Martin King, Jr. by Definition


That was no dream you lived Martin

A dream is the thought of a person

in sleep

To dream is to think idly, be lazy

inactive, futile or trifling

That was no dream you lived

Your life was so much more

You were not a visionary

To be a visionary is to be unpractical

Imaginary, delusive

When people think of you

those are not the words that come to mind

You were the chosen child of God

one of the prophets sent to lead us

out of the dream state

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was real

racist murderers did not capitulate to

front-of-the-bus demands because they

loved the way you dreamed

The four little girls who died in the Alabama

church bombings didn’t wake the next


to kiss their parents goodbye before going

off to school

Denise, Addie Mae, Carole and Cynthia’s

lives were stolen

innocence sucked into the

vortex of

shrapnel madness and Alabama pain

A Birmingham bloodbath

no dream

just the horror of memory

a putrid stain on the face of America

Your speech against the Vietnam War

was more than just a truth testimonial

written in napalm residue and blood

It was God guiding your hand giving you the

words to

awaken his children

opening your heart to

the concept of ‘woke’

No dream Martin

just you rising each morning to kiss the sun

following God’s marching orders

heeding the clarion call to the mountaintop

You never turned your back to the sun

embraced the dark

or faltered on the glory road to ascension

you were God’s liberating sword

His righteous warrior

God’s “King” of hearts


2023 © by Layding Lumumba Kaliba

Layding Lumumba Kaliba is an author, poetry editor, Poet Laureate of Harlem, and co-founder of the Linyak Project.