I found a book of street poetry on a sidewalk. It cost 50 cents. The title: Where is Vietnam? American Poets Respond. It was published in 1967 by a major New York publisher. It is an anthology containing poems by heavy hitters from that era, Dickey, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Kunitz, Levertov, Lowell, and by first time poets, poems by high school students and a six-year old boy. It is a book of poetry meant to be read aloud, read standing up, read in the streets, read to people, written to change people’s hearts and minds about an illegal and immoral war before Richard Nixon got his hands on it. This is a book of poetry of poetry in action. It contains poems about the Quaker Norman Morrison who self-immolated in front of the Pentagon after placing his bundled infant daughter on the sidewalk. Remember him? Is anything in poetry like this anthology happening anywhere in America in the Days of Trump? I haven’t read anything about it, but I am not privy to the inner workings of the poetry establishment or its counterculture, nor do I read their publications. Perhaps American poets are responding to Trump and taking their poetry to the Red State and Red County streets. The poetry might even be tinged with purple. Who cares what color it is! Reading this anthology inspired me. It made me want to respond to Trump as a poet. It made me want to find a mimeograph machine and publish one-page purple-toned editions of protest poetry by poets and non poets and dogs and distribute the editions to red diners and red gun ranges and red churches. A purple flood of poetry to bust the levee. But there will be no anger or loathing or dismembering in these poems. There will only be rational appeal to our higher angels. Some of the poets will even quote Sly and the Family Stone. It will be a family affair to bring us back to the table or to the table for the first time. I believe poetry can help with that. Did this poem help you get closer to that idea? Ideal? If so, write a poem and distribute it in places where poetry is no longer heard or found.
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