For Bob Hass and Brenda Hillman
The last light of the day drapes over the hills in ochre-colored robes,
One can almost hear the prayer-wheels spinning
As the sun sinks into the Pacific Ocean,
A few birds scatter,
The old farm road lined with cypress grows bright in the shadows of evening,
The sky burns down like campfire cinders,
The pines, determined, holding hands together
Peacefully demonstrating their grievances,
Standing strong with the students of Berkeley,
The College of Humanities.
But this is the season of outrage, the age of violence,
When police use their batons as weapons of mass destruction
On Poet Laureates and their students
Who learned about civil disobedience as an event for change,
But when they exercise their rights
In our Constitution—they’re confronted with the harsh
Reality that Martin Luther King and his people faced,
A whack in the arm and a whack in the chest and a whack in the leg,
For sitting quietly, protesting that which is clearly wrong,
Tuition fees that only the rich can afford,
And the irony is had they been sitting in a circle,
Studying, debating, nothing would have happened,
But the minute they protest government abuse and corporate greed,
Even teachers are severely thrashed.
Moral of the story: you can read about your rights but you can’t exercise them.
After all, this is a government that mutilates and poisons and mercilessly slaughters
All in the name of corporate profits.
The students keep shouting at the cops Shame on You! Shame on You! Shame on You!
Indeed. Can you hear them, Mr. Obama,
Or are you off playing another round of golf?
While you and your advisors plan another massive attack, Iraq, Iran, Libya,…
In a military state, Bob, Brenda—they beat up on teachers and students,
And they throw them in isolated cells for as long as they want,
Compliments of the Patriot Act…
But this too will fail, as P.B. Shelley said: We are Many, they are Few.