Poetry

When the Dentist Spoke at the Anti-War Rally

We had a dentist speak
at the anti-war rally
we organized, we young men
home from college
in the summer of ’68

trying to legitimize ourselves
in the eyes of our parents,
even as we turned activist.

We held a car wash
to raise funds.
When I wrote articles
about the war, I quoted
businessmen, as though they
were the only real gauge
of decent humanity.

I grew my hair a little,
and for a few months once
had a stubble beard,
until my cousin spat

venom at me in the hospital
waiting room just before
Grandpa died, with the words
“You look like a fairy!”

Mother said that summer,
“I don’t care what you do,
as long as you don’t
look like what you are!”

I still wonder what she meant.

Photo: the author in late ’68, when for awhile he ran a Sunday morning bagel & coffee service in the dorms at New College, Sarasota, FL.