Mark Blackford - Peanut Butter Sandwiches
In Memory of Woodstock, 1969
It must have been so noisy that weekend
inside Kaplan's Deli, all of the hustle & bustle
of knives beating bread loaves
into peanut butter submission.
Breakfast in bed for 400,000 reduced to bagged lunches
battling their way through miles of traffic
& bodies in varying stages of undress,
all running toward the reverb
fast as they could be carried.
From a lonely patch of dirt
that periodically sends flights to Toronto
they were carried by copter
into chaos & passed out by Pranksters
alongside cups of granola. This cargo,
more precious than Richie Havens, kept
the Long-Hairs contented and dancing
well through those long, muddy nights.
But this story is about more than just sandwiches.
This is a story about a people who came
and went on their own accord; This is a story
about the man who disagreed with them
yet respected them enough to give up
being a dairy farmer for just one weekend;
This is a story about communities
coming together to care for their guests
whether welcome or not; This is a story
about America; about a search for silence;
about a gesture toward peace; & how it was found
in gaps between raindrops; breaths between
words; the small space between two hands
pressed together, passing along
bagged lunches and granola cups; the sunflowers
between bullet casings; the break between
stanzas; the wait between notes
among so much noise and calamity on a farm
in the middle of nowhere, New York
When Hendrix took to the stage
& played “The Star-Spangled Banner”
the whole world fell silent; felt
the weight in the space between
each strum of his guitar & clung to it,
hoping something better is yet to come.
Mark was born and raised in Sullivan County, NY, only 20 minutes from the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. He received a B.A. in English from Valdosta State University (GA, 2010). He presently resides in Woodridge, NY with his wife and children, and is currently the Poet Laureate of Sullivan County, NY.