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The below poem is a memoir of the summer of 2020, to be sung to the tune of “I’ve Been Everywhere,” with apologies to Geoff Mack and Hank Snow.

.

I was standing by a shop along a dark and crowded street
When along approached a cop and then the rest of his blue fleet.
He warned of an attack and said, “I’ll take you out of here,”
So I climbed into the back and then I settled down in fear.
He asked me if I’d seen a sham of protests quite this grand,
And I said, “Sir, I’m Uncle Sam, and it’s all over this great land.”

There’s riots everywhere, man,
Riots everywhere, man.
See the fires flare, man;
I’ve breathed the smoky air, man;
Justice in despair, man,
There’s riots everywhere!

They’re in Houston and in Denver, Des Moines and in Kenosha,
In Dallas and Fort Worth, and the District of Columbia,
In Portland and in Boston, Bakersfield and Sacramento,
Atlanta, Kansas City, and Columbus and Chicago,
In Brooklyn and Manhattan, Louisville, Detroit, LA,
In Memphis , Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and San Jose.

There’s riots everywhere, man,
Riots everywhere, man.
See the fires flare, man;
I’ve breathed the smoky air, man;
Justice in despair, man,
There’s riots everywhere!

When police were at a crime scene and shot a perpetrator
The press addressed the nation when the melanin was greater
To fuel systemic-racist myths and cop brutality,
Is it any wonder peaceful protests nurtured anarchy?
When BLM, Anonymous, Antifa mobilized,
Delivery of bricks and other tricks were authorized.

There’s riots everywhere, man,
Riots everywhere, man.
See the fires flare, man;
I’ve breathed the smoky air, man;
Justice in despair, man,
There’s riots everywhere!

Mob-justice in the streets performed by vandals and deadbeats,
Approved by senators and congressmen and press elites
Windows broken, buildings burned, and statues pulled aground,
And traffic blocked by blockheads, rocks and bricks are thrown around,
Museums, stores, courthouses, banks, and cars are vandalized
The police are christened “bastards” and justice now is bastardized.

There’s riots everywhere, man,
Riots everywhere, man.
See the fires flare, man;
I’ve breathed the smoky air, man;
Justice in despair, man,
There’s riots everywhere!

.

.

Jeff Kemper has been a biology teacher, biblical studies instructor, editor, and painting contractor. He lives in York County, Pennsylvania.


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28 Responses

  1. David Watt

    Jeff, I have read about the riotous state of affairs there. The defunding of police by left wing jurisdictions is a green light to criminals/anarchists.

    Reply
    • Jeff Kemper

      Of course. Apparently just what the leftists here want. Demolish before they can “build back better [i.e., build a Marxist state].”

      Reply
  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thaks, Jeff
    Good to keep attention focused on this debacle and all those responsible, especially in the disturbing aftermath of January 6th.
    I’m not familiar with the lyric of your source, but some of your lines e.g., “And traffic blocked by blockheads …”) remind me a bit of Roger Miller.

    Reply
    • Jeff Kemper

      Julian, my brother, 12 years my senior, was a Hank Snow fan, so I knew this song as a kid. Johnny Cash covered it in the early 70s, I believe. My “conspiracy theory” (conservatives think in conspiracy theories, of course) is that the leftists had sought to prod conservatives into rioting throughout the Trump administration and finally got their chance on January 6 to cook it up into a sweet-smelling “insurrection,” as though leftists never do this sort of thing.

      Reply
  3. Joe Tessitore

    A great idea, beautifully executed!
    Along with the video, back-to-back home runs!

    Reply
    • Jeff Kemper

      Thanks, Joe. It’s a shame we have so many opportunities to write these things.

      Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      ‘riot’, meaning a random or disorderly profusion of words that was entertaining – as was the original song and Jeff’s take, especially where the singer reels off all the place names.

      Reply
      • Jeff

        Just curious, Paul: Are you questioning whether riots occurred in the cities I listed?

      • Paul Freeman

        No, not at all. I saw a lot of it unfolding live on TV

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    This poem is no riot. It’s a poetic and peaceful demonstration of how to highlight the lawless atrocities that darkened our cities in 2020 and continue to do so to this day. What a marvelous job you have done, Jeff! Thank you for this toe-tapping marvel that gets its huge and relevant message across skillfully and admirably, the plus side being, no one was injured, maimed or murdered in the process. Very well done, indeed.

    Reply
    • Daniel Kemper

      I think the poem was hilarious, though I’m only familiar with the Johnny Cash version of the song. My feeling of hilarity though is as an ex infantry man who has a dark sense of humor. “As Stalin says, dark humor is like food. Not everybody gets it.” (From the T-shirt.)

      Reply
      • Jeff Kemper

        Thanks, Daniel. 2020 flared brightly in the darkest of ways, of course. I never heard the Stalin quote – it is indeed dark humor. Stalin, were he alive today, would have many disciples in our nation today, as Che Guevara had a few years back. It scares me.
        By the way, I have a nephew who owns your name, who also served in the U.S. Army.

    • Jeff Kemper

      Thanks, Susan. You’re right: There were no deaths perpetrated by this song, just as there were no deaths perpetrated by the so-called “insurrectionists” on January 6, although I heard several Democrats saying that that awful thing was far worse than the entire summer of destruction of property and lives in 2020. Are there any brains in those cranial cavities?

      Reply
  5. Daniel Kemper

    Quick note: I’d consider calling it “Riots Everywhere, Man.” FWIW. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Jeff Eardley

    Jeff, this is brilliant. I hope you can get a country band to record it and spread it all over your great nation, and the world, to remind people of the unacceptable anarchy going on.
    We had an English version by Australian Rolf Harris, one of the most famous entertainers to fall from grace and into obscurity.
    I think the original recording was by Lucky Starr, no relation to Ringo!
    Great stuff, thank you.

    Reply
    • Jeff Kemper

      Thanks much, Jeff. I wouldn’t know where to start, but I’ll look into it!

      Reply
  7. Mike Bryant

    This is a really great adaptation of the song. I agree that adding “, Man” to the title would be smart. I also think it’s rather sad that the news media has skewed the meanings of so many words in order to serve the new authoritarians. I know that words usually have more than one meaning, however let’s not lessen the tragedy of the attempted authoritarian takeover.
    I believe our only hope lies in the power of the states.
    An interesting video:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CtEStbp4shU

    Reply
    • Jeff Kemper

      Thanks, Mike. The authoritarians of whom you speak are the purveyors of hate, who cloak their hatred with hate accusations, new definitions of familiar words, new words, and new education patterns to teach their evil-is-good manifestos. But I’m talking to the choir.

      Thanks for that video clip. It’s what leadership is: recognizing the incredible gulf between good and evil.

      Reply
  8. Sally Cook

    Excellent ! Words have meaning; let’s hope people are starting to wake up.

    Reply
  9. David Paul Behrens

    I have liked this song ever since I first heard it many years ago. It’s a brilliant concept for the basis of a poem and very enjoyable. Well done!

    Reply
  10. Daniel Kemper

    Btw. In Berkley in the 90’s I ran into some one with my name.

    Reply

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