Civil Lefts


Stop.
Stop waving that flag in my face
Like you just won a war
Or the World Cup.
Stop.

Stop and look at your flag
And what is missing from itβ€”
Think for a minute on it.

You marched on, but you forgot me.
You charged on, and you used me.
You based your cause upon me
And walked where we had walked before.

Did you pick cotton in the hot summer sun?
Did you fear dog and whip and gun?
Did you fight the law and the law won
For over a hundred years?

Have you bathed in tears
As you watched the noose cling tightly to a neck?
Tell me, have you yearned and burned to be free?
Do you remember the bombing of ’63?
Do they still teach that in history?
Take another look and you shall see:
Black is the color of poverty;
Black is forgotten humanity.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. A Voice
    Jun 27, 2013 @ 00:11:28

    Formally, I think this demonstrates very good use of the individuals lines making the stanza (contrasted against the lines building up the stanza). There is also a palpable sense of anger and sadness that is barely held in check.

    Topically, there is much I can say and most of that I will leave unsaid. This is a mature piece that confronts more than comments on the reality of civil rights in the United States. Unless I’m mistaken, the first stanza is contrasting the rainbow flags and signs with equal signs on them of the marriage equality movement to the issue of equal rights for non-whites in the 1960s. I am sure that some people will see this piece as a devaluing of the former movement, however I am equally sure that more critical people will recognise that this poem doesn’t devalue that movement but rather demonstrates frustration with the implicit equivocation of the former to the latter by using the term ‘civil rights’.

    Well done. For my part, I upload my poetry to Box so that all formatting remains in tact. If you’re interested in my work, please feel free to check out the links on the Poetry page.

    Reply

    • wordcoaster
      Jun 27, 2013 @ 01:02:58

      Wow–thank you so much! I appreciate your thoughtful reading and thoughtful response, and you definitely hit the nail on the head. This poem is what happens when I read a ton of Langston Hughes and just let it steep for a while.
      I will definitely check out your poems–I do wish formatting wasn’t so difficult on a blog. πŸ™‚

      Reply

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