[Hpn] You asked for my poetry. Here it is
Tue, 02 Sep 2003 21:41:46 -0700
Let us decide whether it stands up as poetry or not! You can hardly be
judge of that. <grin>
Please pass it on......
All the best,
PS: A cheque is forthcoming for two autographed copies of your book.
----- Original Message -----
From: "William Mandel" <wmmmandel@EARTHLINK.NET>
Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2003 12:44 PM
Subject: Re: Statement on DuBois
> I'll have to think about the poem. While it possesses the qualities
> Larry Pinkney (today a dear personal friend and recent house guest)
> decribes, and my daughter is very fond of it, I don't think it really
> stands up as poetry. That's why I omitted it from my autobiography,
> where you can read a better one, "New Trial in Richmond," with an
> approving postcard from Langston Hughes.
> Bill Mandel
> Floro Quibuyen wrote:
> > Thanks to both of you, Bill Mandel and Bill Fletcher, for the stories
> > statement--they are beautiful. Would you please share us your poem, "For
> > Children, To Dr. DuBois".
> > Floro
Those requests were from Canada. Someone in Los Angeles wrote: "I feel
cheated that Mr. Mandel did not include the poems [mentioned in my post
on knowing Dr. Dubois]...in their entirety."
Another in Australia wrote: "Please post your poem, 'For My Children,
to Dr. DuBois,' and at least a few others."
FOR MY CHILDREN, TO DR. DUBOIS
(November 1951; DuBois had just been acquitted
of conspiracy for heading the collection of a
million American signatures to a petition
against another use of the nuclear bomb)
I, a white man, speak these lines for my children
too young to write, but old enough to know of jails and war.
Bobby is seven and Davey is five.
My little boys want to stay alive.
Bobby, he asked me the other day:
"Daddy, will I have to go away
and fight and kill when I grow up?"
Davey looked up from his breakfast cup
and said, "I want to know that too.
"Answer me,Daddy.' I answered them true.
"Wars," I said, "don't have to be.
"People can live like you and me,
"loving each other and sharing our bread.
"But men there are who'd see us dead
"to make them richer. They are few
"but tell the government what to do.
"They own the papers that tell the lies
"to make us blame the other guys.
"Across the seas they stretch their hands
"to take things made in other lands.
"They whip and kill and burn and maim
"with bombers and with jellied flame
"to make the people far away
"do the things our rich men say."
"To fight and die in grim despair,
"their children will not have to bear.
"They'll sit at desks and hand out orders
"to the boys at war beyond our borders."
"It's you they want," I told my sons,
"to sleep in mud and face the guns,
"to murder people you've never seen
"and spill red blood upon the green
"of field and valley, hill and park."
"They want to make our country dark
"and dumb and deaf and stony blind
"so none can stand and speak his mind
"for peace, for life, for milk and bread
"and say, 'I don't want my children dead.'
"That's why I travel about this land
"warning the people wherever I can."
My daughter is twelve and knows the score.
She sees the greed of the men of war.
She knows they are hard and cruel and grim.
She's seen the light of freedom grow dim.
Herself, she's brave, and her pride is great
that we stand with those who bar the gate
to death and hunger and cold and fear
and hold back the war from year to year.
But child she is and much afraid
of the FBI and a midnight raid.
"Daddy," she said, "they'll put you in jail.
"They'll hold you and keep you without any bail."
"That may yet be," was my reply,
"but they've tried and failed with others than I.
"DuBois, a man of eighty-four
"they dragged to court, and locked the door.
"His wrists they bound in iron bands
"because they feared the mighty hands
"that wrote in verse and prose and law
"for all to read: 'We'll fight no war
"'while those whose skins are dark like mine
"'must eat their bread and drink their wine
"'apart; must die for want of precious care;
"'must gasp for lack of precious air
"'in holes where rats, not men, should live.
"'We'll fight no war. No blood we'll give
"'abroad, when Cicero is here'
"'Martinsville, too, is here;
"'when war is waged by the very police
"'whose oath it is to keep the peace,
"'and bullets take a deadly toll
"'of Negroes who would use the poll
"'to sample this democracy
"'and get a taste of being free.'"
