San Antonians take part in the 2014 MLK March. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
San Antonians take part in the 2014 MLK March. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Poets have historically disregarded convention and authority. Don Mathis keeps the tradition alive. Photo by Lea Lopez-Fagin.

Every few months, writers from several venues around San Antonio gather to explore a facet of art or nature. It’s called ‘Writers Take a Walk,’ and results have been rewarding.

Stemming from Greatness – Inspiration from Foliage” was a foray in the Botanical Center while “Bat Loco in San Antonio” focused on the freetail flight from the River Walk. Other walks were to the McNay Art Museum to view the Andy Warhol exhibit and the San Antonio Museum of Art to be inspired by Aphrodite.

Seven writers gathered together on Monday to march in memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here are the results of their inspiration.

MLK March by Rod C. Stryker 

Bag seems to get heavier,
feet starting to hurt,
feel the energy,
one with the masses,
a sea of souls
united for this cause
or that idea
and the waves,
flow of voices
run into each other,
join, separate, rejoin,
so overwhelmed
with senses and love
and faith and hope,
I am part of
a greater future
despite the power’s
view that this
is our panacea,
our once a year
We protest throughout
the year,
in other ways
other forms.
Feet hurt,
bag weighs a ton,
hungry and tired,
wouldn’t be anywhere


* * * * *

Rod is the founder/co-host of the Sun Poet’s Society, San Antonio’s longest running weekly open-mic poetry reading. His book, “Exploits of a Sun Poet,” was awarded the San Antonio Barnes and Noble/Bookstop Author-of-the-Month in February 2003 and also the San Antonio Current Best Book of 2004. He was a nominee for the San Antonio Poet Laureate in April 2012 and 2014. His recent collection of poetry and art photography, Lucid Affairs, was published by Sun Arts Press.

* * * * *

Poets Walk in MLK’s Footsteps by Catherine Lee

Catherine Lee at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Photo by Betsey Garland.
Catherine Lee at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Photo by Betsey Garland.

Imagine marching 175,000 strong
Spirit of Dr. King strides along
others just like me
smiling free
force of history
with hope of victory
We are Texans, pale to black
What values do we prize?
Some take the day off from work.
Some would, but lost the job, still look.
Some are seeking blowout sales
they’ll end up with some bargain
we marchers honor MLK’s travails
we’ve got what dollars cannot captain
overflowing, loving souls we unify, surprise.

* * * * * * * * *

Since 2006, Miss Jazz Cat Lee has frequently sat in at SA’s jazz jam sessions and read at various music-free poetry venues. She’s also cohosted several of KRTU-FM’s annual April simultaneous celebrations of National Poetry and Jazz Appreciation Month. Cat and composer/educator Cecil R Carter are currently collaborating to create jazz poetry orchestrations.

* * * * * * * * *

Soaring Kings – by Ernest D. Hernandez

Poet Ernest Hernandez at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Photo by Betsey Garland.
Poet Ernest Hernandez at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Photo by Betsey Garland.

Some have taken the day quite opportune
Had they resources, as all, a commercial, perhaps a show tune

But it was a day to honor a man, more than a man
Tried and tested and true

And the day was not lost, the honoring caravan
Though no bloodshed ran a royal hue

The only modern king deserving of his day
The only king of old who’s freedom could not be sold.

The only king we have, ever witnessed,
Blessed eyes mind heart and soul

I speak of Dr. King,
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And someday soon
Someday once more
A voice like his through freedom will ring
And on wings of eagles we will soar

Economic Rights Act 2020
And more – and like kings we will soar

* * * * * * * * *

Ernest Hernandez is a former resident of Los Angeles. He has served as a research assistant at UTSA and studied at the Henry B. Gonzalez University, A Center for Global Industry and The Arts.

* * * * * * * * *

The March – Susan Salzman

Poets Chris Billings and Susan Salzman at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Photo by Betsey Garland.
Poets Chris Billings and Susan Salzman at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Photo by Betsey Garland.

It’s born crossing the waters of the Salado
Spanish for “salty” like tears and sweat
Its first steps are on level ground
The tide of people surge forward
Music keeps them moving easily along
Past churches, businesses, and homes
Streets with names like Wheatly and BookerTee
Commemorate leaders from black history
Many groups and causes have their say
Marching along together on Martin Luther King Day
Slowly the path gets harder
As they begin their ascent
The March disperses at the top of the hill
Near the graves of our ancestors
But the grave cannot contain the restless Dream
The Dream continues to ascend
On the wings of marble angels
On the voices of choirs
On the sound of our footsteps
marching, marching ever onward

* * * * * * * *

Susan Salzman is a native of San Antonio. She is a friend of poets, artists, and musicians. She worked with Michelle Darien producing videos for Scribz.

