Asking For Some Water

Sun, 03/17/2013 - 20:11 -- db24601

The diner reeks of sweaty booths
The ceiling fan has died.
Summer bakes the windows brown
As brown as burgers fried.
Black head, wooly head
Seated at the bar
Heat and tension rises
But they’re not going far
“I’m asking for some water
And then I’ll leave this stool.”
“Get out of here, get out of here,
You bloody, dirty fool!”
He won’t move, she won’t move
Their color makes them strong
The waiter shakes his fist
White and cold and long.
“We’ve been here for an hour,
We’re not here for a fight.”
“You’re black and dark and dirty,
You don’t deserve the right.”
Still he sits still she sits
Still the waiter broods
But summer’s broiling stillness
Unleash those tall white hoods
First a spitball
Then a fry
A plate of mashed potatoes
Then sugar crystals all around
Shoot up
And spin
And fly
The heat and rage arise
As the season takes its toll
The customers rise up
They hate the dark skinned soul
Soda soaks her curly head
Mustard coats his face
Nasty words and insults rain
From an angry, hateful race
Then out come the bottles
‘Til on the floor they flood
Sparkling shards of broken glass
That steal the young man’s blood
It slips and gleams steadily
A mocking shade of red
It drips atop his shoulders
From a gash along his head.
“Stop it, stop, stop this nonsense now!”
A cop storms in in shining sweat
He raises up his hand.
“You two kids get out and get!
Why don’t you end this now?”
The black girl stands
She turns around
She pulls her shoulders back
“Beat us down into the ground
But we will never quit.”
On and on the summer boils
And on and on the hatred heats
All those meant to live as brothers
Sit back as love retreats.
They staid on
And they staid firm
They did not yield to hate
So it backed down
He drank a glass
And then they changed their fate.

Guide that inspired this poem: 



I was excited to partake in this scholarship competition once hearing that the genre was poetry. I'm not the keenest on poetry, but it was nice to have a break from writing countless essays on this wild hunt for scholarships. But what I deeply appreciated was the subject matter for this contest, that organizations still reflected on tumultuous times in history with an air of reverence and respect. The poem I wrote links back to a famous photograph I saw in history class where three peaceful protestors sat at a bar covered in thrown food, and blood. It was a black and white photo so it wasn't until my professor explained that customers smashed glass on the man's head that made me instantly repulsed and shocked. All they wanted was equality, they asked for it graciously when it should have been freely given. And instead they were served disrespect and cruelty. I never forgot it. So when I learned the prompt, it was the first thing that came to mind so I simply put it into words. I just hope my poem properly honors the stand those protestors made against hate.

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