52 Poems: Week 7 Langston Hughes

It's a tough time to be a public school teacher and in Los Angeles there is a big school board race with national implications. As an advocate for access and equity in public education for ALL students (particularly those students who sit in my classroom every school day and are often unseen or cared for by those in decision-making positions of power) I am thinking about the big picture in the same way this poem is. I hope and work everyday for education policy to change course and I hope in this election, the people will let America be America again. So here is Langston Hughes with a poem that reminded me of my vision of "we, the people," the American ideals of equality, and the dream of what public education could be...

Let America Be America Again
By Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!


Love That Dog

It's been a long few weeks here at the Nakada-Gantts. First, Scout bit Kiara. It was unprovoked. It was not the first time Scout bit someone we love. Kiara's little ear was cut up, but she's healed fine, and after a few uncertain weeks, a rescue, Lab and Friends, has taken Scout to retrain her and place her in a new home.
Puppy Scout

Scout had been with us for six years and she was always our unpredictable, slightly crazy dog, but we loved her. Now, in our Scoutless home, David and I struggle with the loss.

There are so many things I already miss: her enthusiastic greeting at the front door, the click of her paw-nails on the hardwoods, the shake of her collar when she stood up, her Scoutness curled up under the dining room table, warming my feet, her cold nose asking for some love, or to get up and take her out.

Born swimmer...
I miss her drinking at her bowl as if she would never drink again, her high-fives, her biting that forever-itchy-spot on her butt, the southern and British accents Scout barked in, and the Scout song with no resolution.

I miss her sleeping beside the bed and outside Kiara's door.

I miss those soft, soft ears and her sideways look when you asked her a question.

I miss her playing fetch forever, her tennis ball obsession, and walking through the neighborhood with her every day.

Scout reading...
Tomorrow we're getting our house cleaned and although I'm sure traces of Scout hair will stick around for a while, eventually most physical traces of her will fade away. I know the house won't always feel so empty when we come home, and my eyes won't always fill with the tears when I think of her. But right now that place in my heart reserved for the love of a dog is so empty I can't quite catch my breath.

So, I hope you will all think of your dogs tonight, the ones you love and have loved. Remember them, or give them a nice long scratch on the back, or behind the ears like Scout loved, because our dogs really do hold a special place in our lives, and you know you love that dog.


52 Poems: Week 6 William Shakespeare

Valentine's Day is upon us, so I
thought I'd post a poem, a love sonnet.
So here are fourteen lines you'll recognize
and when you are done I hope you got it.

Sonnet 18
By William Shakespeare 

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow'st.
     So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
     So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


52 Poems: Week 5 Robert Frost

The Ravens won the Superbowl today so I wanted to choose a poem that wasn't "The Raven."

Dust of Snow
Painting by Sophy White
By Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

I'm sure Poe doesn't give a lick about football, but if you like sports (like I do) you might want to check out my neglected sports blog Throwing Cookies.