Earlier I listened to a podcast,
It was a reading of Dr. King’s letter
Written in the Birmingham jail.
While I was listening, I was also eating,
By the end of the podcast, forty minutes later,
My lunch was still there.
I could only think of what he went through,
The process of getting to the point
Where all of those perfect words found paper.
That was something, more than something.
Just before the pandemic, I bought a book,
A friend had opened a book store,
The title caught my eye sort of based on Nixon’s cronies.
This book, a work of fiction, was written in the 1940s,
Dealt with politics, or at least political behaviors,
And took place in the deep south, so I felt prepared.
Well, my formative years in Virginia have been exposed,
The grandeur of the south, gone,
The propaganda of my education proven incomplete.
That was something, a little less than something.
So while I thought I could handle some dialect,
Writers always try to make the southern accents come alive,
I was not prepared for the N-word.
Not even knowing that it might be there was enough preparation,
I was still shocked, repulsed, and unsure of whether I should continue
Because I so hate that word, what it stands for, how flip it gets used.
I’ve been encouraged by famous writers to analyze books
To understand why they are written, and
I can think of no good reason for the use of this word even in time’s context
It’s not something, it shouldn’t be something.
I’m not sure how to continue with the book,
Maybe I shouldn’t, but one thing is for sure,
It makes Dr. King’s letter some much more important to me.
His letter lifted my spirits,
While exciting me to be a better person,
To listen and understand what I wasn’t taught as a kid,
That there are people in our country
Who don’t have the same chances that others have simply
Because of the color of their skin.
And that is something that should not be.