MLK, AJH, IHN, and the 65
This inscription on the billboard of a SEPTA bus
Stood leering at the single dads who said, “Who, us?”
With the swinging of a hammer, singing out the pain
Takes me back to Peter Yarrow, can’t forget the name
When the streets were full of marchers (was it worth the fuss?)
Some put flowers in machine guns (might they root in dust)
Some let silence wax poetic as they blocked the streets
Now their children and their children don’t have what to eat
If I were a hammer, I would hammer in the morning
Throw out of the shelters into weather that was storming
I would hammer in the evening open up the doors
As the homeless stumble back from work, can’t take any more.
But the justice and the freedom to the wolves were cast
Cuz the passions of the people, they’re too hot to last
“The words of the prophets still speak to us today”
But with eardrums made of platinum we can’t hear to obey
The bare_ foot ba_ by crying for his mother
Opens door after door seeking comfort from another
You’re not too young to see that you must make your space
Find whatever arms will love in-a-world that has no face
The justice that will flow like a mighty stream
Swept the fathers and the brothers in a lifeless seam
Called the prisons and the shelters and the corners, too
Empty days of bleak dependence they are beckoning you
Frozen women’s hands button up your diapers
Though the touch is cold, the heart is warm, so you don’t fight her.
Circle time is spent around donated heaters
Charity from members is a vital feature
No one taught the rich that freedom isn’t free.
It’s dragged in chains from across the sea.
It’s loaded in the bottom of a rotting boat
All the “tempest-tost” of ghettos yore who just sought hope.
Rich kids drown in books that kids in shelters lack
Hunger and privation team to hold you back
Head on your desk, dinner wasn’t much
Now your teacher tries to reach you though she cannot touch
Hungry and distracted, you can make few friends
Slogging through the morning for the classes to end.
One decent meal is all you get today
Til the charter’s budget cuts take half the food away
Come to graduation and you got no skills,
Fall into the swamp, no way to pay the bills.
Hustling your loosies doesn’t pay the rent
Twenty years, you wonder where your chances went
In search of a name you screwed a willing girl
She bragged to her sistahs that she rocked your world
Three seasons on they make you take a test,
Just another kid in poverty; you know the rest.