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Sunday, July 10, 2016


by Melissa Fite Johnson

Colleagues and parents on Thursday remembered Philando Castile as an ambitious man who served as a role model for hundreds of children before he was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota. Photo: Philando Castile (L) is seen with a colleague in this undated J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School yearbook photo. —TIME, July 7, 2016

Philando Castile, cafeteria
supervisor, remembered
which students couldn’t have
milk.  I imagine his kids
lined up under the fluorescent
hum, pushing plastic trays
along the chrome lunch counter.
Yes to mashed potatoes.
No to baked beans.  A little
more corn, please.  Last stop
the quiet act of reaching
down into the chest cooler
to select white, chocolate,
or infinitely less popular juice
for kids Phil might’ve consoled
with a smile or clap on the shoulder.

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book.  Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Rust + Moth, Broadsided Press, velvet-tail, and elsewhere.  Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas.