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Passions in Poetry

Digital Passions
Poetry Magazine

Digital Passions #5
published September 10, 2000


Editor's Column by Poet deVine
Rambles from Ron
Power of a Poet by Poet deVine
How to Copyright by Denise Snyder
Interview with Balladeer by Marge Tindal
Abraham, Martin, and John by Balladeer
Vistor Feedback (with poem)
The Final Word by Poet deVine

* Bonus Features

I Know You by Ron Carnell
How to Write Sonnets by Nancy Ness
Lots More Visitor Feedback
End Notes / Unsubscribe

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Interview with Balladeer Visitor Feedback

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Abraham, Martin, and John
by Balladeer

It's time to tell my story. It's been held in way too long
About a skinny, gangling kid who sang a haunting song.
I know that it won't be believed…It seems a fantasy
But I just have to write it down, if only just for me.

I was a high-school teacher in a small, mid-western school
Where values still meant something and folks lived the Golden Rule.
The football team was average and the school band played off-key
But there was not another spot on earth I'd rather be.

We held a little talent show in May of '63
Where students sang or danced or showed some small ability.
The afternoon was going well. The students were quite good
And then, upon the small school stage, Tom Merriweather stood.

I must admit I was surprised to see him standing there
In faded Levis, tennis shoes and long, unruly hair.
He had few friends to speak of 'cause he hardly ever spoke.
Kids laughed at him and treated him as if he were a joke.

But there he stood on center stage, the small mic in his hands.
I screamed out (in my Teacher voice) for silence from the stands.
Then he began to sing the strangest song I'd ever heard
And, to this day, my mind recalls the impact of each word.

"Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people
But it seems the good die young,
But I just looked around and he's gone."

He went through several stanzas, mentioned other people's names
The audience lost interest and went back to childish games,
But I stood there, transfixed, as if my world had gone awry
By those strange words from that young boy with sadness in his eye.

When the talent show was over and the school gym emptied out
I had to ask young Tommy what that song was all about.
I saw him walking by toward the exit down the hall.
I took the young boy by the arm and stood against the wall.

"Hey, Tommy. That was quite a song", I smiled as best I could.
"I'd like to ask you to explain its meaning, if you would.
Abraham was Lincoln. Of that, I have little doubt
But who were all those other names I heard you sing about?"

The skinny boy looked at me and he said, "John Kennedy -
Killed in Dallas in November, 1963.
Martin Luther King, the next in line to meet his fate,
Killed in Memphis, April 4th of 1968."

"But, Tommy," here I tried to smile, "I mean, how can this be?
In case you hadn't noticed, this is May of '63!
Is this some sort of fantasy, imagination wild,
Or can you tell the future?" Here I winked an eye and smiled.

The small boy raised his eyes. His glance pinned me against the wall.
The hall was full of kids. I barely noticed them at all.
His eyes bore right into my soul.I felt a winter chill,
Reality forsook me as if forced against its will.

He turned around then, walked away and left me rather shook,
My mind still reeling from the path our conversation took.
"You mentioned Bobby!", I called out. "So who was Bobby then?"
But Tommy turned the corner and we never talked again.

A few days later I erased the whole thing from my mind,
Just passed it off as foolishness and left it far behind.
School graduation came and went, the summer quickly passed,
The registration and a brand new school year came at last.

My thoughts were of the weather and Thanksgiving and the lot
When news came on the radio that Kennedy was shot.
The cold chill that shot through me was not due to bleak November,
But from the image in my mind that I could still remember.

"Has anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good die young,
But I just looked around and he's gone."

I looked for Tommy everywhere. I checked the Records Hall,
But it was if that skinny lad did not exist at all.
He'd graduated, went his way and could be anyplace.
Although I searched quite thoroughly, I couldn't find a trace.

It had to be coincidence! That young boy could not know
That Kennedy would be shot down - a lucky guess!- although
It made my nerves quite ragged and it filled my mind with doubt
Of how that boy knew things that he could not know things about.

The next four years were quite uneasy - I had marked the date
The young boy spoke of - April 4th of 1968,
Then heard the news on radio in Memphis, Tennessee
That Martin Luther King had been shot on his balcony.

"Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good die young,
But I just looked around and he's gone."

So here I sit, just two months later, June sun overhead,
Teardrops fall on paper from the headlines I just read.
My question has been finally answered, I am sad to say…
Bobby Kennedy shot to death last evening in LA

"Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?"

So that's the story. Now I have the whole thing written down.
I'll send it to a friend of mine I used to know in town.
I've heard he's made a song or two and has a good voice, too
So, Dion, take it if you want and see what you can do.

And, Tommy, don't know where you are or who you were back then,
Nor do I know if I will ever see your likes again,
But, thank you son, for what you shared before you traveled on
And, when you reach your final stop, please say hello to John.

"I thought I saw him walkin'
Up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin and John."

You can visit Balladeer's web site and find his Passionate contrubutions under Michael Mack