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The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > La Casa de Colores > La Familia > Sixth Segment: Febraury 15 - March 14, 2016
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La Casa de Colores, Hosted by Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2015-

La Familia (The Family) is an opportunity for you to contribute to an epic poem of all our voices and styles and experiences that will run the span of my Laureateship. By contributing to La Familia, you will be part of my family—and all our words will be seen and our voices be heard, throughout the nation and beyond. – Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2015-

"My Democracy" — Theme for February 15 - March 14, 2016

People are marching. Their painted cardboard signs push toward the rough sky. Their songs, raw and sweet, move thousands. "Time is of essence—it is an emergency," their songs say. "Life, children, homes and families are waiting," they chant, "We shall not be moved." Everything is at stake. "We want a different kind of society!" they scream. "This is our democracy, our voice must be heard," they say as they move along with difficulty and hope.

Democracy does not come easy. It can be effortless, of course—in your own heart, that is: being open, being filled with acceptance, patience, compassion, creativity and concern for others. In this La Casa de Colores theme, think about YOUR democracy. What is it made of, how you can attain it, what do we all need to do to make it ours? In a few powerful words, make your democracy blossom alongside others.

My Democracy is a being I nourish to keep alive.
I do not take for granted that my freedoms will survive.
My ideas and ideals I work to promote,
and I never neglect my privilege to vote.

At funerals my democracy leaks into the conversation when it turns away from the dead

This is not Athens. Between two great oceans we must find our Pericles
and say what we want to say, whether right or wrong, "correct" or not—
what we need to say, because your democracy may not be mine.
Let us pass this diamond from hand to hand.

My Democracy means letting everybody have a say and that the best person isn't always chosen. My Democracy means you can't step on any toes, and you have to tread lightly and not say what needs to be said sometimes, like "Shut up, you idiot."

White rapper wrapped around
sweet candy that don’t go down.
Black rapper's bittersweet bite
of licorice. We gotta unwrap
the package, see through sweet-
ass CD-sellers, bitter medicines
are needed to deal with real inequalities.

MAX GOLDSTEIN, AGED 16, CAME THRU ELLIS ISLAND WITH A 10-ROUBLE NOTE PINNED INSIDE HIS POCKET, THE ONLY ONE IN HIS FAMILY TO MAKE THE TRIP TO AMERICA.

Imagination is too great,
Oh Democracy! Á bientô
The early-bird is singing us
The bona nova,
De mis labios se han caído
Los silencios,
Let's je te present mon
Ami: EL PUEBLO.
In my dreams was you
Or was I in yours?

Integrity. Realize self beyond
—imagined.
Open doors, mind, society.
Service, joy, discord, differences that
builds bonds of a shared human experience,
Fallible, fragile, fleeting.

World War II brought my Polish father, hungry and dazed.
Green-eyed, my fair-skinned Mexican mother held jobs, denied others.
Both endured hate.
My sisters and I are their democracy:
Hope and heartache and slow healing for a better life

I live here.
That's my democracy.
I live here and you live here and we all live here.
Together. All here together.
And we should listen, hear and act.
Together
As one.

Shifting sand,
migrating birds,
sky and clouds
are crossing borders.

A place for everyone—
food, home,
clean water,
education, hugs.

One voice, one vote,
many voices, many songs,
one table, many chairs,
open door, welcome mat.

I want to vote, but the fog is in. I'll wait awhile, stir this soup a little longer; taste is important. Did I mention that I saw a bird fall off a limb this morning? Too much fog; not enough, stirring; only sip it. I can wait a while . . . want some?

There is strength in the earth at the place of many hearts.
A true heart with fire is the healing medicine of the earth.

Freedom
People enjoy it
we take it for granted
but when it's gone
we don't realize how much we need it

Democracy, a way of life.
An escape from the totalitarian regime that exists beyond these boundaries.
I am free.
I am free.

Standing together as one,
Fighting for what we desire,
This is a democracy,
This is what we fight for.

Everyone should be heard
And considered with equal weight
No one man meaning more
It shouldn't determine fate

My society, my life,
was nothing compared to the past.
Blacks separated,
Whites separated,
No equality.
People were scared to speak.
They still are now.
But they can try.
Everyone has a voice,
and it is important,
to shape today's society.

