Libraries In The South

1 min

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.

A few words for the author? Comment below. 9 comments

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Image of Michèle Mancheron
Michèle Mancheron · ago
Powerfull poem. The last five lines are the key - so gorgeously expressed !
Image of Keith Simmonds
Keith Simmonds · ago
Congratulations for this superb offering, Thomas!
Image of Sunny Lancaster
Sunny Lancaster · ago
Congratulations on your win. Your poem is excellent!
Image of Mary Tabor
Mary Tabor · ago
Congratulations on this fine poem, its important message and the win!
Image of Pat Feehan
Pat Feehan · ago
You’ve already won- Thomas!
Image of Tracy Rice Weber
Tracy Rice Weber · ago
Powerful and poignant. Beautiful construction. Will read this again and again. Congratulations on a fine and important poem. Good luck with the contest too.
Image of Keith Simmonds
Keith Simmonds · ago
A profound and powerful piece well described here! My support and good luck!
Image of Tony Martello
Tony Martello · ago
5 votes, my full support. Good luck on the final round. My stories made it to the finals as well: "Maize of Color" and "Green Springs" and vote for them for continued support! Tony
Image of Tony Martello
Tony Martello · ago
Thomas, I appreciate your connections and song with a challenge to accountability and ability to talk and discuss racism as a form of hate. It rang true with me on the weird labelling and discomfort many of us have in discussing these important topics. I like the references to "displacing neighborhoods and reservations with no polling stations" Bravo! strong poem. Powerful message. My full support- 5 votes. When you get a second from reading classics, check out my entry, "Maize of Color" in the short fiction category and vote if you like it...Tony