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Posts Tagged ‘Confederacy’

Old Furniture

That old wooden clock,
my grandmother’s grandmother’s
keeping hand-crafted time and
still ticking long after we become
objects in bones, like furniture,
and no one knows the color of their skin
or the content of their character.

We think we live in black and white
but it is always Grey
and Baltimore was burning,
that great unspoken poverty,
the ignored, silent epidemic of
American tragedy,
vast, sweeping like the plains
across black ghettos, white trailer-trash towns,
and forgotten people in Appalachia,
we are all toothless and shoeless on some level.

Burning across the land without a hill
or a tree to stop the rising of
an evil beast’s heart
like a toxic Trump
or any other form it could take,
miles from any canyon or ridge
that could stop it.

At least there’s baseball and
sometimes Baltimore is all orange.

So down south where deep rivers
still flow in veins of deep hatred,
in Alabama on a college campus
I heard young men shout from a truck,
“They only brought you niggers
here to play football.”
I think of Langston Hughes composing
his symphony at day break in Alabama
wondering where black kids get
to ride the merry-go-round.

That old wooden clock kept time
during the Civil War in southern Virginia,
time that must have never seemed possible
to end, to change or mend.
My family was at Gettysburg on
both sides, both bled,
one lost an eye so
I’m a half-inch away
from never existing.
The clock sat on a chest of drawers
with a secret compartment in the top
to hide valuables in case of
a union soldiers raid,
perhaps a letter was once there
of a secret friendship between a little
white girl and a little black girl
who knew nothing of war,
who knew only what children should know,
the soft societal fabric of
small-scale love that keeps humanity human.

M.L.K. wrote a letter from jail unsure
of how to raise a daughter in such
a pointless hatred filled place,

so with a heavy heart
I have to stare at the clock,
at the future,
my reflection in the glass of
the picture frames that show
old relatives and the
chaotic twitches of their eyes
from their portraits unsettled
by their wasted blood,
my pathetic hands that
can’t do anything except
write like a coward in a book
all while knowing that
we are not teaching
our children
to hate less
than we do.

Kyle McHale         2016

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