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Friday, August 28, 2020


by Bart Sides

Where I grew up: KKK ruled, in shadows,
Friends’ parents joined, in secret,
Crosses burned, in fields,
Shrouded apparitions danced, sweated, hated—
Where I grew up.

Where I grew up: Sears had two bubblers, near off-limit restrooms,
One said, “Whites Only, in block letter print,
One said, “Colored,” polite for the day,
Each, unquestioning, “knew its place,”
Where I grew up.

Where I grew up: Confederate flags flew, proudly on buildings,
Licenses read, “Hell, no, I won’t forget,” on cars,
Whites put bars, on windows,
Loaded guns waited, in corners, under beds, in drawers,
Where I grew up.

Where I grew up, sharecroppers toiled, over cotton,
Workers sang, in hot summer sun,
Heavy bags dragged, between green-white rows,
Jim Crow weighed the balance, against “free” run-down shacks,
Where I grew up.

Where I grew up, shacks lacked paint, near fields,
Newspapers stuffed cracks, in walls,
Sacks covered floors, over gaps,
Lanterns flickered, in rooms,
Where I grew up.

And that’s why “Black Lives Matter.”

Where I live now, racists retort, “All Lives Matter,”
And vote “NO,” on healthcare and schools,
And cash government checks, at banks,
And drive unmolested, in cars,
Where I live now.

Where I live now, some plant signs: “Blue Lives Matter,”
Prisons overflow, with poor black men,
Sentences lengthen, for all black men,
Police harass, for minor offense,
Where I live now.

Where I live now, racists tweet: “All Lives Matter,”
Police budgets soar, for weapons of war,
Law kills black, twice more than white,
No judge, no jury: modern-day lynching,
Where I live now.

Where I live now: “All Lives Matter,”
Black man jogs, then hunted and killed,
Open season lasts, in the land of the free,
Another lynching, four hundred plus years,
Where I live now.

Where I live now: churches declare, “Hate has no home here,”
And members say, “I like that,” before a golden cross,
And white satisfaction comforts, ignores privilege,
And no cop kills, shoots, smothers, arrests, for THEIR color,
Where I live now.


Bart Sides is a fly fisherman, teacher, and occasional poet. Southern by birth and New Englander by choice, he resides with his wife in Currier and Ives country with his wife of 46 years and 5 cats.