The Anthology 

Grandfather Smiles

By Baba Louis Alemayehu

One of my Movement Sisters Bernice Johnson Reagon, once said to me that in difficult times, it was important to imagine ourselves in the future living the lives we want to live and deserve to live. That vision can help us to make decisions in the present moment that will help us manifest that vision of Life. 

"The original version of this poem was dedicated to a dear friend, Paul Carizzales."

One day,

You and I,


Will laugh about the old days,

Our old trembling ways

Unsure the morning would come days.

Our sun-kissed grandchildren,

Will clutch our legs,

We’ll scold them with tolerant smiles,

“Now don’t chu make this old man fall!”

These bold little ones birthed by revolution of the Great Turning.

They will search our pockets for those shiny, now obsolete coins

And then the precious sweet raisins of autumn.

We will feel the energy of our fallen comrades in these young ones,

Our Brothers and Sister who also breathe through shadows,

Speaking to us of then and now, of tomorrows and always,

The timeless wisdom and guidance flowing back to the Ancients of Old

Who say: “There is only life and life only.”

Then the children will ask us again!

How did you make it through the storms?

The floods,

      The poison clouds,

                            The fire winds,

The great shaking of the Earth?

How did you make it through the night?”

And we, with old men’s eyes

Somehow yet ageless and glowing,

Will reflect inside: “We don’t know!”

We’ll look at each other and laugh out loud about

The old days, our trembling ways,

Laughing through the pain

Laughing with no strain days,

Light as feathers, these old ones’ hearts.

Remembering the fallen ones, the truly risen ones,

Comrades who whisper from the river,

Who whisper from the trees,

The men, the women, the new beings

      Feeling the love of men, of women, of new beings

The love of all our relatives

Animal, vegetable, mineral,


How did we make it through the falling stars?

Passed the screaming rocks?

How did we make it through the night?

It’s simple, it’s complicated:

The Inner Light children,

The Inner Light.