Monday, September 26, 2005

It was my first major march of any kind, and the sheer masses of people assembled to say NO in a thousand different ways were breathtaking, although my breath was taken slowly; that is, the impact was cumulative. At first I felt a certain disappointment, standing well within earshot but not quite able to see the speakers at the Ellipse south of the White House: Cindy Sheehan, Jesse Jackson, George Galloway, Ramsey Clark, others whose names I didn't catch. A craving for leadership went unsatisfied, though some young man from A.N.S.W.E.R. managed to produce some stirring rhetoric. I have never had less faith in the Democratic Party, but an powerful alternative voice didn't present itself. (Though on PBS last night we caught a debate staged at Baruch College in New York between Galloway and Christopher Hitchens by Democracy Now; Galloway was impressive while Hitchens looked like a sloppy drunk, albeit with Oxbridge pronunciation; an incisive article about his transformation from avenging angel of the Left to a Bush apologist is now available from the archives of n+1.) But the march itself was glorious: an unending stream of angry, passionate people waving mostly homemade banners (I saw a T-shirt I liked: "Jesus, please save me from your followers!"). On our way northward, by complete coincidence, I ran into Joel Kuszai (late of Cornell, always of Factory School) and Jonathan Skinner with a couple of other poets I hadn't met, and joined them for the march past the White House, something that hasn't actually been permitted for several years. That was the most moving moment for me: slowly filtering by the cops and thugs three deep before the actual fence, with hundreds of hands all jabbing rhythmically toward them: SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! I felt again that solidarity, a kind of love, that I'd felt toward my fellow Kerry volunteers a year ago and that I'd felt at the Newport Folk Festival when Elvis Costello sang "Scarlet Tide": "Admit you lied and bring the boys back home." Yes.

Driving back today but there's a little dead time for reading beforehand. In my satchel: Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man, The Diary of James Schuyler, and Martha Ronk's marvelous, deadpan In a Landscape of Having to Repeat, single-handedly reviving my interest in the brief lyric.

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