Free at Last? dVerse Open Link Night

Image: WikipediaChildren's March in Birmingham.

Image: Wikipedia
Children’s March in Birmingham.

Memories washed clean, hung out to dry,

assume the scents of urban loneliness or Carolina Jasmine.

That summer in the Bronx—the smell of hardwood wax,

humidity and sweat. Of poverty.

Boys cut loose, and girls, to play in fire hydrant bliss.

Mid-60’s turmoil, caged animals at the Zoo.

The smell of fear then siren blasts impinging on

monastic silence. Raucous demonstrations,

steaming asphalt immolating sacrificial offerings.

The smell of blood poured out, torn children’s flesh,

In spring, gunpowder from an assassin’s deadly fire

cut short that dream and yet it still unfolds,

aromatic memories washed clean, hung out to dry,

our dirty laundry—reminding us.


Linked to dVerse Open Link Night. Stop by and bring a poem, or just browse. We’re open on Tuesday, 3PM EST!

Process Note: During the Children’s March for Civil Rights in Birmingham, Alabama, racial hatred hit a climax when the mayor ordered the police to set loose police dogs and the fire department to spray the children with fire hoses, full blast. Images captured by the media heightened the country, including President Kennedy, to the horrors of segregation. (In contrast, in the Bronx heat, poor children released fire hydrants and played in the spray. I was there at the time.)


21 thoughts on “Free at Last? dVerse Open Link Night

  1. Other Mary says:

    Oh Victoria! This is so powerful, immediate – really packs a punch! Wow, just wonderful work here.


  2. Victoria, you’ve caught the energy, the emotion, the broad experiences of those days, and the dreams still unfurling beneath our flag with exquisite poignancy.


  3. You manage to find a new angle as you illuminate this well-known time and place. I could feel the stickiness and smell the city rot as I pondered this piece, post-read.


  4. Myrna says:

    Victoria, I lived in the Bronx at that time too. Didn’t know we had this in common. I love what you wrote. We musn’t hide our dirty laundry, we need to clean it.


  5. Wow the did that to children!!! I like historical poems and poems that teach. You’ve captured the contrasting events very well here Victoria.


  6. sreeja says:

    So well captured…. its sad…..


  7. fascinating verse Victoria. Love the way you took us back sensorially, wonderfully worded, bringing the setting and the senses back with you. Really enjoyed the read. thanks


  8. ladynimue says:

    I like how you brought us back to same line that led us on …


  9. Rallentanda says:

    Very depressing to think that violence is so entrenched in a culture. I don’t think I would cope.


  10. ayala says:

    Heart breaking and a great capture!


  11. Wow you painted this so well with words. So sad.


  12. Laurie Kolp says:

    Heart-breaking… powerful.


  13. wolfsrosebud says:

    it was a tough time…. just like the loss of those children last month… I liked the visuals of the dirty laundry


  14. claudia says:

    well worked on the contrast victoria…makes us feel both sides and events even more vivid…


  15. Yes, our dirty laundry. Maybe we don’t hang it out in public so often any more, but it’s still dirty and it’s still hanging… Nice job commemorating this special man and what he tried to do.


  16. brian miller says:

    wow you really bring the time alive…alll the little sensory details clinging to the moment…the light and shadow..the torn children, the assassin…that can def take over and over power the memories…i am glad there were some happy memories there as well…


  17. Beautifully executed. And I remember … our dirty laundry indeed.

    May I post it on:

    Would be nice coming after the post about “Winter Is Past” … reinforce your name. Though, unfortunately that site has only 195 followers!? I’ll come back for your answer.


  18. Mary says:

    Victoria, i love the poems that draw on your memories. I can picture that mid-60’s turmoil; but still in the area I live sometimes those fire hydrants are unleashed; and I can imagine how wonderful this must feel really, and is it so bad after all? The torn children’s flesh is another matter. I remember when one of my daughter’s had a friend over from a different part of town. The friend asked my daughter if she usually was able to sleep without hearing gunshots, and my daughter said yes…..which was not so of the friend. Yes, the dream continues, and yes still it unfolds. And maybe someday!


  19. What a heartbreaking contrast this shows. Thank you for sharing it.


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