Yes, O long-suffering readers, this old poet is about to inflict yet another poem upon you. I penned this poem in the form of a brief ballade and sang it over the air on my little Sunday afternoon radio show on WEXL 1340 AM and on my Wednesday evening television show on Channel 33 Detroit Comcast 20. The poem addresses public-school segregation--just one more of the many issues that the so-called “liberal class” which the liberal, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chris Hedges accuses of becoming self-servingly chameleonic in his scathing indictment of faux or turncoat former liberals in his 2010 book Death of the Liberal Class (Nation Books, New York). As you read it, imagine it in musical form:
De Lay of de “Liberals”:
A Deliberately Brief Ballade
With sadly meager fuss,
Brown vs. Board
Was bumped beneath the bus.
To post-pone desegregation
Is cowardly procrastination—
Indeed, to delay until even next Saturday
Remains dirty, way low-down, immoral maggotry!
(I whimsically subtitled this poem “A Deliberately Brief Ballade” instead of “A Deliberately Brief Ballad” for no other reason than that the French ballade sounds fancier than ballad, and I made the ballad brief because the backtracking “liberals” have given the cause short shrift.)
The word maggotry in the last line is a neologism (Republicans, check your dictionary, if you have one.) Also, for the information of any of you WASP affiliates of the GOP who may actually be trying to struggle through this poetry-laden epistle and are haltingly able to decipher and perhaps even appreciate some of its less nuanced verse, the first two words in the first line of the title have a double meaning: delay, as in procrastinate, and lay, which means an ancient ballad.
And no, Republicans!—a lay isn’t the tumble in the hay that roving Democrat dogs customarily indulge in with your Elephantine wives. In Medieval English, a lay is a narrative poem intended to be sung. The word evolved from Old French and originated in the Latin.
In addition, the entire first line in the title is couched in bitterly self-mocking and (what is now called) Ebonic dialect. My use of the term self-mocking would evidently appear at first blush (given my genetic heritage) to be inaccurate, but even though I am a first-generation Scottish-American, I have always identified closely with African-Americans—particularly in this specific cause—perhaps even more than some of them do with this democratically crucial cause any longer, themselves.
Another double meaning in the poem can be found in the use of the word bus, which has implications for the noble but failed cross-district busing endeavors of the 1970s to achieve racial integration of the public schools. This is one of the egalitarian causes that contemporary so-called “liberals” have sold out during their decades-long descent into economic collusion with corporate crocodiles. In addition to turning its back on school integration, the so-called “liberal class”—even including some black leaders within it—has succumbed almost entirely to abject opportunism.
Much of the liberal class has failed to fight and indeed has joined forces with the corporate hijackers and plunderers of our public schools and the exploiters of our public schoolchildren—particularly in urban school districts. It has cravenly and un-creatively and subordinately failed to defy and root out corporate criminality not only in our schools and colleges, but also in our municipalities, in our legislative and judicial bodies, and even in our churches.
And, out of weakness and fear, it has betrayed and exiled from its ranks those few truly Creatively Insubordinate liberals like me who have remained defiant and in many instances have paid a heavy professional and personal price for that defiance. (“We who put conscience above our careers / Are dying as a breed and are deep in arrears…”)
Finally, for the information of you numerous Repubs who may not be aware of this—or if you are, you disapproved of it: The “Brown vs. Board” line in the poem does indeed refer to a landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that racially separate but ’equal’ public education is inherently unequal, immoral, un-Constitutional, un-democratic, illegal, and unjust. In that large and wild public high school in Detroit where I returned to administrate and teach between 2003 and 2008, no one would have been able to discern from observing its student population that as an American public school it was required by Federal law to be racially integrated. The students who attended the school were and still are 100% African-American, as are the students in most other schools in the city—as well as in hundreds of other urban enclaves all across America, which is indeed undemocratically susceptible to becoming again the “Land of the Fee and the Home of the Slave.” Most of America’s public schools that house African-American students are overwhelmingly and illegally segregated, separate, and extremely unequal 58 years after the Brown vs. Board decision of 1954.