2020 Community Poem

Poetry for a Change


A community poem written for the 2020 West End Poetry Festival with contributions from Akindele Bilikis, Abigail Browning, Jay Bryan, Peter Burian, Gail Chesson, Ralph Earle, Joshua Factor, John Goodie, Jackie Helvey, Maura High, John Hoppenthaler, Kai Love, Lynda Myers, Alice Osborn, Gary Phillips, Susan Spalt, Dee Stribling, and Doug Stuber.

Guest Edited by Elly Bookman

I climb the spires and ladders of Grandfather Mountain’s truth
with my family this fall Saturday.
Though not where the root is but the graft has taken. 

Home is Durham. The fruits are endless.
Each scrap of land here, each dwelling, has its story and its future.
Bring me the change, from color to color, from dust to the dance of rain.

Change comes like sea spray, tireless as red-eyed vireos.
Preacher Bird soothes splintered ways. The changes
for the freed Black man have been but a trickle. It is time for the rivers to flow. 

We age, our wrinkles deepen, stone-thrown ripples in the Yadkin River.
We ride the wind of change, holding on, laughing and crying
until we are flung into new selves.  Our lives are forever metamorphosis.

Change is the only constant, as Carrboro’s woods and creeks,
its roads and roofs can tell you. Caswell county cornstalks
call in wind to primed tobacco ghosts.

The opposite of change is stagnation, stalling.
Revisionist history no more, please tell the truth about what happened
at the African shores. Change removes all heart yet inspires heights. 

Sing to Carrboro, no one silent, no one unheard.
The beauty of nature is perpetually changing, but
the beauty of the universe is eternal. 

Poetry unites our hearts and our heads
as we work for change. Days dawn bright with hope.
Open your eyes and we will see it together.