We stay together,
compromising on everything.
Some may be disappointed,
but others don't care.

Democracy is a way of life,
Democracy is the way to go.
Democracy is equality for all
But that is not the case
We can't even see another face.

freedom
we take it for granted
fighting, risking their
lives
so we could be free

Voices fill the world,
marching with signs with love
they ask for freedom, democracy promised to all
but not given
to them
they march past the obstacles with difficulty
wanting their rising voices to be heard
for its their democracy and mine

My Democracy is being free and protecting my family.

it is wishful thinking
hoping everyone will participate
fairly and equally
we as a species
will always look over shoulders
and see whether our friends
agree with us
and can resort to violence
when what we feel is right
is not seen by others

American democracy
Is played between the notes
Basie gave it room to play
Between Preambular strokes

But deaf it turned
And marginalized
Common Unity
American democracy

Democracy is one minute of power and the rest is powerless.
It is a dream inside a dream inside a dream, limitless.
It is also like a rainbow, pretty, colorful, but useless.
Democracy is one minute of power and the rest is powerless.  

Democracy is a living thing,
apt to evolve,
full of resolve.

Democracy is a sacred vow
of open minds and caring hearts
to mutual respect, not ridicule,
social equality of all people.

Democracy is a work of art,
ever more than a sum of its parts.

They say America is democratic.

They say our voices are heard

but yet our ideas are ignored.

The louder we chant;

The harder they close their ears

but we will stand tall.

They can take our jobs, family, and life

but the hope that we cherish stays.

It has me locked in by four walls. Those who enter can never leave. The colors on my walls are different shades. I am broken, but I rise. I can't get enough. For when the time comes. I sleep. Somehow, I awake. Back in the same place at the same time

My democracy is visiting Dad,
seeing a grave wreath left by strangers
to honor his service,
hearing him yelling at the TV
about the crooked candidates,
reading copies of his letters to Congress,
passing on his legacy of changing the world.

We stand together
We fall only once or twice.
succeeding in failure
and hoping to to stay alive.

The man next to me
Can buy a house with money
I can do that too

My Democracy is unattainable
One where everyone is included
And there is no discrimination
Where people can speak their voice
And not be judged
My Democracy is a future
That is nowhere near the present

I think if we would just come together on the race and background differences we would all be able to work things out and there would be a lot less fighting and drive-bys

The Senate Inside

Your heart says yes,
But your brain says no.
Majority rules,
But the brain can veto

Your heart wants love,
But your brain wants kids.
But your heart overruled.
Two thirds, let’s do this.

What am I doing?
A question I ask myself.
Many voices answer,
They each wish to be heard.
I don’t know which to listen to.
I consider each voice,
And still am unsure.
It is a chaotic democracy,
And I am the president of confusion.

Democracy
It is a necessary evil
Necessary cus' we all have opinions
Evil cus' we all have opinions

You only have one voice
One word
One vote
One choice
You only have one voice
To make a difference.

Democracy to me is decision,
Freedom to do what I want to be done,
The freedom to stop,
The freedom to run,
Democracy isn't politics,
It's the way we stand,
The way we sit,
Democracy is the American dream,
It's what separates you from me.

Everyone counted
the same. Not every voice
rises and rings; the loud
hear the quiet insistent
voices and cast new
ballots, compassion-
writ. Everyone counted
the same.

Americans are so special.
The power is vested in us.
We all get a chance to wear a crown and hold a scepter.
We all get a fur cape draped over our shoulders.
We are all excellency,
And we are all one.

One family,
One house,
Four voices.

One planet, one vote. Ocean, sky, all life. United we stand, divided we fall.

All around us

Freedom to speak, assemble and worship
vote, debate, argue
we do it all in peace
why?
Because WE want to
    be able to do these things
        we do unto OTHERS
            as we would have them
                do unto us, trusting
                    equally sharing the burden
                        and the gift

Democracy means we all have a voice,
and we all have to make a choice,
but we have a responsibility
to choose what is right and good
for everyone.

