by Joseph Kushner
I, as a certified American poet sound of wind and up and about do here on the first day of December, in the year of the dread double naught, on the day the Supreme Court and Conscience of America has heard the arguments of George W. against the Palm Beach Florida Canvassing Board do sit for a while to write in the Hard Roll Café, the roadside state highway working man's and working woman's coffee and hard roll sandwich stop on the way to each day's making of America out of the variable possibilities of the soil and the primal ground of night and sleep.
Having heard now the positions of both Bush and the Palm Beach Canvassing Board, the great chamber of the court's American Conscience seeks the resonance of resolution, as the working men and women of America seek coffee and hard rolls and the resonance of a great conscience in the making again today of America.
As the justices of the highest court grapple according to their unique competencies which I can do little to augment or diminish. I, the poet, will lend my own unique competence to sound certain overtones within the chamber of conscience. I will divine by the mystery of names the resolution of positions from my own position, with coffee and pie and red plaid table cloth and unobtrusive pen and paper on my way to a working man's errand, to pick up sacks of stock feed for the sheep and goats which heard together, and by my immersion in coffee, rolls, pen and paper at this synchronization of the American conscience, I will divinate and stir the resonances within the chamber in my way as surely as you will in yours.
The divining of names is all important because the issues and arguments are expressions of the perceptions and aspirations of the parties who present themselves under the banners of their numinous names. First, the initiator of the suit, Bush, specifically George W., although in the confluence of souls, the souls of all knowable and unknowable Bushes certainly gather. The Father, the Mother and the Brother appear prominently among his angels. In the configuration of his name, George Double Yew emerges with great indication of George, the first W., Washington, the angelic patriarch of America's primal aristocracy of southern gentlemen. Here is an old family thread of America's Anglo-Teutonic self-identification and the momentum of the money and power thereof.
And singing from the other dais, the Palm Beach Canvassing Board. Here is the image of an oasis with canvass spread over the boards of the Tabernacle of Israel pitched upon a beach beneath the palms. A characterization verified by the double naught census.
And under the protective embrace of Israel's camp and capacity for survival and nurturing, the mixed multitude of semi-captives and refugees from captivity array their camps and timorously punch their ballots against the hardened plastic backboards as ambiguously instructed; and yet there is an impression which in our great American ingenuity and inventiveness we can construct machines which will either record or deny. The question is, can we construct a conscience for America which will not deny that, after all speculation has passed, we shall count the footfalls of each angel on the head of the pin?
Now I shall enter the chamber as the selected representatives of the American press and motivated self-selected representatives of the American Public have already; participating in the initial presentations of the parties as witnesses and muses and resonators of conscience. Now that the parties have identified their perceptions and aspirations to the court by their arguments and citations, to the poets by their numinous names and to working America by their deportment before the video scanner that detects dimples, pregnancies and smudges undetectable to paleo-industrial business machinery, all are plunged within the chamber to resolve the resonance of perspectives and aspirations that have perennially jangled in painful juxtaposition in the daily task of making America.
Back upon the red and black plaid table cloth I will not attempt further solutions by coffee, which is not a universal solvent but a particular fit of pique carried out from Arabia by the first Islamic Jihad and first served up in Europe suspiciously on time to muster Europe's transoceanic Christian Jihad; but I will mix chocolate, because it is within the particular flavor and stimulations of chocolate that what may be resolved on this side of these oceans will be resolved. The tobacco should also gather clouds of attending angels, but certain parties have dealt brusquely with these angels for too long and it may yet be a few more generations if all goes well before the tobacco angels will attend them; but chocolate is resilient, cheerful and ever-willing to be amused by trifling pleasantries.
So chocolate it will be; and the solution will tastefully accent the chemistry of Meso-America; the Heartland of the Turtle; the understory of the equatorial forest shading cacao- beans, sprouting cities, sciences, literatures and an enduring population. Indigenous original Floridians, the Calusa and present Puerto Ricano and Cubano Floridians still speak a substantial vocabulary of Caribbean Nuatle or Taino. So do we all. Barbecue, Tomato, Shark, Hurricane and Tobacco - Taino words. Present Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean Americans still know and in secret sing the names of African angels dancing beneath the skirts of erstwhile Christian Saints.
