For Sidney F.

Words flow out of their mouths like tropical birds

crisscrossing in a steamy arboretum. An erudite

host holds forth, Chivas-Rigal on the rocks tinkling

to the 12 tone harmony, melody and counterpoint

of the musical imagination of Ernst Toch.

Fellow-thinkers and fellow-feelers struggle

like sweating Sumo wrestlers with a question:

How do I live the right life?

In impassioned all night arguments esoteric

dissidents flout the conventional aesthetic,

preferring Dadaism and surrealism to the

monotony of the stereotyped images of the day.

Plagued by the wretched of the earth

their disputations search for answers:

they examine the Upanishads and Unamuno,

reject Krapotkin, Bakunin and Trotsky,

puzzle over Reichian orgones, delight in the

Tropics of Henry Miller, and the naked

honesty of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy

and are in awe of the genius of Paul Goodman’s

radical vision of the good life, a 20th century Thoreau.

Utopianists, rebel outsiders longing for communion

and community, finding new ways to honor the individual

in the quest for Goethe’s “mellow wisdom.” World reformers

hoping to harness the spirit of Summerhill, and Black Mountain,

to change the mind-numbing deadness of schools stamping

out a mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation, where

men in suits sit with glazed eyes transfixed by screens,

howl for coffee or coke, waiting for long Sunday afternoons

to sop up beers glued to the athletic confrontations of

the underclass, modern day gladiators.

Like crocuses in a morning March light, soul-destroying

schools as prisons can blossom overnight. A transformation where

killing stops, and the dazzling spectrum of consciousness allows one

to become more fully human. As slender fingers of the sun seep

into their chamber, the majesty of Verdi’s Nabucco can be heard

as they solemnly tread home knowing the struggle to awaken

a moribund culture has only begun.

M.P. Ehrlich