Nine Weeks Across America

Nine weeks across America deserve a poem

But I can’t seem to write it

Nine weeks across America
Two dogs
Two lovers
In a car as old as me
A broken leg
A mother who stopped me from visiting
And the lilies by the side of the road
All deserve a poem

And I still can’t seem to write it

I will always remember
The old black man on the brokendown porch
who breathed through tubes in the rancid heat
Of Negro Thursday Memphis
Graceland Memphis
Black and white then
Black and white now
And still the lines don’t cross
The only grey in Memphis is the air
Heavygrey and loaded
White money’s green
Black music’s blue
The South alone deserves a poem
An anthem of anger

But I probably won’t write it

I saw Appalachia azaleas covered with fog
Crossed the Mississippi
Slept on a Virginia beach
and woke to dolphins
Ran with wild ponies
Ate new corn
and watched the late afternoon Rocky Mountain rain
Tumble down the plains
From sea to shining
This land is a poem

So I certainly can’t write it

Lost quarters in a Nashville laundromat
Indiana assembly line depression
Claustrophobic terror in an Illinois forest
And on 57th Street
Angry and abandoned
Finding money
So I could buy love
Nine weeks of fear
Nine weeks of love
A lifetime in nine weeks
Too much for just a poem

That I don’t want to write

I read somewhere
Jane Fonda said
She became a revolutionary
After driving across America

Nine weeks across America deserve more than a poem

Nine weeks across America deserve a revolution.
— Victoria Price, Summer 1985, August 1988, July 2016

I wrote this poem in 1988 about a cross-country trip I took during the summer of 1985. I wrote this poem about nine of the most difficult weeks of my life. I just found this poem in a box of old papers that I brought with me to read and transcribe while working on my book about joy this summer. I reworked a little of it, but found that most of it still resonated.

In this week of violence in this year of violence in this decade of violence in this century of violence, it strikes me how little has changed. And yet I have one shred of hope. That I have changed. That I no longer feel like that hopeless twenty-something-year-old. Because I now know that I am here, that we are all here, to change the world, to stop the violence, to live the poems of our lives that can bring about the real revolution -- the Revolution of Love.

A few days ago on the radio I heard Bonnie Raitt talk about the change that she and her generation (including Jane Fonda) brought about in the 1960s. Some of it has lasted. The changes to the nuclear movement. The end of the war in Vietnam. But in many ways, we find ourselves back to where we were -- in the hatred, bigotry, and fear that is causing so much death and sorrow.

The world revolution as defined in the dictionary often implies violence. But I believe that what is needed now is a Radical Revolution of Love. Love is the only thing that can quell the fear that is engendering this senseless violence. And we can, we must start right where we are -- by seeing one another through the eyes of love. To speak love, to speak up and out in love, and to live love. We begin with kindness. Gandhi said, "The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer." To make American kind again is our most urgent necessity. . .and this July, 240 years after we resolved to give everyone the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, each of us must resolve to be the foot soldiers of kindness in the only poem America deserves: A Revolution of Love.