I took part in an Open Mic Poetry Reading last night that was co-sponsored by the Georgia Writers Museum and our local library. The event was to include a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and others who have been influences in our lives.

I took the occasion as a challenge to write a poem inspired by Martin Luther King, and by the time I was done I realized that his message – and especially his “I have a dream” speech – may be even more relevant and needed today than back in the  ’60s when Dr. King was doing his teaching and preaching.

The poem was well-received at the Open Mic event. The librarian asked if she could display a copy at the library, and several people suggested I submit it to our local newspaper for possible publication. I intend to do that – even though the next issue of the paper will come out several days after the holiday on which we celebrate King’s birthday.

I’m sharing the poem as my blog post this week. I hope you enjoy it.

For Dr. King

“I have a dream,” a good man said.
A few years later, he was dead.
A single gunshot took his life
And made a widow of his wife.

It’s now been more than fifty years
Since everyone has dried their tears,
But here is what we’ve come to know
Since that awful day so long ago.

We cannot simply legislate
A path to peace, an end to hate.
The inner work that must be done
Has got to come from everyone.

We all must recognize our part
To bring about a change of heart.
For as that good man liked to preach,
Respect is something you can teach,

By treating others with compassion,
And speaking out with fervent passion
Whenever we see something wrong,
Like people saying, “You don’t belong.”

We’ll finally be able to turn the page,
When we say, “No more” to violence and rage.
So let’s all resolve to live without
The pain of bigotry, hate, and doubt.

That good man taught us years ago
How we should want our lives to go.
Let’s give to others everywhere
The desire to dream, the strength to care.

Let’s honor Martin Luther King
And with our voices shout and sing
That even though this good man’s gone,
His memory, his dream lives on.

—Betty Liedtke
January 16, 2020

January 17, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020

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