Type
Article

michael row the boat ashore: a poem for the inauguration of president obama

well this river is deep & wide / hallelujah
milk & honey on the other side / hallelujah

when michael rowed the boat ashore
crouched down over that mighty jordan roar
when michael rowed the boat ashore
struggling with those flimsy splintered oars
when michael rowed the boat ashore / he
never steered the craft into jesus’ kingdom
that brown boy’s promised land
we call it freedom

hallelujah
michael row the boat shore
hallelujah

when david searched to find that stone / her
ankle flesh rubbed back to bone with chain
when david looked to find that stone
crouched among the cotton fields / down low
when david chose that stone to slay / she
armed the slingshot at the master’s head / & prayed

sister help to trim that sail
hallelujah
sister help to trim that sail
hallelujah

so obama has entered the lion’s den / that
large white house built by chained black men
so obama’s entered the lion’s den
but lord / can the young man tame the thing
obama’s entered the lion’s den
can I get a witness / lord / amen
the man has entered the lion’s den
& this silence has descended

hallelujah
michael row the boat shore
hallelujah

lot/s wife was asked
to leave all she knew behind

hallelujah

& the woman thought she could
but just one last glance behind

hallelujah

this god has a vengeance

hallelujah

she had to die
to keep her faith alive
(what an ending)

well this river is chilly & cold / hallelujah
chills the body but not the soul / hallelujah

well this river is deep & wide / hallelujah
milk & honey on the other side / hallelujah

(c) Maxine Clarke 2008. I will be performing a gospel version of this poem at The Big Read Out this coming Friday 23rd Jan, Glitch Bar and Cinema, 318 St Georges Street, North Fitzroy at 8pm.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

More by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>