July 20-26, 2020: Poetry from William Ogden Haynes and Carl “Papa” Palmer

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William Ogden Haynes

William Ogden Haynes is a poet and author of short fiction from Alabama who was born in Michigan. He has published seven collections of poetry (Points of Interest, Uncommon Pursuits, Remnants, Stories in Stained Glass, Carvings, Going South and Contemplations) and one book of short stories (Youthful Indiscretions) all available on Amazon.com. Approximately 200 of his poems and short stories have appeared in literary journals and his work is frequently anthologized. http://www.williamogdenhaynes.com

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by William Ogden Haynes​ and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Birds

I awaken to the shrill shriek of scolding blackbirds in my front yard. There are hundreds,
stopping by for rest and food, ugly birds, feathered, yet without the colorful elegance

of old black women in their plumed church hats. Because they are the color of crows,
some people mistakenly call this group a murder of blackbirds, but the correct terms

are cloud, cluster, or merle. And when they fly in the early morning, they sometimes
combine with other species like grackles, starlings and brown-headed cowbirds,

creating a swarming, swirling, undulating black cloud of aerial ballet called a
murmuration. But the vocabulary used to describe this avian invasion is never

the first thing that crosses my mind. As hundreds of birds suddenly populate my
lawn like so many scattered, animated commas, I always feel a sense of foreboding.

I’m filled with an uneasy dread, trepidation approaching the jagged edge of terror,
just like I felt long ago, sitting in the darkness of a Michigan movie theater in 1963.

Carl "Papa" Palmer

Carl “Papa” Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway, Virginia, lives in University Place, Washington. He is retired from the military and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enjoying life as “Papa” to his grand descendants and being a Franciscan Hospice volunteer. Carl is a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Micro Award nominee. MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever!

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Carl “Papa” Palmer and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Signs of the Times – 1960

Thank you was the only response from Mom,
secretary of Gardner Cigarette and Vending,
when the manager of the Tobacco Warehouse
next door delivered me in tow to her office.

He was drinking out of the “Colored” spigot.
You need to learn him not to mix with them kind,
storming out when she had no further comment.

I wasn’t so much drinking as washing the sweat
from my face, me and the three negro boys taking
turns cooling off after racing around trucks being
unloaded by their folks as crop owners looked on.

I saw his silly sign, Mom, another one said “White”
That’s like saying if I’m colored, then I can’t drink,
or if he owns air and I’m colored, I can’t breathe.
Doesn’t that man understand colored lives matter?

Silly or not, Son, it’s his property and his signs.
At least he openly displays them for everyone to see.
Many keep their ugly signs secret, hidden inside.