Friday, December 15, 2006

General Welfare


The man is Paul House. He has MS. He can't shave himself or speak very coherently at this point. And he sits fading away on Tennessee's Death Row six months after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that, in light of new evidence, he couldn't possibly receive the conviction that landed him there when he was twenty-five- years-old (he's now 45). Even before the Supreme Court got involved, the late Ed Bradley did a piece on the case for 60 Minutes, but in Tennessee, I'm ashamed to say, very few people seem to be following the story.
We did a thing at Downtown Pres. last night. Julie Lee put it together. His mother came and sat in the front row as Sarah, Dave Olney, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Dave Perkins, Max Perkins, and Mindy Smith shared songs. I wrote a poem for the occasion and read it to everyone.
I'd like to urge everyone in Tennessee to research the case a little (the Nashville Scene has some good pieces. TCASK. Google away), and start telling the story. Governor Phil Bredeson is the man who can set things in motion (a full pardon) to get the man home to his mother before he dies. As I see it, every church in the state (according to their advertising anyway) ought to be advocating on his behalf. File under "Right to Life," "Social Justice," whatever.
Anyway, here's the poem (if you can call it a poem). I'm calling it
GENERAL WELFARE:

Principality, Power, Program,
Can you even
Pretend Pro-human?
We’re paying you to try it
With autopilot off.
You don’t have our consent,
Stately mechanism,
To do otherwise.
Let the record state show
Whereas whereas whereas
Razmatazz:
You’re our employee.
And tis of thee
I speak
Tennessee.
We pay you to signify
In hope of significance.
Might you still somehow signify?
Can you still be significant?
We pay you to mean well.
Can a mechanism mean?
Can the machine read meaning?
If so, let these words
Give movement
To good governing.
Trouble yourself
To be intelligible.
You're not country.
You're not music
Unless the lyric
Truthful defuses
The hardwired heart
Every broken part
Of our meaning problem
Our politics of paranoia.
Be healed.
Receive evidence.
Receive the common sense.
Receive a spirit that is holy
To be made well.
Receive an exorcism
To be made free of spirits
Merely mechanical
To be made free,
Oh unwell Tennessee,
To be made free.

5 comments:

Flibbityflu said...

Beautiful, J. Pro-life, indeed.

jdaviddark said...

Thanks for that. Do please forward a link to anyone you know who might get a Tennessean or two mobilized. And if you think they'd be helped by talking to me about it, send them my way. I'm beginning to think the only way things change is by way of storytelling and more storytelling. No deliverance but in story. AND it looks like we're in town till Thursday. So, if you have a moment, happen on by.
thankee

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

Thanks for this post. I LOVE the poem.
Peace,
alicia

Kevin Barbieux said...

I hyjacked the whole kit-and-kaboodle, just in time for the publication "Spiegel" to run an article about my blog. No not sure how many Tennesseans, but a couple thousand Germans are now in the know.

Dan Morehead said...

Sad. It burns. I may post a link to this in the next week. Merry Christmas, friend.