Democracy is the pride of US citizens.
The Constitution is our playbook.
People have the power to rule.
I am "people" but I have little power.
Only when I'm alone with my ballot
In a voting booth on election day
Do I feel powerful.
I am proud.

While equality (which we fight so hard for)
does not equal equity, still,
yes, my family is willing to share
our paycheck
our large home
our food
our college admission slot for children
our time
our passion
because it isn't "us"
it is "we."

Democracy is eating a banana in the sunlight and discarding the peel

My grandparents—Eastern Europeans who escaped annihilation Ensure religious freedom Descendant generations will not forget But assimilation accomplished to constitute part of fabric of American culture

My democracy was not achieved easy. It was by the blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors that I am free today. So many youth have not been taught or have forgotten the price tag on freedom. It is priceless. So many youth take too much for granted.

Dear Democracy,
You are my peace rose,
blowing fragrant winds.

Alone, I pick a name, humbly knowing how small I am, and cast my vote; together, we pick a name, humble, hopefully, for the creation we have made—our child—with love. Small dreams can grow, like the flowers from the seeds we have sown.

My Democracy is a thought experiment,
A nowhere-land, a wish, an uncontested
Contest, a currency-less currency, a
Place with no address, a home.

demos
the people Yes
common as mud
feet of clay
beautiful fools
foolishly feeble
faithful
demonstrative
demanding
full-throated
this
thrilling experiment

The only one with a voice for many
A government that has ears
One who asks
One who fights
The one we want
They want your opinions
It's what America’s founding base is
It's name is democracy

My democracy has gone away,
My opinion drowns in the chaos then floats away,
The point of a democracy is to ensure everyone has a voice,
But a voice is nothing when the politicians don't listen.
Campaigns take precedence over enacting change

Democracies, Democracies,
Government by the people.
Voices of the citizens, voices of the people,
Words of the citizens, words of the people.
Freedom of speech, freedom of religion.
Majority over minority, majority rules.
A democracy

I believe that
My Democracy has never been achieved,
not in history,
not even now.
Why? Well.
My definition of Democracy is
A land governed by the people.
A land where people make the choices.
A land that requires no representatives.

Drive
It bubbles inside us
fizzing on the edges
the bubbles getting larger and larger
but for some reason they can't pop

Our words and mindset
our views our thoughts
our voice

Shut out by society
unaccepted by the norm

Raise your voice
Be proud

my democracy
doesn't include Corporations
by and for people
flesh and blood and not greedy
people who know what is good

the bad and the ugly
those who can't care for others
only their own selves
what a sad way to live
not leaving a good legacy

A place where everyone has a say
No taxes for anyone to say
All the people turned on Alexander
He’s now considered a radical commander
They chased him from place to place
This man ashamed to show his face
Cornered and for forgiveness he pled.

It gives us freedom,
a vision to hope for the best.
In a land where discrimination is not tolerated,
as was envisioned by those who died for our country.
Time is of the essence,
so let's keep the country "The Land of the Free".

Hatred and exclusion are not
my democracy.
Lady Liberty's torch,
bright against the darkness,
welcomes all
comers filled with hope,
dreaming of
democracy.

Among other complicated languages, from the Greek,
dēmos—the people.
What more splendid contraption,
like a bright flying machine, that, if left
sky-lit, pristine, uncorrupted,
could ever do better by itself,
to rule by the ruled.

Democracy
by its definition it is
a system of government
run by the people;
meant
to better a world filled
with greed
with corruption
and with denial;
eventually
evolving into
the very thing
it was trying to prevent;
but
we can still
fix it.

Everyone sheds lights,
upon their thoughts and choices,
Orderly system.

Our voices must be heard,
This is our democracy.
We are united in the land
of the free.
We are marching onward
Freedom is the key!

Some days the concept is foreign.
Not that long ago
I was chattel . . .
Something owned.
All men created equal.
Why not me?
When will we . . .
The she of us . . .
Be free.
Why not me?
We seek constitutional guarantee
Of promised equality.
Here.
NOW!

The Colonists had finally had enough of this overstepping of power. No taxation without representation they decreed, as began their journey to future sovereignty. But who would rise about all the rest and lead these crazed people?

