Laurence Overmire


Not It - Poem by Laurence Overmire

“Eenie Meanie Miney Moe
Catch a Beanie by his toe”

“Beanie? ” That’s right, “Beanie.”
We never used that other word.
That hateful word. Not in my neighborhood.
In fact, I don’t remember hearing
That other word, until perhaps
Years later, probably from some adult
But I do remember my friend Gerald
In the second grade
And I remember kids picking on him
But I didn’t know why.
It was never conscious in our house
This racial thing, it wasn’t handed down
So I didn’t see it
The color of his skin
The blue-black mystery of who he was
He was just my friend.

So when Detroit exploded in ‘67
(A man named King was killed in ‘68)
The burning and the flames spreading
From block to block
In our comfortable suburb, people were nervous
And the little kids on the corner were whispering
“They’re coming to get us.”
“They’re coming to get us.”
I hid in a closet
In an upstairs room, underneath the shoes
Pairs and pairs of old shoes, grown-up shoes
“Why did they want me? ”
“What did I do? ”

“Eenie Meanie Miney Moe
If he hollers, let him go
Eenie Meanie Miney Moe.”


Note: This poem is based on true events surrounding the Detroit Riots of 1967.

(Previously published in The Oracular Tree, Feb.2003)


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, March 29, 2008

Poem Edited: Sunday, April 6, 2008


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