Half time Show, Super Bowl XLVII


Beyonce-HalftimeYou didn’t see it on tv,
when the ghostly figure in his tattered shirt
took over the stage,
when all the pyrotechnics stopped,
when Beyonce and all the
wannabe Beyoncettes backed away
from the frail, creepy figure with the battered guitar
with the sign;
he strummed and sang in a raspy
voice and hardly anyone could hear
because they cut the mikes
not wanting to upset the megastars
and wannabe megastarrettes in the seats.
He apologized for his voice.
“Been dead a while, now,” he said,
“but think how loud you have to sing
to be heard from the grave.”
Springsteen and Havens and Seeger,
Taj Mahal and Dylan and Joan Baez
came out to play acoustic back-up,
to join in the chorus:
Rich man took my home and drove me from my door
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.
Nobody clapped and nobody sang along;
hardly anybody heard them at all
which made it just like always.
My father’s own father
he waded that river
they took all the money he made in his life.
“Records fall every day,” he shouted
“409,846 immigrants deported last year;
liberal is just another mask for the same
fascist lizards we’ve ever had.”
The others tried to calm him down
and he shrugged them off.
“That’s the trouble with you people
you’re all cowards at the end of the day.”
He spit on the stage and walked away.
It isn’t known whether anyone in the stands paid attention.
The others did a rendition of this Land Is Your Land.
This land was made for you and me, they sang
but it didn’t feel like they really meant it.
Then half time was over.
The Ravens ran back the kick-off for a touchdown.
Then the 49’ers got the ball.
By then the word came down to cut the power
and change reality again.
Everyone agreed Beyonce was amazing.

—Donald Whittington

Photo of Woody Guthrie


I thought of the Dead Book—

I thought of the Dead Book
quotation from a phone text
happy or sad
you do not know
I know
memory and color
laughter and music
joy and sharing for a very small
club of four with their father of one
exclusive tribe
you cannot know
you cannot understand
as we do

Language is a tease
it does not strip
it covers up
it hides the cowards
whose industry creates
the perpetually offended class.
You do not know these people
they do not know you
do not be so quick to judge
do not be so quick to be judged

Never, ever, ever be afraid
to let people wonder what you think
nothing is more repressive
than being counted upon
no one gets to decide for you
unless you give them that power
my innocent thought might hurt you, so what?
Do you blame a rose for every thorn?
Do you blame God for every garden?
It’s not a tree of knowledge
it’s a tree of all the things
we do not know about each other

There is an ocean between me and you
the water is wide

—Don Whittington