Rider

I wrote this poem because of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_riders
and this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Zwergs
but mainly this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jimzwerg.jpg

Rider
Rider comes in.
STRIDES in.
Not a swagger.
Not a shoulders back front out puff up bowl down the bus.
A grit of teeth, sure,
a won’t blink look right ahead.
Down the bus.
Down the middle of the wrong bus boy.
The wrong color bus.

And he settles in a seat and grips the bar in front a little too tight.
Riding.
In his neat suit.
A proper suit.
With neat hair,
a little blond flick
at the regulation length.
And at some stage he says he’ll get off first when the bus stops.
And at some stage he wins the half-hearted argument.

So when the bus pulls up,
he’s there,
at the door,
and steps into the
swing of a hate-swung baseball bat,
and a motorcycle chain…
and a metal bar…
and a painful dinosaur bone of a table leg
which is studded with nails
that rip into wrong color skin
that steps off the wrong color bus.

As it swoops
to mix spittle with blood
they whoop
“betrayed your own kind boy”
even though he can only grunt yelps like a kicked puppy in return.

But they don’t see the legendary camera flashes.

They don’t see that sodium white
bouncing boy’s jelly-blood dripping face into history:
the day the buzz-cut white boy
rode the colored bus.

He said “I just prayed I’d survive“.
But why did you do it?
Because…because it was the right thing to do“.

Sometimes when you ride the bus
you don’t ride it for you…
you ride it for freedom.

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