The Newark Riots ~ 50 Years Later

This week marks the 50th anniversary of a very sad time – the Newark riots. I remember them well. There was a curfew, and when I looked out our apartment window – National Guardsmen rode by in a jeep with rifles leaning against their chests. I was nowhere near the terror-stricken interior but inhaled the tension. This was my home city, and I was 14 years old. I wrote these tanka poems in hindsight and they were published by Modern English Tanka Press in 2009, 40 years after the fact. Newark still suffers:
 ~
forty years
after the riots
three students slain
“no apparent cause”
again, this blistering heat
~
born to love
born to hunt
we do what we do…
all the songs all the poems
nothing changes this
~
coming in on
a soft summer breeze
tickling my necking
and dropping down low —
this sadness for what
 ~
warm nights
I undress by an open
window   wondering
what is freely given
               freely taken
 ~
© Andrea Grillo
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