Hegemony that's diaspora spreads farther than the coast. Parliament is now in session. My euphoria has died and now I’m in limbo. I once created you know but life is constructed. Handed to me off an assembly line. From those that have no name.

Southwestern skies are ripe for a protest. Our land explodes with controversy. There has to be a peaceful way to do this. Like generations before that would march on for their rights. It is up to the youth of today to make the difference.

governing bodies
elusive, unreachable
spilling speeches that aren't theirs
shaking hands that aren't ours

my soul in the streets
shouting,
but quietly, daily,
wishing for change,
praying for those everyday
feelings
of
unity,
to stay

We are one! We must remain united! Without each other we are nobody. We are nothing. To remain as one nation, one society, one population, we need to become one familia. Despite the color, race, beliefs, or morals we are all Human, We're familia

We learn that making a difference is important
to those who don't understand your reason.
The love for teaching is the reason
she teaches her students who need it the most.
because students don't know their own power.
till they see it.

Loud I stand mouth sealed shut.
Words effortlessly pouring out of my eyes
with every tear.
Dropping onto your plate.
You fuel off my love.
Love that's blind to your evil.

Fam Bam! Everybody I roll with my family. Family unit, family unification, family in unison. What about family renunciation? Maybe you can't. There is too much attachment and resentment to just leave it in abandonment. What Family tree??

This democratic heart. My unwavering flag of blood pumping ventricles. The life force of justicia. Sweet equality and shades of skin, accented languages and dialects crossing borders. Our songs are of the same melody. We dream the same.

Stepping out of adobe walls
her eyes wonder
over pure land
claimed within an invisible border.

Struck with the silence of grief
She's forced to lift her veil of innocence.

Uncovering her mask.
She discovers a world
that looks the other way.

One man, one vote—but I am many men.
Dozens, hundreds, thousands.
Spaniards, Mexicans, Indians, and Anglos.
Will I vote for myself, against myself?
Or do I declare that I am the sovereign ruler
of my own flesh?

The certain greatness about his land.
Mountains, rivers, the seas, the forests, the deserts,
all here in this famed land.
Many knew, some understood, others will not,
and once this fledgling state, now the greatest nation.

My democracy is rich, proud and adored
It’s made out valuable red ink but now plagued by unjust uncertainties
It is not easily attained only by the way of the righteous
It can't be bought by the way of the sword or foolish anger
We long for justice

Democracy: rule of the people,
Yet it did not give everyone power from its beginning.
Americans struggled with defining true democracy,
People fought hard for years,
But Americans know that true democracy is worth the fight.

My Democracy
Still so naive,
Women, children swarms up the narrow lanes
from villages, towns, cities still new to them
new hopes, new dreams
ocean is still far
quenches what is river water
Democracy's divine yet to shine
Is there still I in we

The word, it's the word,
each one's word, and
each one has a word
that must be heard
that must be heard
and together the words
speak up and add up and rise up
to sing
the singular songs of the people
the singular songs of the choir
of the human race

My Democracy

Father,
Mother,
Sister,
Brother,

council together.
We counseled together.
My democracy is supposed to be just, it is supposed to represent all. My democracy has the corrupt top one percent who claim to represent the bottom. My democracy lets police get away with murdering innocent lives. My democracy is corrupt.

I am finding that moment.
Unknown event, unknown time, I did just go through this kind of state which can not be copied.
To choose the moment I want to experience.
Look. Do not doubt.
Look, because it’s unpredictable.
So get creative.

My democracy is
The voice of our people.
The basis of our rights.
The treatment of equality.
The rights of individual freedom.
The respect for all.
And so much more.
That is my democracy.

Power rises from the masses. Channeled through the system, the initial force begins to dwindle, snagging, catching on the roots and rocks of the political ground. As the power reaches the top of its journey, the momentum is diminished.

The liberty of men
Comes as promise.
But look at the wars
The now dried blood
Perhaps we're lost in
Democracy's illusion.
Naively believe
Majority is ruling.
Yet, we smile, we pray
We're fanciful creatures
Deep asleep in a sweet sweet dream.

Nuestra democracia no es justa.
Quiero que todos seamos iguales.

