A Reflection on Juneteenth

Crimes unimaginable

Sins unfathomable

Wrongs not righted

With an apology,

A soft word,

Or the stroke of a pen.

Pain to the deepest parts

Of the heart and soul,

The very fiber of one’s being,

A wound that doesn’t heal,

But rather cuts deeper

With every smile,

Every handshake,

On every pay day,

Every trip to the grocery store,

Every night at mealtime,

When they look at their children,

When they look at ours.

Privilege continues

Despite the lip service,

Despite the promises,

Amidst the meager gifts,

The dregs of easy charity

From the tatters of a bursting purse,

The guilt trip laid on thick

To the middle class and even

The working poor.

Those that lack for food,

Clothing or shelter,

Living barely day to day,

Not knowing where one’s next

Meal will come from.

And at the church the preacher

Says try harder, pray more,

Save your dollars

So you can send your little ones

To a good college,

Make them study,

Keep them out of trouble,

Tell them you love them,

That you’re proud of them

For that report card.

What do you say

When the white kid

Calls them the n-word?

What do you say

When you don’t have a job

Because you refused

To kiss your supervisor’s butt

When he would talk to you

Like you were nothin’,

Just a cog in his machine,

A disposable, replaceable,

Optional, neglectable,

Insultable, disrespected,

Used, abused, tossed out

To the street

Like so much garbage,

Black man?

Power

Wrong meets right.

The fight is strong.

Laugh, they will.

Cry out, they must.

Shout, at the top of their lungs—

Justice must prevail.

So many innocent lives

Have been crushed by the fist

Of the oppressor!

So many suffer

Because of the greed

And the arrogance

Of the powerful.

The powerful?

Who is powerful?

What is power?

Don’t you know that

The wind has changed course

On this hot, dry day.

The wind! The water!

The earth! The animals!

The birds! The insects!

The trees! Yes, even the trees!

Look at an old oak tree,

And tell me about power!

Look at a rushing stream,

And tell me about power!

Watch a lion kill its prey,

And tell me about power!

Is a gun, power?

In the hands of a six year old, a gun is just as powerful as in the hands of a grown man!

A gun is just a tool.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it useful.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it powerful.

And when a thousand voices scream,

That’s power!

When the people speak as one,

That’s power!

Don’t be afraid.

Be excited!

Be joyful!

Be glad!

For power has come to the people,

And they will not be denied this moment.

They have prayed,

And they have worked,

And they have suffered

For this moment.

Listen to the wind blow

Through the trees!

Justice has come like a mighty rush of wind,

And anything that’s old, anything that’s weak,

Anything that’s not tied down tight,

Is gonna blow away!

Those old tricks, old ways,

Cowardly words, weak attitudes,

Straw men beware!

The wind of justice has come to blow you…

Away!

Make A Difference

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We Are One

I waited for you

On top of the mountain,

But you didn’t show.

I went down

Into the valley,

But I didn’t see you there.

I sailed on the ocean,

Hoping to catch

A glimpse of you at sunrise,

But I was disappointed.

I prayed to you

To appear to me,

And I looked at my reflection

In a pool of water.

It was then that I realized–

You were always with me,

For you are a part of me.

We can never be separated,

You and I.

We are One.

In the Presence of Everything

Are you the hand

That I shake in the pew,

Or on my way out the door,

To the parking lot?

Are you the presence,

In the plate and cup,

Upon the altar,

That is given for me to consume?

Are you the dirty, scarred face,

Of an abused, homeless woman,

Begging on the street,

Around the corner from the grocery store?

Are you the gentle face and eager voice

Of the elderly man

Who comes to my front door,

Struggling to use an iPad to show a video?

Are you the pastor at the soup kitchen,

Who tells me the administrative position

I’m interviewing for requires someone

Who can shmooze with the volunteers?

Are you the book with all the stories

Spoken a long, long time ago,

Written a long time ago,

For people who lived a long time ago?

If so, I’m wondering:

What is your name? Who am I

In relation to you?

Why do you appear differently to all?

I’d like to pin you down,

Put your number and your address

In my contact list.

I’d like to feel you.

I know that’s not how you operate,

If you did, you wouldn’t be God,

Or would you?

Sometimes I wonder.

Connections

Did you, too?

Have you been there?

Do you, really?

Thank you.

I’m glad you’re here.

I’m glad I’M here.

This is work.

I want to get better.

I wish I could sleep.

I sleep too much.

I’m ready to commit to that.

I’m ready to quit.

I trust you.

Thank you for being there for me.

A Light

A light twinkles

In the distance;

It is my hope,

Fragile, yet strong.

Will a big gust of wind

Blow out my candle?

I am protected

By many walls:

Meds, doctors,

Counselors, family,

Friends and helpers.

That gust of wind

Can blow if it must,

But my light will not

Be extinguished.

I will use

The tools I’ve been given.

I will continue the struggle,

And I will win.

Strong

Experience.

A light bulb turns on.

Words flow like breathing.

Comfortable.

Fellow warriors

Keeping each other company.

Along for the ride,

Together.

Be there for you,

Whenever you need someone.

Any time, any place.

Trust me.

I’ll hold out a light

So you can see your way.

Brothers and sisters

Of mental illness.

Strong.

Up in Space, Down to Earth

Reaching up to the top

The staircase winds between the stars,

Up in the dark sky.

The planets revolve around

Information.

Our efforts cling,

With space station chatter.

We dream in cycles.

Rainbows spill across the horizon.

The trees drip with rain drops,

Too heavy, falling

From fragile leaves.

Howls in the distance

Proclaim Mother Nature

As the ruler of us all.

Splashing in the river,

Fish jump and swim,

Frogs ribbit through dusk.

Birds hide in their nests,

Comfy for a night’s rest.

All is eventually quiet.

Nature has gone to sleep.

Stars Smiling

Speed collects beads

Of sweat on the seatbelt

Wrapped around my body.

Likening your smile

To a Star streak across the sky

On a mellow night.

The sun is bright this morning

As it rises above the hills.

See the birds fly

From the trees so frantically.

I bet one of them saw me

When I told you I loved you

In the tree, smiling, ear to ear.