He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. —Ben Franklin

 

Right after my mother moved

to South Carolina, a man approached her

after church to show her the Confederate flag

in a stained glass window.

If this took place in a novel,

most readers would be able to deconstruct

the authorial intent

implied by a white man

showing a black woman

his heritage.

 

In Los Angeles, I drove an Oldsmobile,

a symbol of American engineering,

mass production, luxury . . .

It was a couch on wheels,

and one the most likely vehicles

to be used in the commission of a crime.

I could roam the streets of South Central

with impunity,

but in the Valley

I’d be pulled over for DWB.

 

In the rain and through a green-caged enclosure,

I marveled at a maimed bald eagle

and pondered at how

before the Constitution, the presidency,

the Bill of Rights, we placed it on a seal,

minted it,

then took it near extinction.

It shrugged its 6-feet of wings

and let out

an impressive scat.

 

Michele Reese

Michele Reese is a Daughter of the American Revolution and the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant. Her poetry focuses on this place of intersection as well as others including race, gender, and sexuality. She is the author of the poetry collection Following Phia. Her poems have also been published in several journals and anthologies including Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, The Oklahoma Review, Poetry Midwest, The Paris Review, The Tulane Review, Chemistry of Color: Cave Canem South Poets Responding to Art, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race, and Home is Where: An Anthology of African American Poets from the Carolinas. She is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter.

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