Poems by Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely

THERE ARE THOSE LIKE JOHN (an ode to John Lewis) [PDF]

She. Her. Hers. (homage to Ruth Bader Ginsberg)
Bob Moses... One of Us
The Vote
Sherrod! Our spirit leader


SHE. HER. HERS. (Homage to Ruth Bader Ginsberg)

She. Her. Hers.

In lace collar

Ms. Ruth

Brooklyn wordsmith that she was

Told us in no uncertain terms

"a cage is not a pedestal "

She never knew fatigue,

was never sidetracked by defeat.

I dream that in heaven Ms. Fanny Lou Hamer conspires with Ms. Ruth

And oh the raucous that they raise!

Justice Ruth, an energy unparalleled

A clear and persistent vision, courage at every roadblock.

She born in 1933, influenced by the Holocaust

Was bourn to gift us in this new world

With her diaspora destiny

Was larger than her diminutive size.

On her shoulders ... others will continue to stand

Up for this lady of legal brilliance.

Understood by and for the masses: Notorious RBG!

Weight- lifter, direct-gazer, no nonsense-taker

Finding in stare decisis a tool,

But only as it fit her own justice bound intentions.

She our usher, our guide, our scout

Without any doubt

Blazing the trail

Creating a legal template with her life.

"Zedek, zedek, tirdof" — Justice, justice ... did SHE pursue!

© Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely- September 26, 2020



You tell me

I tell you

We tell each other

Don't be afraid!

He told her

She told him

They told them

It would be alright!

Then the shot came through the window

Heard it fly over and past us and across the room

where we slept low and on the floor on makeshift beds

(just a precaution Mama Dolly had said)

The bullet imbedded in the wall.

I told you it could happen!.

We smelled the dusky smoke of it.

This was real now: Lee County night.

Mama Dolly on the porch.

Her rifle across her knees.

Our nonviolent mantra

so quiet in our mouths.


Copyright © Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely (1962)

[My poem was written in 1962 when I was teaching voter education for SNCC in rural Southwest Georgia, but I feel it is still so relevant today as we continue to observe the violence and suppression of the right to vote. From my Movement Poem Series]



Lest we forget

We too were once

those children

who listened

and observed our world

and understood that

it needed fixing.

We shook off the privilege of

being New York kids

quieted our Bronx accents

made promises of Mitzvahs

made manifest Luke 12:48...

spoke new visions

with our tongues.


And we turned our eyes Southward

It was 1955

Emmett was our age

We could not look away from the casket

But we looked at each other

Silent in our sorrow

Blazing in our anger

Energy in our sinews.

And we pledged our teenage selves to

Join up,

Go forth,

Go down into the belly of the beasts.


We did not do the college Bid Whist lazy afternoons

Or the Cotillions or the Greek gatherings,

Our gaze was elsewhere

Where we knew we were needed.

We walked away from our classes

put on our overalls

pledged allegiance to the flags of

better tomorrows

that flew into the unknown winds

and carried us by train, and bus and plane

Into unknown territories

where Blacker arms embraced us

us with little explanation,

only communal determination.


And they understood why we had come.

They embraced us... we were welcome.

The movement was us, them...we

That mishmash of us...

Brother- sister- friend ...comrades all.

It was the music of us

The eyes of the people

The stillness of witness

The terror of the nights.

Almost more than our hearts could bear

Seeing sorrows we had only heard of

Amidst the winds that swirled and

Troubled the dusty roads

and brought tense waiting

or tentative smiles on the porches of

ramshackle shot-gun houses

where so magnificently

the people stood up

and stood down the hatred,,,

and proudly walked the miles

to reclaim this Godforsaken

country they themselves had built!

[Remembering Bob Moses, my Harlem childhood friend and SNCC colleague ...on these days of his passing over and beyond....]

© Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, 2021


The Vote

There it is again

That ancient call to reach forth

To stretch against the tide

To ride the wings of promises

Made In darkness

In the chains that bound us

In the holds of ships

In the cabins of bondage

In the arms of captors

That we would arise

Find ground on which to forever stand

Be the people who

Face harsh winds

Spurn the fear

Ride the rails

Run through forests

Beat the drums

Call the ancestors

Carry one another

Dodge the bullets

Outlast the hatred

Outrun the dogs

Resist the hoses

Endure the jails

Organize the people

With heads high

With hearts intent

To voice a thought

To select a leader

To choose a destiny

To right a wrong

To make our mark

To check the box

To lift a hand

To pull the lever

To mail the ballot

To brave the cold

To sweat the heat

To stand in line

To talk the talk

To walk the walk

To take a stand

find the rainbow

To set the compass

...and just carry on.


© Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, 2021

Sherrod! Our spirit leader

A soul-force



Listened with his whole self

Caressed the soil

Harnessed the earth

Canvassed the backroads

Permitted the mistakes

Recognized the reluctant

Lifted up the fearful

Gathered a New Tribe

Envisioned The Beloved Community

Shared the victories

Recognized the defeats

Preached into the voids

A Soulful soldier

With a shy smile and a full laugh

Sang with head to the sky

And hand to the plow

Witnessed way too much

Never lost sight of the prize

Listened to all

Never left his post

Persisted beyond the parameters

Pondered all ideas

Insisted upon mutual respect

Modeled how to live

Became a reluctant hero

Praised the Almighty

Ordered his steps

Offered his life.

A tribute poem to my friend and Colleague Charles Sherrod, October 2022. I was a SNCC field worker and literacy teacher in the Southwest Georgia voter tegistration campaign summer of 1962.

© Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, 2021


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