Let Seattle Be

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Let Seattle be
                Seattle, the place that was, and is, and will be
                Seattle has become a home for me
                among the shackled and the free

The place where trees once stood
                before there was a neighborhood
                Seattle was the Cedar’s majesty
                before the planes and glass spines scraped the sky
                she was the mother in her children's eyes
                before the hills were pushed into the sand
this was and is and will be the Duwamish land

Let Seattle be
                Seattle, a chief's name on foreign tongues
                Seattle recognized and sung, by dolphins we call Killer Whales
                before they too are gone — a sanctuary City, in a filled in estuary

Let Seattle be hope, in this hope broken land
                a shelter and a refuge, a fist to stop a tyrant’s hand
                Seattle, your tectonic faults are great

See the last one leaving turn out the lights
See the home of War and the flight
See the Gold Rush and sourdough bread
See the Issei and the Nisei of the Panama Hotel, 7,000 gone by what the president said
See how Hooverville returns again and again
See old covenants of outside the International District and CD
See where no Asians and no Africans could be, how more than others we still live
                                                                                                                                                         without the trees

Oh gray blanket on the streets and in the sky
See the tents, the sweeps and totem poles

Seattle, remember too the change you are and want to be
Listen to The Gang of Four
understand their Unity
Listen to The Gang of Four
notice what remains

When the soil of ourselves is pushed into the sand
What rises from the grains is in the People's hands
See Bob Santos in the International District See Bernie Whitebear occupy the Daybreak Star
See Larry Gossett CAMP to feed the people (no matter what the name)
See Roberto Maestra and El Centro De La Raza                rising still again

Say, who are you in the Salish Sea?
                Pushed aside for prosperity
I am the Black River gone as the people cried
I am the Chinook dead on the side
I am the Orca carrying my child
I'm the gray whale beached at Alki
I am your neighbor
                                without shelter in the sand

Oh, but Seattle is mighty even with its broken dreams
Oh, Seattle is mighty when it looks in its own eyes
What city do you know that fights itself to undo its present harms
What city do you know that sounds its own alarms?
What city do you know that was raised by colonizers
that turns itself upon itself to put out ancient fires?

This place, of wooded paths and parks
                                                                             that must belong to all
This place, where we drink the water from protected Cedar Falls
This place, where race and social justice is built into the law
This place, where you are taught to understand the power of it all
The power of illusion that there are racial lines
The power of Illusion that's kept us all behind
                                But the strength of our ethnicity is celebrated here


Sing what's right Seattle
                over the heartless song
Sing the estuary where freshwater meets the sea
                where Orcas must survive for our health and their dignity
Sing My Posse's on Broadway
Sing jazz on Jackson Street in wires
Sing Jimi Hendrix, what stars is in his Spangled Banner demand
Sing WTO, Black Panthers and the Women's March
Sing and Endangered song, Sing a whale's song, Sing
Sing Quincy Jones
Sing Ernestine Anderson
Sing Grunge and Hip Hop

Speak tablets from the sky
Speak Octavia Butler and her brood in a futuristic mood
Speak Gabriel and Riz
Speak August Wilson, play out all the cycles
Speak Colleen McElroy with Madagascar lips

Dance/color into the dark canvas of Winter
Dance Chihuly in two steps
Dance Jacob Lawrence and Debora Moore
Dance Dingus and Barbara Earle
Dance Kabby and Syvilla Fort

Feast on Forest of food from Beacon Hill
Become an Amazon for equity
with the sweet steamy foam of justice in our mouths — Come, All
Stand in the crossroads of the red, black & green
Stand in the rainbow of what has been
Celebrate this Emerald City and its Green New Deal
make a way for the poor and impoverished to heal

Let Seattle be
                Seattle, the place that was and is and will be
Seattle has become a home for me
                among the shackled and the free
                amidst the resistance there must be
                as the hills were pushed into the sand
Seattle will bring
                must bring
                                      Justice to our land