"His voice they thought forever to still.
"A year in jail would surely kill
"this patriarch. But they forgot
"that a people once bound to slavery's rack
"will not go back, will not betray
"the faith of those who showed the way.
"Their voices resounded from shore to shore
"and mounted to a single roar
"of mighty protest. And with them joined
"the voice of people white of skin.
"DuBois is free! And that, my children,
"means freedom for me.
"The hounds of terror are not at rest,
"but North, and South, and East, and West,
"the People speak; the People, Yes!
"and those who dealt the strongest blow
"to free us all are those who know
"that they have freedom least of all."
My children said: "They keep us free.
"We must say thanks." I answered: "Fighters be
"That the Negro people have liberty."
The following year I traveled by Greyhound bus from New York to
Chicago to speak to unions and other labor groups. On the bus was a
young Greek ship's officer. At this time a Pinochet-type military
dictatorship had taken over that country. There were occasional rest
stops in the countryside.
We stood in silence,
fingers playing with grass-stems,
nostrils dilating to the pungent spring,
ears attuned to the rushing waters,
eyes hungrily tracing each eddy,
memory fixing the glint of sun on wavelet over rock.
His open face spoke sadness
"Not so in my land.
"We are water poor."
I grieved with him
for the glory that is Greece
and for Greeks such as he,
young, strong, creative,
ship's engineer at twenty-one,
lover of flowers
and hater of the best of his people.
rock where the sons of Prometheus
bleed from liver and from loin
at the hands of his fellows,
to him is a place of justice.
Home, to him, a mansion with green-house
where he stole away to sleep mid the blossoms' fragrance.
Thus, a man is half a man, or less than man at all,
whose sorrow is for hillsides waterless,
and not for those whose labor and whose pain
will bring flowers to those hills again.
Yet am I troubled
for his is not a self-willed hate
but misdirected love
perverted by the will of others,
his countrymen and mine.
I know the youth of my own land
and those whom Hitler spoiled,
And I vow vengeance
on those who make half-men
of the future of the world.
1953 was the worst year. The Rosenbergs were executed, and the leaders
of the American Communist Party went to long terms in prison for being
the leaders of the Communist Party.
FOR CERTAIN WIVES
Some women marry joy, find gall,
and wither in bitterness.
You married strength, forged happiness,
and bloom in the hurricane.
Some dream of quiet islands,
lay calm lawns beyond their walls,
and thus concealed, rage, maddened, within.
Some choose a man, stand two against the world,
and find the world between them.
You love those who love all, share your loves with us,
and we wrap our love about you.
Some have their husbands always,
need only turn to see their faces,
and doubt what love there ever was.
Your husbands stand beyond reach,
but memory renews your love,
and loyalty preserves it.
Some teach children to live for themselves alone,
find they have taught too well,
and are themselves abandoned.
Your children see the world a circle
of people holding hands,
and you are closest.
Some see the future hopeless,
those who seek it - foolish,
and peace but in the grave.
We see a world unshackled,
by children's laughter brightened,
and homage to you, the brave.
The title of my autobiography, SAYING NO TO POWER (Introduction by
Howard Zinn), is based on my demolition of Sen. Joe McCarthy and later
of HUAC in hearings of 1953 and 1960. It is a history of how the
American people fought to defend and expand its rights since the 1920s
(I'm 86) employing the form of the life of a 30s AND 60s activist, one
who was involved in most serious movements: student, labor, 45 years of
efforts to prevent war with the USSR and Cuba, civil rights South and
North, women's liberation [my late wife appears on 50 pages], 37 years
on Pacifica Radio [where I reinvented talk radio, of whose previous
existence I had been unaware], civil liberties, and opposition to
anti-Semitism and to Zionism. You may hear/see a little of my testimony
before before HUAC on my website, http://www.billmandel.net I am the
author of five books in my academic field, have taught at UC Berkeley,
and earlier held a postdoctoral fellowship, by invitation, at
The book may be ordered through all normal sources. For an autographed
copy, send me $24 at 4466 View Pl.,#106, Oakland, CA. 94611