I would grab a bullhorn and taunt the cops.
I’d make fun of them right to their faces,
from a few feet away, to make the workers laugh.
Picket lines are long and hard and too cold or too hot.
Morale is kept up by humor as much as righteousness.
I shouted insults at the cops, whose faux unions
are always on the side of the oppressor, who stand
in their own picket lines, firmly opposed to justice.
I used my whiteness, my maleness, as a shield,
provoking and absorbing and deflecting their anger
from the workers who didn’t look like me,
who couldn’t afford any trouble,
but who were marching anyway because
they knew that enough was enough.
I didn’t teach my kids to ask cops for help.
I told them to never talk to the police.
Unless you’ve got a bullhorn and a big crowd.
Then you can make an exception.
/ / /
19 August 2023
This is poem 29 in a series called 50 Days Till 50 Years. I’m writing a poem a day between now and my 50th birthday. I’m going to try to focus on memories of my past, and the people who inhabited it.