Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #23




This is another poem that disturbs me as much as By the Blood does. Early versions were written in the weeks following the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I considered using pictures from the event for this post but the chaos and terror of that day is not the point I wish to emphasize. The first versions of this poem were dark and full of despair. Over the years I have added and subtracted and rearranged words and lines, tweaked punctuation and repeatedly decided to destroy all copies and versions. I'm still not entirely comfortable with it. And yet. There is just something.

I think it keeps drawing me back because it is so strongly associated in time and symbol to the event of my definitive break with the fundamentalist sect I was raised in. For five and a half months preceding that April 19th, my dreams had been full of ruined buildings, bombed landscapes, contorted bodies of children as my world unbuilt itself. Throughout the news coverage in the weeks following, I was never quite sure if I was dreaming or awake.

Even the early versions of this though attempted to focus on the aspect of community--its vulnerability and resilience, its faith and its heart. In loosing my community, I was at first bereft and adrift. But apparently by the time I began composing this, I'd already begun to see the possibility of belonging somewhere again. Since then I've learned that it is not only possible, it is necessary.

Heartland
by Joy Renee

Oh, oh, oh, Oklahoma!
Our nation’s heart.
Land of the free.
Domain of love.
It harbors our hope and in no
Sense from the rest is set apart.

They can resist its innate charm?

“Honey no sweeter
Than revenge.”
Answers fear
To injustice hinged.

Anger, home-grown and adamant
Timid reason and appeasement
To resist til vengeance
Jabs disturb plain faith.

“A beneficial call to arms
Stirs our bitter rage uncoiled.”

Heartland love:
Its innocence
Partook in harmony.
Then dangers intimidate.
And judgment foiled, liberties are
Leased by terrors some name just.

“Deuces are wild,
Jokers suffice
Our grapes of wrath
Your peace un-spun.”

Yet we must again partake
In that song of hope and faith;
Reclaim our trust; reach out with love;
Establish anew our reliance
On community, on harmony;
Proclaim with humble defiance:
“It’s not just dues but sour grapes
That kills the heart for its mistakes!”

7 tell me a story:

Rhian 10/29/2007 5:38 AM  

Fabulous Joy. Is it intentional that it almost has a marching beat, like someone smacking a drum?
And isn't this the truth:
“It’s not just dues but sour grapes
That kills the heart for its mistakes!”

gautami tripathy 10/29/2007 6:23 AM  

Those last two lines clinch it!

I agree entirely with Rhian!

STAK 10/29/2007 11:11 AM  

you do a great job of giving voice to evil here........very nicely executed.........as Rhi says, it's got a good beat........

Susan Helene Gottfried 10/29/2007 12:34 PM  

It DOES have a good beat. And in light of what's come since, that makes sense. Like we're marching onward.

Neat stuff. I'm definitely going to have to think about this one some more.

Ann 10/29/2007 4:15 PM  

Awesome poem. I especially like the last two lines.

julia 10/29/2007 8:13 PM  

Your opening lines are so strong:
"Oh, oh, oh, Oklahoma!
Our nation’s heart.
Land of the free.
Domain of love.
It harbors our hope and in no
Sense from the rest is set apart."

Glad you didn't get rid of every version of this poem. Glad you posted it today.

Kathy 10/30/2007 8:20 PM  

Very powerful poem, Joy. I hope you post more of your writings.

Hey, just to let you know....you've been tagged!
Have a great day!

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