kent state, may 4, 2001

it was a soft green grass time born of the great war
where our fathers were heroes who never talked
about the kamakazes that fell from the sky

it was a world of color born from an age of black and white
a whole generation of moms trying out hamburger helpers,
more time for mccall’s, ladies home journal, the saturday evening
post more time unfulfilled and kneaded into fresh dissatisfaction
for the dinner table

we walked easily across the quad carrying our books and believing
in a fatherknowsbest world our leaveittobeaver days to day
stunned by the images on tv where monks doused in gasoline lit
a match to our lives and the sunday school picture perfect
two dimensional black and white world burned phosphorescent
orange in our brains
across the storefronts burning the glass
blown out of the frames we lived inside

we had everything we needed and knew nothing
more than george’s cherry tree or honest abe’s long walk
to school through piles of snow turning to bullshit
faster than we could defoliate villages

we walked easily across the quad
where a college education followed naturally as lunch
followed breakfast followed a fluffy pillow full of dreams
stuffed with old prom dress promises
when the rocks were thrown and the bullets bit back
and we carried our angry innocence
like an eagle’s feather into this one hundred percent
natural ingredient world where the burnt bones
of four little brown girls in a bombed out church
are forgotten
where the drumming of hundreds of thousands
of bloodrighteous voices pulsing with one protest
is forgotten
where jackson state and kent state are pressed like fall
leaves losing color into the skewed history book of the white man
it’s forgotten

it’s may fourth and the lights are flashing the night blue
with police blocking the roads
twenty-one years after the kent state shootings
those pesky frat boys are drinking too much again
they’re setting cars on fire
they’re rolling them over

but there’s no need to call out the guard
it’s nothing that a little mace and rubber bullets
can’t cure

wendy shaffer

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One thought on “kent state, may 4, 2001

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