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Nobody Gets Off the Bus:
The Viet Nam Generation Big Book

Volume 5 Number 1-4
March 1994

Texts made available by the Sixties Project, are generally copyrighted by the Author or by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., all rights reserved. These texts may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. These texts may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. A few of the texts we publish are in the public domain. For information on a specific text, contact Kalí Tal. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is dedicated to using electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.

Poetry by Jeff Poniewaz


Why Young Men Wore Their
Hair Long in the Sixties


Because they could feel the deforestation of the Amazon
breathing down their necks even then,
Because half of the world's trees have been cut down
since 1950,
Because even as kids in the '50s they could feel
the wilds dwindling, and were given crewcuts
soon as school let out for the summer,
Because they didn't care if some bigot
thought they looked like girls--
they were unmistakable male to themselves
and weren't afraid to accept the female
half of their soul and love the Mother Earth,
rejecting the macho Earth-rape of civilization,
Because they had to become long-haired Indians
to expiate the genocide of the Indians
by their European-invasion
boatpeople greatgrandparents,
Because even their European Paleolithic granddaddies
all had long hair before they cut down
the forests to make room for cities
with barbershops right next to butchershops,
Because they had to make up for all the baldheaded skeletons
the Nazis kept as deathcamp slaves,
Because though they dug Buddha's bald head
they liked getting high
in other ways besides meditation,
Because Jesus was crucified for having long hair
by crewcut fundamentalists who went back
in a time machine to make sure he'd be
the Only hippie on their holycards
Because Einstein's hair burst from his skull in protest
of radiation sickness making people's hair fall out,
Because Eisenhower's bald head was succeeded
by Kennedy's boyish shock of hair,
which got blown off his head the year
before the Beatles came to America,
Because Elvis's duck's-ass outraged the '50s
as much as the Beatle-cut outraged the '60s,
Because Stokowski let his mane fly illuminated
on album covers decades before Billy Idol,
And long-hair music has been letting its own long hair down
much longer than "Roll Over Beethoven,"
Because even short-haired hepcats like Charlie Parker
let down the long hair of their souls in their jazz,
Because James Dean's pre-Elvis noncrewcut rebel
is a nobler symbol of the '50s than Happy Days,
Because haircut conformity's a sellout to getting a job,
Because Whitman shook his white locks at the runaway sun
while loafing on a hill of summer grass,
"And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves,"
he wrote observing the flowing grass,
Because Industrial Revolution lobotomizes our mammal brain,
Because military-industrialism barbers the heart
with bayonets,
Because "patriots" yearned to razor the throats
of bearded longhairs during the Vietnam War,
and yearned to shave off their balls as well
to make perfect eunuch robots of war
albeit Bob Hope pimping Ann-Margret
to the about-to-die: "Remember, boys,
this is what you're fighting for,"
Because Moloch lusts to blow their balls off in battle,
Because Jim Morrison flashing his phallus
in the face of the Vietnam War
got busted for obscenity,
Because Rock'n'Roll pit its ecstasy
against the nightmare madness of war
(tho rock promoters scalp rock fans
as much as ticket scalpers do),
Because hair longs to be long,
Because even when we die our hair wants
to keep on growing forever,
Because every wild horse loves its flowing mane,
Because long hair means a wilderness
and short hair means a lawn,
Because John Muir said the first thing they do
is cut down the trees and the second thing
they do is graze sheep amid the stubble,
Because the first thing they do in
a prison an insane asylum or the Marines
is shear off all your hair exactly like sheep...


