Sunday, May 17, 2015




FREDDIE GRAY

Oft we have heard of Freddie Gray,
And, when we crossed the town,
We chanced to see at break of day
His blood still raining down.

No mate, no comrade Freddie knew;
He lurks forevermore, ––
A sadder apparition few
Will see in Baltimore!

Oh you may spy the Dregs at play,
With Crack and Coke obscene;
But the tortured face of Freddie Gray
Will never more be seen.

“To-night the monkey on my back,
Says downtown you must go,
And take my pipe to fill with crack
To pushers with my dough.”

“That, Father! Will I gladly do;
‘Tis not long after noon ––
The Hopkins Clock has just struck two,
You’ll get your pipe filled soon.”

At this the Father roared and shook,
Then snapped out what he’d planned
“Begone and quick,” so Freddie took
The Meerschaum in his hand.

And hither towards the dens of vice;
With many a wanton stroke
Poor Freddie took his sire’s advice,
He knew it was no joke.

But riots rose before their time,
As Freddie wandered down,
And many hills did Freddie climb
To reach the flaming town.


The wretched father all that night
Kept cursing loud and vile;
But there was no one wrong or right
To neutralize his bile.

At day-break by his door he stood,
Peered towards the Inner Harbor;
And in a looking glass saw he should
Visit soon a barber.

Dejected now he turned, and cried
"I hope in Heaven we’ll meet!"
As on the pavement he espied
The print of Freddie's feet.

Then downward from the steep hill's edge
He tracked the footprints small;
Right to the edge of a stone ledge,
Atop a high stone-wall;

And then an open lot he cross'd,
With cans and bottles strewn;
He tracked the prints, nor ever lost,
Until it was high noon.

He followed through the cur-sed spots
Until he reached an alley,
A place of many dried blood clots
Deep in a shadowed valley.

Poor Freddie’s footprints disappear'd 
He ne’er was seen again
Though many said they greatly feared
He’d died in screaming pain.

Yet some maintain that to this day
He is a living Child,
That you may see poor Freddie Gray
His body undefiled.

Through Baltimore he trips along,
In sunshine rain and wind;
And hums a plaintive little song
Denying he has sinned.

Did Freddie Gray deserve to die?

~ FreeThinke with apologies to William Wordsworth

32 comments:

  1. With a few "local flairs". Nice!

    But don't despair... Freddies' rioters will be back before you know it! His ghost is still tripping through the town denying all wrong doing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ___________________ BACKGROUND __________________

    I’m not sure most today would recognize “Freddie Gray” as a parody of “Lucy Gray,” a famous poem by William Wordsworth.

    I, proceeded, perhaps foolishly, on the assumption that every American high school graduate would have been exposed to "Lucy Gray," as I was. I keep forgetting I come from an entirely different era.

    If you're interested, here is the original (below). You'll see right away how much I owe to Wordsworth, but what I offer is not a mockery. Just as most find in the original, I discovered something poignant, mysterious and more than a little eerie in the parody.

    Parody is not always akin to travesty, I might add. It isn't until the last stanza of "Lucy Gray" that the full impact of the poem may be felt. 

    [NOTE: As a point of interest, Wordsworth wrote several "Lucy" poems, though oddly enough this is not properly considered one of them.] 

    Do you suppose he too could be counted among the millions who've often said "I Love Lucy?" ;-) - R

    ____ LUCY GRAY ____

    Oft I had heard of Lucy Gray,
    And, when I crossed the Wild,
    I chanced to see at break of day
    The solitary Child.

    No mate, no comrade Lucy knew;
    She dwelt on a wide Moor,
    -The sweetest Thing that ever grew
    Beside a human door!

    You yet may spy the Fawn at play,
    The Hare upon the Green;
    But the sweet face of Lucy Gray
    Will never more be seen.

    “To-night will be a stormy night,
    You to the Town must go,
    And take the lantern, Child, to light
    Your Mother through the snow.”

    “That, Father! Will I gladly do;
    ‘This scarcely afternoon-
    The Minster-clock had just struck two,
    And yonder is the moon.”

    At this the Father raised his hook
    And snapp'd a faggot-band;
    He plied his work – and Lucy look
    The lantern in her hand.

    Not blither is the moutain roe;
    With many a wanton stroke
    Her feet disperse the powdery snow,
    That rises up like smoke.

    The storm came on before its time,
    She wander'd up and down,
    And many a hill did Lucy climb
    But never reach'd the Town.

