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Friday, 04 October 2013

On Making It Through the Nineteen-Sixties

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

Jack Kennedy, in sixty-one,
Told Congress, “There’s a race to run;
Let’s reach the moon, let’s jump the gun!”

The times were a-changin’, Dylan sang;
From Liverpool, the Beatles sprang,
Throughout the land, their music rang.

But good times only roll so far,
Bad things can happen, and they mar
The luster of the brightest star.

That November, nineteen sixty-three,
Our nation gave an elegy
For murdered John F. Kennedy.

Next year the Civil Rights Act passed,
A law to right great wrongs, at last,
Although the work ahead was vast.

Great riots roared, and cities burned
All through the sixties unrest churned,
The grim response of people spurned.

Then women learned a new mystique
As Friedan’s book provoked the meek,
And feminists rose up to speak.

Sixty-eight heard new gunshots ring,
When James Earl Ray killed Dr. King,
Providing one more dirge to sing.

Poor Bobbie ran for president
That June; Jack’s brother’s murder sent
Good reason for a third lament.

In Vietnam we suffered more,
As thousands died in pointless war, Munitions dealers keeping score

The nation wept, and bore its load,
The war drums beat as fury strode
And marched with death along the road.

Our generation’s call for change,
For flower children, in exchange
Of war for peace; did that seem strange?

When Mary Jane lit up the crew,
“Turn on, drop out!” The message grew;
“Make love, not war, it’s what to do.”

In college, near and far away,
The students ragged on LBJ;
“How many kids’d you kill today?”

They helped to topple his regime,
With opposition too extreme,
He chose to quit, ran out of steam,

The protesting was all about
A senseless war, death’s heavy clout,
With “Time for peace!” the fervent shout.

In sixty-nine, we reached the moon,
The mission done, so opportune;
Jack’s promise kept, and mankind’s boon.

Let’s sum it up, here’s what we got:
War crushed the dreams of Camelot,
And mocked improvements that we wrought.

The decade left a bitter taste,
But still, it wasn’t all a waste;
Some good was done, some gains embraced.

Some progress came, for all to see,
More civil rights and liberty,
But at what cost, what misery?

We yearned for peace; instead, war came,
We saw the bombs and bullets maim
The innocent, their world in flame.

Good will and peace remain the goal,
Although ill deeds still take their toll,
And try the patience of the soul.

Yet men can be both brave and good,
They try for better, and they should;
To build a world in brotherhood.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

The times they are a changing...
Great Job....loved it!

the last known survivor of the Tulsa race riots died yesterday at 104. Her grandson said she didn't speak of it much, except to talk of running across a brick yard to search shelter in a pharmacy.

My mother in law was a teacher when they desegregated the schools and welcomed the new children.

I did not live in those times but I am mindful that they weren't too long ago and in my one horse town, there are still many who cling to their beliefs and once called a close friend "girl".

Marc:
You poignantly and honestly told a disturbing story of our history. Just in time for the 11/22 anniversary of President Kennedy's death there is a new movie coming out about it.I wish our leaders would be moved by the memories of how our nation suffered, in and after those awful times. Your piece reminds us.Thank you.
Janet Thompson

It was a bit of a shock reading this,change a few names and dates and some portion of it could be England anytime between the then and now, A poetic digest that we can only hope will give some politicians indigestion and sleepless nights.

We have lived through tumultuous times Mark. Poetry compresses memories more sharply than prose, and this is a gem. We forget so quickly, bur for those of us who lived it, the line "War crushed the dreams of Camelot" is an arrow straight through the heart.

May we have peace on earth...

Great reminder of the price paid for the sixties...I was new mom in that decade, and remember waking up to hear the news of Robert Kennedy assasination and thinking how will we ever go on...heartbreak of seeing Martin and Malcom taken too..what a price we paid for progress for sure..few pieces make me cry...great reminder...just this morning wrote note to one of my cousins about Vietnam war and how all came back..my only brother and six first cousins..very unlike the WW I I return, but they did return...you caught it all...

You captured the important points of history in a very readable,enjoyable piece. I don't usually like rhymed poetry, but yours was so well-done that I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thank you for the time and effort you put into it.

I marvel at how you did this- so much history in one poem.

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