Thursday, July 01, 2004

My father rode buses in the Civil Rights Movement,
Atlanta Department stores dropping to sleep on people's
couches, rolling up his change of clothes
inside a paper bag, his grab bag, he said.

He told me stories, how the CIA followed King
from airport to hotel room,
how back in those days,
people believed in doing things like the Panthers

who fed kids breakfast,
how my father spent the better part
of a decade demonstrating against the War
in Vietnam, telling them hell, no, we won't go.

He'd grab me by a belt loop,
pull me into the rib of his corduroy
pants saying, "now don't rush outta here, son,
without remembering."

On that particular day I was moving out,
didn't need to be a non-paying guest
beneath his roof. "I have to go," I said,
and stubbed the gravel with my toe

when he checked to make sure
I hadn't left anything behind,
then all hell broke loose as if I hadn't already
heard it a 100 times before.

"That's great, Dad,
but who's going to tell a Palestinian
kid not to blow himself up because his life
means something?"

All he could do as I slammed the car door
and backed out of the driveway,
was to salute me with his chin.
"You will," he said.

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