I had the chance to present a new work at Bates Technical College’s South Campus. We had a full house and Lyle Qasim presided. We had a wonderful array of folks presenting and I was glad to be a part of it. Some folks wanted a copy of the poem, so here it is…
The Dream Was Bigger
This dream penetrates
paragraphs of curriculum
that count the dream–
but leave the speech at
That was the lesson that taught President
Lyndon Banes Johnson that black leaders
will never be obedient in the end
to which Dr. King
“ So Be It.”
This dream imagines a poor people’s march
on Washington that would made the first one
look like a warm up act, and asks you to wonder
how many leaders need to be shot for poor people
to rise up and say “enough”.
King was just about
to organize that second March
and his death was no coincidence.
This dream remembers that the main organizer
of the march was Bayard Rustin, a gay man
who had to keep his identity in the closet
to spare publicity. While Martin dreamed, Bayard organized
rallying mental spread sheets in his head
figuring how he was going to bus them all, feed them all
entertain them all and get them back home with danger
one gun barrel or rabid German shepherd away.
This dream is looking with interest at
Idle No More with indigenous geeks
lighting facebook gun powder
igniting the claim for land justice
hundreds of years after the claim was
ignored. This dream likes the beat of the Pow Wow drum.
This dream does not ignore the fact that
the United States is a class society
that upward mobility is less like mountain hiking,
and more like extreme rock climbing where the ropes
may disappear at a moment’s notice.
Not everyone can hold on.
This dream recognizes
a few people get to take the rail or the lift to the top
and we call them the one percent and they frequently
celebrate the virtues of self reliance.
So look around you, this dream is a dream of interdependence.
We needed each other then, we need each other now.
No one ever changed society by relying just on themselves.
This dream crossed one dangerous bridge after another
with water cannons waiting and canines trained to attack
women and children and there was no guarantee that
peaceful marches would work anymore than they worked
in Syria where the government answered peace with bullets
and bombs. Bravery means we do not know the outcome.
Our ancestors were brave.
This dream holds the soil of Trayvon Martin
in its outstretched fingers,
and hears the chant of young black men
in Chicago who are dying by hundreds each year
and listens to the simple plea illustrated on
the protest signs which simply says
“I just want to live long enough to grow up”
This dream settled into the leg muscles of
Victoria Soto who hid her children and distracted
The gunmen at Sandy Hook elementary and accepted
the odds, her life in the place of children. I am sure Martin would
have mourned her.
This dream is restless, unsettled, and believes that
The United States must reinvent itself every
250 years, one quarter of a millennia, or implode
from the weight at the top.
We have thirteen years left.
This dream looks like a ladder, like the DNA strand
that helixes upward, that brought you here,
motivated you to educate, to grab the ropes
when you could find them, grip the rock crags when
you could not.
We are standing on a hill now, all of us
are standing on a hill and I do not have enough
descriptors to explain how different each of you
are Cambodian, Black, Laotioan, Daino, Scotch Irish,
Gender Queer, African Nationalist, Vietnamese, army brat,
Mixed German Caucasian, Seahawk faithful, soon to
be married lesbian couple, Russian Immigrant,
Eritrean, Montana beef fed farm boy, and
no I will not say trailer trash because
you were never trash
and you never will be,
soon to be cosmologists,
Doctors of Astronomy
AIDS workers, Registered Nurses,
Civil rights scholars
Mexican American Theater Radicals
blissfully unaware of white privilege
Whole Foods Shoppers,
Organizers to free Leonard Peltier,
Hair dresser therapists,
Teen mothers returning to school
Dream Act nominees
And U.S. Citizens
You are unique
But your DNA is climbing
like your hope
and that hope includes all of us,
that hope forms a helix ladder worth climbing
that took us to this hill
that brought us to this dream
that tells us we are in a period
of rapid REM rapid eye movement
when the dream is most vivid
where the plot thickens
where the turning point happens
where the years seem like days
and we reinvent our nation.
We have thirteen years left.