Sunday, August 18, 2013



For my blog:

I wrote the poem Charleston-1969 because I was fascinated with the way the city seemed to live in two different worlds. It is a beautiful place, physically, with buildings that capture the splendor of the ante-bellum years, and yet it also seemed to have trouble giving up the failed philosophy that brought so much shame and pain in more recent years. It was a city with one foot on the pier and the other on the boat. In 1969 there were still white and black toilets and drinking fountains. Prejudice could be displayed fairly freely by some, and a favorite comment, mostly in jest, was “the south will rise again”. The schizophrenia that pervaded the city had existed for over a century and left it still lost in its attempt to adjust to a new world.

Charleston lost much in the war. Its leadership, so eager for the beginning at Fort Sumter, had never truly found a way to cope with the end, and the resulting devastation of its culture and the holes left in so many families.

In 1969 the city seemed to still be dealing with some of these issues. It was a living remnant of a war that changed us all.

The photo I used with this poem in “In the Cat’s Eye”, showed a field of flowers, sharply divided between red and white except for one yellow blossom encroaching into the field of white. It seemed an appropriate representation of a beautiful city still trying to find itself over a hundred years later.

 

Glenn K. Currie 

 

 

Charleston-1969

 

The earth had split apart.

All who stood at the edge

Fell into the abyss.

Fires burned everywhere,

Fanned by oratory

Puffing black powder.

 

Cities and farms emptied,

To feed the holocaust.

Fields grew human wheat.

Musket balls and cannon

Harvested the fruit

Of the planters.

 

The smoke still blows here,

In this world of black and white.

One hundred years of ash

Drift against the walls

Of a reconstructed city

Built on crumbling foundations.