Deborah L. Humphreys

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Carry it on. . .

The Ironbound neighborhood of Newark (NJ) has a rich history, a living history. The following poem/presentation is meant to honor this community in word, in image and in music.
The first version of the video contains the poem "Carry it on".
The second version includes an interview with Joseph Della Fave, Executive Director of the Ironbound Community Corporation. ICC celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

Carry it on: the poem

Carry it on: Ironbound Community Corporation

     The format of this video is a Flash (swf) file. Depending upon your computer's speed, it may take a while to load. Your patience is appreciated.

     Reflecting Ironbound's multicultural nature, the poem from Carry it on. . . is translated into two of the languages spoken here. Follow the link to read the poem in Spanish and/or Portuguese. I would like to thank Petra Chavez, Maria de Ceu Dias, and Lidia Dos Santos for their generosity in providing the translations.
Below is the text in English.

Carry it on. . .
22 Oct 2004


what do we have to say for ourselves

with all those beautiful tongues

children, inherited dreams and very little

space to call home


what do we have

behind us/across the sea/across town/down south

in our minds like an ache or a weight/like a compass

as we go to work/to school/to the parade

the victory celebrations/the wakes/the voting booths


what do we do to remember

a fishing village/vegetables pulled from the garden

a patch of land near a cliff

rocks, granite, the coolness of marble

fences, jettys, the four walls of an abandoned cottage

the barriers  that forced us to leave where we came from

that brought us here because someone else

came first, scooped out canals

told us life was good but hard

the air thick, the water sweet

said that if you just look

face the water, listen to the rumblings

from the street, close your eyes

you have not left home at all


what would we not give

up about such a cinderella slipper of land

this ironbound, the qualities of stone

that show in our faces, gold

in our hearts, the paths that have been made

straight/made into bridges/that lead out of town

made routes in and out of our own stories



what have we found

about making our way that was not taught to us

that was tickled out of conversation

over the back fence, that first generation

rock solid belief that the next of us

will by God have it

easier/have a chance/have opportunity/have the choice

to not need to work with calloused hands

lead dust and twelve hour shifts

our children, our grandchildren

the generations in our care

will have more/to give back/to figure out/to keep together 


what have we done/what do we do today

about ache, loneliness or loss

the manipulations of time, geography, politics

even our own poor and miserable

attempts to meet our obligations, balance our desires

sit with ambivalence , until we can listen with a joining

of our senses, the strains of imagination or compassion


what do we hear

what have we heard, what feels

like an echo/like a second chance/like the instructions of our grandmother

like a half-remembered dream/like the stick of a pin into memory

or conscience. when we walk

there is the brick city sound of not just/not yet/not ready to pass along

and it pulls us/together/pulls us up


what do we have to look forward to say

to all of these down neck voices

with their bright and widely-opened

eyes, the tender hopes that once crossed

oceans, stepped over into this millennium

yes, with tender hopes, the long memories

of past mercies given here and the miracles

waiting to happen



carry it on












Deborah L. Humphreys copyright 2004