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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 73

DULCET TONES AND FIFTH GRADE HISTORY

Mr. Cheevers said that his hero
was Robert E. Lee—Lee,
always honorable, we should be
honorable like him.

I bought all this, wore a gray jacket
to school, colored a Confederate flag
that I hung above my Illinois bed.
When I prayed, mom insisted
that I pray before going to sleep,
I asked God to make me good
like Robert E. Lee. Two decades later

I learned that Lee beat his slaves,
claimed blacks were inferior to whites—
he took this for granted. This history stuff,

who controls the stories? It’s better
to turn on a light in a dark basement,
even if you see cockroaches skittering
to the corners, even if they come at you
and crawl up your leg. I want the light.
Despite the fury that comes with it.

  Kenneth Pobo