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 over
We shall overcome.
We have overcome.
Baltimore Whistlestop, January 17th, 2009 by David Drager
Crowds stream from Light Rail & buses
Golf cart lane down Baltimore Street.
Coldest day of year
Strange light of mid-winter late afternoon.
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
Where black folks were chattel.
A recreation of Lincoln’s
Except without the disguises
And the sneaking
First blood of the Civil War
Spilled blocks away
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
Federal Hill cannon turned
So many things have turned
And turned again
Are we truly
Of common hopes
Of common dreams?
Eleven minutes from the crowds roar
To “God bless America”
Then the magic ended
And music resumed
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
“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"
when tears flow not for injustice
but for hope
No longer do we wait
today is our day
SONGS OF HOPE SUNG IN FERTILE FIELDS by Bryan Borland
SHAKE: the poetry of Bryan Borland
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
heroes and heroines,
kings and queens
left out of our small-town
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
from the shadows and the silence.
It’s for internment camps and backs of buses and inferior schools and
it’s for courage of ‘em all.
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,
yours as well as mine.
is for the freedom
and move ahead hand in hand
and the right
to rise up
and move beyond
This one is for November 4, 2008,
and the first poem of hope
© Bryan Borland