The Bad Old Days
A photograph of a police officer jumping into a swimming pool at the Monson Motor Lodge protests of 1964/ standing in the waist high water are 15 rabbis and an assortment of protestors, a mix of black and white/ one black woman was nearly blinded when the owner of the motel threw hydrochloric acid into the pool, this photograph happens after that/ the police officer has taken off his shoes and is jumping, childlike an amateur cannonball into the water to drag out anyone who won’t leave, which is all of them/ this event in Saint Augustine, Florida immediately precedes the signing of the civil rights act by president Lyndon Johnson/ the motel owner is not prosecuted for the acid attack but he is forced to desegregate the motor lodge, pool and all/ after which it is burned to the ground by the Klan, is that a justice we can accept? It’s the taking off of the officer’s shoes that clings to my false memory of the bad old days/ were they leather? Were they worn by years on the beat? Did he put them back on once he’d gotten everyone out and into the vans and the caged backseats of squad cars? When he took them off did he untie them first before carefully placing them to the side? Or did he just slip out of them casually? Did he kneel or crouch or stand awkwardly on one foot then the other? This action betrayed his soft center like a Judas kiss on the forehead on the cheek, like a baby-picture / which he would have kept hidden/ what covers us/ like cursed children born with cauls/ like the coats of 15 rabbis/ reflecting like dark mirrors, the silver film like flickering absolution of southern daylight’s impartial gaze
About the Author
Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. The author of several collections of poetry, he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.