yellow school bus by Brian Gilmore

he rose from his seat
he’s nine+++++ he understands

it all already+++++ or at least
he thinks he does

he begins the chant
a familiar cadence

‘white power white
power’+++++ he raises

his fist+++++ he turns to
my child+++++ like a wino

turns towards the
liquor store+++++ gamblers

towards race tracks+++ he
says what he says

his mother++ father++ cousins
uncles++ history++ the school

the one where the bus
is headed+++++ the one with

the civil war exhibit
confederate flags+++++ but no

he will get called out

for this+++++ the bus driver
tells him so+++++ this is the

north+++++ 2011 not
1911+++++ everyone on the

bus chuckles at him+++++ he will hear
more later perhaps at home

he sort of gets it+++++ he has
been told over and over
to smoke but not smoke

his parents coughing+++++ clutch-
ing kools or camels+++++ dragging

on them slow and beautifully
as he learns how to raise

his fist and chant++++ but oh how he
hates the smell of cigarette

smoke especially in a car
with the windows rolled

up++++ moon in the sky
north wind touching his

face delicately like the
dark silence of night



Brian Gilmore is a Washington D.C. poet and writer. He is author of three collections of poetry including his latest, ‘We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters.’ (Cherry Castle Publishing LLC). He teaches public interest law at Michigan State University. You can find him at , , and