In honor of MLK Day, and because I've still got the movie SELMA on my mind, I'm sharing today from Cybils Finalist VOICES FROM THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON, Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon
One of my favorite voices in the book is a fictional character penned by J. Patrick Lewis:
Raymond Jarvis, 25
B.A. Degree in Business Administration
Out-of-Work Store Clerk
I watch my business administration degree
secure a place for me in the unemployment line.
I watch my mother worry that her
math-star son struggles to earn a living.
I watch the register fill
till my boss's magic trick makes all
the "petty cash" disappear.
I watch my paycheck shrink
ten dollars a week till they fire me
"for offending a lady in hardware, boy."
I watch my blister
of a bungalow get splat-tattooed
with a red, white, and blue swastika.
I watch the window
and the rock sailing through the window
with a promise.
I watch the moon
as if the moon had any answers,
her face hidden in a disgrace of clouds.
I watch my no-account savings account
buy a cup of coffee and a heap of humiliation,
and you ask me why I'm going to the March?
- J. Patrick Lewis
...and I also love this imagined voice from George Ella Lyon, whom, thrill of thrills, I got to meet this past November at NCTE!:
HALLEY LIZA CLEMONS
30, Hotel Maid
A pause between speakers
and a man white as a pillowslip
asks where I came from,
how I go there. I say
Nashville, Tennessee. I took
a bus. That satisfies him.
He's from Kentucky. He drove.
But it would be truer to say
somebody sang me here.
If it wasn't for some old
woman, one of my greats,
dark to dark, never giving
up, I wouldn't even be. She
kept the song of our blood
going. She carried me here.
- George Ella Lyon
and finally, a poem I found in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech delivered August 28, 1963, Washington, DC. I wrote it in the form of a letter, since he liked letters. All the words appear in order, kind of like blackout poetry. Fun!
in the corners
of our republic.
on the red hills,
into faith –
we join hands,
- Irene Latham
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