35 years ago
I did not know
Setting into motion
A political cat’s paw
Becoming the personal downfall
Of a way of life
Became a tester
For the Fair Housing Council
To stop racial steering
Me and a male member
Posed as white house hunters
Shown the best neighborhoods
While a black couple steered
To a burgeoning ghetto
Our counterparts
Same education
Same yearly salary
Federal testimonies later
Myriad court cases
I’d made a difference
Truth, Justice and
The American Way
The all-white neighborhoods
Integrating by social class
Secretaries like me
Attending the Community college
Night classes to be
Teachers, writers, and social workers
To change society
For the better
Men off to work
Their blue collars rising through the ranks
Humanity mixed
Neighborhoods fixed to function in
Truth, Justice and
The American Way
But one day
The whites ran away
Unwilling to admit
All working perfectly
And a drug ghetto comes to be
No Truth, Justice or
The American Way
And 35 years later
My child refusing to run
Sits awake all night
With two guns
Anxiety meds fueling
Paranoia and anger
The beautiful dream I had
My sense of reality
And the city burns
Phil Ochs’ long-dead voice
Rising from my youth
“In the heat of the summer”
A ghostly echo of those days
Thought long gone
His song, topical again
And the kaleidoscope of reality
Shifts suddenly
While the burning fever of pandemic
Fails to unite humanity
As thousands of miles away
The miracle Dragon clicks onto
An orbiting space station
Manned by the children of
A long-gone Cold War
Science and technology
At its best
While cities burn as they did
Decades ago when I was young
Because the stirring words
Of Doctor King’s dream
Just wasn’t enough
For all colors
For all religions
For all Homo sapiens
On perpetuating
A nightmare
So I say:
Who can believe in
Truth, Justice and
The American Way?
No one today
Texting my sons
Breathing the fire of injustice
While I watch the wave of
Another future
A possibility of humankind
Sharing science and the beauty of
The mind
The brains that enable us
To overcome
And I text my worry
And I watch the possibility
As the coin of the future
Teeters on the edge
Like some I Ching chapter:
Wind Above
Fire Below
Tears not quenching
The dirt of our Earth
Will the colorful chips of
The kaleidoscope
Fall into a peace mandala
What is the reality
Was it caused by me
35 years ago?
I would do it all again
Because it is the right thing to do
Because like Superman I believe in
Truth, Justice and The American Way…

© 2020 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Outlawing of School Segregation