Not far to our Pasco north, the ruins of Rosewood lay,
Mute witness of another day not long ago when
White slew black: not just flesh but dreams and hopes,
And the black was told: you never will be free,
Nor can your children hope to be, nor grandchildren
Dare to see a day when they too can have a dream,
And think to see that it will come true.
You, who bear the skin that now is white,
What lights your way through browned parchments
That still say only man shall be free, not me who is
Not white, nor me who is not man? Do you stand in pride
Of this nation so long empty of its promise? Will you stand
Pridefully in its way, to this day, when promises come due, and
Finally are true, for me, for us--and not just for you?
There came a time, when humankind first stood up to see
Across savannahs in Africa’s birthplace for us all,
And some ventured out to roam in waves, then came home
Before setting out once more, and settling down in
Europe’s cold caves, becoming more and more white,
Then daring unknown seas to claim a new continent’s shores,
Driving a race of red off their land and into cages of earth.
Do you remember proclaiming liberty, fighting to be free—
For whom? Not me who is not white, nor woman who is not he.
Rosewood’s long-kept secret now emerges from green dark—
Black towns rose and fell, and to be black until recently, was not free,
But rather, to wait, to know, fearing that all you know, make and are,
Can by a single white lie on a New Year’s Day, simply cease to be.
Daniel Callaghan is a retired high school English teacher and bookseller living in Florida. A former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Special Forces (Airborne), Daniel is now a felon after being convicted for stopping a float in a local parade that he believes demeans and exploits American Indian culture and spirituality. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tarpon Springs, is Head Librarian of the West Pasco Historical Society, and protests the continuing wars every Friday on Highway 19 in Pasco County.
(author retains copyright)