d’Verse Poetics – August 18, 1969 – haibun

Today at the d’Verse Poetics Pub, Claudia is hosting. She wants us to write poetry about our country’s National Anthem. Like many Americans, I had not paid much attention to our Anthem or the history behind it. This was the day I heard it in my soul for the first time – atop a VW microbus parked in a sea of mud and garbage – Woodstock.  Come join us at d’Verse Poetics.  And if this doesn’t interest you, starting in September, we will have a new feature:  Haibun Monday.  Please come visit, read, and join us.

August 18, 1969
“And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation.” Woodstock – Joni Mitchell

“Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?”
Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix

Cousin Billy said, let’s stay. Traffic is horrible. Let’s stay, hang out, groove, listen to the last act. So many had already left, we drove our van closer to the stage and sat on the top of the van. A few people climbed on and joined us. Mellow morning split by image of Hendrix – like a new age archangel making love to his Stratocaster. Across the field the sound soared. High as the birds in the sky I suddenly heard it – The Star Spangled Banner, heard the rockets and bombs exploding; heard the battle for our freedom – rocket’s red glare, bombs bursting in air, our flag was still there.  Billy’s brother had died a month earlier in some ugly muddy melee in Viet Nam. Billy and I held each other and wept as the meaning roared over us, waves and waves of music – raw, primal, real. No sweetly rendered song, no opera singer wailing at a baseball game – No. An African American man bringing it to us in a scream of blood and bone, love and death.

blue summer sky: clouds
finger painted white wisps – birds
wheeling touch the sky.

40 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cindy knoke
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 01:13:48

    The Woodstock compilation was the first album I bought. I was in the fifth grade. Shaped my life. Still does.


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 25, 2015 @ 01:21:41

      I was 18. I still can’t hear the Star Spangled Banner without mentally sequeing into Purple Haze. It truly did shape so many of us. Except for my hair being white now, I still look like a flower child. My husband is your age. He says he cannot comprehend the event. I was there and still have trouble with the enormity and implication of it. Thank you so much for commenting. I hope with all the droughts and such, things are well in The Holler.


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 04:09:36

    This is something that must have been amazing.. and sad… to experience. There are times when the National theme means so much more than played at sports-events..


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 25, 2015 @ 11:08:18

      Yes, it is. This certainly changed my perspective of it. I certainly did more study of the history of that event and garnered more respect. Sept. 11 also did much to change all of us in this country and the Anthem has taken on more meaning.


  3. Mama Zen
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 11:59:38

    I was probably in the 5th or 6th grade when I heard Hendrix’s version of the Star Spangled Banner. I’ve never been the same.


  4. Bryan Ens
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 12:42:55

    You reveal a bit more of yourself in this. Powerful piece. I can only imagine what losing a loved one to war would be like…and what an experience like Woodstock would be like as well.


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 25, 2015 @ 12:48:43

      I honestly only remember parts of Woodstock and this, at the end is one of those parts. Sadly, I would lose two more cousins and a friend to this horrible war and one came back, but never really returned. He suicided two years after he returned. And many of those have met through the years those that were In Country.


  5. claudia
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 15:11:30

    oh wow – this is just awesome – thick with emotion and meaning
    would’ve loved to be there and share that moment – it’s as if the heaven splits and suddenly we understand something


  6. C.C.
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 16:42:45

    This is so emotive….can feel that punch to the gut of what that moment must have been like for you. Really exceptional writing….and a haibun nonetheless. How can I tell you’re really excited about this upcoming new Monday feature?? 😉


  7. Glenn Buttkus
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 16:50:08

    I HAD JUST gotten out of the USN, had started back to college, not prepared for the rapid deaths of Morrison, Joplin, & Hendrix. A fabulous Haibun, for sure. I did one too. What a grand salute & take on the anthem prompt.


  8. Grace
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 18:10:06

    This part moved me most: An African American man bringing it to us in a scream of blood and bone, love and death.

    A lovely haibun Toni ~ Thanks for sharing ~


  9. Victoria C. Slotto
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 19:26:54

    Just perfect, Toni. How well the haibun works.


  10. macjam47
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 21:37:41

    A lovely haibun.


  11. thotpurge
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 22:00:56



  12. im.Perfectly~Leah
    Aug 25, 2015 @ 22:48:43

    I love hearing Jimmy, playing that! It’s the best rendition of the anthem


  13. Myrna Rosa
    Aug 26, 2015 @ 02:13:16

    Wow. What an experience. Thank you for sharing it with us. You’ve written something so meaningful here and did it beautifully.


  14. lynn__
    Aug 26, 2015 @ 07:58:37

    I was only a kid at the time…powerful rendition of anthem, and prompt, Toni.


  15. Sumana Roy
    Aug 26, 2015 @ 08:33:40

    emotive and powerful write…”No sweetly rendered song, no opera singer wailing at a baseball game – No. An African American man bringing it to us in a scream of blood and bone, love and death.”…my favorite lines…


  16. katiemiafrederick
    Aug 26, 2015 @ 11:41:52

    My 1st cousin Dicky dies in Vietnam
    too.. burning in a Helicopter
    shot down.. all wars shall
    be fought for
    REAL reasons..
    in my opinion..
    and it rather
    makes me
    they are NOT..:)


  17. Mary
    Aug 26, 2015 @ 12:43:06

    You have set a fine scene here, Toni. How exciting it must have been to be there — at Woodstock! A memory of a lifetime. And all under blue summer sky!


  18. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Aug 26, 2015 @ 17:24:54

    Oh, what a time! Who hasn’t heard of Woodstock? Though I wasn’t there in person, your words took me there today. ❤ ❤ ❤ I h.a.v.e. heard this rendition and though I am Canadian, the goosebumps are almost too much to bear.


  19. lupitatucker
    Aug 26, 2015 @ 23:17:40

    Excellent. You took me there and helped me feel it.


  20. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade)
    Aug 27, 2015 @ 20:49:54

    Had to have a listen again! I wasn’t there of course, but in Australia we saw/heard it on TV. Yours is a moving story beautifully told. I don’t know if you realise many young Australians were conscripted into that war – which was set up in a very deceitful way by our then Government. I, a young mother at the time, was marching in the streets in protest, trying to get them home. So I heard the Hendrix performance very differently from you in some ways, more as an ironic anti-war message, critical of our combined presence there. But certainly the horror and lament were clear either way. I can still remember our gasp of shock and awe as we realised what he was doing with it. Such brilliance!


    • Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade)
      Aug 27, 2015 @ 20:51:33

      PS Couldn’t get linky right; mine is here: ttp://passionatecrone.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/who-come-waltzing-matilda-with-me.html


  21. kanzensakura
    Aug 27, 2015 @ 21:21:50

    It truly was brilliance. I was one of those in the streets as well protesting that horrible event. I still maintain the wrongness of it, but I always supported the veterans and programs for them. Our country treated those who returned like dirt. It wasn’t until it was too late for many of them to finally treat and help the survivors. I lost two other cousins and a friend to that war. One friend “returned”, never the same. He suicided a year later. But thinking of Phil, that song rang true.


  22. jazzytower
    Sep 17, 2015 @ 13:32:42

    Wow! This was touching, brought tears to my eyes. Very powerful writing.


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