What's Tony Thinking

A Poem for These Days


The Seattle poet, Dan Overgaard, is a reader of this blog. In connection with the recent spate of mass shootings, particularly Buffalo and Uvalde, Dan shared with me his poem “Oh Beautiful.” It was published at “Poets Reading the News,” and is used by permission. It throbs with prophetic fury and grief.

Oh Beautiful
Published on February 27, 2020 in Gun Violence/U.S. by Dan Overgaard

Oh beautiful for lethal skies, for somber waves of pain
While purple fountain pieties wash all our slain again
America, America, God bends His face from thee
The blood shed in thy neighborhoods, from sea to shining sea

Oh beautiful for Pilgrim feet, whose trampled children stress
The crying streets where funerals beat make this a wilderness
America, America, though God may mend thy flaws
Thou risks thy soul—no gun control—in liberty and laws

How beautiful these heroes lay, in sacrificial strife
While those who sold their country’s love, loved weapons more than life
America, America, Will God thy gold refine
In burning air with thoughts and prayers, till every gun divine?

Oh beautiful the patriots’ arms, that lay us down in tears
Our alabaster altars gleam when polished by their fears
America, America, the God who waits on thee
Will cradle these, thy innocents, from sea to shining sea

Thanks Dan for sharing this with me and us. As victims testify on Capitol Hill in Washington this week, there are some signs of action. Let’s hope they aren’t just window dressing.


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