Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome to a New Era

Hello, poets. Today we kick off our Poetry: Project Hope which is Poets Who Blog's very own inaugural celebration for the newly sworn in President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama.

Not only is this an important day in my country's history but it has ramifications globally, as the election of any leader would, and it is also a remarkable sign of the times concerning race relations.

This is a time of tears, joy, relief, excitement and change for many of us. No matter your political beliefs let us all take a moment to recogonize the importance of the events taking place in Washington, DC today.

What better way do we, as poets, know to express our thoughts and reflections on this day than with our words? I share with you the work of some of our poets:

Heirloom Diamonds by Tiel Aisha Ansari
Knocking From Inside

I'm too young to remember most of that:
the marches, Connor's dogs and Little Rock
the noose, the burning cross, the midnight knock
the woman on the bus who simply sat
and wouldn't move, the brave young volunteers
whose bodies lay in Mississippi mud.
My vote was paid for with their guiltless blood
transformed to treasure by the passing years.

They didn't care how long they had to wait:
the old folks queued to vote. I watched them cry
for joy this time, instead of grief or fears
or bitter anger. We drove back the hate
another step this time: and you and I
inherit diamonds in these old men's tears.

The Blood of Many by Sara Pufahl
The Shores of My Dreams

We shall
We shall over
We shall overcome.

We have overcome.

Baltimore Whistlestop, January 17th, 2009 by David Drager
Recycled Poet

Crowds stream from Light Rail & buses

Golf cart lane down Baltimore Street.

Coldest day of year

Strange light of mid-winter late afternoon.

Barricades everywhere

Buses blocking roads

Police of every agency & uniform

Clumps of unarmed soldiers

The big line

The metal detectors

Secret service on roofs

Scoping the crowd

Then the plaza

Where did the homeless go?

Standing in the middle of Fayette Street

Amidst the crowd

All races, all classes


Only seen at Artscape

Or maybe a ball game

Then the moment

No one had foreseen

With a thousand cameras & phones

Held over heads

A black man taking the legacy

1776, Fort McHenry

On streets

Where black folks were chattel.

A recreation of Lincoln’s

Inaugural train

Except without the disguises

And the sneaking

First blood of the Civil War

Spilled blocks away

As rioters

Attacked northern volunteers

Rioters still honored

In our state’s anthem

“Avenge the patriotic gore

That flecked the streets of Baltimore”

The next day rail bridges burned

On our mayors command

Telegraph lines to DC

Torn down

Then occupation

Federal Hill cannon turned

So many things have turned

And turned again

Are we truly

A people

Of common hopes

Of common dreams?

Eleven minutes from the crowds roar

To “God bless America”

Then the magic ended

And music resumed

Marching back

Watching family portraits taken

I spoke with a fifty-something black couple

Who on a normal day I would never meet

They missed the speech

“How long?”

“Only 10 minutes”

“We were expecting more”

I play them the speech

Recorded on my phone

You can tell the poet

Everyone snapping pictures

And this fool

Recording words and dreams

Everyone will say “you should have seen it”

I will say “you should have heard it”
© 2009, David Drager

Today in America by Sara Pufahl
The Shores of My Dreams

Today is our day

when the dream
becomes not just a dream

when the blood becomes spilled
for something the world can see

when the blisters on their feet
and the marks on their backs become victory scars

when the word "never"
becomes "now"

when tears flow not for injustice
but for hope

For hope
For hope
For hope

No longer do we wait
today is our day

SHAKE: the poetry of Bryan Borland

This one
is for the Martins
and the Daisys and the Fredericks,
the Harriets and the Rosas and the Sojourners
and the prayer
that they can feel this now.
This is for
all the nameless
and forgotten
heroes and heroines,
kings and queens
left out of our small-town
history books.
But this one is also for
the Abrahams and Jacks and the Bobbys,
the leaders and the followers,
for the conductors of railroads above and below
that traveled steadily along midnight countrysides
and through swamps with mud ankle deep.
This one dances gracefully but with power
beyond black and white,
beyond Mason and Dixon
and calls together all names and syllables from
Southern drawls to
midwestern mouths and immigrant tongues to
ghosts of great great grandparents
to rise from their songs of hope sung in fertile fields
and to make this mass more perfect.
It’s for Alaska and Maine and Florida and Oklahoma,
for the resurrection of the States and the image and the spirit.
It’s for the Statue in her regal, raceless beauty
standing guard over our freedoms and virtues.
It’s for our brothers and sisters and sons and daughters
and the tomorrows as much as the yesterdays.
This one is for
the broken chain of slavery
and the stains of segregation
and the brilliance of that first ballot cast.
It’s for the Union and the Confederacy,
for all forty acres and every mule,
for sore feet and bleeding fingers and reconstruction.
It’s for the illusion of the separate and the equal
and the timeless reality of August 28, 1963.
It’s for the can’ts and don’ts and you’re not alloweds
as they transform and transcend into the
Yes we cans!
It’s for our mother’s right to speak, right to stand, right to vote,
for our gay friend’s right to love, right to
come out
from the shadows and the silence.
It’s for internment camps and backs of buses and inferior schools and
oh yeah
it’s for courage of ‘em all.
This one
is for
the African American
as much as the Asian American
as much as the Irish American
as much as
the blue-eyed blond-haired American.
It’s for the American
as much as you or I.
It’s for the tapestry of the United States
from Atlantic to Pacific
and everywhere and everyone in between.
It’s for our men and women
fighting in foreign countries
and resting in foreign graves.
This one is for
dreams yet to be dreamed
and walking with your head held high
through crowds who don’t want you
to the nation that craves you,
to destinations
yours as well as mine.
This one
is for the freedom
to persist
and assemble
and move ahead hand in hand
and the right
to rise up
and move beyond
and accomplish
and achieve.

This one is for November 4, 2008,
and the first poem of hope
I’ve written
in years.

© Bryan Borland

1 comment:

writerwoman said...

Thank you so much to the poets who took part today. I was very moved by all the poems. This is a day for happy tears.

Poets Who Blog

Congratualations to our new President, and to our country who made this possible.