Remembering the Police-Car Siege
   That Jump-Started the FSM

By Michael Rossman

In that long suspended moment
of thirty hours around the car
something fused among us, within
each in our ways as free speech
flowered in the first
public dialogue of my life, trance
forming us from atomized mass
into a true polity of the instant
of eternity. You can talk about it
in terms of political theory,
but really, it's a mystery of the soul,
this state in which we're integrally one
yet wholly each ourselves and even
more so for it. The bolt of democratic
spirit surged through us more deeply
than metaphor, we were truly
possessed, radiant not simply
as awakened youth but with a light
no eye could see, so how the #!%$%&!!
could anyone say anything more
about it than sometimes, "Geez,
this sure is weird," who had
no language nor frame to grasp
what coursed through us, lit
our way in history. For all
we could see was only ourselves
just as flawed as we were
alive in shared will
both groping and sure.

Forty years on now, the trace
of our explosive possession
radiates in history like a vivid marker
of dye in a downstream
current, the tracks of our lives
diverging in countless swirls
yet streamed together broadly
following instincts of spirit
long harbored, protected
and expressed as best we can
in faulty, fragmentary ways
through these uncertain times.
A certain preference for both
liberty and democracy
not simply in thought
but practically shone
through us, fitful
and persistent, tingeing
and guiding our forays
into garden vegetables, personal
computers, the State
legislature, classrooms,
the public airways, poetry
for the people, ten
thousand ways
less publicly celebrated, more
part-time, still shining
with the same light
refracted into so many colors
though our prismatic selves,
the tissues of society,
and more.
                    So that's
what it's like, huh? To live
long enough to begin to see
how history works out, to
learn -- to put it stuffily --
how a movement that gained
its formal goal and dispersed
nonetheless endured
as a wave in the current,
a distinctive signature
of energy propagating
through our lives, blunted
and reinforced by other
swirls, carrying on. Seven
tenths of my fellow citizens
feel they have a personal relation
with Jesus and believe
tangibly in angels, so
how am I different?  Yet still
I take comfort in witnessing
how the holy state hath been radiant
mundanely through our lives, yes,
I remain a true fool
for the spirit of liberty
exercised in democratic union.
Damn, Sam, I tell you
it's an ecstatic mania
flaring quietly wherever we truly
hear each other and give
and take together, I think
I can actually sorta see
or feel that specific energy
glowing though I still
have no better words
than these to testify
to observations as sober
as any of other science, I swear
we shall someday understand
at least a trifle more
about this. Meanwhile
I soldier on in the peaceable
militia, slogging through the actual
textures of life, glowing a bit
as I go. At times
we do see each other in
the flow, recognize
that shared light; beside this
for me it's a matter of faith,  occasional contacts
and consciousness of the deeper stream
that surfaces through us still.


Michael Rossman
Sept 04

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