David LaMotte first shared the poem “White Flour” on Saturday evening of the Spring 2008 Interfaith Peace & Justice Coffeehouse. Recording of David reciting “White Flour” can be found on YouTube. Hope you enjoy.
by David LaMotte
(a true story about events that occurred on May 26, 2007. © 2007 Lower Dryad Music)
The day was bright and sunny as most May days tend to be
In the hills of Appalachia down in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The men put on their uniforms and quickly took their places, in white robes and those tall and pointed hoods that hid their faces
Their feet all fell in rhythm as they started their parade.
They raised their fists into the air, they bellowed and they brayed.
They loved to stir the people up, they loved when they were taunted.
They didn’t mind the anger, that’s precisely what they wanted.
As they came around the corner, sure enough, the people roared.
They couldn’t quite believe their ears, it seemed to be – support?
Had Knoxville finally seen the light, were people coming ‘round?
The men thought for a moment that they’d found their kind of town.
But then they turned their eyes to where the cheering had its source.
As one their faces soured as they saw the mighty force.
The crowd had painted faces, and some had tacky clothes.
Their hair and hats outrageous, each had a red foam nose.
The clowns had come in numbers to enjoy the grand parade.
They danced and laughed that other clowns had come to town that day. And then the marchers shouted, and the clowns all strained to hear. Each one tuned in intently with a gloved hand to an ear.
“White power!” screamed the marchers, and they raised their fisted hands. The clowns leaned in and listened like they couldn’t understand. Then one held up his finger and helped all the others see. The point of all this yelling, and they joined right in with glee
“White flour!” they all shouted and they felt inside their clothes. They pulled out bags and tore them and huge clouds of powder rose. They poured it on each other and they threw it in the air. It got all over baggy clothes and multi-colored hair.
All but just a few of them were joining in the jokes. You could almost see the marchers turning red beneath white cloaks. They wanted to look scary, they wanted to look tough. One rushed right at the clowns in rage, and was hauled away in cuffs
But the others chanted louder marching on around the bend. The clowns all marched along with them supporting their new friends. “White power!” came the marchers’ cry — they were not amused. The clowns grew still and thoughtful; perhaps they’d been confused?
They huddled and consulted, this bright and silly crowd. They listened quite intently, then one said, “I’ve got it now!” “White flowers!” screamed the happy clown and all the rest joined in. The air was filled with flowers, and they laughed and danced again.
“Everyone loves flowers! And white’s a pretty sort! I can’t think of a better cause for marchers to support!” Green flower stems went flying like small arrows from bad archers. White petals covered everything, including the mad marchers
And then a very tall clown called the others to attention. He choked down all his chuckles, and said “Friends I have to mention. That what with all the mirth and fun it’s sort of hard to hear. But now I know the cause that these strange marchers hold so dear
“Tight showers!” the clown blurted out, and hit his head in wonder. He held up a camp shower and the others all got under. Or at least they tried to get beneath, they strained but couldn’t quite. There wasn’t room for all of them, they pushed, but it was tight
“White Power!” came their marchers’ cry, quite carefully pronounced. The clowns consulted once again, then a woman clown announced. “I’ve got it! I’m embarrassed that it took so long to see. But what these marchers march for is a cause quite dear to me!”
“Wife power!” she exclaimed and all the other clowns joined in. They shook their heads and laughed at how mistaken they had been. The women clowns were hoisted up on shoulders of the others. Some pulled on wedding dresses, “Here’s to wives and mothers!”
The men in robes were angry and they knew they’d been defeated. They yelled a few more times and then they finally retreated. And when they’d gone a black policeman turned to all the clowns. And offered them an escort to the center of the town
The day was bright and sunny as most May days tend to be. In the hills of Appalachia down in Knoxville, Tennessee. People joined the new parade, the crowd stretched out for miles. The clowns passed out more flowers and made everybody smile
And what would be the lesson of that shiny southern day? Can we understand the message that the clowns sought to convey? Seems that when you’re fighting hatred, hatred’s not the thing to use. So here’s to those who march on in their massive, silly shoes