He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. —Ben Franklin
Right after my mother moved
to South Carolina, a man approached her
after church to show her the Confederate flag
in a stained glass window.
If this took place in a novel,
most readers would be able to deconstruct
the authorial intent
implied by a white man
showing a black woman
In Los Angeles, I drove an Oldsmobile,
a symbol of American engineering,
mass production, luxury . . .
It was a couch on wheels,
and one the most likely vehicles
to be used in the commission of a crime.
I could roam the streets of South Central
but in the Valley
I’d be pulled over for DWB.
In the rain and through a green-caged enclosure,
I marveled at a maimed bald eagle
and pondered at how
before the Constitution, the presidency,
the Bill of Rights, we placed it on a seal,
then took it near extinction.
It shrugged its 6-feet of wings
and let out
an impressive scat.
Michele Reese is a Daughter of the American Revolution and the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant. Her poetry focuses on this place of intersection as well as others including race, gender, and sexuality. She is the author of the poetry collection Following Phia. Her poems have also been published in several journals and anthologies including Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, The Oklahoma Review, Poetry Midwest, The Paris Review, The Tulane Review, Chemistry of Color: Cave Canem South Poets Responding to Art, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race, and Home is Where: An Anthology of African American Poets from the Carolinas. She is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter.
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