If I were a Carpenter …

Why do stars fall down from the sky
every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be
close to you …

My landlords, who are also my upstairs neighbors, just made my day … maybe even my week.  They have a piano and I often hear someone rehearsing, but I usually can’t put a name to any of the pieces I hear from upstairs.  But, even as I type, someone’s playing Carpenters songs!

Oh, don’t front –you know you love the Carpenters.  Ok, maybe you weren’t a fan … but I was, and I still am.  They sang so many of the songs of my childhood: “Goodbye to Love,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Solitaire,” “For All We Know,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “Superstar,” “Hurting Each Other” … do I need to go on?

Excuse me while I sing along …

Forty years gone. April 4, 2008.

Zach de la Rocha (1970 — )
I’ll give you a dose
But it can never come close
To the rage built up inside of me
Fist in the air, in the land of hypocrisy
Networks at work, keepin’ people calm
You know they went after King
When he spoke out on Vietnam
He turned the power to the have-nots
And then came the shot.

Forty years ago, my family was getting to know my new sister, five days old and the center of attention.  Forty years ago, I was in kindergarten at Catholic school, miserable and alone, the only black child in a class of children and teachers who wanted nothing to do with black kids.  Forty years ago I was discovering that books were friends, saviors.  I could disappear into one at recess and not have to deal with the parroted-from-their-parents slurs my classmates flung at me.  Forty years ago, I was too young for assassination news to mean anything to me.  I have a hazy memory of my mother crying, but that’s all.

And now it’s forty years later.  It’s today.  It’s 2008, and there’s the utter surprise of a black man as a serious contender for the presidency of these United States.  My students never really got why that’s such a big deal.  And sometimes even I don’t get it.  But then I do.  Forty years gone.

(The lyric up top — my poetic posting for the night — is from Rage Against the Machine’s “Wake Up,” one of my favorites.)