When I saw Phil, I still believed
that what I did, what I said
really made a difference.

His voice was strained
from continuous song
and cracked in perfect juxtapose
to America's pain:
the crucifixion of a president,
murders in Mississippi,
the massacre of convention,
the ashes of flags
waved for a war without meaning.
There was so much to sing.

He was buzzed,
often forgetting the words.
A ragged troubadour
on a make-shift stage,
unafraid, proud and acceptably
self-righteous, recounting a time
when stars were too far,
insanity too close
and hope a smoky dream
riddled and twisted by lies and attrition,
bigotry, napalm, and cowboy king police
taking careful aim at the skulls of children.

Somewhere within the dissonance
of distorted nationalism, came song,
with each abomination, came song,
with each blasphemous
attempt to justify policy, came song.

In a moment,
hovering somewhere between
rage and commitment,
conscience and duty,
clarity and confusion,
red, white and blue,
the words he sang
were mine.

One of his hands combed back
sweat soaked strands
of lank brown hair,
the other drew rebel strength
from a quart of Drewry's.
I sang along. I still do.


By Michael Gabryszewski

Gabryszewski, Michael. “Remembering Phil Ochs.” Sensations Magazine, no. 36, Winter2004, pp. 54-55.

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