On the balcony of the Lorraine Motel
you fell backward, your cheek shattered,
and all that mattered in the world
mattered most in that mad moment
where love again met its inevitable end
standing at 6:01 PM behind the cold rails.
History fails to hold its heroes as high
as it hides the reasons the heroes first sang out.
A Remington rifle bullet rang out
across the dirty Memphis street
and completed your final speech
with its exclamation and point in red.
You had been, you said, to the mountaintop.
You had seen ahead to the Promised Land,
man like Moses, fate like his too,
to see from far away what all your life
had been the stage to view—
to be cut down now by a coward’s crouch,
your necktie flung into the air
where your words still hung, growing louder there,
“Mountaintop. Promised Land."
The promise from the mountain man
whose eyes had seen the glory of the coming
as only climbers of such heights can.
Here is final part of the speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave the night before he was assassinated:
Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. [applause] And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! [applause] And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
The picture above was taken the day before King was killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel near the very spot where he was shot.