• Poetry

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.


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