Sunday, July 4, 2021

Wake Up Uncle Sam! New Murfin Verse for Independence Day

 Uncle Sam Dozing by J.C. Leyendecker.

None of my detailed historic posts about today, family tradition musings, or sharing the text by Long Tom and the boys.  Most of you have seen those anyway.  I was asked to come up with a chalice lighting for today’s worship service of the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation zoom service, Fresh Eggs or Sanctuary led by our interim minister Rev. Jenn Gracen.  It is also, of course Independence Day and the poem I came up with is inspired by that and our conflicted feelings over the Founders, Declaration of Independence, White privilege, and patriotic symbolism.

The prompt for the poem was taken from a 1924 cover of the Saturday Evening Post by artist J.C. Leyendecker.

If you would like to drop in for the Tree of Life service, Use this link to join us on Zoom. Meeting ID: 847 0286 6562 Passcode: 929464 at 10:45 am.  The service will also be posted on the Tree of Life web page on Tuesday, July 6.

Wake Up Uncle Sam!

Independence Day 2021


As an allegorical figure you have seen better days,

            heroic posters, Saturday Evening Post covers,

            Jimmy Cagney dancing stiff legged,

            even stilt walkers in Main Street Parades.


But as a shrewd Yankee trader ready to sell some

            cure-all elixir at inflated prices,

            at least you were truer to the spirit of America

            than some goddess Columbia in a Liberty Cap

            or crowned Lady in a Harbor offering

conditional welcome to swarthy and pitiful refugees.


Like the Flag that bedazzles your swallow tail suit,

            high top hat, and pantaloons you have become

            an empty symbol of chest-thumping jingoism

            devoid of the promises of that Declaration

            we are supposed to celebrate today

            or any of the ringing rhetoric

            that promised us something different

            and finer, more noble and widely embracing.


We never quite lived up to all that hokum and hurrah

            no matter what a show we made of that banner

            and frankly of you.


No wonder you needed a nap.

            but that M-80 lit under your tilted chair

            should wake you up at last.


The enemies of Liberty are afoot.

            It is time to wake up defend

            those old promises,

snake oil though they might have been. 

—Patrick Murfin

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