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A Presidents Day Poem: Currency for the Debt

February 17, 2020 Leave a comment

On Presidents’ Day my thoughts often turn to Washington and Lincoln and their birthday month. When I was a kid we celebrated both days, the 12th for Lincoln and the 22nd for Washington. Now, I guess for the sake of commerce and profit we can only take one day to observe both, or even all of the Presidents that have served us.

And yes, debt is on my mind as we careen toward a trillion dollar deficit! But there is so much more we owe than dollars! One of my most esteemed teachers, Martín Prechtel, often spoke of the Mayan philosophy that we are all born into debt and can never really get out of debt. This is my theme for the day.

Currency for the Debt

We are born into debt; we die in debt.
We stand on the bones of the ancestors
Gazing outward and we wonder:
What is the currency to pay this debt?

Our freedom is bought by the lives of those who defend us.
Our land is bought with the blood of those who have gone before.
Our blessings are bought with the hard labor of slaves.
What is the currency for our security?

The metal we have is leached from our ancestors’ bones.
The blood we have was shed by the soldiers and slaves we lost.
The freedom we have was saved by those who sacrificed all.
And security: Do we pay this debt with our freedom?

Democracy is demanding our attention to this debt.
Presidents have paid dearly to pave this costly way.
And yet, we wonder: would we throw it all over
For the surety of one more breath, one more bite?

 

 

 

©2020, Richard W. Bredeson, all rights reserved.