Vox Populi

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Richard Levine: One Night in America

The first time I noticed my hands 
trembling, I was still a young man,
just returned from a war, and even 
pressing palms and all ten fingers 
against a window pane to steady them,
I knew that like slither-quick rodent-
eating snakes in swamp-black water
or a sudden shiver in the hang 
of moss, it would always be there,
that fear, quaking in each next step,
ready to pounce and remind me.  
So to those now walking war’s trails – 
I hope you survive the war and the coming home, 
especially you young Black veterans, 
pulled over one night in America, 
white policemen pointing their flashlights 
in your window …

Richard Levine served in Vietnam with the U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-68. His books include Selected Poems published by Future Cycle Press.

Copyright 2021 Richard Levine

Photo: New York Times

2 comments on “Richard Levine: One Night in America

  1. rosemaryboehm
    January 19, 2021

    Just so poignant, perfect, angry-making, scary and sad. Apart from it being an excellent poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    January 19, 2021

    Wow! So simple. So Powerful. Thank you. I will post.

    Liked by 1 person

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