Poem for Mayor Rogero's 2018 State of the City Address

Mayor

Madeline Rogero
mayor@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City of Knoxville Poet Laureate R.B. Morris presented a poem at Mayor Rogero's State of the City Address along with South-Doyle Middle student Isaiah Whaley.



 R.B. MorrisPoem for Mayor Rogero's State of the City Address
by Poet Laureate R.B. Morris

I wait for spring

I wait for spring
I weary of winter 
I watch for change
And cherish the first warm days
They tempt and tease
They linger then hide
They slide back in 
And disappear again
They struggle to stay
But then they do
Spring has sprung 
And winter is done     

It’s like an old story
Told again
Only, each time it is new
Our lives
Our many springs
We are the story unfolding here
And this is the part untold
This is where we begin again

Oh, you say, we begin again every day
Every morning rain or shine
Summer or winter, doesn’t matter
Every morning, yes
The days tell us 
How to live, how to work

And we turn with the seasons
But with each Spring
Some part of us starts anew
The seasons teach us the true cycles 
And the seasons give us faith 
That change can come 

We are an old story but
Some part of us is just beginning

When I look at my life, my days, my time 
To live, to love, to give, to get anything done
And I think of the missed opportunities
The squandered possibilities, misplaced energies
The wasted days and wasted nights
And I consider this unfinished work that is my life
I am overwhelmed with loss and regret, and yet
Today I’m willing to try again, I’m willing 
To recalibrate, to join with the season and brighten up

When the shadow of the world falls over us
We can’t escape it
When the distractions of the world bombard us
We can’t dodge them
When the clutter of the world washes up at our door
It won’t go away
And when the weight of the world is upon us
And in cahoots with gravity to bury us alive
To push us down into darkness
We push back 
We lift up and try to shed a little light 
On what needs to be done

Thank goodness we have youth following us 
To take up the burdens, the challenges we all face
They will see everything in time
Already they know far more than we think 
They may not be at the front of the fray just yet
But in time they will know better what they’re up against 
And they will judge us by our (best and worst) intentions 
And how hard we tried

And you say, look we make the best choices 
We can make at the time
Yes, let’s make the best choices we can make
Learn from our mistakes, make amends, and proceed
Like Kristofferson said, if we ever get to heaven 
It aint because we ain’t done nothing wrong
No, so let us go forth
With caution and with care, but with confidence
Woody Guthrie said, deal me any card in the deck 
and I’ll beat you
Yes, let us proceed 
Let’s plan our work and work our plan
And like Tom Waits says, you gotta get behind the mule 
In the morning and plow

The world has given us another morning, another spring
Another chance to see with fresh eyes
Another opportunity to work it
And as my old mentor from the mountains, George Stokely, always tells me 
Just keep pecking away at it son, you keep pecking and you’ll get it
So, we keep pecking
We peck away with new plans, new ways, new means 
Firm up what we got
Build on what we’ve done
Make our best choices
Make it new, make it here, make it work

The dark shadow of winter 
Is still frozen in my mind 
Deep inside my bones
But spring has come 
And once again I believe 
In the light, in the sun
And I believe in change
And I go about the work



R.B. Morris also read the Nikki Giovanni poem Knoxville, Tennessee

I always like summer
best
you can eat fresh corn
from daddy’s garden
and okra
and greens
and cabbage
and lots of
barbecue
and buttermilk
and homemade ice-cream
at the church picnic
and listen to
gospel music
outside
at the church
homecoming
and go to the mountains with
your grandmother
and go barefooted
and be warm
all the time
not only when you go to bed
and sleep



Isaiah WhaleyPoem for Mayor Rogero's State of the City Address
by Isaiah Whaley, student at South-Doyle Middle

What is this place?

So much diversity, so many cultural backgrounds, so many ... people.
There has to be over. .. I don't know how many people here.
There are restaurants, hotels, apartments, stores, banks, art.
There are so many things to do here

I see a band playing music, a group of people doing yoga, and plenty of people looking
at the modern art over in that direction.
A young male giving a homeless man money to get a meal, young college students
hanging out as friends around that bench, and a few young teens watching the new
trending movie in the theater.
What is this beautiful place, I wondered.
To the left of me is a sign. This sign reads Downtown Knoxville