Coming up
  ..... .Children's
  .......'Serious Times'
  Arts projects


Back to poem page

April 5 2008

Yesterday I used my nationwide bus pass for the first time
The driver punched me out a ticket and wanted no money.
Free at last
Free at last
I’m over sixty
Traveling free at last.

Yesterday, forty years ago, on a hotel balcony in Memphis
Martin was cut down by a bullet in the land of dreams.
Free at last
Free at last
With a right to bear arms
They were free at last

And the northern hemisphere burst into flames
Grosvenor square,
Berkley and Watts.
You didn’t need a weatherman to know
That state and country
Bank and corporation
Could transform a nation
Whatever we did.
Free at last
Free at last
Free to exploit us
They were free at last.

At best we were expelled from our schools and colleges
At worst our spokesmen and women were jailed or executed.
Free at last
Free at last
Free to incarcerate
They were free at last.

Now after four decades of absorption
We have relinquished our power to the health and safety inspectorate
Who force us to erect fences around our celebrations
and steward the revolution in high visibility flack jackets.
When the war happened
Despite a march
dwarfing anything seen from the windows of the U.S. Embassy in London in 1968
when the British public saw on television for the first time
Police drag protesters through their lines and kick seven bells of hell out of them
No-one set fire to the city
No-one blockaded the ports and airports
No-one burst into parliament and stuffed flowers down the throat of the prime minister
Free at last
Free at last
Free to be sidelined
We were free at last.

Now I address conferences
Between visiting prisons
And pretending I can influence policy
Because I’m some kind of artist
While traveling for free on the nations buses.
Ironic isn’t it
That it should be buses
Where we are
Free at last
Free at last
And Rosa with your pass
You would have been
Free at last.