Remember the Alamo? I do. As a boy, I went to the dentist in a building across from the Alamo. While the dentist did repairs, I floated on laughing gas wondering why Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie had to die. (Or later on, whether Cherry, the girl who lived across the street from me, would leave her blinds open again that night).
At Alamo Heights High School, I learned that men from Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, the Carolinas, etc. etc. (in other words, the United States of America), crossed the Red River to fight and die for those Irish-Scots-German immigrants who settled in Mexico north of the Rio Grande, then claimed their sovereignty. The wives of those brave volunteers even sent satin garments for the battle flags.
And after all that, Texas Gov. Rick Perry threatens to secede from the Union? And Tom Delay, looking like a hedge fund manager, is on “Hardball” telling Chris Matthews how courageous Gov. Perry is, standing up to President Obama? Then adding (erroneously) that Texas has the right to secede under the treaty that led to statehood in 1845?
Well, let’s see. We could ask for volunteers to read a chapter of history to Ricky and Tommy. Or we could help Texas exercise a right the treaty did, in fact, grant – and that is: subdivide into five different states. How cool would that be?
Or, we could just let Texas be Texas and secede without a fight. What are they going to do, barricade Interstates 10, 20 and 35? Excommunicate Willie Nelson? Has anyone checked with Kinky Friedman, politician and singer-songwriter of “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Get You’re Biscuits in the Oven & Your Buns in the Bed,” and whose performances often include a favorite tune by Chinga Chavin and Snakebite Jacobs, “Asshole from El Paso?”
Dry winds blow hard in George W. Bush’s adopted republic. But today I do not speak up to take a stand. I simply offer a favorite poem to commemorate my home state’s big windy heart – one big enough to contain a grand mix of the absurd, the beautiful and the indefinable.
By William Stafford
Wide, no limit, the whole
state an airport, a continent
marbles could roll across; and
they say when the fist of the sun
hammers it, the natives love it,
feel they would die if moved. They
have struggled to stay, and have
won, a catastrophe. Now they deserve it –
a cruel thing to say. But true.
But wide. I came on the Sweetwater
once. It was evening, and the doves
insisted they could redeem all the
universe. Never after that could I
deny a link with Texas. A farmer
strikes oil, and stuffs his mattress
with money, like excelsior. At a
space lab they look around and think,
“Might as well try for the moon.”
And they get there. Long ago
the rest of the country joined their state
and thus became, really, a part of Mexico –
why contend? Joining is better, and is done
many ways, even if politicians have limits.
I say join the state, and Mexico, and the
politicians. Beyond irony is the hard country
no one can misjudge, where we survive
Our indulgences and mean just the earth again –
From: “Allegiances,” by William Stafford. Harper & Row. 1970
Gov. Rick Perry