Si, Se Puede (It Can Be Done)
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Author: Philip Kolin
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Si, se puede  (It can be done)

By Philip Kolin

Cesar Chavez, San Joaquin [PNC1] Valley, California, 1970

 Twenty-four days, then twenty-five,

and then those thirty-six. His hunger

strike for those starving in the bounty

of the San Joaquin. He organized boycotts

and once marched 340 miles.

You are the living example of Gandhi,

Dr. King once telegraphed him.


For decades he labored for his people,

his poor farm workers, poverellos,  backs bent

every day from picking wrathful grapes,

their hands rough as cactus, expendable

as far as big Agra was concerned.

La Causa: fighting for their right

to breathe when the growers favored


letting lettuce live by spraying it with poison,

clogging the workers’ lungs. Endure, he said, si,

se puede, on the roads, the camps, down rows

of blood-red strawberries, at all the harvests

that never were to be theirs.  He unlocked 

their strength from despair. In Spanish

his name meant "key."

Philip Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus and Editor Emeritus of the Southern Quarterly at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has published fifteen collections of poetry, the most recent  being Reaching Forever (Cascade Books, Poiema Series, 2019), Delta Tears (Main Street Mag, 2000), and White Terror, Black Trauma: Resistance Poems about Black History, 2023).


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