    The wrecked Parents all that night
    Went shouting far and wide;
    But there was neither sound nor sight
    To serve them for a guide.

    At day-break on a hill they stood
    That overlooked the Moor;
    And thence they saw the Bridge of Wood
    A furlong from their door.

    And now they homeward turned, and cried
    "In Heaven we all shall meet!"
    When in the snow the Mother spied
    the print of Lucy's feet.

    Then downward from the steep hill's edge
    They tracked the footmarks small;
    And through the broken hawthorn-hedge,
    And by the long stone-wall;

    And then an open field they crossed,
    The marks were still the same;
    They tracked them on, nor ever lost,
    And to the Bridge they came.

    They followed from the snowy bank
    The footmarks, one by one,
    Into the middle of the plank,
    And further there were none.

    Yet some maintain that to this day
    She is a living Child,
    That you may see sweet Lucy Gray
    Upon the lonesome Wild.

    Over rough and smooth she trips along,
    And never looks behind;
    And sings a solitary song
    That whistles in the wind.


    ~ William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your skill with words never ceases to amaze me, FT. I'm sorry so few seem to appreciate the fine quality of your writing. I post very rarely these days, but I did want you to know that I enjoy reading your blog even when I don't agree with much of what gets said.

      Helen Highwater

      Delete
  3. No Freddy didn't deserve to die, and neither. Did those Policemen who were gunned down for no other reason but because they were Policemen .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct. Do we know yet what Freddie was supposed to have done to warrant being arrested shackled and thrown into that van?

      I may only have been is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

      In my opinion NO ONE deserves to be treated so roughly EVER, unless he is caught committing an act of Murder, Mayhem, Arson, or extreme Vandalism.

      Delete
    2. FT,
      We don't know how roughly he was treated.

      Freddie Gray suffered from severe lead poisoning, one side effect of which can be brittle bones as well as significant brain damage. Not to mention his chronic substance abuse.

      I'm not saying that Freddie Gray deserved to die. What we do know is that he had a rap sheet a mile long. In fact, he had recently been arrested for yet something else; the court date was pending at the time of his death.

      PS: Lead poisoning is endemic in Baltimore -- in Freddie Gray's age group. It is documented that Freddie Gray had severe lead poisoning, and the court case provided a 6-figure settlement to his family. What happened to that money? Did Gray's mother shoot up with all of it? Yes, she is documented as a heroin addict.

      Delete
    3. FT,
      Do we know yet what Freddie was supposed to have done to warrant being arrested shackled and thrown into that van?

      I've read that an officer saw a drug deal go down, and that's why he Gray ran and the officer pursued. We'll find out about that during the trial, I think.

      Delete
    4. Thanks for weighing in, AOW. I had heard about the lead poisoning, but wonder where and how we got that information? Is it a proven, documented fact?

      I too will never be satisfied until we can get genuine proof of precisely what Freddie was doing at the time the police went after him. From the picture he seems a nice looking, even sensitive young man.

      If, as I've heard, he was raised by a single mother who was also a drug addict, he started with two strikes against him.

      I sent this parody to a liberal friend of 55 years. I should have known better. Her response was icy cold:

      "Freddie Gray was sadistically murdered by the police."

      That was ALL she said.

      Another friend from high school years, also a liberal, said only this:

      "As you know poetry has never been my thing, but this strikes me as very cold."

      Virtually ALL people tend to respond reflexively with preconceived notions. It's so much easier than thinking.

      Both of these people have known me for more than half a century. Both of them know I am a passionate Conservative-Libertarian just as I know they are committed Liberals. Therefore, they just ASSUME that anything they receive from me on one of the "hot" topics of the day just HAS to be antithetical to their views. In other words in their minds I am pigeonholed as a selfish, stingy, cold-hearted racist who hates poor people and views Negroes as a personal threat to his prosperity and safety.

      Despite 50-odd years of friendship and shared experience, I might as well be a total stranger to these people whenever a "hot button" issue is brought up for discussion.

      To be fair the quality of responses isn't a whole lot better if you depart from the Conservative party line either.

      As human beings we, apparently, get so enamored of our own point of view that friends and acquaintances suddenly become ENEMIES if they dare to ask questions or show any disagreement.

      Do leftists HONESTLY believe we ought to ABANDON the Truth when it fails to support and flatter troubled minorities, and DENY our most important tenet in meting out justice [i.e. –– innocent until proven guilty] when it comes to Law Enforcement personnel?

