"Fulton, Missouri, 2 Years, 8 Months"

by Mbembe (Milton Smith)


May 1979, p. 70-1

a town with hitching posts
and real kids named Opie,
Andy Griffith would get a ticker-tape parade.
and black people,
well, he worked over at Sam's garage,
changed tires 'cause real mechanic work
was a white man's job.
brother talked like Gomer Pile,
had never heard of Tanzania.

Fulton, Missouri -
the spirit of the white citizens council
bangs doors shut on windy March evenings.
these folk, to a man, voted Richard Nixon,
and Johnny Swartz was glad to be red, white and blue
cannon fodder in the last war.
they know how to hate in this town,
how to be American,
how to get nostalgic 'bout Sue Jane
who was a good roll in the hay
but left for the big city.
they'd go to church on Sunday
and sing, "drop kick me Jesus, thru the goalposts of life."
the state hospital for the criminally insane,
where they send you when it's the law versus
drugs and madness in the black community, is here.

farmers are paid the minimum wage
to hold you in the vice-grip of their way of life.
they hate communism in the guts of its ism
but haven't the vaguest idea what dialectical materialism is.
"Karl Marx is the one who toots the horn, ain't he?" they say.
Muslims were in then.
Jesus help you if you were one.
they'd call you a black S.O.B.,
make you wash the walls spotless white
and give you fried pork rinds for a reward.

they'd cured us here,
especially us black ones.

    

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