Burning the Flag

I burn the flag
that massacred
Wounded Knee.
I burn the actual

specific flag flown
by the U.S. Calvary
that crucified the Sioux
on Christmas 1890.
I burn the flag
that fiddles while
rainforests burn.
I burn the flag
everyone stands & sings
"rockets' red glare" to
just before a football game
while every second a
footballfield of rainforest
burns. I burn the flag
that dropped napalm
on children in Vietnam.
I burn the flag
that swapped guns for
cocaine with deathsquads
that raped & murdered
nuns in El Salvador.
I burn the flag that
propped up the Somozas
in Nicaragua all those
decades. I burn the flag
that burned Neruda's library.
I burn any flag that
promotes flag fetishism
and pep-rally nationalism
that forestalls a global
alliance for peace
and ecological sanity.
I salute the flag
that lives up to'
the word "freedom."
I salute the flag
that lives up to
the word "democracy"
--government by the people,
not by the Forbes 500.
I salute the flag
that is an example
to the whole world
of ecological enlightenment.
I salute the flag that'
salutes the whole Earth,
the Human Family
Whitman invoked
in "Salut au Monde."
I salute the green
flag of Whitman.
I salute the flag
of Ecology, with
the oval "e" where
the stars used to be
and green stripes
where the red ones were.
I salute the flag
with the cerulean blue
of our planet gleaming
in a sea of black,
more love-inspiring
& goosebump inducing
than the Old Glory
with holes in it that
inspired Francis Scott Key.
Better we burn the dollar
& the yen-the flags that
command our true allegiance--
and declare world-wide
Debt Amnesty so we can
stop killing the Earth
to pay our debts, and
start anew with an economy
in harmony with the Ecology.
Better we burn the flags
of all nations in front
of the United Nations
than all nations burn
in nuclear war or
ecological holocaust.
I salute the flag
that is more offended
by the desecration
of the environment
than by the desecration
of any flag.
I pledge allegiance
to the Earth!
I salute the flag
of the Earth!

--July 4, 1989

Jeff Poniewaz has lived in Milwaukee all his life except for nine months in Madison, nine months in Iowa City, fifty-eight months in the San Francisco Bay area, and a heavenly scattering of month-long backpack and canoe trips in wildernesses in Ontario, Colorado, California, and Upper Peninsula Michigan. Met and became friends with the poet Antler in a poetry writing class at UW-Milwaukee in the Spring semester of 1966. B.A. (1970) and M.A. (1973), both in English from UW-Milwaukee, where he currently teaches "Literature of Ecological Vision," a course he devised, each Spring. His eco-activism spans from local urban greenspace battles to the global rainforest catastrophe. His eco-poems have appeared in Earth First!, Greenpeace Chronicles, the Los Angeles Times, etc. His collection of eco poems and meditations spanning 1975-82, Dolphin Leaping in the Milky Way (Inland Ocean Books, 1986) is in its third printing. Another collection of subsequent eco writings is forthcoming, as well as a volume of selected poems on miscellaneous subjects spanning from 1966 to the present. His general-subject poems have been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, NEW: American & Canadian Poetry, Minnesota Review, Quixote, Abraxas, Beatniks from Space, The World, the Wisconsin Poets Calendar, etc. His work has been included in six anthologies: New Poetry Out of Wisconsin (August Derleth, ed., 1969), The Whites of Their Eyes (out of Seattle, WA, 1970), Brewing: 20 Milwaukee Poets (Giligia Press, New Hampshire, 1972), Beaton Abbott's Got the Contract--Poems About Working (Tom Wayman, ed., out of Edmonton, Alberta, 1974), Gathering Place of the Waters: 30 Milwaukee Poets (1983), and NADA POEMS (David Cope, ed., out of Grandville, MI, 1988). He has compiled a many-poet anthology of eco-poems titled On What Planet--Poems in Praise and Defense of the Earth, which awaits a receptive publisher. He is included in the chapter on eco-poetry in Simple in Means, Rich in Ends--Practicing Deep Ecology,

Bill Devall's 1988 sequel to his 1985 book Deep Ecology--Living as if Nature Mattered. He has given presentations on "Cetacean Consciousness" at the New College in San Francisco and on "Poetry of Wilderness" at Esalen Institute in Big Sur. He was the first poet to be invited to give a full-length reading from his work at Wilderness University on the campus of UW-Waukesha. His occasional essays include "Whitman and Thoreau and the Industrial Revolution" (1985) and "The Global Rainforest Disaster" (1986). He won a PEN "Discovery Award" in 1987. Sporadically since 1973, he has visited high schools and junior high schools throughout Wisconsin via the Poets-in-the-Schools program. His last name is pronounced Poe-nYEAH-vAHsh and is Polish for "because."

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