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2012 Youth Poet Laureate

Ishmael Islam

Daydreaming at the Voting Booth

A spirit came to me in a daydream
With the voice of a somber firework
Before I asked what the stripes and stars were for
He interrupted,

“Good sir!
That was something pure we once said
Trying to find the sun in so much neon
You forget how we used to do things
You don’t stare at the railroad, you make it!
You dream, then you build. That’s pure

A voice shouts an idea
More come and there’s a call to action
We used to call on each other
Then the voices mash
A lone star becomes a constellation
There are vibrations, and it all sounds like—like

When mountains move
Or when the railroad is complete
There have been many mistakes, but that’s the purity
The lump of hope that snowballs out the avalanche
It all bursts into fireworks
Looks like atoms in the night sky, so pure
Don’t you see?
Everything we haven’t abused is pure
The vote is pure

Remember my friend,
The voice always grants us another chance
To awaken.”

“Good sir! You’re next in line to vote now.”
--And before I even thought to place a ballot
Everything about being here started to make sense

Ishmael ‘Ish’ Islam is a Poet, MC, filmmaker and graphic artist. He is one of the 2010 Brave New Voices slam champions and placed third in the 2011 Knicks Poetry Slam. Ish is an award winning producer of the short film Departure from a Love. He is also one half of Brooklyn hip-hop duo HumUni (hyoom-yoo-ni) and has a one man show entitled The Self Spell. Ish is a Brooklyn native, currently in his last year at Kingsborough Community College.