: hell,
this ain’t much. Treacle in my veins: death-cart
rumble in my ears.

` Hone Tuwhare

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