“Transcontinental” by Richard Wright, 1936


(For Louis Aragon, in praise of Red Front)

Through trembling waves of roadside heat
We see the cool green of golf courses
Long red awnings catching sunshine
Slender rainbows curved above spirals of water Swaying hammocks slung between trees

Like in the movies . . .

America who built this dream

Above the ceaseless hiss of passing cars
We hear the tinkle of ice in tall glasses
Clacks of croquet balls scudding over cropped lawns Silvery crescendos of laughter
Like in the movies
On Saturday nights
When we used to get paychecks . . .

America who owns this wonderland

We hitch­hike down the hot highways
Looking for a ride home
Yanking tired thumbs at glazed faces
Behind the steering wheels of Packards Pierce Arrows

Lincolns La Salles Reos Chryslers­
Their lips are tight jaws set eyes straight ahead . . .

America America America why turn yourface away

O for the minute
The joyous minute
The minute of the hour of that day
When the tumbling white ball of our anger
Rolling down the cold hill of our lives
Swelling like a moving mass of snow
Shall crash
Shall explode at the bottom of our patience Thundering
You shall not pass our begging thumbs
America is ours
This car is commandeered
America is ours
Take your ringed fingers from the steering wheel
Take your polished shoe off the gas
We’ll drive and let you be the hitch­hiker
We’ll show you how to pass ’em up
You say we’re robbers
So what
We’re bastards
So what
All right chop us into little pieces we don’t care
Let the wind tousle your hair like ours have been tousled
Doesn’t the sun’s hot hate feel sweet on your back
Crook your thumbs and smudge the thin air
What kind of a growl does your gut make when meal­time comes At night your hips can learn how soft the pavements are
Oh let’s do it the good old American way
Sportsmanship Buddy Sportsmanship

But dear America’s a free country Did you say Negroes
Oh I don’t mean NEEEGROOOES After all

Isn’t there a limit to everthing
You wouldn’t want your daughter
And they say there’s no GOD
And furthermore it’s simply disgraceful how they’re discriminating against the

children of the rich in Soviet schools

Good Lord

Why if we divided up everything today we’d be just where we are inside of a year

The strong and the weak The quick and the slow You understand
But Lady even quivering lips can say

Fairplay Boys Fairplay
America America can every boy have the chance to rise from Wall Street to the

America America can every boy have the chance to rise from Riverside Drive to

the General Secretaryship of the Communist Party 100% Justice

And Mister don’t forget
Our hand shall be on the steering wheel
Our feet shall be on the gas
And you shall hear the grate of our gears UNITEDFRONTSSSTRIKE
The motor throbs with eager anger UNITEDFRONTSSSTRIKE
We’re lurching toward the highway UNITEDFRONTSSSTRIKE
The pavement drops into the past The future smites our face America is ours
10 15 20 30
America America
Hop on the runningboard Pile in
We’re leaving We’re leaving
Leaving the tired the timid the soft
Leaving pimps idlers loungers
Leaving empty dinner­pails wage­cuts stretch­outs
Leaving the tight­lipped mother and the bare meal­can Leaving the shamed girl and her bastard child
Leaving leaving the past leaving

The wind filled with leaflets leaflets of freedom Millions and millions of leaflets fluttering
Like the wings of a million birds AmericaAmericaAmerica

Scaling New England’s stubborn hills Spanning the Hudson
Waving at Manhattan Waving at New Jersey
Throwing a Good Bye kiss to Way Down East
Through mine­pirred Pennsylvania Through Maryland Our Maryland Careening over the miles Spinning the steering wheel

Taking the curves with determination

The telegraph poles are a solid wall
The farms are a storm of green
Past rivers past towns
50 60 70 80
Vaulting Washington’s Monument
Leaping desks of Senators Ending all bourgeois elections
Hurdling desks of Congressmen Fascist flesh sticking to our tires Skidding into the White House Leaving a trail of carbon monoxide for the

Roaring into the East Room Going straight through Lincoln’s portrait Letting

the light of history through AmericaAmerica

Swinging Southward Plunging the radiator into the lynch­mob Giving no warning

Slowing Slowing for the sharecroppers Come on You Negroes Come on There’s room
Not in the back but front seat

