Libraries In The South


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Thomas Maluck is a teen services librarian and compulsive writer in South Carolina. His poetry has been published by Stepping Stone Press, South Carolina Poetry Initiative, Muddy Ford Press, and the  [+]

Image of Summer 2020
They are fighting in the library:
whether or not to label classic books,
the well-loved treasures of canon
that don’t know how to talk about non-white people
without a white hero and minstrel show,
and white people are so sorry for the trouble
they never want to bring it up again.

Outside, epithets are slurred and shouted
from a white truck or SUV
like a tribute to Selma,
then speeding away, gone,
quicker than a vote to keep gerrymandering.

Such is life in the South,
and everywhere is the South,
where the song played loudest has no lyrics
for sunset towns, Tulsa, or Juneteenth.

Maybe disclaimers in books could explain
how today’s slavery is a highway
displacing a neighborhood
into redlined public housing
and reservations
with no polling station
and cars revving up if protesters appear
to congest the overpass
instead of pulling up bootstraps.

There are no cautions for where this story leads,
only a bookmark progressing slowly,
leaving behind pages of history
to find peril if ignored,
justice if we read.
55

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