Un sistema en lo cual las personas son juzgadas basado en promesas vacías es una tontería. Pero las personas que hacen las promesas vacías son lo mismo: defectuosas.

Mi democracia es buena y unida.
En mi democracia es importante que nosotros nos divirtamos.

Mi democracia es única y muy interesante.
Mi democracia tiene libertad.
No es estricta.
Mi democracia es sencilla y muy buena.

Nuestra democracia es diferente a la de antes
Es muy complicada
Muchos de los candidatos son falsos
¡No está bien!
Nuestra democracia no debe ser exclusiva o parcial
Nuestra democracia debe ser tolerante

Mi democracia es responsabilidad. Nuestra democracia es respeto.

Mi democracia es muy bonita y única.
En mi democracia es importante que las personas se unan.
Mi democracia tiene libertad y justicia.

Mi democracia necesita ser civilizada.
Alguien tiene que tomar el control.
Mi democracia tiene un presidente.
Mi democracia es la mejor.

Mi democracia es muy interesante.
El grupo toma todas las decisiones.
Me gusta esto sobre la democracia.

Mi democracia está pasando por una etapa difícil.
No entiendo por qué hay tanto odio en el país.
Pero tengo esperanza.
En mi democracia es importante que nos abramos al mundo y a las posibilidades.
Confío en que triunfará la razón.

In my demos, I am one among many. Yet alone.
I cannot speak their lingo, get shunned,
But my voice becomes loud and clear
When I stand up before the demagogue, the one who hates
And say: here is a lily plant: water and cherish, learn to love us all.

Democracy, greatest system of them all
People cast their votes
People make their choices
All people have a chance
Everyone has the same rights

Democracy, made by the people
Run by the people
And are made up by the people

Democracy
A word with no definite definition

My perfect democracy gives all people,
Of different creed, culture, and religion,
An equal opportunity at life,
Full of freedom, protected rights, and happiness.

As she stands in the sunlight bright and tall the people of the world flock to her
They seek her deep love and blind justice
She is the love of free men and tyrannies monster
She is the light in a dark world which guides all people

It is reaching out for freedom resiliently.
We are caged birds singing as loud as we can;
Feathered civilians singing not for attention,
But for the chance to be free.

We wake each day to see
The difference our wing beats
Have made to the wind.

What is democracy?
Voice? Power? Fairness?
Yes, but most importantly,
Democracy is choice.
We have the power to vote for the better.
The one that will lead us into a better future.
Give speeches and pull votes.
Don't be scared and vote!

A nation has a trail mix of minds
Among these minds are the cynical,
Needy, compassionate,
Ambitious, loyal
They are the Aurora borealis
Of the history we've spent
Making for centuries
American
An ethnic derived from the pursuit of freedom

MY Democracy
What is Democracy?
Perhaps it is the seed of the country
Waiting to sprout
First, the constitution, that governs it all
Then, the rights, on a bill
Finally, the people of will
Making a structure, strong and tall

You see, It could have been worse,
Like the war in Syria or the Holocaust.
I could've been a victim to injustice.
A victim of unspoken thoughts.
Hurricanes of confusion and anxiety.
But I am not.

I am home and I am blessed.
Blessed with democracy.

When the many rise up to speak
with the strength to listen
When dark ink takes the place of blood.
When a voice is given to the voiceless,
and power to the powerless,
We can declare democracy

It is a place where you choose your own ruler.
Where acceptance is widespread
tolerance is necessary
ignorance is disfavored.
Where no noblemen have prestige honors
the working man can never attain.
A place where you can be judged equally.

Democracy, Freedom
Is it the same as the past
Today it goes and comes
To be free is new to me
Does everyone feel the same?
Fair and equal is the way to be
My rights are mine alone
To restrict or take another's
is not my right, to cost theirs for my own

Let your voices weave a theme of unity,
Let your arms twine as one,
Let your feet step in synchronized rhythm—
Our march is just begun.
A world of dreams awaits—
Dreams come alive!
“All for one and one for all—”
For one goal we strive.

The people were waiting, waiting for a long time.
They were angry, furious.
They wanted a change, a big change, a change that would change everything.
And through the power of democracy, and fierce, unbreakable will, everything changed.