We’re heading for the highway of Self­Determination UNITEDFRONTSSSTRIKE
Dim your lights you Trotskyites UNITEDFRONTSSSTRIKE

Lenin’s line is our stream line
Through October’s windshield we see the road Looping over green hills Dipping

toward to­morrow

Look back See the tiny threads of our tires leaving hammer and sickle prints

upon the pavement
See the tree­lined horizon turning slowly in our hearts
See the ripe fields Fields ripe as our love
See the eastern sky See the white clouds of our hope
See the blood­red afterglow in the west Our memory of October See See See the pretty cottages the bungalows the sheltered homes See the packing­box cities the jungles the huts
See See See the skyscrapers the clubs the pent­houses

See the bread­lines winding winding winding long as our road AmericaAmericaAmerica

Tagging Kentucky Tagging Tennessee
Into Ohio Into the orchards of Michigan
Over the rising and falling dunes of Indiana
Across Illinois’ glad fields of dancing corn
Slowing Comrades Slowing again
Slowing for the heart of proletarian America CHICAGOl00 MILES
Steel and rail and stock All you sons of Haymarket Swing on We’re going your way America is ours UNITEDFRONTSSSTRIKE
The pressure of our tires is blood pounding in our hearts UNITEDFRONTSTRIKE
The steam of our courage blows from the radiator­cap UNITEDFRONTSSSTRIKE
The wind screams red songs in our ears
60 70 80 90

Listen Listen to the moans of those whose lives were laughter Listen to the howls of the dogs dispossessed
Listen to bureaucratic insects spattering against the windshield Listen to curses rebounding from fear­proof glass

Listen to the gravel of hate tingling on our fenders
Listen to the raindrops mumbling of yesterday
Listen to the wind whistling of to­morrow
Listen to our tires humming humming humming hymns of victory AmericaAmericaAmerica

Coasting Comrades Coasting
Coasting on momentum of Revolution
Look Look at that village Like a lonesome egg in the nest of the hills Soon Soon you shall fly all over the hillsides Crowing the new dawn Coasting Indulging in Lenin’s dream


Red Baseball

Great Day in the Morning

. . the Leninites defeated the redbirds 3 to o. Batteries for the Leninites: Kenji Sumarira and

Boris Petrovsky. For the Redbirds: Wing Sing and
Eddie O’Brien. Homeruns: Hugo Schmidt and Jack
Ogletree. Umpires: Pierre Carpentier and Oswald Wallings . ..

The world is laughing The world is laughing

. . . Mike Gold’s account of the Revolutin sells 26 millions copies . . .
26 million copies …

The world is laughing The world is laughing

… beginning May 1st the work day is limited to

five hours …

The world is laughing The world is laughing

. . last of the landlords liquidated

in Texas . . .

The world is laughing The world is laughing

Picking up speed to measure the Mississippi AmericaAmericaAmerica
Plowing the richness of Iowa soil Into the Wheat Empire
Making Minnesota Taking the Dakotas Carrying Nebraska
On on toward the Badlands the Rockies the deserts the Golden Gate Slowing once again Comrades Slowing to right a wrong
Say You Red Men You Forgotten Men
Come out from your tepees
Show us Pocahontas For we love her
Bring her from her hiding place Let the sun kiss her eyes
Drape her in a shawl of red wool Tuck her in beside us
Our arms shall thaw the long cold of her shoulders
The lights flash red Comrades let’s go

The future opens like an everwidening V UNITEDFRONTSSSTRIKE
We’re rolling over titles of red logic UNITEDFRONTSSSTRIKE

We’re speeding on wheels of revolution AmericaAmerica
Mountain peaks are falling toward us AmericaAmerica

Uphill and the earth rises and looms AmericaAmerica
Downhill and the earth tilts and sways AmericaAmerica

80 90 l00 AmericaAmerica
Every factory is a fortress

Cities breed soviets
Plains sprout collective farms
Ten thousand Units are meeting America America
Resolutions passed unanimously
The Red Army is on the march AmericaAmerica
Arise, ye prisoners . .. AmericaAmerica
Speed Faster
Speed AmericaAmerica
Arise, ye wretched …
Speed Faster
Ever Faster America America
For Justice America America Thunders AmericaAmericaAmerica

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