Paddle for the Far Shore by Thomas Martin Sobottke

Paddling for Far Shore One

I am the stranger that gives the cold chill and the fear,
come among you with work to be done
even though an outlaw here.
You take my labor and cheat me till darkness comes,
leaving me without hope to claim what is due, my share.
Paddle for the far shore.

I am the dark one
a slave for three hundred years,
then it was Jim Crow at the butt of a gun.
Yet my people marched for justice with righteousness,
we will accept no less until it is done.
Paddle for the far shore.

I am the poor in your midst
that you fail to see there outside the gate,
a modern day Lazarus eating crumbs left by dogs.
Do you hear our Father’s plea?
Paddle for the far shore.

I am the last of those already long of this land
until you came and claimed it as wilderness
and said we were savage,
took away the land, our speech, our ways,
so we might talk with the elders
to know the stories of our proud people now lost.
Paddle for the far shore.

I am the different one that scares you because
you’re not certain you might be one.
Put in my place where it has something to do
with the ways of man and woman, a kind of love
that makes me feel dirty and seek out the dark places.
I’ve since learned the truth not to fear the light, to be seen
where peace and contentment grow.
Paddle for the far shore.

I sit alone in a prison cell,
despairing of ever getting out of this hell.
You know you never visit me
never forgiving my crimes
no grace, no peace of mind
forgotten inside four walls with nothing to do at all.
Paddle for the far shore.

No matter who we say we are
there is always something that leaves the scar,
in someplace sacred to our being,
that questions our existence
and leaves us weeping and so very weary.
Yet we must hear the call and arise, arise,
to make that journey we despise,
so far distant and so trying
that it takes all we have and all we are.
We are all paddling for that far shore.

-September 2013

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