Come here, my friend.
You want more say?
I think I may have found a way.
We’ve been oppressed
By them up there.
They’ve ruled this town through stealth and scare.
We do not speak.
We do not talk.
At new ideas we often balk.
Let’s get ideas.
Let’s kick them out.
Their tattered armies we will rout.
’Twas their time then;
’Tis our time now.
Today we skewer the sacred cow.
The time has come;
It’s ripe for change.
Let’s go down to the rifle range.
Come fight with me.
Come fight with me.
Come fight to set our people free!
The town’s aflame.
The day is done.
The war we fought has now been won.
Our struggle’s o’er.
Let church bells ring.
Let’s go downtown and crown me king.
You ask for rights?
The tyrant’s dead,
And you need nothing but his head.
You’ve been a help.
But as you see,
I have no need to set you free.
My son Geoffrey, who is now a student at St. John’s College, wrote this poem in September 1997. It has undergone minor edits since then. (It also gained, then lost, a title.) More than most of my poetry, this piece lends itself to performance, and Geoffrey has performed it at several venues.
Geoffrey explains that the fifth verse (“’Twas their time then”) was the first one he wrote. “Originally, I didn’t even recognize it as poetry, but instead thought of it as rhetoric. From there, I began writing other verses related to revolution. It was only until the very end of the process that I hit upon the final verse.
“At that point, the theme for the poem became apparent, and I went with it. From there, I wrote the two verses leading up to that final statement and tossed out verses that were uninteresting or irrelevant.
“The interesting part is that, in writing the early verses, I saw the speaker as justified in his anger. I was very much like the listener, in that I was taken by this idea of righteous revolt, and the twist at the end greatly surprised me.”
He had no particular reason for writing the poem, he explains. “I liked that [first-written] verse, and I felt I had to do something with it.” Writing can be like that.
— LED, 10/27/2001
Geoffrey is now an alumnus of St. John’s. Since graduating in 2004, he has acted in a couple of plays and has held several jobs in the wine trade. If he has written any more poetry, he has not told me about it.
— LED, 10/3/2005