Two Hands

December 10, 2009

With one hand I praise peace
as the other unleashes war
against enemies out there
on numerous foreign shores.

With the silver cup of peace
I awe the well-dressed crowd and world
desiring profit, but too the peace
inaugurated by my words.

My words, I’ll share with you.
The army marches through.
A drone-launched missile consumes.
Consumers stock their rooms.

I leave for Copenhagen
where the climate warming problem
is another luminous dawn
for grandchildren’s rue or song.

I tuck my kids in at night,
too, in this presidential life,
as actors whisper in my ear
how to steer the collective wheel.



April 26, 2009

To dive into a web
and detonate a charge —
now here come the spiders,
the rude ones, the smilers.

I sense a raging wind
sweeps across the skies,
though where I live–stillness,
and change still but a sigh.


January 29, 2009

One Hundred Days of Change

From who I am to sustain a man

in moral constance, who must stand

without those assassin masks

polluting boardrooms and bedrooms.


Tumultuous world competitions–

at root self-struggles–offer one vision

through clash and chance, and costume

our nature in history.


To flourish amid this–like flowers’ roots–

yet debut a singular blue-and-white tulip

nurtured by time-running water

cycling through the soil. . . .


Welcome to Poets for Obama and thank you for visiting us! We have a wonderful archive here of poems published during the election. See below and check it out. For new work, visit the poems published each day during President Barack Obama’s first 100 days at Peace.


November 5, 2008

Yes We Can

Autumnal flaming trees fuel how I feel,

fanning passion in clear certain light, because dawn

offers no sight beyond saved hopes, and birds in enflamed

ruby leaves weave notes of identity and season.


Poem by Gregg Mosson. Gregg Mosson is the author of Season of Flowers and Dust, and an editor of this blog.


November 2, 2008

Walk to the Ballot Box

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said you must vote to have an impact on who receives: Income, Education, Health Care, Housing and Justice. “A vote-less people are a powerless people,” said Dr. King. “The most important step we can take is that short walk.”

If you’re sick of being tired
If you’re really ready for change
Then we gotta walk
Do more than just talk
We gotta get our ballots arranged

You want a bigger piece of the pie
And more than menial wages
If you want higher income
Then you gotta bring some
Ballots to the voting cages

If you really want better schools
You hold the key to the locks
You want higher education
Find a voting station
And walk to that ballot box

If you’re ill but can’t see a doctor
Cause your hospitals are all closed
If you’re lacking health care
Then you’d best beware
Your vote is your only repose

You say you want better housing
And peace in your neighborhood
Then remember your vote
Is the only bank note
That can purchase any good

Finally . . . if you really, truly want justice
Then cash in some bonds and stocks
Make it your pay day
Next Election Day
And walk to the ballot box

And vote for Barack Obama

Poem by Ty Gray-EL. Ty Gray-El is an activist, author and poet born and raised in the nation’s capitol, and can be reached at


October 28, 2008


for P.



This rainy morning spent with you enwraps

and warms me by the window, braced for work,

as September’s downpour augurs summer’s end,

a summer in which we made each other legally

one, and live here—together softly and strong—

a conjoining we have chosen and called it home.



I vote because I love my life and those held dear,

aware that greed’s vice-grip is present and prepared

to claim our private world as legally their own

for use in gain. Each private world exists of course

at the same crossroads with the public sphere, and so

ideas of justice are born from private mirrors.



The ancient war god Mars is smiling above, aloof,

and Venus, that wily love, lounges on cloud-puffs,

each awaiting who next will be summoned to bring

their blessings to the massive world.


Poem by Gregg Mosson. Gregg Mosson is the author of Season of Flowers and Dust, and an editor of this blog.


October 20, 2008

Marvin Gaye Sings “The Star Spangled Banner”

NBA All Star Game, 13 February 1983

This is about Love. About Pain.

About how sweet it is,

the Real Thing.




Can I get a witness?

But he’s known One More Heartache.

He knows all about that.

About Love trapped in the blood no getaway

Even after you’ve gone:

Leave her

My mistake

Leave town

Was to love You

Leave the country.

When did You

Stop loving me…?

Marvin sings.

If this world were mine

He knows words can lie, conceal

Heard it through

The grapevine

Makes this song a promissory note,

Makes (Midnight) love to

The Dream

Hushed, sensual,

Slow healing.

His tribe Last of the Believers

Makes me wanna holler

The only Real Americans left

The way They do my life


Marvin sings. Caresses words.

