To Judy Collins

Today (Sunday, October 6), on our annual weekend at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park with my college friends, Alan and Maren Hicks, and their daughter Eleanor Hicks, who, along with Alan, Jr. are just damn near incredible people, Maureen and i left the Porch Stage and went back to the Banjo Stage to listen to Judy Collins. i am glad we did. Judy moved us both, and i thought of when i first heard Judy Collins, which inspired this:

To Judy Collins

i was a warrior at sea
when i heard her first,
not a song of protest,
her original claim to fame,
a song i had heard earlier from
Nova Scotia couple, Ian and Silvia
long time ago,
it was about love for a rodeo man
just out of the service
looking for some fun
i was not just out of the service
in a war
of which she protested
i didn’t care because
her voice carried me off to different places;
i rode, or rather sailed
to and through and out
of the combat zone
with her songs in my soul.

i am no longer a warrior of the sea;
a score and a half of years gone by,
i have not forgotten
remain proud of defending our country,
recognizing she would not agree
she was not there
when i stood at the gunnel on the port side of the well deck
off the shores of Vung Tau in seventy-five
with my after-breakfast cup of coffee before quarters
for five days watching thirty-five thousand and more
folks like you and me
flee in crafts i would not put in a Tennessee creek
coming over the horizon when they had only heard
redemption from their tormentors was at hand,
rumors someone might be beyond their horizon
of the South China Sea bordering the Gulf of Siam,
those folks, risking life and limb not only of themselves
their old folks and infants as well in those rickety crafts,
with a sip of coffee before the sun would scorch the ocean,
i thought
whatever the hell we did, pro or con
didn’t matter
except we should have done something different, better,
not “pro” or “anti”
to let those people stay at home
like my home, my folks in Tennessee
we didn’t
now, damn near a half century later
i stood in a hollow
to hear her again:
her songs still moved the warrior of the sea
i was moved again
when she sang
“Amazing Grace,”
i sang
then i cried.

Perhaps we should all sing Amazing Grace
Judy Collins.


1 thought on “To Judy Collins

  1. When I worked at the King if the Road Hotel in Nashville, I got to meet Judy Collins and got an autographed album of hers. She was very gracious.

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