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The Twenty-Three-Year Walk

The 23-Year Walk by Greg Powell

The Twenty-Three-Year Walk

We keep walking baby
We keep walking, in the sunshine
like old Harriet said/ we keep moving
Baby we keep moving. Every step a triumph
over ghost lynchers riding horseback
in squad cars. But the day is beautiful
with love. 23 years of love strong
and stronger to walk though shadow
valleys of death and burning towns
and flesh. Walking in the cul de sac
of privilege we enter by passcodes
and Black Codes and survival codes
we sing in the music of our stride.
Hand in hand we keep moving Baby.
Suburban circle populated by spandex joggers
and gardeners rotting in detachment
from the true vine of earth’s looted
people whom Jesus said were him.
But the day is beautiful with love. We smile
inside each other’s eyes to keep the rage
at bay so we burn with love and not burn
shit down. Our love a balm in dark valley.
Our love a protest march against devils.
Our love a feet-walking blues to
satisfy our souls in praise to Jah Love.
I love this woman who for 23 years
has kept me from burning shit down
in rebel suicide. I have learned love from
you my love...I learn every day. As we
walk to quiet storm of our ancient simpatico
still striving to confront the beast
even as for now we keep it arm’s length
until the war comes, old preacher
Harriet leads the way, she and her husband,
their love teaching reaching and preaching
to our souls as together Baby we press
to the North Star, awaiting us once glory
of the day is done. They telling us, as we carry
their baton of love we live: keep moving.
Gun raised like Shaka’s blade, speaking
with voice of the sun and the Son;
Steal away, steal away; Black man and
Queen too powerful for plantation
or chokehold to contain too strong
for lyncher ropes and cuffs and hail
of bullets in the back: love too
strong for them. We feel you
preacher Harriet, speaking life
into our conjoined hearts:
keep walking
keep breathing
keep moving
keep moving