The Vision (a poem by Victor Klimoski)

When Obama was first elected, I wrote a poem that tried to capture some of the surge of hope that event occasioned.  Since then, I have returned to the poem in an effort to bring it to its rightful voice.  For reasons unknown, as I thought about the 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and my general obliviousness, the poem suddenly cracked open.  It was not about Obama but about a legacy laid down much earlier by sacrifice, diligence, and blood. 

Work on the poem brought to mind the courage and eloquence of Martin Luther King, Jr.  His willingness to be so public cost him not only his life but the constant efforts to erode his reputation, find the faults that would allow us to close our ears and, more seriously, our hearts. But I realized that his message, his capacity to see a vision despite the chaos, is not diminished because he was flawed. On the contrary, despite his weaknesses that he surely he knew would come to light, he did not waiver. 

Receive this in the early state it is in as my modest engagement with the day. 

The Vision

Honoring Martin Luther King

We don’t dream enough,

allow ourselves to see visions

so bold in color and sound

we fall to our knees.

We have grown accustomed

to cynicism, content to focus

on fault lines and gaps.

We are masters of fearing.

This one who told us

over and over again to dream

described a landscape open to the sky,

a place where ambiguity and dissent

could find reconciliation.

He unsealed the corridors,

set fear squarely in the light,

telling us not to flee

but to move closer.

He showed us how to stand

shoulder to shoulder,

grasp a hand on each side,

and face into the wind.

He believed despite his own fears,

despite his own failings,

that the seemingly ordinary

birthed extraordinary possibility

which, first and always,

he named


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