Forward: The Great State of Emergency

(Wisconsin governor Walker calls for peace and prayers)

When last I wrote
by light of day
the flat screens
were flooded
with burning brush
and fires wild.1
Now the hour late
the news stale
Milwaukee’s police2
saved another
from jail.
No bandsman
No Klansman
It wasn’t a toy,
at 23, dead
no longer a child.
filled with lead
he was merely a boy.3

  1. Fires in Portugal met with fires in Northern Milwaukee following a police murder on Saturday, 13 August 2016 []
  2. Sylville Smith, 23-years-old, was shot and killed by Milwaukee police. ABC News and the Wall Street Journal did not identify the young man’s skin colour in their online reports. Either it is now so obvious that a person shot by police is black or news censorship now includes omitting information of an incendiary nature. []
  3. People who did not grow up in the US may not know that “boy” is a white term of endearment reserved for black males long after they reach adulthood. For a historical use rarely noticed today, listen to the song “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (text by Mack Gordon), the first lines of which are “pardon me, boy”. The “boy” in this song is a black railway employee and not a juvenile. []
Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..