Tuesday, February 15, 2011

There Once Was a Man

There once was a man
Named Martin Luther King
He walked the earth
For only a short time
But he taught
Our hearts
How to sing
We shall overcome
No amount of taunts
Or wild dogs
Or torrents of skin searing
Water from high pressure
Fire hoses
Could keep him
From fighting
For righteousness
He believed in so many things
Like God and Love
And one man one vote
He believed
that all of god’s children
Are created equal
And should be judged
By the contents of their character
And not by the color of their skin
He was a dreamer
And he shared with us his dream
For a better world
And a better life
For all of god’s children
Because he believed
That the moral arc of the universe
may be long
But it bends towards justice
And he helped all the rest of us
To believe it too
He preached a gospel of love
For all humankind
Because he said the burden of hatred
Was just too heavy a burden to bear
With his wife Coretta at his side
And Dr. Ralph Abernathy
Watching his back
He marched into the teeth
Of the storm
And never once looked back
His feet never faltered
And his voice and his vision
Never failed him
For he had been
To the mountain top
And he had looked over
Into the Promised Land
And though he was shot
By a skulking coward
He knew that we as a people
Would all get to the Promised Land
Because he believed
In creating
The beloved community
Even when his home
Was fire-bombed
He believed in the beloved community
Even when J. Edgar Hoover
and the entire FBI
had tried to destroy
His good name
He believed in the terrible urgency of now
Because he knew that America
Had waited too long
To fulfill the promise of equality
That was won
On the battlefields of Gettysburg
And almost lost
On the battlefields of Vicksburg
And Fredericksburg
Twenty acres and a mule
The going rate
For 400 years of involuntary servitude
Called slavery
Twenty acres and mule
As payment
For the holocaust
Of the middle crossing
When human cargo
Filled the hulls
Of slave ships
Bound for the new world
In exchange for cotton and rum
Sugar and tobacco
When human beings had become a cash crop
But Martin Luther King
Had been to the mountain top
And he called out against
The Vietnam War
Because he knew that dropping Napalm
On children
Was wrong
Oh so very wrong
And he marched for all the poor people
And built a tent city
In the shadow of the Washington monument
Because the government’s promises
Had been returned to sender
Due to insufficient funds
Because he knew how hard it could be
To pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps
When there was no boot to be owned
And the only boots to be seen
Were those of Jim Crow and the KKK
On the necks and backs
Of free men trying to live free
So many tears and unanswered prayers
Looking for a voice
For a chance to be spoken
And heard
Because it took a man
Named Martin Luther King
To go to Memphis Tennessee
To support
The sanitation workers strike
Because he knew
That the strikers were men
Who only wanted to be free
Even though death awaited him
On the balcony of the Motel
Named Lorraine
When the shots rang out
That tore through his neck
And killed
One of the finest of men
Who ever lived
A man who believed
In the power and the gospel of love
Because the burden of hatred
Was just too heavy a burden
To bear

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment