I was idly thumbing through Youtube a while ago when I came across a short piece showing Bobby Kennedy on the back of a flatbed truck in a poor district of Indianapolis, Indiana on 4th April 1968. Announcing the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, he was able to calm a crowd ready to riot at the news. He did so by the force of his words, his rhetoric and his humanity. As many American cities burned, Indianapolis stayed quiet, at least for that night.
“I know how men in exile feed on dreams of hope”
an ancient playwright wrote. Millennia passed,
then a man who sought hope's tiny ripple stood, and spoke
in fear for his country's peril
from the assassin's rifle blast;
a black man of God, his dreams ahead,
had found a way to show inhumanity a mirror;
but though his promised land only left him dead,
his vaulting, imperfect grace, his humble courage
made a fool of terror.
Then a Man of Marathon spoke through another's voice
in shades of Indiana night, and the killing season;
words to soothe a wave of rage. The people's choice,
lead by the balm of hope: to suffer in the cause
Bobby's ripple spread like germination in decay,
his lucid words of honesty a shield of wisdom;
knowing words, as weapons, must be mindfully laid,
he turned dark to light through Aeschylus' eloquent prism:
“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
Chris Hubbard, 2016.