Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Old hatred drifted in", Long Island Poem for Martin Luther King Sunday

"This is a story handed down in my family, I heard it from my Mother." - Locust Valley poet Ray Simons.

The Legend of John Casey's Stand
Locust Valley, Long Island 1920's
For Mom
Ray Simons

Rural times, depression
& dirt poor.
Another immigrant wave,
from the 1840's never stopping,
the boats of Irishmen came.
Here on the North Shore,
the soon to be Gold Coast,
the Irish, the Italians
worked Big houses & farms
a cycle unchanged,
as the new comers
do now.........
and an old hatred drifted in.....
maybe from the South
maybe from the soul.....
& the cross of terror
burned again.
This time the Irish,
"We'll teach that
Damn Mick!"
His wife saw it first,
the flickering glow
& the figures in darkness
surrounding that cross
like the Banshee's of old.
"Don't go, Johnnie" she begged
but she knew it was useless,
his kind of anger burned
hotter than
He stood on his porch
and cursed them for cowards,
then strode to the field
to confront them by name.
"Take off your sheets, you yellow
streaked bastards" then
he called them by name
but stepped forth not a one.
With one great kick he
toppled the fire
and spat his contempt
on the cross and
was done.
He turned back to
his house
& he left his
good neighbors.......
He shut his porch light
and the crowd
did abate.......
Now they'd have to
someone safer to hate.

The Legend of John Casey's Stand,  Locust Valley, Long Island 1920's by Ray Simons.
Published with author's permission.

Ray retired from FDNY-EMS and writes as part of poetry therapy. 

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - A Clear Midnight, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Clear Midnight, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Manuscript of 'A Clear Midnight'
from the Walt Whitman Archive
A Clear Midnight
Walt Whitman

THIS is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes
         thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.

'A Clear Midnight' by Walt Whitman from Leaves of Grass.
Reprinted after The Walt Whitman Archive. In public domain.

Manuscript of an early version has the title of this poem as 'A Starry Midnight'. We find the published title 'A Clear Midnight' freed of visual references and thus much stronger. A beautiful poem.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - Enchanted place on the island, Long Island Poem for New Year's Eve Sunday