forty-two years' reach
No news, that: plagues us all--
.fans of Classic Series stats,
and all of us, Ordinaries.
Time trips us up so thoroughly
that we ever know history even
in our own age.
I'd've sworn we packed Penn's Palestra
so very angry and afraid
afraid they were willing now to murder
Black Jackson State kids--
on a Friday-not-a-Monday--
no, no, it was Monday evening,
May 4th, 1970
and we rallied inside
sang and marched
from campus three miles to
then north two more miles
down North Broad
to the Induction Center--
and yet after years and years
and conversation upon
...there was no march that night.
Yet in my memory there was.
And it was a hell of a march.
Snug in Our Palestra.
The "Cathedral of College Basketball".
But not this night.
Racing-to-radio-rumors, racing from classes to the Palestra.
Words, horrid truths at first so disbelieved, disbelieved-words so quickly spread, at first so horribly disbelieved then so very crushing-swift:
students wholly believed-sinking-in
Nixon, we knew, we knew
right there in the stands
We knew that man wanted us dead--Us!--
How Fucking Unreal, Man!
as truth lay sprawled on grass and asphalt
unarmed and quite dead.
I recall feeling ashamed-in-the-stands,
implored to Fear, here, in the very safe-
Penn Palestra, 9,000, 10,000, 15,000
sharing a ginned-up privilege-fear
we never ever deserved.
Outrage; That was justified.
Fear? Come on!
and yet I do remember
Share the Fright and Horror
Kent State students,
of a sudden our kin-our blood--
I remember thinking, in the stands,
make certain we are not just outraged at
that the Guard had really done it now
right here inside our sweaty, cozy,
I remember thinking:
(I do remember thinking t h i s):
How the hell many of us have sat-in
been beaten at a Carolina lunch counter,
at a Mississippi polling place,
at a Philly draft board office?
I had been a high school non-hero
at the draft board
401 North Broad Street
December 17, 1967--
I do recall the date
I recall it, six glorious hours in
one full glorious glorious week
myself a revolutionary at sixteen.
Ho. Ho. Ho. Chi. Minh.
NLF. is. Gonna. Win.
Memory is an eel.
I was as snug as a swaddled child
in a Palestra cheering section
thinking that none of us had ever been
as brave as to sit,
not among 12,000 like-minded
but with three or four deadly-frightened
yet committed souls at a Woolworth's Counter,
order a malted, and get the shit beat out of you
I do recall thinking that.
I know what Kent State did.
It brought that war-stench home
in ways not brought before
to white privilege
thank God, too
that's when Congress decided
just may be
stumbling loopy-blind through that
flat-out vicious-stupid jungle war
be incredibly dangerous.
And it took
five. more. fucking.
Memory's often slippery.
History's always sure.
Here are some terrific resources. There's so much Kent State Myth out there. This stuff's reliable.