Gloria’s Window

(Harrisburg Race Riot, 1969)

Crumbling, paint peeling,
glass standing between
yesterday and tomorrow–
I seen them stuff my childhood
Into a brown beer bottle
set it aflame and send it a-flying
I seen it

I seen it
go up in smoke,
glass between me and
an aging, white-framed city,
throbbing with rage.
like my heart beating the rhythms
of fear and freedom songs.
I seen it

It start slow
like old tree roots under concrete
I seen it
simmer then sizzle
bubble up, then boil than burn
I seen it blow, I seen it blow

I seen it blow
when they refused her service,
then caught her foot in the door,
When they hung that boy like a fish in his cell
When they got Malcolm, Martin, Jack, Bobby
I seen it

I seen childhood spark turn dark
I seen teachers turn tail,
the river become a wall
The colored boys went  rage-blind but me

I seen it
Through my white-framed window
crumbling, burning,
my safe place dying
like his heart hit by hate’s bullet
mixed up as southern scents of
flesh and magnolia.

I seen it
through the glass
of my white-framed window.

Written for the American Griot Project by Maria James-Thiaw



New Poems on Soundcloud!


Listen to recitations from Talking “White” by Maria James-Thiaw


March 2013 performance for the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel, Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg, PA. Click here.

July 2013 we taped an episode of Culture & Main in which I was the host. I featured the poetry veterans of Harrisburg – Marty Esworthy and Nathaniel Gadsden and discussed post-blackness in the arts. Check it out!



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