Bounty

Paul traces
his genetic ancestors
back to Maryland
the Eastern Shore
a grand house of slave owners
and halts the historic search
at the shores of the Atlantic
not wishing to know
what atrocious portion
of feudal England
taught them
this historic violence.

He would not be welcome
in that house.

He may have met a young
Frederick Douglas.

He wonders if their faces
would look familiar to his mirror
or if their privileged countenance
would cause them to appear as strangers.

He checks himself.
His own barely acknowledged privilege
in these days of John Floyd
and Black Lives Matter.

He plans to go there one day
once the Eastern Shore pandemic
is safely in the history books
so he may stand on that land
and see how it bore up
to the unchristian mistreatment
of the people who harvested the fields
and carried milk to table
but were not allow to share
in the bounty.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Superior

I thought the border was open.
It was closed. The last rainbow trout
leaped into my hands while I stood
examining my fingernails
on the Rio Grande’s banks.

I thought I was on the Elwha river
ready to catch the Salmon of Knowledge.
This geographic misplacement
stunned me like a blow to the head
by a pin mishandled by a juggling clown.

If my location can be so astray
so might be my white privilege.
I fall into a barroom discussion
of liberty and equality
where mathematical logic
forces the concession that
all men are created equal.
Where all means all racial colors.
Where men means men and women.
Where in the eyes of the law
there is no first among equals.

Or course this leaves out my dog,
who has many qualities superior to my own.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Banned On Youtube

When Virginia Governor Northam
said indentured servants
instead of slaves,
I felt my blood pressure rise
until my head blew steam out my ears
like I was some cartoon character
dancing next to Bugs Bunny in black face,
who sang Al Jolson minstrel songs
in the Virginia state house,
oblivious to N-double-A-C-P members
ring-tossing shackles at Northam’s neck,
a crude carnival game
next to a stall where player-operated squirt guns
erased the word privilege from a white board
of governors down through Virginia’s history
all the way back to Sir George Yeardley.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

POSTSCRIPT

This interview and event took place a little over a month ago. At first, I was too pissed off to write anything on the subject. A few days went by and this poem popped out.

My writing process takes about a month from poem conception, through editing, trying it out loud, more editing, then posting the good ones.

The Bugs Bunny in black face cartoon is what was banned and removed from Youtube. I remember seeing it as a kid on Saturday morning cartoons.

Sir George Yeardley was the British governor of Virginia Colony when the first slaves were delivered by ship in August 1619.