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“Ernest the Day Walker” by Kerry B

I can imagine Ernest approached this day Chest inflated with pride, honor in his eyes

Ready to sit down to enjoy his burger and fries He was just a normal guy, just with an experience like no other

A warrior of the past, finally getting to enjoy the peace he’s protected.

No more bullets to dodge, no more gray smoke to inhale Just a cool November holiday to breathe in.

Yet, as Ernest sat down that day for that free meal

I could imagine the double takes he received. Was it the hat he wore that represented his unit

Or the melanin that covered his past war bruises? Whispers rang across the walls Stares pointed to him like lasers from enemy snipers. Ready to sit down to enjoy his burger and fries.

Carrying the golden ticket that recorded his sacrifice Yet accused of lying because his skin wasn’t white….

Which had me surprised,

Since when did whiteness become a requirement for heroism?

We walked among the living, but barely get recognition

Carrying the spirit of Crispus Attucks , who was the first sacrifice of the Revolution

Fighting with the same fire as the Tuskegee Airmen

Striving for excellence like Master Chief Carl Brashear

All Ernest wanted was to enjoy this holiday Ready to sit down to enjoy his burger and fries. How dare you say that he’s lying

All because you didn’t see his “kind.”

Since when did whiteness become a requirement for heroism?

He cried, sweated, and bled for the flag For the same country that would give him a free meal rather than freedom.

The same country that would be quick to pull the trigger Since they figured he “fit the description.” The same country that would tell anybody in the world

That “all men are created equal”

While black men have to sacrifice their lives

Just for the opportunity for equal rights. But Ernest wasn’t thinking that this holiday. He didn’t wake up looking for a fight. Ready to sit down to enjoy his burger and fries.


Kerry B is a poet and writer who uses hip-hop and jazz influences for his poetry. He is the author of a few poetry chapbooks, including the upcoming Surviving Myself. He has a master's degree in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University and is currently teaching at Miles College in Fairfield, AL.

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