Pike Palmer Penrose and We The People
(c) 2012 James A. Ciletti
Written for the Citizens Project Breakfast, 6-7-2012
Hello. I am Jim Ciletti, outgoing Poet Laureate of the Pikes Peak region. Thank you Kristy, and Citizens Project for this privilege to share these words, words more history than poetry, hopefully more rabble rousing than platitudes.
And hello to you, General Palmer, high and dry on your horse at Platte and Nevada, our morning sun shines gloriously on you, and shines on us, aquaholics recovering from our prayers for water. You stand there, we the people, stand here.
Mornings, we arise to a peak that Pike avowed no man would top. Utes encamped in the Garden of the Gods, later, miners cracked open glittering gold, steam engines chugged up Ute Pass. All are fading memories. Growth for growth’s sake, today we bulge at half a million people in your Fountain Colony. We the people, engaged and passionate for a quality of life that promotes and respects equal rights for all, we are the gateway to the future.
In the 1930’s the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses on Knob Hill. Today African Americans and others — are elected to public office. Twenty years ago Amendment Two inspired non-violent warriors to start the Citizens Project. Today we focus on the family. Yes, we focus on the family of mankind — to promote and protect tolerance, freedom of speech and thought, equal political and social rights, with dignity, for all. When we open our ears, engage our hearts, we can hear the voices of our town, German, Asians, Italian, Hispanic, Native American, and many more voices of Americans. Our town is evolving with greater ethnic, religious, social and sexual diversity. To continue developing into the future with validation for our beliefs, we the people stand here, with the Bill of Rights, focused on the family of mankind.
In spring, black bears return to remind us, this is their home to. Cougars meander streets named Eagleview and Cheyenne. While deer eat our rose bushes, we ask Katherine Lee Bates, have we kept your Eden beautiful? Must we be more engaged in the values and actions like mandatory recycling, alternative energy sources, water conservation, sustainability, to protect and preserve this garden of Eden for future generations? We the people — Eco-stewards.
Penrose — our hospital and library named after him, and others, like Stratton, did they fulfill your dreams? General Palmer, was your Little London on Monument Creek a cultural dream smothered by greedy gold rushes, advancing “civilization,” or, maybe we were never meant to be your Little London of art, music, education. dance, poetry, and theater.
We need jobs for bread, yes, but we need roses too! Boardman Robinson, , the Fine Arts Center, Imagination Celebration and thousands of artists and writers now promote the arts for all to celebrate our diversity and creativity as a way of life and loving. We the people stand here because the arts can embrace and celebrate us all.
Star trekkers work at Shriever, children splash in Wilbur’s Fountain, but the poor struggle for bread, numerous for-sale signs point to deeper problems, problems that only inspiring, intelligent leadership and a community of “we the people” engaged, passionate and assertive, can solve.
Powers Boulevard all but lacks a checkered flag and NASCAR prize. But what we need is mass transit to serve the poor and enable the more fortunate to leave our gas guzzlers at home. Our future? Dear General, gazing forward, what do you see? A million of us or more? Or a city where every child sleeps warm and with a full stomach? Rooftops with solar power? Excellent public education that supports academic freedom without a religious agenda?
Palmer, earthbound dreamer, your head in clouds, feet on earth, not knowing where we’d go, but surely you sent us on our way.
Now it is our time, to move forward with a continuing vision and engaging action to nurture, develop, celebrate, and protect, our religious, political, social, sexual, economic, cultural, and racial rights and diversity. Protect privacy in our bedrooms, and public respect for our sexual or social identity, get academic freedom and truth from the Press, and be guardians of the ethnic diversity that will enrich our lives and guarantee a “Springs the Beautiful” for our future generations. General Palmer, We the people, citizens, engaged for today and tomorrow, you stand there looking over our town, we stand here working to create a great community. (Now, socialize, validate our values, and mangiamo, let’s eat.)