Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Juneteenth Cometh

painting by John Phillip Simpson

 Juneteenth Cometh

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Ernest Hemingway (1926)


in Art and Life

is a driving force,

and yet...

If you were born white

in the America

of the 40’s,

you had a Mt. Everest of inequity

to climb, to overcome.

White privilege was a given.

In 1962,

in my High School

in White Center, a suburb of Seattle,

there were only two black students

in my graduating class.

To be a bigot was hip.

To do otherwise meant

you were a nigger-lover.

Cruel black humor was vogue.

“Did you hear about the colored dude who drown

last week?”   “Yeah, ain’t that just like a nigger

to steal more chain than he could swim with?”

Then came the 60’s

with Viet Nam, Civil Rights, and college.

Thankfully, my eyes were opened

and I had to tolerate the bitter taste

of my shame for years.

I made black friends,

I dated black women,

I studied black history,

I gave up hillbilly rock and roll

for jazz and the blues

until my prejudices began

to subside and erode.

In the last fifty years,

we have made measurable progress,

but in the tepid wake

of Trump’s narcissism, populism, fascism,

sexism, and naked unabashed racism,

I see America profoundly divided.

I have always leaned left in my politics,

and I believed in and championed

women’s rights, LBGT issues, civil rights
and the breathless beauty

of interracial children.

I still believe in the equality of all men,

the Marxist dream (though never a reality)

of a classless society,

but in the face of capitalist greed,

dark money, crooked dishonest politicians,

white supremacy, domestic and international

terrorism, and of course the grand chasm

between the top 1% who own everything

and the rest of us, I wonder

if the bloody daggers of division

will ever be sheathed?

I sincerely hope so,

but I really doubt

I will live to see it.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at d'Verse Poet's Pub


Ken / rivrvlogr said...

I like to believe that progress is afoot. Then I read the headlines.

JadeLi said...

Glenn, your timeline of awareness and sensitivity tells an important story. I would hope that each person would actively pursue such course. I do share your skepticism that some will continue to refuse awareness that the need within them exists for it. External inducements may become necessary.

Pat R said...

Straight from the headlines!!! One step forward, then instead of two steps backwards, it's decades.


robkistner said...

This is pow-bam-crunch to the ugly heart of the matter brother — and brutally honest! While I want so, so much to believe humans have the intellect to live above our centered selves, above our panicked need to step on others to secure high ground, above our fearful insecurity that drives us to hate what is different — damn do I want to believe we are better than the glaring proof indicates… but I, overwhelmingly at times, feel we simply are a model that needs to be recalled! Day to day I vacillate in my hope for our species — but dude! I simply look inwardly at my personal “fear driven hate” of the extreme right, and I realize, elements of hate are inherent in humans — it’s just a matter of at whom we direct it, that determines our side of the fence, and who around us will describe us as “a good person”. It is shit tough to be imperfect.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Wow--thanks for the comment and feedback. Your whole rap parallels my own, and it would have been a bang on response to one of the Hemingway quotes about good & evil

Ingrid said...

I think if those daggers aren't sheathed pretty soon we will destroy ourselves. I like how you describe your journey from the racism you grew up with being abandoned due to your own experiences. But yes, Trump's blatant, unabashed racism did nothing to help the situation.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

"I wonder if the bloody daggers of division will ever be sheathed?" I sincerely hope so, Glenn! This is incredibly strong writing πŸ’πŸ’

Tricia said...

Your story and experiences in life are so truthfully revealed here. I try to be an optimist, but Hemingway's quote hangs above me, like in your verses here, and I ask myself, "Am I willing to confront the ugly truth of racism?"

brudberg said...

I believe what is lacking now is decency... it used to be that you at least had to believe is some level of equality and possibility for everyone independent of left or right... but it seemed to have shifted and opened up chasms.

Grace said...

I have hope and faith - that is the optimist in me.

sean@bogie said...

I hope and doubt with you. i hope the hope prevails.

Kerfe said...

sisypus...still we keep climbing.

Sunra Rainz said...

A brave, beautiful and punchy poem, Glenn! Your honesty is like being drenched in rainwater <3