In memory of Rep. John Lewis 1940-2020

John Lewis
John Lewis

___  Dear John 
 
.
 
The instructions
 
 while reading this composition
 
if there were 
     / instructions
 
the 
instructions
 would be
 
to hum
    / silently
 
“oh freedom”
 
“ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around”
 
“we shall overcome”
 
“I don’t feel no ways tired”
 
        / we’ve come too far
 
“a change gonna come”
 
.
 
Dear John
.
 
       / Courageous
 .
 
            / Young Blood
 
.
 
he was called
the conscience of the congress
 
has flown away to eternal recline
to rest
to lie down 
   / a gathering
around the throne
 
looking up
at the brilliant
right hand
smiling and assured
by the complexion of his brother
marveling 
in the light of
the nazarene 
      / a long line of
 divine
 
beautiful outlaws
 
well done 
my good and faithful servant
 
 .
 
Dear John
.
 
        / Courageous
.
 
                   / Young Blood
 
.
 
.
 
arrested over forty times
for causing
good trouble
 
upsetting the evil
status quo
 
       / he too
was bloodied
 
dressed in sunday best 
beaten with brutal baton
on a bridge
not long ago
just down yonder
below
the mason dixon demon
line
 
    /  nailed 
to a ku klux 
cross
 
he sang sacred
hymns
 
they whistled wicked
dixie
 
        / a sacrificial 
lamb
 
he lay his body down
 to tyranny
 
     / only
to rise 
again 
 
in the sacred halls
 of 
justice
 
.
 
Dear John 
 
.
      / Courageous.
.
 
              / Young Blood
 
.
 
.
 
to be so young
  to be so 
 
   / the embodiment of an old
 
negro spiritual
and freedom song
so full of
power
 
a sharecropper’s tune
a hope for the coming
harvest
 
a story to tell
  / a legacy to leave
 
a blueprint
for struggle
 
a cross to bear
  / a crown to wear
 
a love
supreme
 
the ancestors’
wildest
dream
 
..
 
 .
 
Dear John
 
.
          / Courageous
.
 
        / Young Blood 
E. Stanley Richardson
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