Here is the poem (I amended the title after recording it):
Not going to San Francisco
I am not with you there because I’m here,
That is to say: New York, which isn’t near
You, at least not geographically.
To be in both cities, simultaneously,
Requires a skill I have not yet learned.
But I want to say: your city has burned
Its way into my dreams and memory….
Your crazy hills and mythic Haight Ashbury,
The flowers that I so wanted to wear,
Like the song: fragrant and lovely in my hair.
I was a young teen then in London, hot
To leave, yearning to be what I was not:
A revolutionary, making out
On mattresses with long-haired men, about
To protest at all that was wrong; to cry
For peace, end war, abolish every lie,
Distrust politicians absolutely,
And adore my girlfriends resolutely,
Believing there could be change so profound
That mountains would turn a little in the ground -
Just for the hell of it - and to prove
Nothing is too massive to move
If pushed by love and anger and the will
Of youth to find a way. And I would kill
Nothing for this dream, not one living thing,
For all was sacred and this was my spring.
And San Francisco was where you went to sing
And dance and to celebrate everything
That was the real America: black, white,
Men and women of every gender,
Loving each other, brave and tender;
Anything possible, everything good,
A life lived to the full, just as it should.
They said: you’ll grow out of this vision;
With maturity comes revision.
And, sneeringly, called it idealism.
We knew better: it was realism.
The taste of freedom was on my tongue,
But I was wearing school uniform, too young
To travel far, and poor, and so I read,
Watched films, and fantasized, instead.
If you’re younger than me you have a view
That’s longer than mine was, for you
Are standing on my shoulders, and can see
Farther and wider and infinitely
Faster; for you have the word and the net,
Enough information never to forget
That some things have gone very, very wrong:
We can no longer sing a self-love song.
Flowers,"peace and love", now seem out-dated;
The words may change, but still it must be stated:
Yes, you can write your world exactly how
You want it, and, YES, you can do it now.
New York City
12 June 2005
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