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Wednesday, August 28, 2013


by Philip C. Kolin

Emmett Till
(July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955)

A year of fantasies, allowed sorcery--
Disneyland opens in Anaheim

Throngs flock to inhabit inflatable kingdoms
America thrives in this the year of the rat

The Mickey Mouse Club enrolls millions;
ears big as Eisenhower's listen but

School children killed by a freight train
in Spring City, TN could not hear the whistle.

Elvis makes his first appearance, half
of him seen on Ed Sullivan, the other

Half below the blackened screen
girls riot at his concert in Jacksonville

Thrown into menarche--
"Bye, bye, babies," sings the King.

Mourners queue around James Dean
tears for a rebel hero whose monument

Is air conditioned. Theatres feature
animated dogs and travelogues.

Gunsmoke premieres and so does
the Viet Nam War staring Ho Chi Minh.

Race becomes a sidebar topic
little Claudette Colvin refuses

To give up her seat on a Montgomery
bus; she is cuffed and carried off backwards.

Segregation is outlawed on trains
and Greyhounds traveling interstate

Routes end with clubs and thugs
stamping black faces with welts.

Eisenhower suffers a coronary
thrombosis. McDonald's opens

Its first golden arches
GM makes a billion in profits.

On Emmett Till's murder day
millions tune in

Sudden death
football--Rams defeat the Giants.

Later, Emmett waits for resurrection in the Tallahatchie
America puts In God We Trust on money.

Philip C. Kolin, University Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Southern Mississippi, is the editor of The Southern Quarterly and has published more than 30 scholarly books on African American playwrights, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee. Also a poet, Kolin has published five books of poems, the most recent being Reading God's Handwriting: Poems (Kaufmann, 2012), as well as hundreds of poems in such journals as the Michigan Quarterly Review, Louisiana Literature, South Carolina Review, Christian Century, Spiritus, Seminary Ridge Review, America, and has co-edited Hurricane Blues: Poems about Katrina and Rita (Southwest Missouri UP, 2006) with Susan Swartwout.