Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"on thanksgiving day" by Pat Parker

~ Pat Parker, 1985, Firebrand Press from the book Jonestown & Other Madness.


One Thankgiving Day

Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died.


One Thankgiving Day

Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died.


Priscilla, Priscilla

who did you see?

what face from your past?

Was it the waitress

who asked you to wait

on you?

Was it the clerk

who tried to sell you

only the

brightest colored clothes?

Was it your child's

teacher who tried to

teach her that she was

slow?

Was it the security guard

at the bank who guarded

you from the bank's money

with his eyes?

One Thanksgiving Day

Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died.


Screams filled the street

panic ran through the crowd

like a losing streak

at the blackjack tables

and the state of Nevada

was stunned.

A tired middle-aged Black woman

was not thankful that day

not thankful for her job

wrapping gifts at Macy's

not thankful for the state

taking custody of her child

she was not thankful

for her Lincoln Continental.


Pricilla Ford

got into her Lincoln Continental

and hurled through the streets of Reno

the killer made in Motown factories

swept down on tourists

looking to make a big hit

hit by a navy blue

steel bludgeon

screams dying beneath its wheels

and the state of Nevada

was angry.


She went to trial.

Insanity

her lawyers pled

she was crazy with anger

she was crazy with fear

she was crazy with defeat

she was crazy with isolation

no sane person kills

strangers with their cars

Priscilla Ford said yes

I drove my car

into the whiteness

of Nevada streets

she would say nothing more

and the state of Nevada

was frightened.

If Priscilla Ford could do it

who else?

How many Black faces

that emptied garbage

waited tables

bagged groceries

wrapped presents

were capable?


Reaction was swift.

One entrepreneur

printed a card

it said Happy Thanksgiving

with a picture of Priscilla

on its front

inside it said

Sorry I missed YOU.


Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died

and the state of Nevada

was vindictive.

You can not be insane

to be enraged is not insane

to lash out at whiteness is not insane

it is being a nigger

it is your place in life.


Pricilla Ford

got into her

Lincoln Continental

drove to Virginia Street

in downtown Reno

and ran over thirty people.

Six of them died

and now Priscilla Ford

will die.

The state of Nevada

has judged


that it is

not crazy

for Black folks

to kill white folks

with their cars.


Priscilla Ford

will be

the second woman

executed in Nevada's history.

It's her highest

finish in life.

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