Posted: April 27, 2010 in Poetry

CONTEXT – September, 2009

So it is no secret that I am a little older than most of the poets in the Ottawa spoken word community. Sometimes that bothers me, but not often. Instead I usually find myself looking at the different worldview of the younger set.

Then I remember that there was a time when my generation wanted to change the world. And the generation before that and before that and before that.

What happens?

Well, I think that first people dream big and then lose hope when those big dreams don’t make big changes in the world. The thing is, when that happens, people don’t notice how much change ACTUALLY happens. Incremental change. Lasting change.

So, has the promise of the 60s born fruit? Absolutely! Has all the change that needs to happen happened?

Not even close.

This poem is about that.

I am going to link the hell out of this one. It is VERY reference-heavy, and here you can see what I meant by each line.

I was born during the Tet Offensive
As the mighty Americanos
Learned what Sun Tzu knew
About playing in another team’s
Back yard
A year before Neal Armstrong
Proved that there was nowhere
Mankind couldn’t despoil,
Leaving a trail of trash
In its wake.
We watched both on a little box
In GLORIOUS technicolour,
Bringing the future kicking
And screaming into the present,
Past a collective wide-eyed awe,
Fast becoming jaded
As horror and wonder both
Became entertainment.
Happy myths such as
Lunar green cheese
And a just war
Joined bobby socks and
Rumble seats in a naive world.

Writers could spin
But pictures couldn’t lie,
We saw what we were shown
And believed it all.
It was a dark time
When you can’t believe your eyes,
When your eyes see lies –
Well, I believe in Beatles
Or maybe scarabs
As our view of Arabs switched from
Happy Indiana Jonesian Egyptians
To high-flying sky-writers
In the blink of an eye
Or snap of a shutter
As this latest fear-mongering
Is brought to you by
Slippy peanut butter,
The choice of a new generation,
Or germination as the seeds of
Mistrust are planted just below
The surface.

I was conceived during
The Summer of Love
And sprang forth, fully armoured
Into a new year of war.
Because summer always gives way
To the fall and love
To pride
as the flowers fall from our hair
And the girl from the North Country Fair
Sports a pageboy and looks at me
Like she can guess my name.

But if its all the same
I want a do-over.
Red rover, red rover,
I call a sense of optimism over,
Or freedom, or maybe just
Sunshine on a cloudy day,
Because sometimes, every day is

When the desire to stand
And be counted means
Being like Tommie Smith and John Carlos
Put up your fist if all you want is

I was born during a 5-day sit-in
At Howard University,
One week after the My Lai Massacre.

I was born two weeks before
Martin Luther King Jr. paid the
Ultimate price
for asking for a
Little justice.

I dreamed a little dream of peace,
Of pieces of a broken world
Built on a crumbling foundation.
As all pretense is gone
And we no longer have fights for rights,
Instead we have squabbles over pay-outs.

I was born during a time of war.
I was born during a time of potential.
I was born during a time of death
And birth
And principles
And desire
And a movement
And revolution and evolution in collusion.

I was born by a river
In a little tent

I was born just in time
Because a change IS gonna come,
And I want to be here to see it.


Next is a quiet little poem about dealing with depression.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rusty Priske. Rusty Priske said: #rustythepoet the FULLY ANNOTATED 1968! https://rustythepoet.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/1968/ […]

  2. Chris Tse says:

    To me, you represent the extreme minority of that generation that hasn’t given up the fight and settled into a life of suburban mediocrity. You’re one of the few who still dares to dream and imagine. Don’t let that depress you, my man. It’s an inspiration to me, at least.

  3. […] So… what to do? Earlier in the day, while walking the dog, I ran through some pieces, prepping for that Dusty Owl feature. That meant I had four poems fairly fresh in my mind. One was Angst. The other three were Why Art?, Moving to Arizona and 1968. […]

  4. […] in the second round I do my new arrangement for 1968. It went even better, and I had been nervous about it, so that was nice. I finished third again, […]

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