David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

APED: "black rushmore"

He calls it "black Rushmore." Has since he was small:
always three, never four, faces high on the wall.
He saw them at home first, hung by the old man.
Cheap frames, cheaper prints, good hammer, strong hand.
They'd been Grandmama's. Now she was gone.
But when his pop hung them, Grandmama lived on,
and the son would look up and see what pop had seen:
JFK. RFK. Martin L. King.

Mrs. Cates had them too. She taught him third grade.
And on one warm day, after class, the boy stayed.
He looked at the pictures, hung so they could see,
And he asked Mrs. Cates why she had only three.
Mrs. Cates laughed and said, just like a young pup.
They're heroes. They're myths. Folks can't measure up.
But that doesn't matter. You try. That's the thing.
JFK. RFK. Martin L. King.

JFK pressed for rights. RFK fought the Klan.
And King -- people practically worship the man.
But while it's never enough to cause anger, or tears,
It's still two to one. And that's bugged him for years.
He looked for a fourth. The old man was opposed.
He liked heroes well worn, like an old suit of clothes.
And so, all these years, the son's seen the same thing:
JFK. RFK. Martin L. King.

He's seen them less often, too. Spaces they span
were on old people's walls, and on the old man's.
Not his generation. So their number's not grown.
It's John, and it's Bobby, and Martin alone.
And the old man got older, went out of his prime,
the way photos and customs can fade out in time,
Under the same faces, same ordering:
JFK. RFK. Martin L. King.

But he's facing black Rushmore now, picture in hand.
And he's climbing a stepstool braced by the old man.
Cheap frame, cheaper print. So it's not out of place.
And he swears he sees something, in his father's lined face --
the old man had said, the brother can't win.
And now the son feels like a small boy again,
to see a new face on the end of that string --
JFK, RFK, Martin L. King.

Just a small inkjet print. It's barely high-res.
But he knows, as he hangs it, what it means, what it says.
Five and six will be coming. Their names he won't know.
He hadn't heard of the new guy a few years ago.
So he hangs the picture. And then he stands tall,
and smiles as he turns from them there, on the wall,
in the order his son, when he has one, will know:
Tags: a poem every day
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