Literary Hook: ‘The circle is unbroken’: The ’60s in our 60s

By Christine Swanberg

Author and Poet

When President Obama first took office, no one could have predicted the magnitude of crises he would have to face from the moment he stepped into office until now. Even the tense debate over health care reform shows that the President has kept open channels in a way we haven’t seen for a long time. When President Obama was inaugurated, my husband and I were in Port Townsend, Wash., where we had an artists’ residency at Centrum Center for the Arts. We went to the Port Townsend Inauguration Ball. The people at the ball were filled with hope, expectation, and the restoration of the social consciousness. We felt re-ignited. We thought some excellent changes were on the horizon. Our joy was short-lived, but our hope wasn’t. I offer this short, simple poem written the day after the inauguration as a glimpse of hope and pride we felt then.

Port Townsend Inauguration Ball

The tribe gathers in the fieldhouse at the fairgrounds.

Admission is a donation to the Food Bank,

a bottle of wine, and a dessert to pass.

You can wear what you want:

a Mad Hatter hat, a jester crown, orange wig,

gold-spiked heels, or an ironic tuxedo.

Everyone sings “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”

We are the tribe that wove the counter-culture thread

through the red, white and blue.

Cardboard Obamas are raised like torches.

The tribe cheers, dances, and whoops it up.

It was the ’60s once. We’re in our 60s now.

The circle is unbroken.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry and formerly wrote a column called “The Writer’s Garret” for this newspaper.

From the September 23-29, 2009 issue

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