Posted by: The Amoeba | April 4, 2008

call me martin

I wrote an earlier version of this four years ago, when a member of Martin Luther King’s team paid a call to our little congregational church in Maine. I hope you’ll forgive me for dragging it out and dusting it up a bit on this, the 40th anniversary of King’s assassination.

*           *           *           *           

call me martin

in the white church on the hill
of the winter white town,
the white student of the black king
revives the rainbow legend.

the student is a long way from memphis,

but he speaks and the icon is human,
an apostle without the pose;
call me martin.

on this memphis april,
doc martin has jetlag and the flu;
still the people line the hall when he passes,
touching the messiah’s robe
as they touched lincoln’s in richmond a century before.

and a few days later they shot them both.

we did.

the live recall is passing away,
leaving the videotapes,
and the curriculum vitae,
open to the whittling embrace
of the interpretors of history.

but explanations move no mountains;
dissertations break no chains.

it is the man,
he said call me martin,
the unassuming dignity,
the reflection of the holy,
who drives humanity to surpass itself.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2004, 2008 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.



  1. Those who drive humanity to surpass itself in greatness, also seem to drive humanities outcasts to surpass themselves in violence ….

  2. Sad thing about that, Quilly, they’re not necessarily society’s outcasts. Indeed, they fear becoming outcasts, for they are occupying (usually through luck or inheritance) a social station greater than their abilities have earned. And, when tested, they are found to have no way of retaining that station except through violence. As Isaac Asimov (Foundation) put in the mouth of Salvor Hardin, first Mayor of Terminus:

    “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

  3. Thank you. That is what I wanted to say, but couldn’t figure out how to get me there ….

  4. *smiling at you two*

    Niiiiiiiiiice OC. You’re forgiven.

  5. this is a wonderful tribute to a great man.

    and that thought is sadly all too true…

  6. Thank you for dusting it off, well worth the effort from my point of view.

  7. That’s a relief, Melli.

    Maybe one of these millennia we’ll get it right, Polona.

    Thanks, cooper.

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