Remembering MLK – by Don Mathis

VIA Bus was free today
Is that what freedom means?
Yes, and more

I sat on the Rosa Parks commemorative seat
In honor of her stand

A t-shirt on a man read, “I am the East Side.”
A kid holds a sign, “I Am A Man”
And he’s right, He’s no longer a boy

Poet Don Mathis at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Photo by Betsey Garland.
Poet Don Mathis at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Photo by Betsey Garland.

My sign, “Eracism,”
Is mounted on a three-foot pencil
Complete with eraser

It’s meant to imply “Erase Racism”
But in this digital age
Some think of “Electronic Racism”
Still, it makes one think

Images of ideology:
“Man = Woman = Marriage” banner
Meets Rainbow Flag

It could have been a dogma fight
But everybody was standing
On the side of love
Each in their own way

We see Leticia Van de Putte on stage
Standing next to Wendy Davis
Tommy Atkinson meets Nelson Wolff
Must be election year

Writers take a walk
Find a place to sit
On a stoop, in the shade
And writing begins in earnest

Slogans of King line the march.
On signs, on t-shirts, on buildings
Each quote inspires the next step,
And the next

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing to help others?’”

And we march on

* * * * * *

Don Mathis served as president of the Texoma Poetry Society in 2011 and was champion of the McKinney Poetry Slam in 2010. Find him in San Antonio at La Taza writers’ group on Mondays, Sun Poet’s Society on Tuesdays, and the Blah Blah Blah on most Wednesdays. His poetry has been published in anthologies, periodicals and has appeared on local TV and national radio. He currently works for St. Philip’s College and serves on the MLK March Committee. 

Dreamers (for John Lennon & Martin Luther King, Jr.) – Chris Billings

We said he was a dreamer
he said, “I’m not the only one”
200,000 dreamers proved John right
as they marched San Antonio’s East Side
to honor Dr King

To show that his dream is still alive
that we share the same dream
that no matter what ship we all came in on
we are, indeed, all in the same boat now

That we dreamers are sailing
on seas of hope
riding out storms that rage
determined to reach safe harbor
on the shores of Peace and Unity
in a land where, yes,
we all can live as one

We have, indeed, traveled far, still
we dream
we march
we imagine
because, we have yet far to travel….

* * * * * * * * *

Chris Billings, the Barefoot Poet, appreciates the Writer’s Take a Walk events not only for the inspiration he draws, but for the knowledge he gains from each event. He is co-chair of the Sun Poet’s Society in San Antonio and makes his home in Schertz, TX.

Follow Your Dream by Betsey Garland

Poet Betsey Garland at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Courtesy photo.
Poet Betsey Garland at the 2014 MLK Day march in San Antonio. Courtesy photo.

Get on the bus & follow me
Down the yellow brick road,
Join me as we cross this
Bridge in life together.
Connected. Integrated.

Keeping pace & marching hand in hand,
Pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps,
Only to turn around to hand out boots
To those without shoes.
Providing. Thriving.

Dreaming a dream of peace.
Shouting, no whispering …
Perhaps taking a stand that love,
Love. Yes, LOVE

Love is the answer.

* * * * * * *

Betsey Garland is a former environmental engineering toxicologist turned personal development coach, who now helps others to remove toxic patterns from their lives and nourish their souls.

Coretta Coretta – by Viktoria Valenzuela

*Viktoria did not attend the MLK March; she is very pregnant. But she was able to share this poem.

Viktoria Valenzuela
Poet Viktoria Valenzuela

Coretta Coretta
pioneering is never easy, but you
eased the way.
Eased the way as half a leader,
Dr. King.
Like an unwanted bullet, loosed from the chamber
Your effort also landed powerfully.
Coretta, Coretta
You sang to liberate oppressed people
but, you liberated all people.
A vibrato in church, mid -speech
Let freedom ring
freed at last.
Coretta Coretta
we’ve united to form a solid block against racism, poverty, and war
the stone slabs in a broken heart are unscalable.
Coretta we ain’t won the war yet.
Coretta, Coretta Scott King.
Pioneering is never easy,
though you took the reins.
You took us through mourning.
You took us with Dr. King.

* * * * * * *

Viktoria Valenzuela is a educator, creative nonfiction writer, and activist poet in San Antonio, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from The State University of New York at Oswego in SP 2010. Valenzuela has devoted herself to activism for human rights, Chicano and Mexican American Studies, and the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Her work has been shown live at such events as the 100 Thousand Poets for Change events, and Luminaria 2013, she has published in several books, journals and magazines. 

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Don’s life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. His poems have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and broadcasted on local TV and national radio. In addition to poetry,...