Democratic Natioal Convention
Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1964
Staring up at their flat, larger-
than-life faces, I envy the way
they gaze at the gray ocean
and the gray buildings
with the calm indifference
of those whose agonies are over .
Myself, I'm a frightened teenager
at my fIrst demonstration.
carrying a placard that demands
the seating of a mixed delegation
from a Southern state.
prepared me for the crowd's hostility.
the names we're called.
Still, we chant the slogan reason
proposed: "One man. one vote."
And still it holds the small shape
we make on the dilapidated boardwalk
reminding me now of the magic circles
medieval conjurers drew
to protect themselves from demons
their spells had summoned up.
Copyright © Gregory Orr, 1964, all rights reserverd.
Hayneville, Alabama, 1965
They've taken the SNCC pamphlets
but let me keep a book
of Keats poems reminiscent
of my sad, adolescent affair
with the coffln-maker's daughter,
which taught me many things,
And when, at dusk,
the trusty held for car theft brings
my tray of grits and fatback,
it won't matter so much that,
groaning and puking,
I'll be sick for hours.
Imagination is good wood; by midnight
I'll be high as that mockingbird
in the magnolia across the moonlit road.
Copyright © Gregory Orr, 1965, all rights reserverd.