Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
Carry me back
Carry me back
The big blue-jean, the summer-bored boy next door,
Has been marching through Georgia all afternoon.
Tramp, tramp, tramp on the piano, his fists have trod
The vineyard where my grapes of wrath are stored.
He has brought Johnny marching home again, again,
And tented on the old camp ground tonight once more.
I am a captive audience, neighbor slave to noise.
One-fingered, he wanders way down the Suwannee River,
Where his heart, like mine, that's where it's turning
Ever. He asks the key of F, C or G to carry him back.
Carry me back to ole Virginny (now it's both hands)
Where the corn and taters grow, beyond this hot
Suburban house, family, no school, no job, no fun.
Back to where I used to banjo my way back to,
Andersonville, Gettysburg, the decks of the Monitor.
Gone are the days, but we hear the voices calling.
By way of Brady's camera, when I was this boy's age,
I wanted to creep near Lincoln and that chin-beard,
Through my uncle's stereopticon to Grant's staff-tent,
And hear that posed group break it up, and talk,
Lincoln to Brady, Grant to Lincoln, the wrinkled generals,
Belted and bewhiskered, to one another and the dog.
I'd be there in a forage-cap, with a long bayonet
Fixed to my long rifle, and my own cartridge-belt.
I'd stand guard, a sentry, in the timbered trenches,
Those snug play-places in a home-war that made sad songs.
Old Black Joe. Old Abe Lincoln. Old Virginny.
Old camp ground. Old boy next door, and old me.