Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is the Melting Pot Dead?

All poets have a romantic bent, and sometime harken to a simpler, less rushed and more tranquil time. It is no wonder that the Alaskan Poet loves train travel, especially travel on Amtrak Sleepers. Instead of being ferried at 30,000 feet, unfed, unwelcome, cramped and violated after shoes and belt off and subjected to all manner of delay, one is up front viewing the land and having the ability to converse with fellow passengers either in the Parlor Car if fortunate enough to travel on the Coast Starlight or the Lounge Car on other trains. On the internet, computer plugged as close to the office and productivity as you chose to be. When one wishes to eat a full meal in a dining car, one is mixed with up to three total stangers for a reasonable great repast, served by people who are happy to see you and try as one might, one finds oneself in pleasureable conversation.
Coming back from a pilgrimage to Jack London Square, I found myself at a table with three women in their golden years chronologically but so full of energy and spark the room was lit. Moynahan was wrong; the Melting Pot still lives in this land, at least in Washington and the statehouses, of too much red and too much blue and so little purple. Hope you enjoy the poem this last trip engendered. 140 character poems are now on my twitter---alaskanpoet, added to almost daily please join my list of followers.


Maybe he was right and the melting pot has long congealed,
Save only when strangers gather at a common meal.
Water may be the universal solvent, just behind wine and beer,
We need our space and the images we wish to appear
The reptile mind stirs and a stranger means the walls must close,
Bristles to stay away, like the thorns upon a rose.
But food too is a wonder-- barriers to dissolve
Shedding of the fears and trusts to evolve
Four humans thrown onto a table in a dining car,
You cannot retreat, you cannot raise a snobby bar,
The track to the band around a fire to reverse,
So much to enjoy when airs drop and words converse.
It matters not the degree, age, looks, gender, or career
Only that strangers can pass an hour in laughter almost tears,
Drawn together on ribbons of steel,
A great way to spend a luncheon meal.
Michael P. Ridley
© February 21, 2010