by Nancy Haskett
Modesto Branch, CA
What I remember most is the drumbeat –
slow, steady, rhythmic,
like the heartbeat of a nation in mourning.
A cadence of grief
accompanied by caisson wheels turning,
jangling of stirrups on a riderless horse
the profound silence of the crowd
as the funeral cortege made its way
past those who lined the streets –
the rest of us watching our television sets
and overwhelming sadness
for the children,
the veiled widow
walking with grace and dignity
between the two brothers.
There would be other processions like this
in later years,
but this was the first for me –
bringing with it great losses
I, Walt Whitman, Listening
by Anne Marx
Westchester County Branch, NY
I hear America sighing, the various complaints I hear;
Those of the workers, each one sighing long hours,
Those of the jobless sighing that welfare does not
The sighs of the rich that their assets are shrinking;
The sighs of the middle-class feeling squeezed from
The politicians are sighing about voters’ indifference;
The voters, they sigh that politicians are corrupt.
The old sigh about the young taking too many liberties;
The young are sighing for more freedom.
The women’s sighs deplore discrimination;
The men keep sighing for a vanished vision of women.
The black sigh that they have gained too little,
The white sigh because the black continue their sighs.
And at night, the sudden sigh of fear in the dark,
When violence stalks young and old, great and humble,
Men and women, rich and poor, black and white;
Everyone sighing, complaining, no longer singing;
And I, Walt Whitman, listening and missing
The strong melodious songs of joy in America.
from Full Circle
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