The Quarterly Journal
of Contemporary Narrative Verse
Volume I Number 4 Spring 1998
by Ronald Gordon Ziegler
1. I Have A Dream
1 Onto the people, this message beam,
onto the people, I have a dream.
Take it the birds that fly to and fro
and spread it to the winds so that all will know.
2 Take it, the river that flows to the sea;
Take it, and make sure that all men see.
Take it, the moonlight that shines on me now;
Take it, and spread it to all men somehow.
3 Shout it from each summit so high
so it will ring from out all the sky.
Take it and hold it so all men can see
that the way God wants us is how we must be.
4 Take it, and spread it, and hold it, and shout;
Tell the whole world what my dream is about.
Onto the people, this message beam,
onto the workers, I have a dream.
5 I have a dream that this nation one day
will rise up and live out then and always
the true meaning of its creed that we
hold self-evident men created equally.
6 I have a dream that one day on the red hills
of Georgia, the sons of slaves indeed will
sit down together with former slaveowners' sons
at the table of brotherhood beneath God's sun.
7 I have a dream that my children one day
will live in a nation where men can say
that they are not judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character within.
8 I have a dream that Gentiles and Jews,
Protestants and Catholics, will be able to
sing out the spiritual of days now passed
"Free at last, thank God, we're free at last!"
9 For God so loved the world that He
gave His only son onto us that we
might not perish but have eternal life
if we accept His guidance through this world of strife.
10 And when my Lord looks down at me,
it is not the color of my skin He sees,
but the worth of my work upon the earth,
and I surely am not of a more noble birth.
11 For the dream I have is not my own,
or though it is mine, it is not mine alone,
for it is the Lord's and all mankind's,
and through the darkness, it always shines.
12 And the darkness shall grasp it not.
Sing onto the world this dream I have got,
that we are all equal and mankind is one
just as the Lord is. And His will shall be done.
13 Onto the people, this message beam,
onto the workers, I have a dream.
And you shall know the truth surely,
says Jesus, and the truth shall set you free.
2. Jim Crow
1 "White only" signs were a common sight
or "Colored Entrance -- Around to the Right"
or "Help Wanted, No Colored Need Apply,"
and "Nigger" seemed to black as blue was to sky.
2 Homer Plessy had been denied his seat
and segregation now had become complete
-- it was even illegal for two people to wed
if their skin color differed, so the law read.
3 The Greyhound would stop in Cincinnati
and black passengers would have to be
reseated before it could go on ahead,
in the back of the bus, so the law said.
4 Each gas station located below
the Mason-Dixon line had three rest rooms so
there would be one set aside specially
for the "colored' customers -- "separate, equally."
5 But as the libraries and as the schools,
the water fountains and the swimming pools,
separate somehow was never the same
-- segregation was the name of the game.
6 It has not been long, lest we forget,
a "colored' man could not even sit
at the lunch counter at the corner store --
if he was even allowed in the door.
7 And "nigger" or "boy" were simply the words
used for black people, and, be assured,
that any "colored" person who even winced
at them would simply and quickly be lynched.
8 The grandfather clause, the literacy test,
the poll tax, white primary, and all the rest,
were gimmicks used to disenfranchise
-- if they weren't enough, the Klan would arrive.
9 This was the nation -- this land of the free --
of black codes, poverty, and illiteracy --
that the freedmen were forced to know;
the land of the free was the land of Jim Crow.
10 And it was not just in the South that it reigned,
for in the North and Mid-West, it was much the same.
Hotels and motels would not take "Negro" guests
and ghettoes stretched from Harlem to the West.
11 It was indeed ugly and un-American,
but this was the heritage of the Jeffersonians
who knew quite simply inferiority
-- that was just the was it had to be.
12 Old Teddy Roosevelt, the Bankers' friend,
whose Big Stick was world-renowned back then,
knew the only good Indian was one that was dead,
and they were no better than "Niggers" he said.
13 Forget about slavery, it was long gone;
Jim Crow was this land's sinful wrong.
But anyone who believed that he was free
in a land that had "Niggers" just could not see.