this song of praise and every voice

never lifted say we can begin here,

on scorched earth with the hollow

bark of a barberry-leaved oak,

where we sheltered as we

mourned over 200,000 of our own.

We go forward for the sake of the

dream, this land, this sanctuary,

for the three million living in poverty,

for the children on the border

between Nogales and despair,

for Claudia Gómez González

who perished in Rio Bravo,

for Breonna Taylor, daughter

of Tamika Palmer and Juniyah’s

sister, and Raven Thompson of the

Spirit Lake Nation. We begin

where the scales need balancing,

and go forward with all that we

sorted—love, hope, seeds, chances.

The greatest, of course, is what rises

from the ashes. Catch the light

on grassland wildflowers, fire

followers, sweet and bitter.

Say the names which mean strength.

Which begins with every voice lifted,

which begins with this faith we sing.


Aileen Cassinetto is the Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, California. Widely anthologized, she is also the author of the poetry collections, Traje de Boda and The Pink House of Purple Yam Preserves & Other Poems, as well as three chapbooks through Moria Books’ acclaimed Locofo series. Her work first appeared in FORusa’s Fellowship Magazine in 2008. A community advocate, she was a guest speaker at Skyline College during Women’s History Month and National Poetry Month, and at the College of San Mateo during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Aileen is the curator of “Power to the Poets,” a reading series focusing on solidarity and social justice issues, and the first Peninsula (Virtual) Bookfest which has brought together a diverse community of poets, fiction and nonfiction writers, artists, and book lovers, in a series of vital and inspiring readings and conversations in September and October 2020.
this song of praise and every voice