      Does showing concern that POLICEMEN receive a fair trial when accused of using "excessive force," etc. HAVE to be equated with "cold indifference towards the "VICTIMS" of Police Brutality?

      Delete
    5. FT,
      I had heard about the lead poisoning, but wonder where and how we got that information? Is it a proven, documented fact?

      Yes, it is documented. See this WaPo article and this article in the Baltimore Sun.

      From the latter:

      In a boxful of documents stored in Baltimore City Circuit Court, the outlines of an all-too-familiar inner-city childhood emerge.

      The life of Freddie Gray Jr., who died Sunday from a severe spinal cord and other injuries sustained in police custody, had a beginning as tragic, in a way, as his end.

      As children, he and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to multiple educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home they rented for four years.

      With so much of its housing stock predating laws banning lead in paint, Baltimore continues to wrestle with the after-effects on thousands of children who have inhaled or ingested the toxic metal.

      While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children's deficits — poverty, frequent moves and their mother's drug use, for example — the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public....

      Delete
    6. FT,
      From the picture he seems a nice looking, even sensitive young man, who deserved to get more out of life than he did.

      The picture may be deceiving. We don't know when it was taken, nor what Freddie Gray's circumstances were at the time.

      As for the police in Baltimore, I don't know why any of them even want to work there. It's rough.

      Delete
  4. I don't read this as a mockery of Freddie Gray either. I see this as pressing Wordsworth in to modern-day social commentary.

    I like it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's very clever.

    I don't know why you guys always focus on riots the way you do (did they riot in your neighborhood?), but that's another matter.

    JMJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do you mean "you guys?"

      Riots happen and the media outlets talk about nothing else 24/7.

      Delete
    2. Without getting into politics from any angle in particular the parody of Wordsworth's Lucy Gray is intensely sympathetic to Freddie, the individual, Jersey, don't you see that?

      As, SF perceived, it takes Freddie Gray, and uses him as a symbol of what is wrong in poverty-stricken urban America.

      Thank you for noticing it is clever. Such things come easily to me, but you might be surprised if you knew how much thought went into it.

      Delete
    3. I've written a lot of copyright music and lyrics, FT. I'm familiar with the process.

      I wrote mostly social commentary, and only a few silly rock tunes. Some pieces were done in a day, some took months, even years to come together. I mostly stopped about 15 years ago. The mojo was gone.

      Now I'm learning how to make complex rpg video games. It's fascinating.

      I like that you're a read man, FT. I appreciate that. I am too. I just don't wear it the same way you. And sometimes I like to change my clothes. ;)

      JMJ

      Delete
    4. For the second time in my adult life, I "get" Jersey.

      We should play some music together sometime. If you're ever out Colorado way, give me a shout.

      Delete
    5. Oh definitely. I might start producing stuff again one day too.

      JMJ

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
  6. White people dont riot, they walk around like Zombies carying stupid signs saying things like " Tax the Rich"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too much of a generalization to be useful in finding ways to improve the terrible circumstances with which too many have to live. I don't see it as a Black v. White thing as much as it is crisis in values, culture, and the loss of basic standards of decency on ALL sides.

      Delete
  7. stomp, snort, and gruntMay 18, 2015 at 9:35 AM

    White people don't riot, they whine, piss, and moan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doesn't everybody these days? The problem has reached epidemic proportions.

      As the saying goes, if you're no part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

      Affixing BLAME and meting out PUNISHMENT accomplishes little or nothing of any lasting value to society.

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don't like pointlessly rude, unkind, untrue or defamatory remarks at this blog.

      Delete
  9. White people do riot.

    Remember when those boozed-up white college kids rampaged through that New England pumpkin fest last fall?

    Also, if you look at riot footage from Baltimore, you can see the white communist agitators from Cornell and Columbia wearing backpacks and flitting around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One thing's for sure: if we don't stop playing games designed to divide us even further by constantly finding fault, trading insults and trying to affix BLAME, we ain't gonna get nowhere any sane person would ever want to go.

      We KNOW what the problems are, but the biggest problem of all is that I don't see anyone –– with the possible exception of Ben Carson –– who offers even a HINT at possible solutions.

      Frankly, I think this "We're rotten too" approach is not helpful. One all-too-well-known fellow blogger has gone that route, and look where it's gotten HIM!

