Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Tulsa's Burning Baltimore

We forgot,

and now Tulsa's burning Baltimore
and everywhere in between
is tindering with remembering -

the shimmer shine of sweat
bruised and bloodied faces

Jim Crow and the Klan
southern segregation

riding the back of the bus
marching the front of the draft

the snarling dogs, the hoses
free at last, free at last

the plantations and prisons
projects and parole

the handcuffs, the foodstamps
felons without a vote

protests and riots
suburbs to the slums

Tulsa's burning Baltimore -

we forgot how far we'd come.


This is a poem that I've been working on since the Baltimore riots.  At that time, my daughter's sixth grade class was reading Tulsa Burning, a fictional novel based on the Tulsa race riots of 1921.  I started the poem because I was struck by how we can seem to make so much progress and find ourselves right back where we began.  A big thank you to dVerse and poet Loyce Gayo for inspiring me to finally finish this thing.

16 comments:

Sherry Blue Sky said...

How awesome that your daughter is reading about the riots. LOVE your poem, especially "the snarling dogs, the hoses, free at last, free at last". The civil rights movement is very close to my heart, always has been. Your poem is wonderful. "We forgot how far we'd come." It doesnt take much for us to forget and backslide.

Sylvia K said...

Thank you for this -- it's a long story, but who knows, maybe one day I can share it with you.

Fireblossom said...

"marching the front of the draft". Rich man's fight, poor man's army, always.

Kate Mia said...

As.. i SIT listening with focus at a Southern
Baptist Pastor's monthly get together
i watch in horror as they
still talk about
'those folks' in
Jamaica
being
OK..
but the
'folks here'
as being
the 'bad'
'APPLES'.. yes.. the
laws change
but the bad
apples
still
rot
in the grey
rows of
Southern
Baptist
Churches
as metaphor
of course..
as that is
NOT STILL
LIMITED
TO THERE ONLY
EITHER.. AS
I who live
in RED STATE
SO CALLED CHRISTIAN
HAVEN PLACE WITH NO..
NO QUALMS AT ALL.. CAN SAY HATE
STILL LIVES BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
OF CHURCH OR HOME.. OR
WORK
OR
PLAY.. IT'S TIME
TO OPEN UP MORE.. TO UNDERSTANDING..
TO LOVE.. AND TOGETHERNESS PLAY..
INSTEAD OF DIVISION AND DISUNITY..
OF FEAR AND HATE.. as a way of
continued RED STATE LIFE SWAY..:)

brudberg said...

You have really brought it all around.. Yes I wonder how we can seem to return to the beginning, how we can repeat the mistakes once again.. hatred blooming everywhere. But the last week I have seen some hopeful changes.. hope the wind will blow again.

Grace said...

I like this part: everywhere in between
is tindering with remembering -


Ironic that whatever small progress steps we make, we seem to be sliding back & forgetting how far we have come ~

I am happy that you were able to finish this poem, inspired by Loyce Gayo. Thanks for linking up MZ and wishing you happy week ~

Sanaa Rizvi said...

the shimmer shine of sweat
bruised and bloodied faces

I can almost picture it. Powerful write!!

De Jackson (WhimsyGizmo) said...

Just.SO.Good.
Thank you for this.

Outlawyer said...

Wonderful poem. This has been a shocking and eye-opening last couple of years. Thank you. k.

Outlawyer said...

Hey MZ--I thought I left comment that did not come through--

This has been such a shocking and eye-opening year for me--your strong poem underlines it. Thank you. k.

grapeling said...

the whole time, the Right never stopped, while the Left sat back, weary, thinking it had prevailed.

And so, the kim davis' of the world, the entire Pub field and Congress and state houses and legislatures and judges...

jefferson was right: eternal vigilance. your pen is succinct, poignant, and an indictment ~

Mary said...

Ah, we have come far...but your poem reminds us that we have not come far enough!

Gail said...

Very wonderful.

We are slow learners.

Well written and thought provoking.

Susan said...

Thank you for this. For finishing and giving us this.
Can hitting the replay button be any more obvious? Until we destroy the saved scripts created by white supremacy, we are doomed to repeat them.

mishunderstood said...

I like the evolution of your poem. If only we could all evolve as well.

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Your poem is so well thought out--makes me stop and think about my kids and my beliefs--sometimes I think I live in a bubble here in the bay area