November 12, 2007

Dave Cline: Rank & File Rebel, Part 2

[This poem by Sean Ahern, a comrade of Dave's in the battles with the US Postal Service and the postal union leadership, comes out of a long close connection born in struggle. The "Clarence" referred to in the 6th stanza is the late Clarence Fitch, for whom the New York/New Jersey chapter of Vietnam Veterans Against the War is named. More about Dave, Clarence and what Sean is writing about can be found in the excellent documentary film, Another Brother. Other posts under this heading are here, here and introduced here.]


I remember
Strong arms and shoulders
That pulled the cops off me
More than once
At GPO almost 30 years ago.

I remember the picket lines
In January and July
And flying chairs in Union meetings.

I remember the Editor
On Grove Street
Beating out
Sparse prose that meant something
On that selectric
For the leaflets and newspapers
That we hand cut and pasted and argued over
Using the three draft method
All night long.

I remember
That big old twelve string
Pounding out the blues.
I still have those Leadbelly, and
Robert Johnson tapes you made
For me.

I remember the basso voice
That filled my kitchen
And scared my little girl
And he cried with her
And for himself
"Don't sweat it Dave,
She's just a baby
You didn't mean no harm"
"She's afraid of me"
He grimaced, angry with himself

Thirty years ago
We fought hard,
Drank hard
Loved hard
Played hard
Too hard for our own
He flew by too fast
With war wounds that
Never really healed
I was 12 years junior
Who saw the scars
On the outside
But not
The ones on the inside.
I didn't get it
That you and Clarence
Left a war in Vietnam
For a war a home
With no chance to heal
The drink and drugs
Eased pain and caused more
I thought it was a
All part of the good fight and
Good times
Until Clarence shook his head
And asked me
"How can you just stop?"

I wish I could have been
A better friend to you both.
But life pulled me away.

DC, Drum major
For peace and freedom
Pounding out a beat
From Vietnam to Iraq

There beat a mighty heart
DC, Big brother
A diamond in the rough

Goodbye old friend
Warrior for peace
I remember so much more
And carry on
Thinking of you
With love

Sean Ahern

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