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Memory's an eel.

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slips;

forty-eight years'

unreliable reach.

No news, that: plagues us all--

.two-timing lovers,

.conspiracy enthusiasts,

.fans of Classic Series stats,

.Gospel Writers

all.

Time trips us up so thoroughly

I wonder

that we ever know history even

in our own age.

I'd've sworn we packed Penn's Palestra

so very angry and afraid

afraid they were willing now to murder

young white-privilege

not only those at

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Black Jackson State--

on a Friday-not-a-Monday--

no, no, it was Monday evening,

May 4th, 1970

and we rallied inside

our Palestra

sang and marched

from campus three miles to

Center City

then north two more miles

down North Broad

to the Induction Center--

and yet

and yet after years and years

and conversation upon

conversation

...there. was. no. march. that. night.

Yet in my memory there was.

And it was a hell of a march.

Snug in Our Palestra.

The "Cathedral of College Basketball".

But not this night.

Racing-to-radio-rumors, racing from classes to the Palestra.

Words, horrid truths at first so disbelieved, disbelieved-words so quickly spread, at first so horribly disbelieved then so very crushing-swift:

Truth-From-Students-with-Microphones,

students wholly believed-sinking-in

Nixon, we knew, we knew

right there in the stands

we knew,

We knew that man wanted us dead--Us!--

How Fucking Unreal, Man!

as truth lay sprawled on grass and asphalt

at Kent, Ohio, unarmed and quite dead.

And yet.

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I recall feeling ashamed-in-the-stands,

implored to Fear, here, in the very safe-

very safe

Penn Palestra, 9,000, 10,000, 15,000

sharing a ginned-up privilege-fear

we never deserved.

Outrage; that was justified.

Fear? Come on!

No; No,

and yet I do remember

all the

trumped up

jumped up

calls to

Share the Fright and Horror

Kent State students,

of a sudden our-kin-our-blood--

I remember thinking, in the stands,

listening to

Panthers,

SDS

make certain we are not just outraged at

the Guard

but

the truth

that the Guard had really done it now

to us

to us

to us--

right here inside our sweaty, cozy,

safe gymnasium.

I remember thinking:

(I do remember thinking t h i s):

How the hell many of us have sat-in,

been beaten at a Carolina lunch counter,

at a Mississippi polling place,

at a Philly draft board office?

I had been a high school non-hero

sweetly arrested

at the draft board

401 North Broad Street

Philadelphia

December 17, 1967--

I do recall the date

I recall it, six glorious hours in

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lock-up and

one full glorious glorious week

thereafter

imagining

myself a revolutionary at sixteen.

Ho. Ho. Ho. Chi. Minh.

NLF. is. Gonna. Win.

Memory is an eel.

I was swaddled

in a Palestra cheering section

thinking that none of us had ever been

as brave as to sit,

12,000 like-minded

but with three or four deadly-frightened

yet committed souls at a Woolworth's Counter,

order a malted, and get the shit beat out of you

again

and again

and again

and again.

That.

I do recall thinking that.

I know what Kent State did.

It brought that war-stench home

in ways not brought before

to white privilege

and,

I suppose,

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thank God, too

that's when Congress decided

maybe

just may be

stumbling loopy-blind through that

flat-out vicious-stupid jungle muck

might

just might

be incredibly dangerous.

And it took

five. more.

years.

Memory's slippery.

History's hell, and sure.

Star Wars Day Has Now Completely Overshadowed the Kent State Shootings

Star Wars Day Has Now Completely Overshadowed the Kent State Shootings