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chasing hank snow all the way to brooklyn nova scotia

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hearing jack & diane
by way of john mellencamp
to ask america
where is our soul
who do we want to impress now
the exxons of the world
or the folks who keep slipping
off the side
finding the only thing real is inequity
where the lady from ellis island
has no tongue
falling silent from the days my grandparents
landed on the lower east side of ny
tenements of anarchists and socialists
litvak now american
sisters of the triangle shirt factory fire
we put our shoulders to the machinery
of the amalgamated
the steaming canal street pushcarts
america where do we go from here?

the great woods of the maritime provinces
gathered up loyalists
from the american revolution
stole the land of the aboriginal nations
disowned french colonizers and
tucked them away
for their eventual debut
on the grand ole opry of the 1950s
interdependence not independence
might be the message of every july 4th
as african peoples die of malaria and aids
the exxons keep our attention split
on gas prices
middle east war contracts
the meaninglessness of all the variations
of republicrats
always with an oily hand
in our pocket
america where do we go from here?

hank snow kept bringing up
his lobster pots empty
like the last of them crawled out
at high tide
made their great escape
in search of deeper quieter coves
leaving those depending on their catch
to find new ways of surviving
chords and stories
plucked out on rickety wooden stages
of appalachia
broken-down coal miner pentecostal churches
rock farmers of eastern kentucky
louisiana delta blues sharecroppers
their children & grandchildren
are being trashed
a bloody crucible of energy politics
rationalizing a new world order
of the takers and plunderers
america where are the givers?
where do we go from here?

wetlands and hardwoods
north of liverpool nova scotia
quiet with many answers
will we find them
find links from the mi'kmaq ancestors
guardians of the living
before the spoiling
connections the status seekers
killers of the dream
are blind to
in the depths off digby neck
there's a secret or two
we need to pay attention to
'cause the sea never gives up its dead
or space in our memories
     marooned inner-voices

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--- e b bortz


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Poems, essays, and stories by e b bortz have been published widely.

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