A REFUGE FOR POETS WHO WRITE IN THE LYRIC TRADITION,
WITH RHYME AND METER, WITH OR WITHOUT MUSIC
SONG OF AN AMERICAN PATRIOT
You have to ask; you do not know; you cannot understand
How we could hate the government and love our native land.
Do not confuse the issue, for the two are not the same;
And you are but a figurehead, no matter what you claim.
We do not trust the government; we don’t believe a word.
We’ve heard as many lies as in the days of George the Third.
“The people are the sovereign!” they say in ivory towers.
The truth is that the government possesses all the powers.
Our power is the right to vote, we have not any other:
The power to replace one set of tyrants with another.
Republican or Democrat, what difference does it make?
They have their own agendas, and they both are on the take.
The one gives to the rich man, and the other to the poor;
They both take from the working man, and always ask for more.
And when the money comes up short, they spend what they can borrow;
They live beyond their means and do not think about tomorrow.
They borrow from Americans who buy their Treasury bonds,
From bankers and investors who will play us all for pawns;
They borrow from our pension funds, they borrow every penny,
And when we want our money, we will find there won’t be any.
And how they spend our money is a cause of deep regret:
The single biggest item is the interest on the debt;
They purchase costly weapons when we have no enemies;
They hand out foreign aid to petty tyrants overseas,
And price supports for farmers who are not to till the soil,
And special tax incentives to the men who drill for oil;
They hand out welfare checks and ask for nothing in return;
They force upon us public schools where children do not learn.
And meanwhile, most of us must struggle just to pay the rent;
We seldom take the time to question how our money’s spent,
As if it were the government’s, when really it is ours.
Which brings us to the central point: we haven’t any powers.
* * *
Two hundred twenty years ago, with rebel flag unfurled,
We launched a revolution with “the shot heard ‘round the world.”
The citizen militia, in formation, bearing arms,
Took leave of wives and families, of businesses and farms;
And all for love of country, without any compensation,
They took on mighty England, the most powerful of nations.
Some feared our independence; others said “it can’t be done,”
But after eight long bloody years the war was finally won.
We overthrew the monarchy, for we were tired of kings.
We dreamed of a democracy, where freedom would have wings.
New England towns had long been ruled directly by the people,
And government was seen as but a necessary evil.
The people, at town meetings, wrote the laws and regulations;
They levied fees and taxes, and they made appropriations.
And so, ‘tis more than theory in books upon the shelves:
The people are quite capable of governing themselves.
But some could not imagine true democracy extended
From Georgia to New Hampshire, and the vision sadly ended.
Aristocrats, as always, did not trust the common man;
They wanted power vested in those born to wealth and land.
And it was mostly these who met to frame the Constitution,
Dividing all the power among several institutions.
The called it “checks and balances,” an innovative thing,
Where neither court nor president nor Congress could be king;
But though we rightly call it one of mankind’s finest hours,
The people, as before, were left devoid of any powers.
A mighty central government is something to be feared;
It tramples on the liberties the people hold so dear.
The thirteen states were sovereign when they fought the revolution,
And five would not agree to ratify the Constitution
Unless there were restrictions on the state and all its might;
And to these unrelenting souls we owe the Bill of Rights.
* * *
Our rights are not concessions from a king or legislature;
Our rights are preexistent, dating from the state of nature.
The purpose of all governments, when citizens erect them,
Is not to sacrifice our rights, but rather to protect them.
Its powers are no more than those that we surrender to it;
And if it can’t be trusted, it is time we overthrew it.
So let us have a look at how our rights have been eroded,
While keeping our gunpowder dry, and all our muskets loaded.
Our children cannot worship freely in the public schools;
We cannot teach the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule.
Our freedom of expression is no longer open-ended:
Our speech is “incorrect” if any “victim” is offended.
In farms upon the countryside, in homes on city streets,
The “war on drugs” has made the Fourth Amendment obsolete:
With wiretaps on telephones, and aerial surveillance,
Anonymous informants, and with raids by armed assailants;
They stop our cars along the road at random, without cause;
They confiscate our land without due process of the laws.
And even those who don’t use drugs must also pay the cost:
The rights of all are threatened when the rights of some are lost;
For if nobody notices, some other rights are taken,
Till everything the people took for granted is forsaken.
We must defend our rights, by force of arms if necessary;
So, in the end, it all comes down to weapons that we carry.
Our right of bearing arms gives teeth to all the other ones,
And that is why the government would confiscate our guns.
The holocaust at Waco should have been a wake-up call:
What happened to the people there could happen to us all.
In times like these, when government has run its rightful course,
A patriot is someone who would bring it down by force.
And though we would prefer to find a peaceable solution,
The time is short; we must prepare to wage a revolution.
Winthrop, New York, 1995