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Inauguration Poem

lbj-mlk

The windows of heaven,
looking over the earth,
are almost always closed,
that the saints and beloveds may live
in joy and endless bliss
without regard to our woe.
God has decreed this, for
he is ever tender in his mercies
—the same God is ever tender in hers.

But upon a momentous occasion
of worldwide grace and immanence,
decreed by the same God,
those windows are flung open
so that all the sainted ones can see
God’s good green earth again.
Each searches diligently for
the loved ones left behind.
They always know where to find us
and if they don’t,
heaven’s got Google,
lightning-fast.
Armstrong’s lunar steps,
Pavarotti’s greatest aria,
the last home run by Ernie Banks:
heaven watches and enjoys,
live in living color,
along with the occasional Broadway show,
one-time only, no lines, free tix.

Today is such a day;
the windows are wide open.
Partly cloudy in the East,
cold and snow in the Midwest,
while SoCal’s having a heat wave.
Everyone finds Washington City;
the festivities are about to begin.
The Presidents sit in a special box of honor
with their ladies and their men.
Johnson of Texas greets Johnson of Tennessee.
General Eisenhower keeps bragging about
his interstate highways.
Kennedy of Boston,
with his wife and son and parents,
is dressed to the nines like always.
Lincoln is escorted by Nicolay and Hay;
Father Abraham waves to Mr. Whitman again,
surrounded as usual by much younger men.
Dolly Madison is in charge of the seating chart
by unanimous consent.
Buchanan has a spot behind a pillar
and Harding serves everyone drinks.
Jefferson sits reading the sports section
of the student paper at UVa.
Mr. Washington sits silent and regal;
he smiles easily with his real teeth.
The First Ladies are resplendent
with perfect protocol.
In heaven everything is perfect.

Martin Jr. picks up his Daddy
at the parsonage
for their carriage ride.
Lady Coretta wears a dress made of diamonds.
They make their way to the Hall of Fame
surrounded by cheering throngs.
All their friends are there;
Viola, Marian, Thurgood, Ralph, Rosa,
and those less famous but
just as exalted.
Jonathan Daniels gives the invocation this year.

High noon approaches;
choirs are singing.
Everyone has perfect pitch in heaven.
Someone spots Barack and Michelle,
and the chatter becomes as the sound of eagles’ wings.
St. Paul interrupts his latest sermon
to lean down and look,
and confesses again to Sojourner Truth
for those idiot lines about slavery.
She absolves him for the ten millionth time.

Julian of Norwich has her own little room
attached to the Cathedral,
where she tells her many visitors,
“I told you so 400 years ago;
all is wonderfully well.”
Harvey Milk keeps hoping for an Oscar nomination.

Suspense builds; the moment arrives.
At last it’s here:
grand but simple.
The Lincoln Bible, the right hand up,
a few words,
including “So help me God.”
Beethoven debuts a new symphony.

“So it’s done,”
the Son tells the Father.
“It is,” G-d replies.
“Thank you,” says Jesus.
The Holy One looks at the Spirit and says,
“Don’t thank me, thank her.
It was all those e-mails she sent.”
Jesus kneels at her feet,
washing them with tears,
drying them with his hair,
anointing them with oil.
They embrace.
Then he runs to find his Mother and Dad.
Andrew is finishing a lobster lunch
when Jesus tells him, “Follow me!”

In the India neighborhood across the way,
Gandhi is hoisted up in the air
for an impromptu parade;
they call it ticker-tape,
but everyone joyously pelts him with gold leaf.
The little man giggles and grins.

After the hoopla is over,
Lincoln invites Lyndon into his carriage.
They pick up Bobby Kennedy,
who scrambles into the back seat.
They make their way to the African Hall of Fame,
where millions are dancing to the sound of drums and singing.
The three men alight.
A path opens up for them,
all eyes on these White men.
Someone decorates them in flower garlands.
They climb the steps to the Grand Pavilion
where the great man sits,
until he sees them and rises to his feet.
“Gentlemen,” he says in that deep baritone.
“Sir,” Lincoln replies with a kindly nod.
Bobby waves in silence.
The one who steps forward is Lyndon,
with a handshake, then a bear-hug.
“You did it, Martin,” he says fondly.
“With your help, Mr. President,” Martin smiles.

In just a few minutes
the windows of heaven will silently close.
The deed is done; it’s time to return
to pure worship and everlasting bliss.
The saints stand, taking in the glorious sight
on the earth below.
The mortals swarm like bees
and they’re loud!
Frederick Douglass observes,
“The whole world rejoices.”
Malcolm claps him on the back,
then they head for Tecumseh’s Bar
and the free pool tournament,
best happy hour in town.

Kids ride by on sparkly bicycles,
no school today,
and Grandmas gather for high tea.
In the Castro section
a noisy party’s going on
with dancing boys
and motorcycle grrlz,
while their elders wonder and wait.
“When’s our turn?” a man asks his friend.
“Don’t worry, it’s coming.
Someday.
You know mortals, these things take time.”
They go back to their jobs
and argue over color schemes
at the Gay Hall of Fame,
half-built.
The Judy Garland Theatre’s coming along, at least,
now that St. Peter reassigned half the decorators
to other parts of the city.

© January 20, 2009, All Rights Reserved.

3 Responses

  1. […] 21, 2009 in ancestors, celebration, democracy, faith, healing, obama, promise Inauguration Poem Posted on January 20, 2009 by josh at Gay Spirit Diary (click title to read entire […]

  2. 3.5 million saw the Inauguration on TV in the Netherlands, 90% of its population was in favor of Mr. Obama.

  3. What surprises me is the moment’s inspiration to even start writing this. I could never produce “poetry” on demand or by commission; I rather liked the poem by the woman from Yale. Doubtless she worked for at least two months, maybe years, reading and rewriting, sweating and straining, trying to make a perfection. I say she did well.

    While I just whipped this out on the spur of the moment on Inauguration morning, a little feverish, wanting the clock to tick faster to the big moment. So I tried a line, and then another; I rewrote in three minutes and hit Publish.

    Call it inspiration if you want, it’s almost frightening. Where did this come from?

    But I was very excited that the great day finally came, and once I started the writing took off on its own, one line to the next, one thought to another, until it came to a stop and I thought, hmm, I kinda like this.

    After I posted and re-read it, I was a bit shocked by its casual humor, which I wasn’t trying for—yet that’s just like me. I could never produce “O Captain, My Captain” as Whitman did; its phrases are noble and enduring. My talent isn’t that high; I’ve got Malcolm X taking Fred Douglass to a bar.

    But if Walt got a chuckle I’d be happy, so what the Hay.++

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