Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Three (Poem)


The first of three went
down in Dealey Plaza

in the back seat
of an open 1961 Lincoln

Continental: number 7,
but placed second

in the mixed-up lineup
heading out from Love Field.

Over our school's PA system,
the principal subbed the news

for delivery of his usual commands
for A-bomb drills we obeyed

by doubling up tight in the space
below our desktops.

I'd turned 11
just twenty days before.

The second, a man of God
awarded a Nobel Peace Prize,

said his last words by 6:01 p.m.
on a concrete balcony in Memphis.

It was April, and spring,
the fourth day, and what happened

at the Lorraine Motel that evening
later set Washington, D.C., on fire.

His dream of a promised land
shattered. The mountain still rose.

The last spoke soon
after of the mindless menace

of violence in America. That June
that same year, high-fiving

his way through a food service
pantry, the California Democratic

Primary finally behind him, he took
three bullets, a fourth just grazing

his jacket. His killer, serving life,
claims no memory.

More than forty years since the third,
and that is how I remember them.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

I wrote this poem for Carry On Tuesday, which each week provides a prompt that participants are to use wholly or partly in an original poem or prose piece.

The prompt for Tuesday, January 18, consists of the closing sentence of the 1950 film The Glass Menagerie, adapted from the play by Tennessee Williams (1911-1983): And that is how I remember them . . . . Go here to read the rest of the sentence and to watch a scene from the movie.

To read other Carry on Tuesday contributors' poems or prose for Prompt #88, or to add the link to your own piece, go here.

* * * * *

I also offer this poem for One Stop Poetry's weekly "One Shot Wednesday" event. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and every Wednesday for links to the many contributors' poems.


katdish said...

Wow, Maureen.


I watched King's last recorded speech on You Tube. It was a bit chilling. He seemed to know his death was near. Wonder if he knew how near.

Steve Isaak said...

Effective, tale-telling work.

Ami said...

Thank you for this poem, Maureen! I really needed to read this today. I needed to remember.

Anonymous said...


jen revved said...

Absolutely stunning and moving. one of your best. I would definitely include it in the second collection I hope you've begun to set aside work for. I just realized I took the wrong challenge-- I don't know how. I'll see what I can do...xxxj

S. Etole said...

the song ...

the memories ...

you've written this so well ...

moondustwriter said...

What a precious tribute to those who lost their lives in a moment
because ...

Thanks for always being thoughtful on and off the page

Always great to have you at One Shot


Brian Miller said...

mmm...what a stirring memory of that day and it has meant since...nice one shot.

Arron Palmer said...

Sublime. Despite the obvious powerful homage to King's last moments told in a quick-fire way as though reeling off a witness statement from a policeman's notebook, what really sold this poem to me is your refreshing and superbly executed employment of numbers. Great poem.

Anonymous said...

Ah, it can be a depressing world - strong poem

dustus said...

A poignant reminder of so many things from each of their contributions to the profound effect it had on you. What great loses to society. Incredible poem, Maureen.

Anonymous said...

I remember these so clearly (older than you!) and you have expressed them so well in your poetry. Such tragedy we have lived through.

My one shot: http://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/old-love-one-shot-wednesday/

hedgewitch said...

Lucid and deceptively simple words that build strong emotions and for those of us old enough, equally strong memories. Excellent piece.

signed...bkm said...

This was an amazing era to grow up in - the imprinting of these events never leave....your words unleash a flood of memory....bkm

Beachanny said...

Time and place as clear in my mind as though they happened yesterday. The shock of the first happening in the town I lived in never to be recovered from; the world spun out of control that day, never has returned to the promise held the day before. Not saying those days were "golden days" as many my age claim. Jim Crow was the rule, women had no rights and in this state couldn't own property, children went missing and no one spoke of it; wife and child beaters thrived, the prevailing parental warnings were to look the other way and mind your own business.."because the cops don't need you and they expect the same".
BUT there was the hope and the promise which went to weed and booze and Vietnam. Sad days.

Claudia said...

this was great maureen - you brought back a piece of history with your lines..

Shashi said...

Dear Maureen

Its beautiful. I enjoyed the sense of bing there ...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Twitter: @VerseEveryDay