Democracy,
My voice has significance and determines my future.
I am heard and my opinion matters,
In times both good and bad.
I make a choice that defines who I am and what I want,
For all the world to see.

Democracy to me,
Is to show my art for the world to see,
Setting dreamers free.

What I show instead
Are numbers for the world,
Where art can't feed me.
If only society would
Accept my passion as an artist.

Everyone wants change
You all have a voice.
Make what you want happen.
The harsh reality is that no one can hear you,
but you haven't said a word.
Have a say in the way you have to live.

A small boat sails in a daze
Gently in murky water
Ways a way
they see
a bay

Bright,
Blinding, gold shell
A land of beliefs
A haven for a soul to speak

Made for People,
Made for thought,
And made of Equality

What do you think of
when someone says democracy
I think of the love
of the ones not under monarchy
We're not in a dictatorship
We aren't being controlled like a one-sided relationship
For that I appreciate democracy
It gives us the free life

A Guide to Democracy:
Life is good, filled with patience
The right, the freedom, Honesty, Acceptance, Integrity
Freedom is nice, filled with justice
A part of Democracy, Liberty, Opportunity, Righteousness

At 18, he is idealistic, hopeful and powerful,
giddy with his ability to vote,
adding his voice to the hordes.

Let me in, into the house facing the sea
Without roofs and without windows
Where I paint the walls with olive green
Birds fly in and away regardless of the season
Leaves shed and thrive undeterred by the rain.

This is the day.
The shouting of the people
ringing in my ears.
I see their smiles
and those happy tears.
Oh, it makes me proud
to see these folks,
at this very moment,
unite under our democracy.

My democracy,
where power is vested in the people.
But who are we?
we are worn-out dolls ruined by the small lies woven with delicate words—
full of broken promises.
It with be a new year full of new liberties—
when we finally welcome democracy.

Democracy is the people
Democracy is our voice
It is what makes us us
We choose how to live
We choose our own paths
Democracy is freedom
Democracy is our country

What Makes Democracy
MY democracy?
Is it my freedom?
Is it the peace within my country?
I believe democracy is a way of showing equality
Amongst its people
A social, spiritual, and economic equality
An equality where all things are possible

A voice of the people,
We come together as one.
Acting as a family,
We work together to run
This beautiful nation
That shines in the sun.
Challenges we face,
But still we prevail.
Setbacks hinder our progress,
But we never fail.

Democracy,
Where all are included,
Fighting for their rights,
Where individualism is accepted,
But majority rules.
Where the public choose their representative,
To strive for the society they believe in.
Democracy.

We need to stand up and fight
For what we believe is right.
Let's not cower
We have the power
And the voice
Now let's come together and make a choice.
To be free
We need democracy.

My Freedom and Rights
One talks, the crowd will listen
Sweet cries of victory is the sound of music
The rights of an individual is an emergency
Power comes from society and not individuality

Throughout history,
all around the world,
people have wanted their voices heard by the rulers.
A human psychological need,
only gifted with the practice of democracy.
Everyone is heard.
Democracy trust makes America the land of the free.

We unfetter our anger, and hurl our words over their riot shields.

We are free
Yet we are not
We speak freely
Yet our voice unheard
You say you hear us
We can't tell
You say you can help we can't see
You say you'll change you never did
So could you, would you, may you,
Set us free?

A taste of true democracy would be nice
True meaning that the majority would be heard
True does not only mean voting rights
It means for changes to come,
Changes wanted by the People, not the government
A taste of true democracy would be nice

Democracy is perception
Only founded in theory
Yet softly shown in action
Glorified by one with short memory
Democracy is broken

Democracy.
A term used too loosely and frequently to describe a government.
Everyone wants to be a democracy
But not everyone wants to follow the rules.

Not everyone wants to give those freedom who have
Been crying for it for far too long.

A place where no one is judged:
By their appearance
By their religion
By their race.

A place where everyone is proud, regardless of:
Their appearance
Their religion
Their race.

This is my democracy.

A World of Happy Children

Open up the doors and what do you see?
Happy children learning in unity

Our school is different, unique some say
So many cultures in one place can surely brighten your day.

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