When W.E.B. looked back on salad days --
so-called: revolving: evolving: history in the making
the vagaries of events spread like dominoes
in play. History’s black and white dice rolled. Oceanic
possibilities bobbed like shipwrecked hulls.
He looked back on Titanic tribulations weathered
pell-mell. From tailor shops to modern tanks.
The fin de siècle’s severed horse and carriage –
The post-war movements as they crested on the waves
and liberated a few from the unintelligible
politics of rage. He studied each new print edition
like braille. By his fingers’ touch he read
A 19th century’s lost pastoral; the 20th’s impenetrable
From divergent paths he gleaned a centre axis.
The way you wake to today and tomorrow’s headlines.
Today and tomorrow’s interpretations.
Hey Jim. Explicator of history’s laws of gravity--
Penetrator of DNA science and revolutionary hearts --
Taking a leaf from hawk, musical oriole, the haunted dove,
Tell me again the fault that lingers is in ourselves
-- like a stifled lyre in accord with private error.
Tell me with your voice like a melodious viol
the new newspaper dawn still swivels on an axis
of hope. The propagandistic 21st century terrors
still obey a trajectory. Take away The New York Times’
poisonous cup. Too murky to be trusted ---
Coming into your 90th year’s still disciplined glory --
Tell me the truth is as transparent as water, as water
and air. And instill in me the news of the future.
Fill me with the CNN of brighter days.
Darryl Lorenzo Wellington is a poet living in Santa Fe, NM, and his poetry has appeared in Boston Review, Chiron Review, Pedestal, Turtle Island Quarterly, and Matter Poetry, among other places. He is also a journalist whose articles address race, class, and poverty issues. This poem is a tribute to a friend on his 90th birthday.