Thursday, December 02, 2004

Thursday Poem: After the Singing

Rod MacDonald is probably best known for his satirical "The Aliens Came in Business Suits" and the immensely powerful "Stop the War" (both lyrics available here)

But for historical reasons (OK, I mostly bought used CDs in my youth) I only own one Rod MacDonald CD, Highway to Nowhere. It starts out inauspiciously, unless you like lyrical retellings of psycho but includes some deeply effective songs. For a long time my favorite was "The Well" which was a terrific metaphor for the call-in support hotline work that I did. Now, though, my favorite from this album, bar none, is the timeless:

After the Singing

When we were sailors we had four songs
one for the girls in the harbor towns
two for the weather
three for the nightwatch
four for the rum that washed it all down
You can't change the wind, only change ths sail
after the singing we would sail on.

When we were soldiers we had four dreams
one for the flashing bombs and the terrified screams
two for the stretchers
three for the marches
four for our sweethearts where our homes had been
some of us made it home
some when down alone
after the dreaming we would fight on.

When we were magicians we had four fires
one for the transforming of desire
two for the cleansing
three for the healing
and four for petitioning the heavenly choir
we made rings of stone
to be remembered long
after the fires had cooled down.

When we were children we had four cups
one for the songs our parents taught us
two to hold the wishes
three to hold the marbles
four for the seasons that came on us
through filed and street
we played hide and seek
after the childhood we would play on.

When we were outlaws we had four kings
one who wore his hair down in golden rings
two who went to war
three who were murdered
four who claimed to rule over everything
though they banned the green
they could not seed the queen
after the kingdom we were free men.

When we were troubadours we had four songs
one for the legends we were handed down
two for the heroes
three for the dancers
four for the stories they passed on
we walked together a time
down these roads of rhyme
after the singing we would move on.

© Rod MacDonald

(the index of other lyrics and poetry I've posted is here)

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