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Saturday, August 12, 2017


by Jan Steckel

Several hundred white nationalists and white supremacists were met by a small group of counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson on Friday night at the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. 
The Washington Post, August 12, 2017

O my America!
What are these phosphors
borne in the hands of men
wearing polo shirts and swastikas?

The pastor flees her church.
She hasn’t seen Klan with torches
since she was five years old.
Here they stride with baseball bats,
dressed like college students
or fresh from the boardroom.
She fears for the black man walking
alone the streets of her town,
where bands of predators roam.

“Blood and soil,” they chant.
”White lives matter.”
”You will not replace us.”
”Jews will not replace us.”

Where are the streets of gold
my great-grandparents came looking for?
Now it’s blond men who brandish flambeaux
surrounding a circle of antifascist students,
hands joined around a monument,
facing outward against the slavering pack.
The Nazis throw their torches,
mace the kids. Afterward a girl
tweets that she’s safe,
but she’s not okay.
Where is the God in whom she trusted?
Out of the many, where is the one?

Charlottesville, tonight the dream
of a shining city on a hill
shatters into points of light
marching along your occupied streets.

Jan Steckel is a former pediatrician who left the practice of medicine because of chronic pain. Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards for LGBT writing. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere.