Friday, January 27, 2017

Poetry Equals Power: the Resistance Calls on Poets

Melinda Palacio

Poets Teresa Mei-Chuc and Sojourner Kincaid Rolle at the Los Angeles Women's March

A Charge To Keep In Mind
By Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, Santa Barbara Poet Laureate 2015-2017

There is charge to keep.
it covers the tree keepers
and those who seek to cut them down.
It covers the pedi-drivers
and those who ride in limosines.
It covers the harbors and the hillsides
the landmarks and the NIMBY's.
In all its disparate ways,
It covers the voter and the non-voter;
equal status in the public square.

Your charge is to your neighbor
your neighbor’s water
your neighbor's land use and limits
your neighbor's joyful noise
your neighbor's refuse and effuse
your neighbor/s children in the park
your neighbor's safety on the street.

You have a charge to make a way
for walkers, bikers, runners, climbers’
You have a charge to make a place
for swimmers, skaters, dancers, painters.

You have a charge to listen
Be we praisers or critics –
Be we transient or landed
You have a charge to hear us all -
to keep our counsel at heart.

We, the people, are a multitude
many cultures, many creeds, many life ways -
endowed or impoverished, we all marvel at the rainbow.

Today we can begin
to see a new vision
to hear with new understanding
to act in concert toward our common good.
You have a charge to keep.

We have a bond to hold.

*This poem is published in "What Breathes Us" Santa Barbara Poets Laureate 2005-2015 (Gunpowder Press- 2016)

Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

By Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

This poem is dedicated to the giant trees in the great ever green forests that populate the lands from sea to shining sea - from the Pacific to the Atlantic to Indian Ocean to the Sea of Galilee - and in particular, to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Selma Rubin.

We stand.
We stand tall.

We stand together -
trees in a vast forest
huddled in a great mass.

We are a multitude –
each different and distinct.
We honor our differences.

Where we stand,
our roots sink deep
into the firmament.

We are nurtured.
infused by the ever-flowing
fountain of life.

Endowed with the history of our kind;
our nation, our community, our families,
we learn from the struggles of our forebears.

As we grow, we give back as our ancestors gave;
sacrificing their easy comforts
that future generations together might thrive.

We are our forebears.
We stand in the shadow of their greatness.
We live our lives as their namesakes.

We are the Mahatmas, the Martins,
The Cesars, The Selmas.
We are the guardians of their legacies.

We are the bearers of their flags.
We are the tellers of their stories.
We are the singers of their songs.

We feed the starving.
We clothe the threadbare.
We shelter those who have no home.

We work for change.
We demand justice.
We uplift the downtrodden.

We are the future generations.
We embrace the power of people united.
We will never again be defeated.

In the names of our ancestors,

We stand.
We stand tall.
We stand together.


More Images from the Women's March Santa Barbara edition and a poem to kick off the march.

The video. Hear Melinda Palacio read "The Old Mission's Bell"

before the kickoff to the Women's March, Santa Barbara, Jan 21, 2017. The poem is from

from How Fire Is a Story, Waiting (Tia Chucha Press 2012)
*Thanks to Alison Bailey for the Video

Melinda Palacio
photo by Rod Rolle

Alison Bailey and Melinda Palacio
photo by Rod Rolle


Katey said...

Wonderful poems and videos! Thank you! I had the pleasure of admiring Selma Rubin's activism in the 70s as we both worked with the Ecology Center/Community Environmental Council, and I was especially thrilled to read Sojourner's homage to her in her powerful poem.--Katey

Sojourner The Poet said...

Thank you Katey. I greatly appreciated Selma's friendship and I admired her work in the community. Thia poem was initially requested by my friend, Caesar Trujillo, for the occasion of a Caesar Chavez Holiday Celebration. He asked that I include MLK, and Mahatma Gandhi. I read the poem publicly at the Earth Day Celebration where she was being posthumously celebrated as CEC's Environmental Activist of the Year. The Mother of Earth Day.