In the cold coals of dull disappointments I grow fresh wings to soar in hope again.
From still-smoking embers of total defeats I come forth to build a new city.
I am the Phoenix— not a bird from half-forgotten legend but Everyman who loves hopes builds!
Until the night of Wednesday, July 12, 1967, it was hoped and widely believed that the civil disorders afflicting other cities would leave Newark unscathed. What Life magazine would later call “the predictable insurrection” wrought deep wounds in the fabric of the Central Ward, with a loss of lives and livelihoods out of all proportion to Newark’s size. It also impelled a reconsideration of the kind of city Newark was to be.
Artist and poet Margaret Tsuda, a recent arrival in 1967, was one of the many who stayed and joined their futures to the city’s own. Her poem appeared in the Christian Science Monitor of January 20, 1971, and in the collection Cry Love Aloud.
(To Integrity come young men/women free-willed but anxious off the streets fleeing own desire for speed pot junk.)
The bright-faced youngsters who welcome us to their Open House show us proudly how they have redeemed discards resurrected dingy rooms with bright paint earnest sweat determination.
We admire ingenuity neatness and order listen to a rock combo sample a home-baked cake. My mind goes back to an alley by a movie theatre I used to pass on my way to work early mornings. Four junkies three men and a woman met there to wait to wait shivering for a fix. They were gaunt unbelievably gaunt sucked dry like the pale skins of cockroaches in a neglected cupboard.
The quietly pleasant young man who has been showing us around Integrity presses my hand saying, “Goodbye. Thank you for coming.”
My eyes are suddenly tight and hot with tears. For that instant my hope for him burns burns as fiercely as ever his own must have.
For almost half a century Newark’s Integrity House has facilitated recovery from substance abuse and addiction, making its home in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Integrity House was only a few years old when Margaret Tsuda paid a visit and wrote this poem, published in her 1972 collection Cry Love Aloud.
On a commonplace workday weekday I was startled at the sight of a horse on High Street stepping out with Lippizaner grace into the frenzied stream of mechanized morning traffic so that the patrolman astride him could oversee the safe passage of three small schoolchildren.
What a handsome beast is the horse! How generously he has lent his strength/his fleetness to man! Small wonder that the Attic Greeks— lovers of beauty tamers of the horse sailors of the sea— seeing the tossing of many manes in the powerful plunge of Aegean waves over sandbars gave to their sea-god, Poseidon the epithet, Hippias Lord of the Horse.
The next day there was no horse on High Street. The friendly blue-garbed school guard watched for the children. But I still remember a workday weekday made uncommon/classic for me just by the sight of a horse.
Longtime resident Margaret Tsuda included this poem in Urban River, published in Newark in 1976.
The moon full/radiant/fair unshadowed by earth hung just beyond the reach of fingertips. But in the concrete dusk of the city only at street crossings could the splendid sphere be seen.
At one corner a clump of urchins tumbled out of a doorway. Rough and a bit ragged, I thought as I passed among them.
Then, behind me rose a cry loud/shrill/urgent, “Mire! Mire! La luna!”
How many other child-throats in how many other tongues gave voice that night, “Look! Look! The moon!” as planet earth and satellite turned together in their soundless spatial harmony?
Above all speech all difference of language the moon serenely pours forth luminescent beauty equally over all who look toward light!
Larry Pendleton was an employee of the Newark Post Office District and a journalist for the New Jersey Afro American. His tribute to the crew of Apollo 11 was printed in the September 8, 1969, Congressional Record where he was identified as Newark’s poet laureate.
Margaret Tsuda’s poem was published in The Christian Science Monitor of March 19, 1973, and in her collection Urban River (1976).