January Holiday (by Ken McKeon)
MLK atop the Sproul Hall steps,
Thousands in the plaza before him,
His words carrying righteous opposition
Back across the country to LBJ,
Speaking for us, as us,
Peace in Vietnam, justice here at home,
RFK, young, bright, standing tall,
Here at the Greek, he’s
Dedicating himself and us,
To peace at last in Vietnam,
And justice too here at home.
Martin, Bobby, others too,
All gone, and then a slide,
A long slide, with some lifts,
All the way to this the new,
The Golden Towers of a golden man,
He turns everything into himself,
A highly personalized land,
His newly branded land,
It’s his, it’s him, all over.
And of us? Why, I go within myself
And can barely find my heart,
Though I shake with age,
Though outrage stirs me still,
And the voices I would hear,
I must find within me, and beside me,
In the streets of this town, this land,
In my eyes, my tongue, my heart,
And, it is my prayer, in yours too.
Ken gets to the heart of something important in this poem. A healthy relationship for each of us (as citizen, steward, neighbor, protector) with our world (the land, Gaia, community, Mother Earth) does not involve the need to occupy all that we survey. Without a space to behold and to hold dear, no honest engagement can take place. We need to value others before we can value ourselves.
And those who have put their lives on the line to remind us that all lives have value, deserve a special place in our hearts.
Well put Michael
Poetry provides us with distilled thoughts, that nub of truth that silences the roar of voices and allows to reflect and find a way forward.