“On Leadership in the Movement” — My one poem for National Poetry Month

On Leadership in the Movement

(For Wisconsin, Egypt, and everyone who campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008)

Strong people don’t need strong leaders.Ella Baker

an activist friend of mine
thinks the problem
is that we spend too much time
preaching to the choir.

but maybe the problem
isn’t the choir,
we just don’t need
another preacher.

maybe we just need a million people
in the choir and a really, really good conductor.
someone to teach us the music, dare us to hit the high notes,
a leader who always listens to our hymns first.

i’ve lived in america long enough
to learn that you can’t always
choose your choir
but you can choose your song.

so sing!
sing us an anthem! a manifesto!
a sermon if you must,
but something that will move the crowd.

stand in front of the congregation
and sing the people out
of their seats for something more
than an extra dollar in the collection plate.