Find Posts By Topic

New year, new poems from Civic Poet, Claudia Castro Luna


These poems were written and performed for Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Day Celebration at Seattle City Hall, January 14th 2016

Incandescent and Intact

When I consider our radiant powers of creativity at birth
and think of the perfection in the bodies we have been granted
the organ we call skin, how it lets us feel the tiniest sting from an icy snowflake
how it lets us consider the roughness of a rock, the forgiving wiriness of moss
how the two beacons known as eyes filter for our amazement heaven’s wonders
just how by their method a mother’s profile is unmistakable to her babe

When I think of the cruel and grotesque ways
human dignity and possibility are, and have been, robbed and trampled
think that thousands of boys and girls, men and women
never got to harvest the fruits of their genius
how their potential was crushed
how some lost their lives

Then, I refuse to believe that their life force is forever gone
lost to slavery, racism, sexism, lost to bigotry and greed
I refuse to accept that this plethora of exuberance and intelligence was for naught
let this poem be a garden, a gathering place
a place where all the unclaimed creativity
of those who went without its benefits may exist unbounded

let Emmett Till, killed at age 14 in Mississippi, let him sing here
let Santos Rodriguez, killed at age 13 in Austin, let him dance here
let Tamir Rice, killed at age 12 in Cleveland, let him dream here
let these boys experience the pulse and tenderness of becoming
let them be safe here
let them gather in this garden

I refuse to let them go into the dark night
with their brilliance incandescent and intact
this poem is a garden of respect, a garden of dignity, a garden of love
so long I read, so long you read and listen to these lines they live
they live in hearts that throb inside ribcages, enwrapped in skin
skin that we all own
skin that should never define us, should never define us


 Go tell America
– From the Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech

Remind America
of the fierce urgency of now
whithering injustice, discrimination, poverty
exhile in [our] own land
America, her citizens of color defaulted
America bankrupt

This legitimate discontent will not pass
we must rise with soul force, realize our destiny
we cannot turn back
we can never be satisfied as long as
unspeakable police brutality
we can never be satisfied as long as
children are stripped of their adulthood and robbed of their dignity
we cannot be satisfied as long as
[we have] nothing for which to vote
can never be satisfied
no, no, we are not satisfied
we will not be satisfied

This situation can and will be changed
I dream all men are created equal
I dream an oasis of freedom and justice
I dream that crooked places be made straight
I dream that children be judged by the content of their character
I dream, I dream, I dream, I dream, I dream

This hope stands for freedom
if America be
a great nation
this must be true:
we allow, we ring, we speed, we join, we sing
we are
we are
We are