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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)

By Leigh MacKelvey


Twist the night away, Junior High yearbook,
Football jersey that smells like Hank.
These things I know.

There are things I don’t know:
Obscenity that snakes around,
sneaks on tippy-toes.
Hank comes over,
we watch the black and white
on the tiny screen in the den
spin across America,
then pour
out of the square box,
smack dab
into our southern town.

Labeled water fountains,
back of bus rides,
classrooms of students
who wear only my skin.
I know nothing else.
Then Daddy buys the bowling alley.
Widens the doors
gives way to those
the previous owner denied.

He grips their hands,
sizes their shoes,
teaches them
to choose the right ball,
leads them to the end lanes.

Middle lanes are in front of windows
and bricks begin to fly.

Meetings take place after dark,
when chill is still in the air,
Daddy takes me
to watch the embers devour
the rest of the cross
in front
of his Grand opening sign.

I breathe through my mouth,
pinch my nose
to refuse the stench of hate.

Come nights my sister
and I take
the smaller ones
to hide under the bed.
Fingernails scratch the floor,
we shiver in terror,
ears strain for the shatter
of glass,
of daddy’s silence
as the phone menaces,
shakes with opposition.

We wait
a flaming cross
the grass
on our front lawn.

Hank’s father is afraid for him,
so I give his football jersey back.
He gives it to someone safer
and now I know more.

Days of anger.
But Daddy stood alone,

for love.

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This article has been read 865 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 08/10/07
Great imagery - and what can personify hate better than your topic? I love the flow of this.
Lynda Schultz 08/10/07
A wonderful tribute to a brave father. Good poem and reminder of anger misdirected and ill-conceived. Good work.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/10/07
This excellent narrative poem spells out in flowing words the sad result of anger aimed at a specific racial group.
Ed VanDeMark08/11/07
Blind hatred is anger amplified. Your story is both an easy read and a horrible read. It reads quickly and easily and it tells a powerful story without lecturing. The assignment was anger and you did that well. I hope you develop this story further and contrast that anger with your families love. The love is here but given more words and another publishers needs you can develop the other half of this story and make it even more powerful. Good job.
Jan Ackerson 08/13/07
So very many wonderful ( and terrible) images here...I love the framing of what you knew before, and what you knew after...the sights, sounds, and smells here...you've captured an era in one small bowling alley and one small poem. Wow.
Catrina Bradley 08/13/07
Powerful writing. You excel at poetry, and I'm always excited when I see that you've entered one. The story told through here is heartbreaking and emotion packed. Great job!
Sharlyn Guthrie08/13/07
Can something be both dark and brilliant at the same time? You have accomplished it in this poem. Excellent writing!
Dee Yoder 08/14/07
Very stirring and a warm tribute to a man who knew the righ thing to do, and idd it! Great writing.
Loren T. Lowery08/14/07
Great writing about a horrilbe subject. It is great to see stories about those who take up the banner and stand bravely against such foolish bigotry.
Kristen Hester08/15/07
Oh your poem is so powerful. I want to hear more of this wonderful story. I would read the book! Your poem is well written. I hung on every word. Great job!
Betty Castleberry08/15/07
Powerful imagery. I love the fact that the father took a stand, though very unpopular. This is well done.
Joy Faire Stewart08/15/07
Oh, the images are so vivid I could feel the terror. My heart went out to the family. Children hiding under the bed? - made me angry! Excellent writing.
Patty Wysong08/15/07
Excellent, Leigh! You conveyed the feelings so well as you described the events. Great job!!
Julie Arduini08/15/07
Wow. Wow. Wow. This was breathtaking, the creativity alone blows my mind. You nailed this one, well done.
Jacquelyn Horne08/15/07
Very poignant. And probably very true.
Lynda Lee Schab 08/16/07
WOW! Loved this! Creative and well-crafted piece, totally perfect for "Angry." You captured the emotion well. This was a particularly awesome line:

"I breathe through my mouth,
pinch my nose
to refuse the stench of hate."

So sad...but wonderfully written.
TJ Nickel08/16/07
SO GOOD. Fear seemed to compete strongly with anger as the central theme, but your control and style are exceptional. Thanks for creating this to be read.
Pat Guy 08/21/07
Oh Leigh! This is awesome! I lived way down south (FL)during the high school riots and know of homes and business' this happened to.

But you did a fantastic job and I'm so surprised it didn't place anywhere! It's written exquisitely.

Kudos to ya girl. You did a GREAT job.
Beth LaBuff 07/08/08
Wow! This eloquent poem says SO MUCH! Great writing.
Linda Watson Owen07/08/08
Oh, Leigh, how powerful! You've painted the picture so effectively that I could smell the ashes and taste them too right along with the speaker. Excellent free verse! Beautifully and grippingly written!!
Catrina Bradley 07/08/08
Leigh, it's not very often that I get lost in a poem like I would a novel, but this masterpiece of yours did it. I'm left gasping and choked up.
Betsy Markman08/22/08
Excellent entry!