The nation, fickle,

Seduced by the familiar:

A distant lover persuaded to do right

That’s the way love is


Before she gives up her Secret,

Releases Freedom,

A river, soft as her kiss

All I need to get by

Then strong and sudden, true,

Says, Let’s Get It…

With bombs bursting in air

Can I get a WIT-ness?

By Dawn’s



(Do you know the meaning of

“Been Sanctified?”)


Reginald Harris is the author of 10 Tongues (Three Conditions Press, 2001), and recent work has appeared in The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South and Poems Against War: Ars Poetica.


October 15, 2008

The News


In the morning, the sun paints Venetian stripes

on my bedroom wall. When a cloud passes,


the pattern fades then returns, a camera

going in and out of focus. The brighter the sun,

the darker the shade: that’s what I like best.


That, and the way we are unable to stop

the stream of information

we open our eyes to each morning, turning toward

the nightstand to read the big and little hands,


waiting for the pattern of stripes to tell us,

as if we were fish turning upstream

and opening the pages of our daily gills,

what kind of life lies waiting.


Poem by Kim Roberts. Kim Roberts is author of two books and editor of The Beltway Quarterly, an online journal based in Washington D.C. This poem first appeared in The Broadkill Review.


The News


Warning—sudden calamitous events

have stunned the most responsible women and men

but broadcasts undust old narratives again.


I think it better to assess my house:

promises honored, self-regards undone.

I find in silence improvement, slightly though,


and so that old battle with myself. I go

and ride that road past the gallery of masks

to reach a field where ancient ghouls and gods


welcome my second self, who knows his roots,

and wrestles the world within, demanding order

and life, while worldly fortunes rise and die.


Poem by Gregg Mosson. Gregg Mosson is the author of Season of Flowers and Dust, and an editor of this blog.


October 5, 2008



After miles and months of being stuck –

my same old self and all the same problems –

springtime comes to me even ‘though it’s fall

and the old pain melts away, leaving only light.


I find myself standing here

at Charles and Read Streets, like old times,

and, just as in my hippie days,

I’m holding my hand out for change.


Poem by Karen S. Elliott. Ms. Elliott is president of the Baltimore Ethical Society.


A Lesson from Miles


Only jazz can understand this—
music the first place Black and White
came together like unwritten notes
in a jazz composition; back then
everybody played what they felt
listened to what each was adding
to the conversation. Miles
enters me on the umpteenth
playing of My Funny Valentine.
I remember the album
Black and glossy like a child’s
face covered in Vaseline, see
faces of musicians he played
with, always ready for new
vibe, the change in music
a collaboration of love,
like Obama’s campaign.–


Poem by Mary E. Weems. Ms. Weems is a professor and author of “”An Unmistakable Shade of Red and the Obama Chronicles” (Bottom Dog Press, Ohio).


September 29, 2008


The Hour Black is Beautiful


when we

when we can see

when we can see Black presidents

in the Whitehouse that’ll be the day


that’ll be the day my father lives at home

with his wife and his child

until his death will do him part


that’ll be the day I finally find

buying weed and drank is

harder than buying me a book

a book of poems a book of short stories

a book for school


when we can see Black presidents

in the Whitehouse that’ll be the day

where I sit in the dining room

smelling something going on in the kitchen

and I finally know what’s cooking,

it’s my Grandma baking and I can finally ask

what’s that baking Grandma, pecan?

pecan sweet pecan pie

some that there pecan pie

that there your grandson-only sweet pecan pie


that’ll be the day where in Any Ghetto, USA

wherein where the flies can’t even live

shadows of tenements become dull

the snow on the television disappears

with news saying the same headline that

newspapers of the morning will read that

they have news of when we can see

a Black president in the Whitehouse


that’ll be the day I say in Swahili


that’ll be the day I say in Swahili



that’ll be the day I translate

something African to American

Uncle Tom Jim Crow and some

Hurricane named Katrina

have nothing on me


hear the roar

hear the roar

a South Africa plus Mandela

hear the roar


this hour Black is beautiful


when we can see Black presidents

in the Whitehouse that’ll be the day

I say I want my Blackness that’ll be the day

I say I want my Blackness to stay on

I say I want my Blackness to stay on me


Poem by Robert R. Reese. Mr. Reese earned a B.A. in English from Santa Clara University, wrote this poem first in 2004, and holds a fellowship with the national African-American poetry organization, Cave Canem.