      You may remember I tried making a concerted effort to "bridge the chasm," myself, not too long ago, and BOY! did I get it up the ol' wazoo from ALL sides for my honest attempt at fostering better relations between opposing forces.

      I don't know what we need, frankly, but more of the same old ess-aitch-eye-tea is obviously not it.

      Delete
    2. Don't take is so seriously. I'm being partly tongue in cheek.

      Black people rioted in Ferguson and Baltimore against injustice at the hands of municipal government and the cops. White kids riot over sports, frat parties or simply existential ennui.

      Delete
  10. Sorry ole Chap, but that was not a riot , it 'twas fiddling around

    ReplyDelete
  11. Excellent poem, FT.

    Yesterday,

    this interesting article appeared in the WaPo. In part, it says:

    After rioters burned Baltimore, killings pile up largely under the radar

    BALTIMORE — Andre Hunt counseled troubled kids through the Boys and Girls Club. He volunteered at the local NAACP chapter. A barber, he befriended the son of an assistant high school principal, swapping tales of football and life while the boy grew into adulthood under the clips of his shears.

    “He was like a big brother to my son,” the mother, Karima Carrington, said of her trips to Cut Masters on Liberty Heights Ave­nue.

    The 28-year-old Hunt was lured out of the barbershop, according to his attorney, and shot in the back of the head on the afternoon of April 29. He was among more than 30 people slain in Baltimore in 30 days, an alarming number of killings and part of an undercurrent of violence here.

    Although riots and protests after the death of Freddie Gray, who was injured in police custody, brought national attention to the city, the slayings have attracted little notice.

    [...]

    From mid-April to mid-May, 31 people were killed, and 39 others were wounded by gunfire. Twice, 10 people were shot on a single day. As of Friday, the deadly burst has pushed the city’s homicide count to 91, 21 above last year at the same time. In the District, 40 people had been slain as of Friday, not including four people found dead Thursday in cases police said are being investigated as homicides but are awaiting a ruling by the medical examiner.

    Baltimore has historically been a violent city, earning a moniker of “Mob Town” during gang riots of the 1850s. Homicides topped 300 for 10 consecutive years in the 1990s. Although the annual figure has fallen to the low 200s, the city remains among the top tier in per capita murders, ranking fifth in 2013, behind Detroit, New Orleans, Newark and St. Louis....


    So many Freddie Grays!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for this information, AOW. I generally dislike the Washington Post, as I do the New York Times, but when one of these ultra-liberal publications allows information of this sort to appear within its pages, it DOES strengthen its aura of credibility.

      I will never be satisfied until we can get genuine proof of precisely what Freddie Gray was doing at the time he was apprehended. From the picture he seems a nice looking, even sensitive young man, who deserved to get more out of life than he did.

      If, as I've heard, he was raised by a single mother who was also a drug addict, he started with two strikes against him.

      I sent this parody to a liberal friend of 55 years. I should have known better. Her response was icy cold:

      "Freddie Gray was sadistically murdered by the police."

      That was ALL she said.

      Another friend from high school years, also a liberal, said only this:

      "As you know poetry has never been my thing, but this strikes me as very cold."

      It's unfortunate that virtually ALL people tend to respond reflexively with preconceived notions. It's so much easier than thinking.

      Both of these people have known me for more than half a century. Both of them know I am a passionate Conservative-Libertarian just as I know they are committed Liberals. Therefore, they just ASSUME that anything they receive from me on one of the "hot" topics of the day just HAS to be antithetical to their views. In other words in their minds I am pigeonholed as a selfish, stingy, cold-hearted racist who hates poor people and views Negroes as a personal threat to his prosperity and safety.

      Despite 50-odd years of friendship, and much pleasant shared experience, I might as well be a total stranger to these people whenever a "hot button" issue is brought up for discussion.

      To be fair the quality of responses from fellow Conservatives isn't a whole lot better if you depart from THEIR party line either.

      As human beings we, apparently, get so enamored of our own point of view that even friends and acquaintances of longstanding suddenly become ENEMIES if they dare to ask questions or show any sign of disagreement.

      Do leftists HONESTLY believe we ought to ABANDON the Truth when it fails to support and flatter troubled minorities, and DENY our most important tenet in meting out justice [i.e. –– innocent until proven guilty] when it comes to Law Enforcement personnel?

      Does showing concern that POLICEMEN receive fair treatment when accused of using "excessive force," etc. HAVE to be equated with "cold indifference towards the "VICTIMS" of Police Brutality?

      Delete

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