I Live 30 Miles North of the Miami McDuffie Rebellion, May, 1980 – by Paul David Adkins

I Live 30 Miles North of the Miami McDuffie Rebellion, May, 1980

Of course, I am afraid, but nothing
comes near me: not a brick or a knife or a gun.

I can’t see the smoke.

Birds and breeze drown out the sirens.

There are no sirens.

I just watch the news.
It teaches me to fear,

the way I feel when a stranger approaches
my car: finger on the lock,
finger on the trigger,
foot on the
foot on the gas.

I am good
at learning; I earned a lot of A’s.

Some people learn to laugh,
to swim, play ball, fix cars,
sew clothes, write books, change diapers, tell stories.

I am raised
to fear,
visit church,
pray what devils lurked

The body of Christ,
torn forehead of Christ.
The spear-pierced side of Christ,
bloody, white, worshipped hands of Christ.

Those which still the storms,
evict demons, I trust

those worshipping, wonderful hands
will lock the doors around me.

Paul David Adkins lives in Northern NY. In 2018, Lit Riot published his collection Dispatches from the FOB. Journal publications include Pleiades, River Styx, Rattle, Diode, Baltimore Review, Crab Creek, and Whiskey Island. He has received six Pushcart nominations and the 2019 Central NY Book Award for Poetry

Statement by Featured Artist, Shelley Thomas: What strikes me most about this poem is the speaker’s search for protection, despite an awareness of no immediate danger. Fear caught on loop. Images of protection, birdsong, the salve of nature come to mind. The shoreline itself is protection, but it’s also a liminal space. A threshold. An interval. An in between place that connects two worlds. A place where you can be caught, and yet find respite. The poem reminded me of a photograph I took one autumn during a golden hour comb. Ladybugs clustered on warm stones seeking refuge from the cooling air at the water’s edge. Both the poem and image convey the perpetual search for safety, assurance, and safe harbor.
Art: “Warming Stones,” 2016 (‘Secret Beach’ Lake Ontario, Canada)