Monday, January 21, 2008

For Martin Luther King

I wrote this poem last year and may have posted it here before. I've honed it some since then and am reposting in honour of his day. I heard Martin Luther King give his I Have A Dream speech during the March On Washington. I was working that summer in Manhattan and rode down with members of a Black church in Brooklyn, where I worked, in a chartered bus that day. Make no mistake. King was a special leader. For that day, skin color was forgotten. We gathered around that long wading pool and believed in his dream. It's been a long time, but I hope it still will come true.


Martin Luther King: MIA


We're looking for you, Martin.
We're searching Selma,
back-row bus seats,
crowded lunch counters,
Dylan's guitar,
Hoover's files,
your I Have A Dream speech.
We're combing back through days
when protest and love
beat in the same heart chamber;
days when we thought black
would meet white
and white would meet black
in a role reversal melt
down of ivory keys played
on a Sunday organ in churches
pouring Christ's blood
into silver chalices
for whoSOEVER believed.

Show yourself, Martin.
Do you sit, unseen,
in laps of the homeless,
the disenfranchised,
beaten and raped women,
molested children
and sad,jobless men,
telling them love
can still rule the world
and no hand will then ever be raised
with whip,chain or fist to innocent backs?

We need you, Martin.
Take up your staff.
Strap on your sandals.
Lead us from temptation
and forward into a salvation
of arms outreached in an endless ballet
where princes remain faithful
and trapped swans are set free
by long journey's end.


(c)Pris Campbell

A youtube slice of the event:



Peter, Paul and Mary...Baez and Dylan perform before the speech.



7 comments:

DeadMule said...

Great poem, Pris. Thanks for sharing it. Helen

Liz said...

Thank you for sharing!
It's a wonderful poem.

colleen said...

I am asking with you. I watched and cried while watching Oprah's King special today. She ended it by asking all who were listening, "How will he live in you?"

Scot said...

Love the pic of Dylan and Baez--brings it back
in a role reversal melt
down of ivory keys played
on a Sunday organ in churches
pouring Christ's blood
into silver chalices
for whoSOEVER believed.
That is WOW--love this poem.
Scot
http://midwestpoet.worpress.com

Collin said...

Fantastic tribute, Pris.

Pat Paulk said...

Obviously, in some respects things have much improved. But prejudice knows no color, and as long as money, and small minds exist it will always be. Love it!!

Pris said...

Thank you all for your comments. I've had a house guest and haven't had time to reply. Colleen, I love that question..how will he live on in you? And Pat, I fear you're right.