Monday, June 20, 2016

Jne 20: A Few Facts, Poet of the Week, Peter Balakian, "Ellis Island"

I have found out a few facts about Fred Trump, the father of the presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States.  (These facts were not difficult to locate.  Simply type "Donald Trump parents" into Google.)

First, Fred Trump was the son of German immigrants.  (That's right.  Donald is only second generation American.  His grandparents came through Ellis Island.)  Fred built a real estate empire in New York, building low income housing.  In 1927, Fred was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally, but he was released without being charged.  Much later in his life, he was investigated and cited by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations.  It seems Mr. Trump didn't like renting apartments to people of color.  (He instructed his rental agents not to rent to African Americans and also to encourage African American tenants to vacate his properties.)  Folk singer Woody Guthrie, who once rented one of Fred's apartments, wrote lyrics about Fred Trump, accusing him of stirring up racial hatred "in the bloodpot of human hearts."

That's where Donald Trump came from.  German immigrants.  Ellis Island.  A self-made real estate tycoon who had more than a little problem with African Americans, just like his son has problems with Muslim Americans.

This week, I have chosen Peter Balakian as Poet of the Week.  Peter is the son of Armenian immigrants and grew up in New Jersey, not far from Fred and Donald Trump's stomping grounds.  He recently won the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry collection Ozone Journal.

Saint Marty thinks we should all celebrate immigrants this week.

Ellis Island

by:  Peter Balakian

The tide’s a Bach cantata.
The beach is the swollen neck of Isaac.

The tide’s a lamentation of white opals.
The beach is free. The Coke machine rusted out.

Here is everything you’ll never need:

hemp-cords, curry-combs, jade and musk,   
a porcelain cup blown into the desert—

stockings that walked to Syria in 1915.

On the rocks some ewes and rams   
graze in the outer dark.

The manes of the shoreline undo your hair.   
A sapphire ring is fingerless.

The weed and algae are floating like a bed,   
and the bloodless gulls—

whose breaths would stink of all of us   
if we could kiss them on the beaks—

are gnawing on the dead.
The immigrant hospital on Ellis Island

1 comment:

  1. Good to see you're back to your non-cheerful self ;-)