In the red and black plaid of the table cloth I see only two fine lines of white and one of yellow, prominent and clear but occupying only a few narrow bands on the broad red black strokes of the background that supports America's corn and cup of chocolate breakfast. As I look down along the table cloth spread on the Turtle back swimming between these oceans, the bands of red and black are broad, the white and yellow undeniable. May the table of corn and chocolate be set, may our white angel George the First W. attend in his gracious manner and in his God trust. In the angel eyes of George the first W. the bands of color interweave:
"I would have been an Englishman, a loyal colonial, but they would count me as less than an Englishman and as I would not be counted as less, I counted myself as something else, something new, a leather stocking. I tramped the hills I surveyed, I mapped, I became a new hue, seeking rest in no other ground.
Yes, I held black servants, but I held them lightly and did not object if any sought better prospects, nor did I deny him if harried on his way he claimed to be about my business. Look to the graves, my black servants died older and in better heal than most men of any hue. I was never one to make a man less than he would make himself or other than he would make himself.
Please understand the three fifths rule of representation. A man of any hue if bound in service is no more and probably a lot less than three fifths represented by a politician he did not chose. Would you say he was five fifths represented? I would barely say one fifth. Let every man entrust his fifths to be looked after by whom he will.
Yes it was I, George W., back country surveyor who laid those first thin narrow white lines across the turtle's back. They do not change the course of the winds, nor disturb the flight of birds. A man of any hue may ignore them and go his own way; but if you have need of them, I assure you, I laid them straight and true.
Today in the Great Chamber, I do not believe George the first "W" is the plaintiff. Perhaps it is George W. the Wallace who objects to counting all five fifths; but in his broken last days he softened. His spirit would go quietly today. I hear him go quietly. Perhaps it is G. W. Gulf War Bush directing from the wings. He cries, "Oh yes we have no bananas now that our banana republics are singing in Nuatle on the world wide web. General Noriega button the strings of the puppeteer to the buttons of your splendid uniform and we will lift you again. Come mister talley man talley me banana again, o Chiquita cross the seas to me again. Ah, the plaintiff's wail is heard in the land. As the standard oil drum steel band crescendos "Keep your CIA, we will keep our bananas. We will keep our oil and our mocking quadruple ententes in Nuatle"
The steel band ring bang bim pa pu pam follows the Gulf Stream waves. The notes dissolved in sea foam break softly on the beach of palms where the canvas flaps against the boards of the Tabernacle of the Elders of Israel whose lips murmur the flutterings of angel wings of the ancient hovering angels who have spread their wings over the camps of Israel through all their journeys. Out of Ur of the Chaldees; Out from the sore famines of Canaan. Out from the house of bondage by wonders, miracles and a mighty outstretched arm. Out from the dungeons of the Inquisition on the first ships to Caribbea where Luis de Torres received for his tribe the welcome of the Cacique of Cuba with whom he smoked the Tabaca and lived and died thereafter. First of all ocean-crossers to become soil of these islands wrapped in hovering wings of Tabaca, sung into the land by the people of these islands. The Spaniards and the churchmen exclaimed, "These are long separated tribes. They embrace and conspire. They are all Jews here. What shall we do?"
So notes of the ring bang steel band resonate today in the tabernacle of the Israelites who have drawn Asia's line westward across the tablecloth as other tribes have drawn the Yangtsee ox track eastward, threading carefully between George the First's lines of Dover Chalk, sailing off the charts under Chango's flag, pacing the drum song on the native Red Road, conspiring and embracing in every bandwidth.
And now the punch cards are before them as surely as other cards and other levers appear in other camps. Angel wings weave together; embracing on plaid table cloths spread under working men's and working women's roadside fast stops and newspapers.
The broad red and black bands cross. The two fine white lines follow the red and one fine yellow line finds the center. On this roadside tablecloth these five unequal yet interwoven fifths of America cross.
George the first W. instructs Mrs. Ross: "Quilt five rayed stars across the skies and white roads following the bands of red earth."
"Mrs. Ross, take care with your needle for we will reap as you sew".
The elders of Israel meet his eyes and nod.
[Questions? Email bram @ netstep dot net]