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Thursday, 27 July 2017

shadow of the beast II: Edward Sanders: from Robert F. Kennedy's Final Day June 4, 1968


RFK Funeral Train. USA. 1968.: photo by Paul Fusco © Paul Fusco | Magnum Photos, 1968
Here’s what I believe
occurred by the Ice Machine
I believe that Robert Kennedy
was assassinated
by U.S. Clandestine Intelligence Agencies
probably by the CIA

& that Sirhan was robowashed
by CIA doctors and hypno-warriors
who may have also worked on James Earl Ray
in L.A.

That's what I believe
in America
where you can still believe without handcuffs
and where the guns of the lone nuts
always point to the left

“The pages of history are written in gore,”
I once read—
Not all of them of course
but certainly all the pages by the Ice Machine

They wounded the nation
in countless ways
wounded her history
the rest of her days

They wounded the future
Like Lincoln amort
Roosevelt at 220/130
& the A-bomb’s retort

Tell me again why the guns
always point to the left?
with gun powder ballots
and voting with knife-heft 

never for peace
always for strife
& war
a dollar a life

O Robert Kennedy in the Time-Torrent tossed
O Robert Kennedy by the Ice Machine lost
Alone we weep in the cistern of the Muses
Alone, as the philosopher said, with no excuses
Edward Sanders: from Robert F. Kennedy's Final Day June 4, 1968 in Robert Francis Kennedy -- A Poem (2017)



TC said...

"Has anybody seen my friend Bobby?"

Smokey Robinson performs Abraham, Martin and John at the White House, 2014

Dion DiMucci: Abraham, Martin and John (live 2012)

Dion DiMucci / Aaron Neville: Abraham, Martin and John (live 1993)

Marvin Gaye: Abraham, Martin and John

tpw said...

Great poem. My mind immediately went to "Adonais" & "Lycidas." I never much cared for the song though.

TC said...


Thanks very much for the word.

Ed's poem has been a long while in the making, came in at 349 pages, is now complete and has a good publisher lined up, sez he. It reads like a detective story, which is what it is.

The crime of the millennium, the first destruction of America, preparing the way for The Nix to lead us, the Lost Ten Thousand Sheep, back into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, that deeply American place.

A History of Violence (Cronenberg film title) = the history of the USA.

Paul Fusco's photos of the funeral cortège, made from the train as it crawled through city and town toward Arlington, are intensely moving. None of the DrumpfRally Triumph of the Dumb Claptrap. Unimportant people male and female black and white, lining the tracks, many in tears, a truly national expression of grieving, nary a red ballcap to be seen.

About the song, each of us has her or his own sense of the history and the time. Remembering that bad day very vividly still as so many do. We did care for Bobby, as a light of hope, and that being snuffed out, so soon after the King, did seem like cruel blows upon a bruise, a kind of deep care violated, the loss of something larger. I think the song does capture that. Something that mattered to (nearly) everybody is going... and then before there's time to appreciate or for that matter even turn around, gone.

For me the only piece of pop song history comparable would probably be The Commodores: Night Shift (live, 1985).

We were escaping NYC, on the bridge out of town, en route into dark KarKrash Amerika for weirder and worse adventures, when the car radio broke out with the news of the MLK assassination. Only a few months after that, Bobby. At the moment that bit came across the airwaves I was listening in the tall grass outside our tiny no-tv shack at the windswept unpaved corner of nymph and cherry, above duxbury reef, in what was then a brokedown driftwood paradise stuck out into the great world Ocean. All the air went out of the world in one moment. Ed has writ that something like that same deflation happened also for him and Miriam as they were watching the Calif. election returns on tv in their apt on Ave A,, and the Bobby news broke.

Duncan McNaughton, with whom we had crossed that bridge that day, says today, backchannel, "Sanders has all of the RFK & ancillary stuff on the button, has for decades," and to that, in these strained and constrained times, one can only add a grateful Amen, before preparing to groan again.