The Poisoned Ink Well

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Problems With Punctuation or Remembrances of Former Nazi’s

I remember when I was a child of nine
In the mid 1970’s in southern Louisiana
Waiting for my mother outside the A&P grocery.
I leaned on the newspaper machines
As I watched a mustached man in a brown suit
Who was stalking back and forth in front of the store.
He was trying to get people to talk to him.
He looked miserable on this day
He kept nervously tugging on his collar
And he swallowed in between every word.
He was being politely ignored,
He was an embarrassment to us even back then
We in our new yet somewhat ill fitting suits of seventies southern liberalism
walked proudly past him….. No rebuff needed.
I guess because no else would talk to him
he approached me.
Perhaps hoping that a child would be more open minded.
He stood in front of me,
His shoulders hunched, his knees bent , and his chin thrust forward
So he could be at my level.
His body formed a question mark on my mind.
To me he was just another stranger,
So if he offered candy I was prepared to run away.
Instead he thrust some leaflets in my face.
(My mother warned me about perverts showing little girls
Pictures of people having intercourse)
I was curious so I leaned over just to get a peek.
But instead of pornography he handed me leaflets
About his white racist platform.
Now he had me backed up against the wall
in between the newspaper machines.
I was stuck and I couldn’t run away.
I had the New Orleans Times Picayune to the left of me
And the Baton Rouge State Times to the right
And David Duke hunched over me
Like a giant question mark.
Just then my mother approached and saw I was trapped.
I recognized the fierce look in my mother’s eyes.
I shrank back knowing the penalty for talking to strangers.
My mother’s eyes bore down on David Duke
Still not recognizing him.
Mr. Duke did not seem to see this feral look on my mothers face.
He stood no longer in a questionable position.
Shoulders back, chin up, back straight,
His body seemed to form an exclamation point.
His pale iridescent skin beamed brightly in the sun.
My mother thrust her hands in between the newspaper machines
Hoping to retrieve me from my hapless position.
But Mr. Duke misunderstood my mother’s intentions.
He thought she meant to shake his hand.
So he began pumping her hand vigorously.
He said he was David Duke of the white people’s party.
He said I was a perfect representative of all he wanted to protect.
I stood behind them shaking, my body curled up
Like a little comma in Mr. Duke’s agitated quotations.
As we walked away my mother crumpled Mr. Duke’s literature
And dropped it on the pavement
Where it lay like a period between him and me.
My mother was visibly shaken,
But as she held me close to her body I felt her begin to relax.
Our neighborhood was still safe,
Her baby wasn’t accosted by a pervert
Only by an over zealous neo-nazi.

by Mel( among my many other
pseudonyms) 1991

written to be read aloud at rally denouncing David Duke's run for governor and published in Eastern Rainbow #1 in June 1992 in London England