At the Mic at Lincoln High

by on May 21, 2019 · 2 comments

in From the Soul, San Diego

by Ernie McCray  

Looking at students,
“The Hornets,”
from the mic
at Lincoln High,

I could feel
my journey
in the city
rising in my memory,

my history
as a San Diegan,
arriving, August, ’62,
with a wife,
three kids,
lacking the money
between us
needed to visit the San Diego Zoo,

later looking
at my first check
as a beginning teacher
and the first month’s rent,
wondering just whose
idea was it
to make such a move
from a life we knew
to one that was new
and much more costly
than we were used to,

leaving us so uncertain
as to what might ensue,
having no way of knowing
that the school,
although it wasn’t my school,
would play
such a prominent role
in my life,

as my connections
with it,
over time,
have stretched far and wide:
had a daughter graduate from there
and a grandson played hoops there
while his sister was
among the cheerleading troupe there;
played pickup in the gym there;

a great-grandson
now attends there;
had friends who led and taught there
and some still doing so there;
was a principal at a grade school
that fed into a junior high
that led to there,

a school where football great, Marcus Allen,
went before he became a legend there;

hold memories of the ‘68
student walkout for civil
and human rights there;

addressed some shenanigans
regarding black and brown
students being over enrolled
in the JROTC there –

And it’s situations
such as those protestations
that form the biggest connection
between Lincoln and me

as it’s been a place
for folks to dialogue
and make things right
in a “minority” community

and I was at the mic
to talk about
how poetry
can give one a say, a way
to not dwell in anonymity
in a society
depending on the citizenry
to make it function reasonably,

sharing writings of mine
that have bonded me
with the thoughts
and movements
of our times

and then listening
to young poets
step up to the mic
and expose the depths
of their explored souls
and minds…

And two pieces, particularly,
come to mind,
one about how survivors
of loved ones
who have taken their own lives
too often fail to see the signs,
something at which I failed
when the life of my dear wife
was in decline, on the line;

another a “Black Lives Matter” rhyme
about a boyfriend being in jail
when he hadn’t committed
a crime,
a sight I’ve seen
since, it seems,
the beginning of time.

But, oh, it felt like old times
sitting in the midst of hope
being refreshed and personified,
as I left the assembly
feeling that this generation,
based on what I heard
in words of poetry,
is ready to take their place in a world
that will require
a bit of dusting
and adjusting
both gradually
and on the fly
if it’s to ever
meet humanity’s needs
as time goes by.

Being at the mic with them
is an honor
I will forever hold high.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren May 21, 2019 at 7:15 pm

You always have a lovely way of bringing us into an experience with your beautiful words.


Thomas Gayton May 23, 2019 at 6:25 pm

VIVA ERNIE! Gracias a Dios you inspire our youth!


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