Away from a mob spitting slurs,
four men run down a road leading anywhere.
The parade is over now, the night dustdark.
Twenty white boys, gangrenous limb of this city body
thinking themselves a maelstrom, follow in pursuit
to the doorway of a sweetshop.
The four men take sanctuary inside
the bright-sweet contrast to the whirlwinds without.
Then, protective of those in the light, you:
you, solitary black man, rush outside,
toppling a stack of chairs into an accidental barricade.
You are on the wrong side of it to be sheltered
but you, solitary, stand: ready to fight,
fear tempered with fury, and when they slam you into a doorjamb
the hinge behind you breaks and you do not.
You stand, batter, are battered,
a history of bodies bruised before,
and safeguard the door until their violence is spent.
The four men escape, casting backward glances
and worrying their tongues into blisters,
but in the morning you are still alive.
—for Terrence Mannery