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Friday, December 05, 2014


by Erle Kelly

“We reserve the right not to serve
anyone and I’m not serving you.”
The burly restaurant owner
points his finger at Aaron.
Three of us get belligerent,
stand up but Aaron quickly
steps in between us and the owner:
“Hey guys, let’s go; he’s just ignorant.”

In early 1963 I’m on a two-day military
pass in Mobile---a night-on-the-town---
with a group of cadet buddies.
We need a bathroom call
and find one in a public building.
“Hey Kelly, not that one, it’s Colored.”
I glance up: Men, Women and Colored
marked boldly over the bathrooms.

In the mid-Sixties, while off duty
on flight patrol, a crew member
lends me To Kill A Mockingbird.
Reading it, I can’t help but recall
what Aaron endured a few years before.

Over fifty years have passed.
I’ve lost contact with Aaron.
I wonder what he’s thinking now?
I turn the TV on to a split screen.
On one President Obama pleads
for calm and peaceful demonstrations.
On the other, Ferguson is burning.

Erle Kelly lives in Long Beach California and graduated from CSU Long Beach. He has been published in The New Verse News, Chiron Review and Silver Birch Press.  For several years he has been in a local poetry workshop conducted by Donna Hilbert, noted writer and poet in the Southern California area.