From the recordings In Consequential Ballad and Just War

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"In Consequential Ballad," by Leigh Herrick. Performed by Leigh Herrick.



She said the pain of massacre gets into the land where fruit is grown
We eat this grief and suffering where such bad blood is born

She said she was thinking of bridges today and I began thinking how hey
that Boy W. gonna really do it up for US with that old A+ Super-America/n way
those B-52’s, those B-1 bombin’ bunker-bustin’ coalesced attitudes

And she said I have a face for you, you can send it like “Regrets” to Laura’s rendezvous,
you can look across the world or down at your local inner-city neighborhood store,
it’s a face for the untranslatable loneliness, it’s a face for your Media’s faceless war

So here’s a face to meet Your face, America: You can buy what holds and fixes a land
but You can never claim what You don’t understand and You can’t disown what Your facelessness can

And I began thinking of geopolitical lines & Alien Acts & Seditious Acts & all the old laws
--that history that’s part & pause that history so bound to our skin that we can’t even
see the cost or cause & we don’t recognize our own simple kin beyond the Times
we’re all bound up in

& she said this reason for forgotten kin is that they’ve been made ‘to an Over There
Them by rule of war for millennia & this First Strike Plan for the New Millennium

& I began thinking of what to beware as strangers waved flags & cast HomeLand prayers
that would sink like lead into the not-yet dead of the Free and the Brave whose thoughts
go alone simply so far from home but whose fatigue and thirst live on separate loans

And I thought of a face for Your lonely face America, and of uniforms in which thoughts
are born always newly blessed if nonetheless war-torn

And as she talked of massacre I began thinking bridges inside a poem & I had a fanning
funny sense in mind that so much of this is about consequence & I had a sense it don’t
matter at all to most D.C. kind ‘cause consequence’s bet is sure when money’s so far
moved up from the poor

But consequence can open its mouth America, it can lay itself down like a ceiling or floor of twisted justice & truth gone false or be the inconsequential door of windowless-ness
that seems here for sure

So should I be brick or glass, America, when she emails at night of forgotten kin & says
there is consequence in failing here & supposes the consequence still lives in years
forgotten or just not recalled or not taught in the schools though it lines the school walls
& she insists there’s nothing at all like the consequence when there ain’t no face
& there’s nothing like a missing face for the facelessness of these new wars….

But here’s a face for Your Good Morning, America, You can look across the world or
down at Your local inner-city neighborhood store You can find a child crying at Your
ceiling, America, You can find a child rocking on Your floor, You can watch a child,
America, You can buy what fastens and fixes a land, You can muffle the screams of kids
without hands, but You can never claim what You won’t understand, and You cannot
trace, America, the faceless face, America, and You cannot hear the silence honed in the
pace of war and You cannot tell of the loneliest ones or the walk-away rate of survivors

Still, here’s a face for Your Good Morning, America, You can look across the world or
down at Your local inner city neighborhood store, You can find a child, America,
who eats the fruit, America, America….


Herrick says: "In Consequential Ballad" was written as a poem, first. However, the opening lines, 'She said the pain of massacre gets into the land' kept ringing in my head with the exact tune you hear in this recording. After a year, the same tune still heard in my mind, I decided the piece was telling me it wanted more. So I set it to music. One of the lines in the piece references 'Laura's Rendezvous,' which alludes to Laura Bush's invitation to certain American Poets to attend a February 12, 2003 symposium celebrating the works of Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Langston President Bush was busy selling the nation on his gearing up to invade Iraq. Whereas some poets merely declined Laura's invitation, poet Sam Hamill put a call out for poems protesting the impending war. Hamill received about 20,000 poems of protest, some of which he delivered to the White House. In the end, Laura Bush cancelled her planned poetry event.